Examining the Ismaili Imams & the Bohras

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Examining the Ismaili Imams & the Bohras Author:
Publisher: www.winislam.com
Category: Religions and Sects

Examining the Ismaili Imams & the Bohras

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Ali Azhar Arastu
Publisher: www.winislam.com
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Examining the Ismaili Imams & the Bohras

Examining the Ismaili Imams & the Bohras

Author:
Publisher: www.winislam.com
English

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought


Note:

This book is taken from www.al-islam.org

Examining the Ismaili Imams & the Bohras

This book is about the beliefs of Ismailis. Two major sects within the Ismailis are the Agha Khanis who believe in 49 Imams and the Bohras who believe in 21 Imams. However both the Agha Khanis and the Bohras believe Ismail as an Imam, who was the son of Imam al-Sadiq (as) and they reject Musa al-Kadhim s/o Imam al-Sadiq (as). This book investigates the authenticity of the Ismaili/Fatimid Imams whether they were really divine.

Author(s): Ali Azhar Arastu

Publisher(s): World Islamic Network (WIN)

Table of Contents

Dedication 5

Note 5

Abstract 6

Notes 6

Preface 7

Note 7

Shia, But Shia of which Imam (leader)? 8

The meaning of Shia: 8

Sects within Shi’as 8

The Ithna Ashari Shias (The Twelvers) 8

Zaidis 9

Alawis 9

The Ismailis 9

The Druze 9

The Nizaris 10

The Mustalis 10

Notes 10

Ismaili Imams 11

Ismail Ibn Jafar (6th Ismaili Imam) Start of the Split 11

Some questions to raise & ponder about 12

Muhammed Ibn Ismail, Abd Allah ibn Muhammad & Ahmad ibn Abd Allah 13

Some questions to raise & ponder about 14

Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah (The first Fatimid Caliph) (11th Ismaili Imam) 16

Some questions to raise & ponder about 17

Other Fatimid Caliphs after the death of Ubaydallah 17

Abu Mansur Nizar al-Aziz Billah (Died 386 AH/996 AD) (5th Fatimid Caliph)(15th Ismaili Imam) 17

Some questions to raise & ponder about 18

Abu Ali al-Mansur al-Hakim bi Amr Allah (d 411 AH/1021 AD) (6th Fatimid Caliph) (16th Ismaili Imam) 18

Question to raise & ponder about 18

Some things to ponder about 19

Some things to ponder about 19

Something to ponder about 19

Something to ponder about 20

Something to ponder about 20

Something to ponder about 21

Something to ponder about 21

Something to ponder about 21

Something to ponder about 22

Some things to ponder about 22

Al-Hakim’s death and ascension of Abul Hasan Ali al-Zahir li I’zaz din Allah (d 427 AH/1036 AD) (7th Fatimid Caliph) (17th Ismaili Imam) 22

Some questions to raise & ponder about 23

Something to ponder about 24

Abu Tamim Ma’add al-Mustansir Billah (d 487 AH/1094 AD)lxix (8th Fatimid Caliph) (18th Ismaili Imam) 24

Something to ponder about 24

Something to ponder about 24

Somethings to ponder about 25

Notes 25

Following the ‘Right’ Imam 28

Importance of following the ‘Right’ chain 28

After the Holy Prophet (sawa) what? 28

Need to follow all the ‘Rightful Imams’ 29

Who are the rightful Imams? 30

Who are the ‘Twelve Caliphs’? 31

Imam al-Mahdi (atfs) the twelfth Holy Imam of the Twelvers 32

Notes 33

Kind of lifestyle and characteristics expected from an Imam  35

Imam Musa al-Kadhim ibn Jafar (as) Martyred 183 AH/799 AD 35

His life in a nutshell 35

The childhood of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) 35

The designation (Nass) 36

Points to ponder about 38

What has been said about Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) 39

Points to ponder about 39

Worship of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) 39

Points to ponder about 40

Earning the daily bread 40

Points to ponder about 40

Some interesting anecdotes from his life 40

Anecdote # 1 40

Points to ponder about 41

Anecdote # 2 41

Points to ponder about 42

Sayings of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) 42

Points to ponder about 43

Imam Ali Ibn Musa al-Ridha (as) Martyred 818 AD 43

His nicknames 43

What has been said about Imam al-Ridha (as) 44

Ibrahïm Bin al-’Abbas al-Sawli: 44

Abu al-Salt al-Harawi 44

Al-Raja’ Bin Abu al-Dhhak 44

Al-Shaykh al-Mufïd 44

Al-Waqidi 45

Jamal al-Din 45

Yousif b. Taghri Bardi 45

Ibn Maja 45

Ibn Hajar 45

‘Amir al-Ta’i 46

Hashim Ma’ruf 46

Al-Dhahabi 46

Mahmud Bin Wihayb 46

‘Arif Thamir 46

Mohammed Bin Shakir al-Kutubi 47

Yousif al-Nabahani 47

Points to ponder about 47

Do we find any such praises regarding the Ismaili/Fatimid Imams? 47

His Nomination 47

‘Ali Bin Yaqtin 47

Na’eem Bin Qabus 47

Dawud Bin Kuthayr 48

Sulayman Bin Hafs 48

‘Abd Allah al-Hashimi 48

Points to ponder about 48

His Debates 48

Debate with Abu Qurra 49

“Where is Allah?” asked Abu Qurra 49

Debate with the catholic 49

Debate with Rabbi 51

“Question,” was the answer 51

Al-Sabi’i becomes Muslim 52

Some points to ponder about 53

Notes 53

Problems with Fiqh- Jurisprudence 56

The Bohra Calendar & Moon sighting 56

Bohra Islamic Calendar 59

1429 Hijri/2008 AD 59

1430 Hijri/2009 AD 59

1431 Hijri/2010 AD 59

1432 Hijri/2011 AD 59

Where do the Bohras get this calendar from? 60

Moon sighting report for Shawwal 1429 Hijri (2008) 61

Moonsighting for Ramadan 1430 Hijri (2009) 62

Moon sighting for Shawwal 1430 Hijri (2009) 62

Moon sighting for Ramadan 1431 Hijri (2010) 62

Moon sighting for Shawwal 1431 (2010) 63

Moonsighting for Ramadan 1432 (2011) 63

Moon sighting report for Shawwal 1432 (2011) 63

Some frequently asked questions about moonsighting 64

Notes 65

Conclusive Points 66

Notes 70

Final Points To Ponder About 71

Bibliography 72

Dedication

   فَلَمَّا دَخَلُوْا عَلَيْ ہ ِ قَالُوْا يٰ ٓ اَيُّ ہ َا الْعَزِيْزُ مَسَّـنَا وَاَ ہ ْلَنَا الضُّرُّ وَجِئْنَا بِبِضَاعَ ۃ ٍ مُّزْجٰى ۃ ٍ فَاَوْفِ لَنَا الْكَيْلَ وَتَصَدَّقْ عَلَيْنَا ۰ ۭ اِنَّ الل ہ َ يَجْزِي الْمُتَصَدِّقِيْنَ ۸۸

…Then, when they entered into his presence, they said, “O Aziz! Distress has befallen our family, and us, and we have brought [just] a meager sum. Yet grant us the full measure, and be charitable to us! Indeed Allah rewards the charitable.” 1

I dedicate this research to my beloved Imam Mahdi, the awaited savior of the mankind (may Allah hasten his return); to my father, Riazath Husain Arastu; my mother, Tahera Begum Arastu; my brother, Shoukath Husain Arastu, my mother-in-law, Rabab Sultana Razavi, and my father-in-law, Akbar Patel.

I also pay special thanks to the personality of Lady Fatima Ma’suma of Qum (The granddaughter of Imam al-Sadiq [as]), for providing me with the opportunity to study in her city and granting me the blessings of her proximity, through which I was able to complete this book.

Note

1. Surah Yusuf (12), Ayah 88

Abstract

This book has been divided into 5 segments which have been further divided into different parts.

The first segment defines the meaning of Shia and talks about the different sects within the Shias and further divides Ismailis and talks about the sects within them. It also discusses some of the Ismaili/Fatimid Imams (the Ismaili Imams after Imam al-Sadiq (as))1 and it questions the authenticity of the Ismaili Imams and questions the fact if they were divinely appointed.

The second segment of the book deals with the importance of following the right chain and the need to follow the rightful Imams after the Holy Prophet (sawa)2 . Also discusses the traditions of the Holy Prophet (sawa) regarding his successors (as) and his traditions regarding Imam al-Mahdi, the twelfth Holy Imam (May Allah hasten his reappearance). Also clarifies some doubts that one may have regarding the occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (as).

The third segment discusses about an ideal Imam and the qualities we should expect from him and then addresses two of the Ithna Ashari Imams after Imam al-Sadiq (as), their designation, what has been said about them not only by Shias but also by Ahle Sunna.

The fourth segment deals with the effect of following the wrong chain and its consequences on their deeds. In addition, one of the Bohra Jurisprudential issues (Bohra Calendar and the moon sighting) is scrutinized in detail.

Finally, the fifth segment discusses the importance of having faith in all of the Prophets, all of the Holy books and all of the Imams. It concludes --as per the Holy Quran-- about the end result of the deeds performed without having true faith.

Notes

1. (as) indicates Alaihis Salaam meaning peace be upon him.

2. (sawa) indicates Sallallahu Alaihi wa A’alihi meaning peace be upon him and his progeny

Preface

All praise is due to Allah (swt),1 Creator of the universe, and blessings and salutations upon the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and his Holy Progeny.

This book is about the beliefs of Ismailis. Two major sects within the Ismailis are the Agha Khanis, who believe in 49 Imams, and the Bohras who believe in 21 Imams. However both the Agha Khanis and the Bohras believe in Ismail as an Imam, who was the son of Imam al-Sadiq (as). They therefore reject Musa al-Kadhim s/o Imam al-Sadiq (as) as an Imam. This book investigates the authenticity of the Ismaili/Fatimid Imams and questions whether they were truly divine.

Some of the important sources used for this book were: The Ismaili’s their history and doctrines, written by Dr Farhad Daftary. Dr Farhad Daftary is the Co-Director and the head of the Department of Academic Research and Publications at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. An authority on Ismaili studies, Dr Daftary has written more than 150 articles and written and edited several acclaimed books in this field. And other sources like Da’aimul Islam, Hamarey Ismaili Madhab Ki Haqeeqat aur Uska Nizam, Ismailiye az Guzashte ta Hala etc were also utilized.

Most of the translation of the verses used in this book is based upon Sayyid Ali Quli Qarai’s translation of the Holy Qur’an.

I thank Allah (swt) for giving me the ability to complete this book. I could not have handled this project alone and the contributions made by others have been invaluable. My sincere and deep thanks go to my teacher, Shaykh Kumail Rajani for his guidance and help; my cousin, Haneef Arastu for editing and insight; Sister Nahid Hirmendi and Br Zohair Zaidi for further editing and proof reading; Shaykh Salim Yusufali, Shaykh Muhammed Hasnain, and Br Sher Ali Valji for their help, valuable suggestions and being there when needed; and my wife and my daughters for all their help, support, insight and suggestions.

Note

1. (swt) indicates Subhana Wa Ta’ala, meaning He is Glorified and Exalted

Shia, But Shia of which Imam (leader)?

The meaning of Shia:

“Shia” means a group of followers, members of a group, as per Holy Quran, Surah Maryam verse 69:

   ثُمَّ لَنَنْزِعَنَّ مِنْ كُلِّ شِيْعَ ۃ ٍ اَيُّ ہ ُمْ اَشَدُّ عَلَي الرَّحْمٰنِ عِتِيًّا۶۹ ۚ

Then from every group We shall draw whichever of them was more defiant to the All-beneficent.1

   ہ ٰذَا مِنْ شِيْعَتِ ہ ٖ

This one from among his followers.2

As per the two ayahs quoted above a Shia could be a follower or a member of a group.

The Holy Quran, Surah Isra verse 71 says:

   يَوْمَ نَدْعُوْا كُلَّ اُنَاس ٍؚبِـاِمَامِہ ِمْ

The day we shall summon every group of people with their imam.3

As per the ayah, the destiny of the followers depends on their imam and being a Shia does not mean anything, unless we know the Shia of whom.

If one is a Shia (follower) of a wrong leader (Imam) then this leader may invite his Shias towards the fire.

Holy Quran, Surah Qasas verse 41, says:

   وَجَعَلْنٰ ہ ُمْ اَىِٕمَّ ۃ ً يَّدْعُوْنَ اِلَى النَّارِ ۰ ۚ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيٰمَ ۃ ِ لَا يُنْصَرُوْنَ۴۱

We made them leaders who invite to the Fire and on the day of Resurrection they will not receive any help.4

The fate of the followers (shias) of imams of this kind is not going to be good.

But if one is a Shia (follower) of a rightful leader (Imam) then this leader will lead them towards the truth.

Holy Quran, Surah Sajdah verse 24, says:

   وَجَعَلْنَا مِنْ ہ ُمْ اَىِٕمَّ ۃ ً يَّ ہ ْدُوْنَ بِاَمْرِنَا لَمَّا صَبَرُوْا۰ ۣۭ وَكَانُوْا بِاٰيٰتِنَا يُوْقِنُوْنَ۲۴

And amongst them We appointed imams who guide by Our command when they had been patient and had convictions in Our signs.5

Certainly, the true followers (Shias) of these Imams will be very successful on the day of resurrection. Thus, being a Shia does not mean anything, unless we know the Shia (follower) of whom.

Sects within Shi’as

The Shia and Sunni schools of thought form the major sects within the Islamic nation. Similar to the Sunni sect, the Shia sect also has sub-sects within itself. In this book, we will be talking just about the sects within the Shia sect.

The Ithna Ashari Shias (The Twelvers)

The Twelvers are the largest part of the Shia community. They get their name from their acceptance of twelve divinely appointed successors of the Holy Prophet (sawa). They believe that Imam Ali (as) was the first divinely appointed Holy Imam, who succeeded the Holy Prophet (sawa). All of the Holy Imams that the Twelvers follow were martyred, except the last Holy Imam, Imam Al Mahdi (atfs)6 , who is believed to be in occultation. All of the Holy Imams are from the progeny of the Holy Prophet (sawa); they are the sons of Fatima (sa)7 and Ali (as), and there is no doubt or dispute about it.

The beliefs of the Ithna Ashari Shias have been discussed in many books & only the lives of the 2 imams, which are not followed by the other sub sects, will be discussed in detail later in this book.

Zaidis

The Zaidis do not believe in the 5th Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, because he did not revolt against the corrupt government. They follow Zayd ibn Ali Zainul Abideen as their Imam because he staged a revolution against the corrupt rulers of Bani Umayyah. They do not believe in a direct lineage – instead, any descendant of Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn (as) who stages a revolution against a corrupt government is considered as an Imam. The Zaidis do not believe that the Imams are divinely appointed. They also do not believe in the infallibility of the Imams, nor do they believe that the Imams receive divine guidance. The Zaidis are mainly found in Yemen.

Alawis

Alawis loved the Ahlul Bayt8 (as) to the extent that after seeing the impeccable qualities of the Ahlul Bayt (as) they started exaggerating the status of the Imams. Alawites are also called Nusayris, Nusairis, Namiriya or Ansariyya. They are also known as the exaggerators. Within Alawites they have various sects. There are over one million Alawis that live in Syria and Lebanon. The Ithna Ashari Imams have condemned the exaggerators.

The Ismailis

The Ismailis are a branch of Islam that is the second largest part of the Shia community after the Twelvers. They get their name from their acceptance of Ismail Ibn Jafar (as) as the divinely appointed spiritual successor to Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as).

The Ismailis dispute the succession of the seventh Imam - they say that Ismail ibn Jafar actually succeeded Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as), whereas the Ithna Ashari Shias believe that Musa al-Kadhim (as) succeeded Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as). Ismail died before his father. However, some of the Ismailis claim that Ismail had not died, but rather, had gone into Ghaibat (occultation). Some of the Ismailis accepted his death and therefore claim that his eldest son, Muhammad Ibn Ismail, was now Imam.

There are several offshoots of Ismailis; the most popular ones among them are the Aga Khanis, the Dawoodi Bohras, and the Druze.

The Druze

After the Fatimid Empire was established in 909 AD by Ubaydallah al- Mahdi Billah, he claimed the Ismaili Imamate. The sixth caliph of the Fatimid Empire, al-Hakim bi-Amrillah, ascended the throne when he was only eleven years old and was feared for his eccentricity and insanity. The Fatimid Empire was known for its religious tolerance, but under the reign of al-Hakim, a lot of persecution was seen. In 1021 AD (441 AH), al-Hakim had gone on his mule but never returned and only his mule returned and it was soaked in blood. This led to the birth of the sect of the Druze, who did not accept the successor of al-Hakim and believed that al-Hakim was an incarnation of God and was the Mahdi, who would one day return and bring justice to the world.

The Nizaris

The second but major split among the Ismailis occurred following the death of the Fatimid Caliph, al-Mustansir Billah in 487 AH (1094 AD). After he passed away, the older son Nizar and the younger son fought for the empire. Nizar was defeated and was jailed. His son, however, escaped. A group of people started believing him to be the Imam, and the Imamate of the Nizaris continues to their present, Imam Aga Khan IV. The term Ismailis is referred to the Nizari community, who are followers of the Aga Khan and they are the largest group among the Ismailis.

The Agha Khanis or the Nizaris consider Imam Ali (as) as the first Imam and Imam Husayn (as) as the second Imam and do not consider Imam Hasan (as) as an Imam.9

The Mustalis

Al-Mustali was the younger son of al-Mustansir Billah, whom he succeeded in defeating Nizar. The followers of the Mustali line are also known as Taiyyebi, named after their 21st Imam, Imam al-Taiyyeb who they believe has gone into hiding. The Taiyyebi’s further split into different sects, such as Dawoodi Bohras, Sulaymani Bohras, Alavi Bohras and Hebtiah Bohras etc...

The Bohras consider Imam Ali (as) as the Wasi of the Prophet (sawa); hence Imam Hasan (as) is the first Imam for the Bohras.10

Notes

1. Surah Maryam (19) Ayah 69

2. Surah Qasas (28), Ayah 15

3. Surah Isra (17), Ayah 71

4. Surah Qasas (28), Ayah 41

5. Surah Sajdah (32), Ayah 24

6. Ajjal Allaho Tala Farajahu Shareef (May Allah hasten his reappearance)

7. Salamullah Alaiha (Peace be upon her)

8. The family of the Prophet (sawa), Imam Ali, Lady Fatema, Imam Hasan, Imam Husayn (as) and the nine Imams that succeeded Imam Husayn (as)

9. Daftary, Farhad, Ismailis their history and doctrines, p. 551

10. ibid, p. 551