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Part 1

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This book was first published from Canada in 1991.

It has been republished twice from Pakistan.

The Urdu translation of the book has been published from Pakistan.

(Section One)




I begin with my gratitude to the Beneficent and the Compassionate,

whose Messages have guided the believers to a straight path.

"As to those who hold fast by the Book and establish regular prayer;never shall We suffer the reward of the righteous to perish." Holy Qur'an 7/170


The followers of Karim Aga Khan, the "Agakhani Ismailis," are spread out in various parts of the world. They constitute the vast majority, and comprise a controversial group, within the various sub-sects of Ismailis, who in turn form a small minority within the various groups and sects of the Islamic brotherhood. Thus, the Agakhani Ismailis represent a minute proportion, some 0.1 percent, of the Muslim world. However, their fame and profile far exceed their numbers, due primarily to the prominence of the Aga Khan and his family members through their international political, economic, and social status.

Of significance has been their long association with thoroughbred horse racing in Europe; Aga Khan III's weighing in gold, diamonds, and platinum as a gift from his followers; the marriage of Prince Aly Khan Karim Aga Khan's father to renowned actress Rita Hayworth and his role as a leader of Pakistan's delegation to the United Nations; the service of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan in the United Nations as High Commissioner for Refugees; and, most recently, Karim Aga Khan being named Commander of the French Legion of Honour for eminent services to humanity.

It is a common belief that the ancestors of the Agakhani Khojah Ismailis were Hindus and that approximately seven centuries ago they were converted to the Ismaili faith by Pirs (authorized preachers) that came from Persia. The questions often asked are: Were these Pirs Imami Nizari Ismailis? Were they sent to India from Persia by the Ismaili Imams (spiritual leaders)? What was the Islamic Tariqah (persuasion) adopted by these converts at the time of their conversion?

The faith practised by Ismailis during the golden era of their history the Fatimid period of the Caliphate in Cairo was within the spectrum of the various sects, denominations, and schools of thought that exist in mainstream Islam. This meant that they observed the Shari'ah laws at the peak of their glory. Fatimid Imams built the first

university in the world, al-Azhar, which became an institute of repute in the Muslim world, to study the Qur'an and Islamic jurisprudence, among other subjects. Fatimid Ismailis recited the canonical Islamic prayers in mosques five times a day, as opposed to conventional Ismaili prayers three times a day at present in the Jama`at khanas (literally, place of assembly; in Ismaili terminology, place of worship). During the congregational noon prayers on Fridays, the names of the prevailing Fatimid Imams were mentioned in Khutba (an exhortation or sermon) in Egypt. Like other Muslims, they observed the Fast during the holy month of Ramadhan and performed the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).

It is interesting to learn how the dramatic change occurred that absolved the sect from the requirements of certain edicts of the revealed laws after the fall of the Fatimid dynasty, in the Alamut period. The roots of the Fatimid Ismailis were in theregion of the Middle East where Islam was born. On the other hand, the roots of the majority of the Agakhani Ismailis, who are the Shia Imami Khojah Ismailis, are in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, and their conversion from Hinduism has gone through various phases of proselytization. During the past one and half centuries, the religion ofthese converts has undergone such drastic changes that the present generation of Agakhani Ismailis is almost totally ignorant of the practices of their forbears only two,

three, and four generations ago in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent and Africa. The Agakhani Ismailis have made significant progress in the fields of education, commerce, and industry. Spiritually, however, the propagation of esotericism has left the community virtually bereft of the fundamental precepts and concepts of Islam.

Today, only a few elderly Khojahs (Ismaili, Ithna'ashri, and Sunni Khojahs) who have read the literature published during the nineteenth century, such as Ibrat-afza (an autobiography of Aga Khan I in Persian) or its Gujrati translation published in 1861, orthose who have heard from their elders the accounts of the second and thirdproselytizing, can trace back the trails and rediscover the lost heritage.

A study of primary as well as secondary documents, some of them rare and others that have been withdrawn from circulation or that were written for internal circulation in the ancient form of Sindhi script called Khojki, reveals that the process of proselytizing has gone through three distinct stages. The last two are only a century and a half old.

A few Agakhani Ismaili scholars who have compiled a bibliography of Ismaili literature, and others who have access to these documents, are well aware of the fact that the conversion of Hindus to the Ismaili faith has not been firsthand and has gone through more than one phase. But these scholars are also cognizant of the fact that under Article 14 of the Constitution of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims (1986), any Ismaili who prints, publishes, or circulates any material or makes any statement or

convenes a meeting or assembly purporting to be on behalf of, or in the name of, or relating to, the Imam, the Ismaili Tariqah, the Jama`at (a congregation or community), and any Ismaili Council or Institution without the written permission of the National Council within whose jurisdiction he or she resides shall be liable to disciplinary action, and the offender can be expelled from the community. It is high time that these kinds of stipulations and restrictions are lifted and that Ismaili

scholars have the encouragement and support of community leaders in publishing their findings.

In 1947-48, a couple of Ismaili students and I met the Russian professor Vladimir Alekseevich Ivanov (1886-1970), popularly known as W. Ivanow, and Vice-Chancellor Asaf Ali Asghar Fyzee (1899-1981), a Sulaymani Ismaili, who were the founding members of the Ismaili Society in Bombay, to obtain their permission to translate one of their publications into Gujrati.

In 1946, the Ismaili Society was founded with the aim of promoting independent and critical study of all matters connected with Ismaili faith, which included their literature, history, and philosophy. The Ismaili Society functioned with the financial support and patronage of the late Aga Khan III.

The Society had undertaken a bibliographical survey of Ismaili literature. One and a half decades later, when the work was finally published by the Society in Tehran in 1963, it was in an abridged form. Professor Ivanow scrutinized 929 works, and his analysis of these many documents was published in just 180 pages. Asaf Fyzee, the founding member of the Ismaili Society, wrote, "Everything connected with Ismailism seems to be enveloped in a cloud of mystery and secrecy."

Sixty-three years ago, I was born into an Agakhani Ismaili family where every member of the house over the age of five was made to recite his or her Du'a (a designated ritual prayer) in Gujrati three times a day. A prayer in which one would repeatedly prostrate oneself before a photograph of the Aga Khan and affirm with firm conviction that the photographed mortal was the physical manifestation of Allah upon this earth.

His Highness Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III, came to see my mother at a hospital in Southend-on-Sea, England, where I was born. He personally gave me the name by which I am known today. The late Aga Khan was well-known for his wit and uncanny ability to provoke laughter. While giving his blessings, he wittily appointed me as a Kamadia (assistant steward cum accountant) and my (late) elder brother Abdulali who was also born in England as a Mukhi (chief steward cum treasurer) of his London Jama`at. The year was 1928.

As a devout follower of the Aga Khan, my father donated Rs.300,000.00 -- practically eighty percent of his entire wealth -- to the Aga Khan's Diamond Jubilee fund. Half a century ago, that was an enormous sum of money. Being the highest donor from India, he received the singular honour of weighing His Highness the Aga Khan (putting plastic boxes full of rented diamonds on the weighing scale) in Bombay, on 10 March 1946. Thereafter, contrary to the general expectations of every believing Ismaili, the downfall of our family began.

My father, who had been in the carpet and textile business, suddenly had to face charges arising out of a small business transaction. He had sold goods meant forexport, locally. I was a student at that time but became an accessory for having acted as a delivery boy. Our entire stock of textiles was confiscated by the authorities, who were

acting under instructions from the newly independent Indian government. Communal tensions were running high and anti-Muslim sentiments were visible inside and outside of the court house.

Aga Khan had his own tax problems with the government. The authorities were demanding a large sum as taxes on his revenues and funds collected from the Ismaili community. Donors who had donated substantial sums for the Diamond Jubilee were individually investigated and taxed. Aga Khan decided to stay in Europe till the matter was settled by his agents, which did not happen during his lifetime.

The court proceedings were slow and the hearings dragged on for several years. To start a fresh life, I moved to West Pakistan in 1949 with a few hundred rupees in my pocket. A few years later, morally depressed and financially depleted, my father migrated to East Pakistan. After the partition of India, the Aga Khan had predicted in his private Farmans (authoritative and binding pronouncements) that Dacca and Chittagong would become London and Paris of the East. After losing a portion of his investments, my father moved to East Africa. From there, under the guidance of the Aga Khan, my family relocated to Belgian Congo. Aga Khan's prognostication that Congo would be the last colony in Africa to get its independence was wrong, and within a few years my family had to get out, following the turmoil in that country after independence.

From 1949 to 1975, during my domicile in Pakistan, I diligently served the Ismailia community in various capacities. I kept up the Jama'ati tradition of serving the Hazar (present) Imam with Tan, Man, and Dhan (Body, Mind, and Money). In 1972, I was appointed President of the Ismailia Regional Council for Karachi and Baluchistan by Karim Aga Khan. I held that position till I emigrated to Canada in 1975.

Towards the end of 1982, I published in British Columbia my first book on the ancestry of the Aga Khans. It was entitled From Abraham to Aga Khan. As the years went by, I continued research on the subject of Ismaili literature and history. At the same time I augmented my studies with the revealed messages that are to be found in the Qur'an and the Bible. By the grace of Allah, I got out of my tunnel vision. I could now see my beliefs from a wider perspective. A perspective whose outlook was panoramic and not restricted by inherited, imposed or prescribed thinking. I could now compare with an open mind what I had studied in the past with what I was learning in the present. Ibegan asking questions in private as well as in public, by writing memoranda and pamphlets.

My doubts were strengthened when I discovered that a large number of Ismailis had similar doubts and difficulties in under

standing what they were asked to practise. But most of them were observing a double standard. To express their doubts or endorse

their feelings in the open was too risky. It could lead to expulsion from or rejection by the Jama`at, which none could afford because

of their family ties and business contacts within the community.

My frustrations germinated, but I alsostayed within the community. I did not refrain from seeking answers from Agakhani scholars and missionaries at public gatherings as well as in private. I flew to Paris after communicating with Karim Aga Khan's personal secretary hoping to getanswers from the highest authority, the Aga

Khan, but the promised interview did not take place.

The real change in my attitude came when Idiscovered to my utter surprise that the Aga Khan is not a direct descendant of the

Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, through the Fatimid Imams, but is a descendant of Hasan, a son of Da`i Muhammad of Alamut, who

had proclaimed a kind of spiritual filiation with the Fatimid Imams. I intensified my research on the subject, and compared thedata recorded by Ismaili and non-Ismaili historians. My findings got more and more

support as I went through fresh documents.

Finally, I decided to write a book based upon my discoveries. Understanding Ismailism A Unique Tariqah of Islam was published at

the end of 1988. It was printed and distributed from British Columbia, Canada, a country that promotes and guarantees itscitizens the freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief,

opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication, under its Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I was expecting rejoinders in the form of books or memoranda challenging my research, but that did not happen. Instead, something else


Hardly a week or two passed after the above publication when an announcement was read in all the Jama`at khanas of Canada,

asking the members of the Jama`at not to support the author, etc. Shortly thereafter, in December 1988, the honorary secretary of

the Aga Khan's Ismaili Council for British Columbia filed a Complaint before the Aga Khan's Conciliation and Arbitration Board for British Columbia. The complainant asked the Board to recommend my expulsion from the Jama`at, under Article 14 of the Ismaili

Constitution ordained by Karim Aga Khan.

My lawyers advised me that without going into the merits of the book or its content, the mere fact that I had written a book on Ismaili faith and Aga Khan without obtaininga written permission from the Ismaili Council was sufficient cause for obtaining an order for expulsion from the community under theordained Constitution. I had not been a

practising Ismaili for the last several years. Professor Peter Lamborn Wilson mentioned in the opening sentence of hisreview, which was published in the book, that I was a former Ismaili.

In March 1989, I publicly withdrew my oathof allegiance to Karim Aga Khan and at the same time invited him through the media, as

well as by a letter, to have an open forum or a public debate at the Royal Albert Hall in London, either personally or throughrepresentatives. The offer was not accepted.

At the end of 1989, I wrote 'Understandingthe Bible - through Koranic Messages'. It was published at a time in the history of the

Middle East when there was a greater need for Jews, Christians, and Muslims the three children of Abraham to re-examine their own

roots and unite as brothers. The book was reviewed by Tom Harpur, a former professor of the New Testament. Several months later, I

was interviewed by Tom Harpur in his nationally televised series Heaven and Hell.

In the middle of 1990, I began collectingbooks and documents that would assist me in discovering the roots of my inherited beliefs. As a teacher of a religious school,I had heard almost all the Farmans pronounced by the Aga Khans, recited hundreds of Ginans (hymnlike devotional songs that are recitedin the Jama`at khanas), and read practically every book of Ismaili history that was ublished by the Ismailia Association for India. They all led me to believe that the

conversion of my ancestors to the Ismaili faith was direct. The Pirs who performed the onversion were Ismailis.

The data I had now collected told me a different story. I decided to look outside and approached a few families of Sunni Khojahs and Ithna'ashri Khojahs whose ancestors were also converted from Hinduism. They provided me with documents and facts hitherto unknown to me and probably to most Ismailis. A History of the Agakhani Ismailis will serve as the most explicit account of

the history of the followers of the Aga Khan and their religious life today.

This book of history is in particular addressed to the mundane everyday readers the laity. I have therefore chosen to furnish

bibliographical data for the quoted passages before each quotation, rather than have a consolidated list at the end. The book may

also prove to be of interest to non-Ismaili readers and scholars who have, in the words of a professor, "run into a stone wall" or

"gotten the run-around" while doing their research on the Ismaili community.



A divine innocence

A captivating smile radiating from the beaming face of a newly born baby gazing at you from its crib is suffused with divine innocence. However, that impeccability and candour are so transient that as soon as the infant grows up, the heavenly naivete takes its leave and is not seen again. The unblemished purity with which a human mind was divinely conceived and created within the womb of a mother has been tainted. A slate that was once clean and spotless is now delineated with materialistic characters and figures. The shadow of a human being has

eclipsed that innocent smile.

From time immemorial, one of the major responsibilities of arenthood has been to enlighten, or to be precise, to influenceoffspring with certain dictates and precepts. In the process, parents confer upon their

wards their views and personal beliefs. Going back, we discover that just as we have, our parents, too, inherited their religiouspersuasions and beliefs from their parents. A child born into a Christian home may develop his intellect hearing the name of "Lord Jesus"as his benefactor and saviour. Another, born next door may enrich his intellect hearing the name of "Shri Rama" and "Shri Krishna".In an Ismaili home an infant hears the nameof "Mawla Bapa," a term that refers to their spiritual leader, the Aga Khan.

To extol that revered name and to staunchly defend His glory becomes one of the sacred duties of that child as he or she grows up. This childhood training is so well grounded that even upon maturity, an

educated, well-bred, adult individual would very gratifyingly imitate his parents.

A sublime act

During my high school days in Bombay, I often walked home from my school. My home was in a Muslim quarter and the government school was in a crowded residential-cum-business area that was predominantly a Hindu neighbourhood. In this journey by foot, I swam through the

ceaseless flow of ethnically diverse human traffic that dashed in either direction, at a brisk pace. Occasionally, a freely roaminggauwa mata (mother cow) would stop her stride, raise her tail, and begin discharging

its urine.

As a young Muslim, I watched with a feeling of awe and surprise as the civilized, urbane Hindu men and women that were walking alongside me suddenly surged forward and placed their cupped hands under the elevated tail, to catch a spoonful or two of that fluid. These cultured, devout, high caste Hindus would then routinely raise their hands and release that sacred liquid into their wide open mouths. After chanting a few words and rubbing their wet palms on the back of that holy cow, these sophisticatedindividuals would resume their journey with joy at having caught that pious liquid in time. A mind that has developed in a

non-Hindu home can only try to comprehend, but can never fully understand the sacrosanctity of these acts or the feelingsof elation, gratification, and bliss that filled the hearts and minds of these pious

performers, who have dauntlessly followed the footsteps of their ancestors in this twentieth century.

Our affiliations

For the great majority of us the choosing of a religion has been a matter of family tradition and the geographical location of our birthplace. Had a person been born in South America, his chances of being a Brahmin (a high-caste Hindu) rather than a Catholic would have been one in a million or probably none at all. It can be said that in most

cases the religion that we follow is not through our personal discovery but an imposed family persuasion. Yet we protect thatpersuasion as well as the beliefs and practices that are associated with it with all our strength and vigour. They have now become our beliefs and our practices.

When a person migrates from the place of his birth, he accepts new cultures, speaks new languages, and adopts new social practices that ameliorate, or are better suited to, his new environment. But when the

subject is religion, he resents and takes exception to new influences, beneficial or otherwise. He would proudly maintain that his religion is holier than thine. There can be no foreign philosophy or perception worth trading with his.

When someone points a finger at the enigmatic dogmas that are associated with his religion, he often tries to defend them for the sake of defending. And when he fails todo a good job of it, he estranges himself from that individual, rather than disassociate himself from the identified paradoxes. But when it is his turn to point a finger at their paradoxical dogmas, he expect instant submission from his opponents. He expectseveryone but himself to be rational and logical while discussing religion.

The roots of our truth

For all practical purposes, we assume thatthe patriarchal affiliation that was enjoined, prescribed, or imposed upon us by reason of birth or fate has to be the wholetruth and the only truth worth defending. The

most unfortunate part of this whole scenario is that the very notion of such an assumption was also imposed upon us by the same people who handed over to us our religion. What we claim as "our" truth is indeed a personal truth, but we cannot be positive and confident of its veracity unless and until we track its roots through history and discover the source.

The roots of our inherited fanaticism could be centuries old. Most probably we do not even know the name or the historical background of that individual ancestor who discovered our religion or was converted to believing what we believe today. A sincere effort to trace the origin of our persuasions and the history of conversion could be a rewarding experience.

"Angootha chhap"

Ismaili historians have recorded that themajority of the progenitors of Agakhani Ismailis were very poor and came from the rural areas of Sind, Gujrat, Kathiawar, andKutchh. Before their conversion, seven

centuries ago, they belonged to a middle low-caste Hindu society that was constantly oppressed by the high-caste Hindu priests,landlords, and local merchants. In those days, the rural population in India consisted mostly of uneducated individuals that wouldfall within the category of "angootha chhap",meaning the illiterate individuals that place thumb impressions on written documents in lieu of signatures. These long-suffering,docile human beings had developed the habit of meekly placing their thumb impressions,with an unsuspecting mind, on any documentthat was put before them by their benefactors. Besides, they had no other alternative or means at their disposal toascertain the authenticity of the documentswithout offending their masters.

Similarly, these submissive ancestors withno access to any literature, would place their trust in any story that was narrated to them by their elders or religious Gurus. Thebase of their beliefs was a blind faith and reliance upon these individuals. They had built their traditional, cultural, andreligious convictions based upon Riwayah

(oral transmissions of traditional stories) that were being told and retold with a twist, generation after generation.

Serve with an unsuspecting mind

Ismaili literature, like much other religious literature, is full of epic stories and folklore depicting the superhuman power of the Pirs and Imams. Not long ago, all these legends of miracles (e.g., lowering of the

sun by Pir Shams in the city of Multan) were devoutly respected and regarded as historical facts by the devoted ancestors. Many unsuspecting minds would, even today, place their total trust on legendary supernatural feats of Hazrat `Ali that are vividlynarrated in the various Farmans made nearly a century ago by the then Aga Khan.

Often an Ismaili would quote a popular verse from a Ginan to prevail over a logically sound argument or win a losing debate. The verse teaches: "Bhore mane s'révo", meaning; "Serve with a mind that is

unsuspecting." This reminds me of a well-known Christian admonition which has a similar advice for those who express their scepticism of the Trinity document. It says: "He who tries to understand the mystery fully will lose his mind, but he who denies the Trinity will lose his soul."

Holy Qur'an:

The criterion

An English translation of the Holy Qur'an and a detailed commentary thereof by Abdullah Yusuf Ali enjoys a unique place in Islamicsociety. I have taken the liberty of quoting his translation and the commentary at the end of each chapter of this book to convey the revealed message that stands as a criterion for all mankind.

So set thou thy face steadily and truly to the faith;

(establish) Allah's handiwork according to the pattern

on which He has made mankind:

no change (let there be) in the work (wrought) by Allah:

that is the standard religion:

but most among mankind understand not. Holy Qur'an 30/30

Commentary by A. Yusuf Ali:

As turned out from the creative hand of God, man is innocent, pure, true, free, inclined to right and virtue, and endued with true nderstanding about his own position in the Universe and about God's

goodness, wisdom, and power. That is his true nature, just as the nature of a lamb is to be gentle and of a horse is to be swift. But man is caught in the meshes of customs, superstitions,selfish desires, and false teaching. This may make him pugnacious, unclean,false, slavish hankering after what is wrong or forbidden, and deflected from

the love of his fellow-men and the pure worship of the One True God. The problem before spiritual Teachers is to cure this crookedness, and to restore human nature to what it should be under the Will of God.


The conversion of Hindus in India

Within a century after the passing away ofthe Prophet of Islam, Muslims expanded their realm as far as India. Under the leadership

of Muhammad ibn Qasim, Arabs conquered Sind in 712. Thereafter, Islam spread deeper into India through subsequent conquests by the

Ghaznavids and others. Islamic rule in India reached its peak under the celebrated Muslim dynasty of the Great Moghuls (1526-1858),

who were noted for their cultural refinement and architectural achievements, and for the blending of their Persian heritage with

Indian culture.

On the other hand, the Da`wah (literally, summon, invitation) activities of Islam - the conversion of Hindus - was carried out by the

Muslim scholars and Da`is (literally, summoners, religious propagandists). Along with Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi came the famous

Muslim scientist and genius Abu Rayhan al-Biruni (973-1048) to India. He learnt Sanskrit and became a bridge between the twocultures. Al-Biruni translated the Hindu classic named Patanjali Yoga into Arabic and wrote a book called Kitab al-Hind, describingHindu philosophy and customs. Muslim Da'is belonged to various Islamic sects and schools

of thought, but the majority of them were Sunni Muslims.

The conversion of the Khojahs

Six to nine centuries ago, a significant number of Hindus from the subcontinent of India, especially those living in Kashmir, Punjab, and Sind, and on the western coast of India, embraced Islam. One such group was converted by a Muslim Da'i named Shaykh Sadr ad-Din (leader of the faith). Ismailis call him by the name of Pir Sadr-din. From Turkey to India, this Persian title Pir is used in preference to the Arabic word Shaykh. PirSadr-din gave these newly converted Gujrati,

Kutchhi, and Sindhi-speaking Muslims the laqab (honorific title) Khawajah, meaning an honourable person, and named their persuasion Sat-panth (true path). As time went by the word Khawajah became Khojah and the community became known as Sat-panthi Khojahs, or simply Khojah Muslims. But, it is very important to understand that these Sat-panthi Khojahs were mainly Sunni Khojahs as we shall soon observe.

Prior to the arrival of the Pirs of the Khojahs, there had come to India many Ismaili Da'is from Persia, but they were mostly Qirmatis (Qarmatians) who in those day were commonly called Malahida

( impious heretics ) by their foes. During a peak period of the Fatimid dynasty, Ismaili Da`is such as al-Sijistani, al-Haytham, and Jamal bin

Shayban had spread the Ismaili Da`wah from Khurasan to Multan. But it was short lived in India. When Mahmud Ghaznavi conqueredNorthern India, he imprisoned Ismaili ruler Abu'l-Futuh Daud ibn Nasr and ruthlessly killed Ismailis in Sind and Multan. AnIsmaili author, Ghulamali Allana, writes in 'Ginans of Ismaili Pirs' that Al-Haytham, a

nephew of ibn Hawshab, was the one who started the work of Ismaili Da'wah in Sind nd converted the ruler of Sind to Ismailifaith. This was the dynasty of Soomras, who ruled Sind for over 300 years. Allana

recorded that when Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi invaded Sind, he mercilessly butchered thousands of Ismailis, and with that came the

end of Ismaili rule in Sind. Dr. John Norman Hollister has recorded in The Shi'a Of India (2nd ed., 1979, p. 347), based upon recent

researches of M. Abdul Halim Sharar and Syed Hashimi's publication The Arab Rule in Sind (pp. 221-22), that Sumras (Soomras) "were

Jewish converts to Islam who, coming to Sindfrom Iraq, adopted the Qarmatian articles offaith and held power over the province of

Sind until the middle of the eighth centuryA. H."

Pir Satgur Nur

Based upon legends, some historians have,placed the conversion of the Khojahs as early as the ninth century by a Da`i named Nur-ud-Din (light of the faith). Ismaili missionary Abualy A. Aziz records in A Brief

History of Ismailism, (Toronto, 1985, p. 114) that he was the fifteenth Pir of Ismailis. His name was Sayyid Mohammed. Nooruddi'n was

not his name but a title he died in 487 a.h. (1094 a.d.). Others historians have placed the arrival of this so called Ismaili Pir in India during the period of the fourth grand master of Alamut, Hasan 'ala dhikrihis-salaam (d. 1166). T. W. Arnold says that he arrived in Gujrat during the reign of Sidhraj Jai Sing (1094-1143). F. L. Faridi says, based upon another legend, that he arrived in Gujrat during the reign of Bhima II (1179-1242). Dr. G. Allana writes that he came after Al-Haytham. Thus the legendarydates vary from the ninth to the thirteenth


The name of this Da'i in Ismaili literature is Pir Satgur Nur. Various

miracles are ascribed to this legendary preacher by Ismaili authors, such as making Hindu gods and goddesses (statues of stones)dance at his command. The claims for Pir Satgur Nur being deputed by an Ismaili Imam from Persia are conflicting and cannot besubstantiated.

John Norman Hollister records in 'The Shi`a Of India' (p. 351), that based upon the date of the Pir's death recorded on his tomb and

the claims made about him, the Pir "wouldhave been over three hundred years old!"

Professor W. Ivanow concludes in 'The Sect of Imam Shah in Gujrat' (p. 59): "It must befrankly admitted that we know absolutely nothing about the date at which the Pir [satgur Nur] settled or died at Nawsari, whohe was, and what religion he really preached."

Pir Shams of Multan

Other traditions have tried to attribute theconversion of the Khojahs to a Muslim saint named Awliya Shah Shams-ud-Din of Multan, Punjab (d. 1276). But history records thatthis famous Muslim saint, to whom Ismailis refer as Pir Shams, had not visited Gujrat, Kutchh, or Kathiawar during his lifetime, andthe majority of the Khojah Ismailis have their roots in these districts.

Today, the majority of historians agree that the development of the Khojah sect was greatly influenced by Pir Sadr-din and his son Pir Hasan Kabiruddin (Shaykh Kabir ad-Din). Pir Sadr-din was the one that gave the Khojah community its name. This Khojah ancestry is the root of almost all the Agakhani Ismailis of Indo-Pakistan origin, who have since spread all over the globe. One has also to bear in mind that it is also theroot of Khojah Shi`ah Ithna'ashries and Khojah Sunni Muslims of Indo-Pakistan origin.

Khojah Agakhani Ismailis claim that Pir Sadr-din and his mentor Pir Shams of Multan were Imami Nizari Ismailis. Sunni Khojahs claim that the Pirs were Sunni Muslims and their converts were observing the traditions (Sunna) of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace. Khojah Ithna'ashries claim that the forefathers of Agakhani Ismailis were following Ithna'ashri rites and rituals. Even the ancestors of Karim Aga Khan that came from Persia were strictly observing Ithna'ashri rites and rituals. These ritualswere gradually abrogated and systematically abolished during the Imamate of Aga Khan III.

Today, there are thousands of descendantsof the original converts and adherents of Shah Shams in Pakistan, India, Tibet, and Kashmir who regularly visit the shrine oftheir Awliya. These devotees of Shah Shams are known as Shamsi. A vast majority of them follow the Sunni Tariqah of Islam, and therest are Ithna'ashries. With the exception of

a few families in Punjab and the Northwest Frontier province, there are no Ismaili Shamsis in India or Pakistan. Noorum-Mubin, a history book (1951 ed., p. 330) written by an Ismaili author acknowledges that the majority of the converts of Pir Shams now belong to the Ahle Sunnat Jama`at meaning, belong to the community of Sunni Muslims.

Khojah is a term used to describe a caste

Recently, the centennial of a widely readGujrati monthly, Rahe Najat (path of salvation), was celebrated by the KhojahIthna'ashries. A special booklet paying homage to its first editor, Haji Gulam Ali Haji Ismail, popularly known as Haji Naji (the saved Haji), was published and printedby NASIMCO (Organization of North American Shi`ah Ithna-ashri Muslim Communities), Toronto, Canada.

Professor Abdulaziz A. Sachedina of the University of Virginia writes in this booklet (p. 4):

It is important to stress the basic characteristic of the Khoja community whose members retained their caste ideas inherited from their Hindu ancestors for a long time due to the necessity of posing as Hindus. However, this caste identity has no relationship with Islam. In fact, it is correct to say that thereis nothing like "Khojaism" that competes for loyalty with "Shi'ism" in this community. A Khoja is a Khoja only byright of birth. It is a term used to describe a caste and as such even if a Khoja changes his religion he still remains a Khoja.

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(Section Two)

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Continued from Section One

When did the "Khojahs" become "Ismailis"?

If you happen to meet an Agakhani Ismaili whose roots are in India, and ask him about the conversion of his ancestors, he would very likely tell you that his forefathers were Hindus and converted as Khojah Muslims. If you ask him how these Khojahs became Ismailis, he will most probably tell you that as years went by, through change in

nomenclature the Khojah Muslims became known as Shi'ah Imami Ismaili Muslims. Alternatively he may reply that the Pirs that converted the ancestors were sent to India bythe Nizari Ismaili Imams and the converts were Shi'ah Imami Ismailis since the day of their conversion, but were known as Khojahs.

Is this is a legendary belief or a historical reality? Were these Pirs sent to India by the Nizari Ismaili Imams? If so, by which Imam and in what century? In the past, non-Ismaili authors had raised such questions and cast their doubts on the recorded data. But in the last two decades Ismaili scholars have discovered evidence that has obliged

them to raise these questions in their theses and articles. Furthermore, the data uncovered by these scholars comes from Ismaililiterature.The majority of Ismailis are unaware of these recent findings, and if they read them, they would be doing so for the first time.

Memoirs of Aga Khan and Shah Islam Shah

In 1954, Aga Khan III published his Memoirs through Cassell and Company Ltd., London. On p. 181, he writes:

In India, certain Hindu tribes were converted by missionaries sent to them by my ancestor, Shah Islam Shah, and took the name of Khojas; a similar process of conversion occurred in Burmaas recently as the nineteenth century.

Who was this ancestor of Aga Khan named Shah Islam Shah?

Ismaili history tells us that his full name was Sayyid Ahmed Islam Shah and he was the thirtieth Ismaili Imam. Islam Shah died in Kahak in 1423 or 1424 (fifteenth century).Until recently, the birth year of Islam Shah

was not recorded by Ismaili historians. Mumtaz Tajdin, an Ismaili scholar from Pakistan, records in Genealogy of The Aga Khan(Karachi, 1990) the birth of Shah Islam Shah in Daylam in 1334 (fourteenth century). While doing their dissertations on thesubject of Ginans, Ismaili scholars havediscovered that Pir Sadr-din and his mentor Pir Shams were living in the "thirteenth andtwelfth" centuries, whereas Shah Islam Shah was born in the "fourteenth" century. This

regression of 200 years casts a serious doubt on the authenticity of the aforementioned claim made by the Aga Khan.

As for "a similar process of conversion"taking place in Burma, there is no evidence or record of any such process having taken place at any time in the history of Burma.There are hardly any Burmese Ismailis.

Noorum-Mubin -- a recommended history book

In 1936, Aga Khan III completed 50 years of his Imamate (spiritual leadership). To commemorate this occurrence, Ismailis living in India and Africa collected funds and weighed their Imam in gold first in India and thereafter in Africa. On this occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebrations in India, abook of Ismaili history was released with

fanfare. It was written in Gujrati by an Ismaili author and printed in Bombay (1935) by the press department of Aga Khan'sinstitution for religious propaganda, called Recreation Club. Aga Khan personally

recommended that the members of his Jama'at read this book, which glorified him, his ancestors, and the Ismaili Pirs. This highlyrecommended book was called Noorum-Mubin (manifest light). The author, AlimohammadJanmohammad Chunara, has interpreted the

title of his book in English as The SacredCord of God and has described his book as "A Glorious History of Ismaili Imams." Noorum-Mubin is a voluminous book with over800 pages. It was revised and reprinted three times. It has now been out of print for the

last several decades and can be found in only a handful of Ismaili homes.

Pir Sadr-din was a disciple of Pir Shams

Noorum-Mubin records that before Pir Sadr-din started his mission, he took his religious training in Multan from Pir Shams. It also records that Pir Sadr-din, with the help of two sons of Pir Shams, built the famous Mazar (mausoleum) of Pir Shams that is located near the city of Multan and is a historical landmark of Punjab.

It is easy to establish the period of Pir Shams's mission in India since these records are preserved by the custodian of hismausoleum. Similarly, the faith Pir Shams preached can also be determined from his

followers living in Punjab, Kashmir, and Tibet. Once these two things are established, it is not difficult to know the period of Pir Sadr-din's mission and his persuasion.

Awliya Shah Shams ad-Din, whom the Ismailis call Pir Shams, came to Multan from Afghanistan in 1201. He was a contemporary of Shaykh Bahaoddin Zakariyya (d. 1276) and Shaykh Fakhroddin Ibrahim al-Iraqi (d. 1289). Shah Shams died in 1276. His converts, as recorded earlier and acknowledged by the author of Noorum-Mubin are mostly Sunni


Since Pir Sadr-din was a disciple of Pir Shams, it is inconceivable that Pir Sadr-din could have adopted and preached a Tariqah (persuasion) of Islam that would be diametrically opposed to that of his spiritual mentor. The relationship thatexisted between these two Muslim saints also supports the claim made by Sunni Khojahs in 1866, before Justice Arnould in the HighCourt of Bombay, that Pir Sadr-din came from

Multan (and not from Persia). He was a Sunni 'alim and his converts were Sunni Khojahs, not Ismaili Khojahs.

Hasina M. Jamani, an Ismaili scholar from


It is very fascinating to read what Hasina Jamani has discovered during her studies at the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill

University. In her thesis entitled Brahm Prakash: A Translation and Analysis, she writes (p. 24):

With regard to the period of Pir Shams' da'wa activities in the Sub-continent, there are apparently three versions. Thefirst is a Shajra <genealogical> found in the custody of the mutawalli[custodian] of the shrine of Pir Shams in Uchh, Multan. The Shajra says thatShams al-Din was born in Ghazni[Afghanistan] on the 17th Rajab 560/1165 i.e., about a hundred years before thefall of Alamut. The Shajra makes him come to Multan in 598/1201 and permitshim to live till 675/1276.

The second version is obtained from the ginans attributed to Shams al-Din himself.... Surbhan Vel, one of the longer ginans attributed to Shams al-Din, mentions his arrival in Samvat1175/1118. Yet, in another of his ginans, Chandrabhan Vel, his arrival inChenab is given as Samvat 1200/1143.

However, when we come across the name of the Imam on whose behalf Shams al-Din is supposed to have carried on da'wa activity, the name of Imam Qasim Shah [d. 1370] is mentioned. Imam Qasim Shahbelongs to the post Alamut period.

Alamut, as is well-known, was razed by the Mongols in 1256, and after that the history of the Nizaris and their Imams enters a new stage. The child of the last Imam of Alamut, Rukn al-Din KhurShah, is said to be Shams al-Din. In the Ismaili genealogy Qasim Shah is the name of the Imam who succeeded Imam Shams.

Thus, if Qasim Shah was the Imam of the time, then the period of Shams' activity would extend into the 14th century.

The above observations by Jamani clearly indicate that Pir Shams (d. 1276) could not have been sent to India by an Ismaili Imam,since the alleged Imam on whose behalf Pir Shams is supposed to have carried on the Da`wah, died nearly a century later in 1370.By the same inference Pir Shams could not have been the author of these Ginans and Garbis because Imam Qasim Shah whose name is mentioned in these compositions became Imam in 1310, that is to say nearly thirty-four years after the death of Pir Shams, the alleged author.

Pir Shams - author of 'Gujrati' compositions?

Ismaili history records that Pir Shams was born in Persia. He came to Punjab via Badakhshan, Tibet, and Kashmir. He lived and died in Punjab (Multan). Ismaili historians have not recorded the Pir's residence in Gujrat, Kutchh, or Kathiawar, where the Gujrati language is spoken. Nonetheless, Ismaili literature has over 2000 verses of Ginans and Garbis, the authorship of which is attributed to Pir Shams. Almost all of them are in the Gujrati language with the exception of a few in Multani.

The questions often asked by Ismailis are:

1. Why did Pir Shams compose thousands of verses of Ginans and Garbis in Gujrati when his followers were mostly Punjabis, Tibetans, and Kashmiris, who did not speak Gujrati?

2. Where and when did Pir Shams learn a language that is spoken only in Gujrat and Kathiawar?

3. Who wrote down these Gujrati Ginans in Multan or transmitted them orally, generation after generation?

Pir Sadr-din was a Haji

Professor W. Ivanow writes in his book The Sect of Imam Shah in Gujrat (p. 34): "He [Pir Sadr-din] is locally [at the place of his burial] spoken of as Haji Sadr Shah; the tomb is without any inscription."

The title Haji indicates that Sadr-din Shah (Pir) had per-formed the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. It is a well-known fact that Ismailis do not perform Hajj. Karim Aga Khan's Didar (glimpse) is a Hajj for an Agakhani Ismaili. "According to Ismailian ta'wil, hajj or pilgrimage, was interpreted to mean a visit to the Imam." writes Hollister in The Shi`a Of India (p. 390). Continuing further he writes (pp. 391-92):

Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina is almost never undertaken by Khojas.... In 1896 Agha Jangi Shah, an uncle of the present Agha Khan, and his son, were killed by assassins at Jeddah while they were on their way as pilgrims to Mecca. The murderers were said to be staunch followers of the Agha Khan. They were arrested and kept in custody in Jeddah, and were later found dead at their place of confinement, having taken poison. No information is available, but the incident has allowed the suspicion that it grew from opposition to this pilgrimage which the sect condemns.

Al-Hajj ("the greater pilgrimage"), the canonical pilgrimage, is one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam. To condemn it would be to condemn the faith itself. Every believing Muslim that has the means should make the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. I have yet to see a single Farman of the present or past Aga Khan asking his followers to perform al-Hajj, al-'Umrah or az-Ziyarah of Mecca, as a part of their obligatory duties.

Abdulaziz Sachedina - a Khojah scholar

Professor Abdulaziz A. Sachedina writes in Rahenajat (pp. 8-9):

...it is correct to say that from the time of their conversion to Islam from the Hindu Shakti Marg until 1860s because of the influence of the Sunni mullas, who had officiated at their marriages, deaths, and other such occasions, Khojas were responsive to the Sunni school of thought. The beginning of the "Khoja awakening" in the first half of the 19th century ushered the community to the revival of their religious identity as a consequence of their increased level of religious knowledge.

...Before this period, as evidenced by the 1847 court case, the Khojas had no knowledge about their Shi'ism; nor did they know the difference between the Shi'i and the Sunni schools of thought. Thus, when Agha Hasan 'Ali Shah in 1861 required the Khojas to declare their Shi'ism, the community had no hesitation in signing the document declaring their Shi'ite identity. The Shi'i mulla had prepared the community for this declar-ation of allegiance. And, the Agha Khan and his son `Ali Shah, led the community in their prayers and commemorative gatherings to mourn the martyrs of Karbala, regularly. These and other Iranian religious practices were certainly based on the Ithna 'Ashri school of thought.

Note: The quoted term "Until 1860s" means, until two decades after the arrival of the Aga Khan I to India, "Khojas were responsive to the Sunni school of thought."

Mawlana Rumi and Shams Tabriz

Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207-73) was a great mystic and dervish in Islamic history. At the age of thirty-nine, he became a student of Shams ad-Din at-Tabriz (d. 1247). Rumi is well-known for his Mathnawi, a six-volume work of mystical Sufi poems in Persian, many of which were written out of love for his spiritual mentor, Shams Tabriz. In his Farmans, Aga Khan III had quoted the philosophical messages of Mawlana Rumi and asked Ismailis to read Mathnawi to understand the philosophy of "our" religion.

Quoting a verse from the Mathnawi, the author of Noorum-Mubin (p. 316, rev.ed., 1951) claims that the name "Shams" mentioned in the quoted verse refers to the twenty-eighth Ismaili Imam, Shamsuddin Muhammad. The author also claims (p. 309) that Shams Tabriz, the spiritual mentor of Rumi, was son of the twenty-sixth Ismaili Imam, Allauddin Muhammad.

Ithna'ashri scholars have questioned these claims and pointed out that Mawlana Rumi and Shams Tabriz were both Ithna'ashries. Mawlana Rumi referred to the "Twelve Imams" of the Ithna'ashries in his Mathnawi. And, on his Mausoleum are inscribed the names of Ithna'ashri Imams.

When Aga Khan III asked his followers to read the Mathnawi, to understand the philosophy of "our" religion, he was in fact promoting the ideology of the religion of his father and grand-father, who were Sufi Ithna'ashries.

Confidential Report, Canada - 1987

In the last two decades, young Ismaili scholars and Waezins (missionaries) who have done extensive research on the subjects of the history of Ismaili Pirs, their Ginans and Ismaili beliefs have been refuting in their lectures the erroneous and baseless claims made in the past by Ismaili authors concerning the lives of these so-called "Ismaili" Pirs, the periods of their missions, the mythological concepts of equating 'Ali with Hindu deities that are associated with these Pirs, etc., whereas, elderly missionaries have been strongly advocating these ancestral beliefs.

Most of these refutations are not published for public reading. One of the reasons is that the majority of these students/waezins are financed and/or sponsored by Aga Khan's Institutions. After the completion of their studies, many of these scholars look forward to joining these institutions or their affiliated organizations as full-time paid research scholars, teachers or missionaries. However, the refutations do surface from time to time, either in their theses or during question-and-answer sessions at seminars or private lectures.

Mehboob Kamadia of Toronto published in 1987 a 175-page Confidential Report on Propagation of Anti Ismaili Elements by Scholars. He described the activities of a dozen or so young Ismaili scholars and missionaries. Copies of the report, with a covering letter recommending disciplinary action to be taken against the listed individuals, were mailed to various Ismaili institutions and the community leaders.

Kamadia's frustrations mounted when his report and the subsequent reminders got no satisfactory response or action from higher authorities. The ultimate objective of the hierarchy has been to suppress, rather than to confront, such sensitive issues in public, especially when professors from Western universities are assisting these scholars in their research.

"Contumacious treason against God"

Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him;

but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth;

to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin

most heinous indeed. Holy Qur'an 4/48

Commentary by A. Yusuf Ali:

Just as in an earthly kingdom the worst crime is that of treason, as it cuts at the very existence of that State, so in the spiritual kingdom, the unforgivable sin is that of contumacious treason against God by putting up God's creatures in rivalry against Him. This is rebellion against the essence and source of spiritual life. It is what Plato would call the "lie in the soul." But even here, if the rebellion is through ignorance, and is followed by sincere repentance and amend-ment, God's Mercy is always open (iv. 17).



Ginans - the only link with Islam

Ismaili historians have recorded that Pir Sadr-din's profession was to write and sell copies of the Holy Qur'an. The profession was also carried on by his descendants. This tells us that the Pir and his descendants were well versed with the teachings of the Holy Qur'an. After learning the local dialects, they began composing devotional songs in the local tongue and reciting them. The knowledge of Islam and the messages of the Qur'an were thus brought to the converts in their own native language, through Ginans (devotional songs) and Garbis (choral dance songs). These songs were transmitted orally, from generation to generation.

Writing and marketing of the religious songs composed by their ancestors became a profession of some of the descendants of the Pirs. These descendants were respectfully called Sayyids (literally, liege lord). The profession supplemented their income and complemented their mission of conversion. Later on, unknown Sayyids, poets, philosophers, teachers and others began adding their own compositions (songs) to the original collection.

In the late 1940s, a Head Master (head teacher) of my religious night school in Bombay, whose name was Hussein Gulamhussain Hussaini (pen-name “Musstâ€; literally, in high spirit), added his own composition to the collection. The Ginan is entitled Par karo beda Guruji. This questions an affirmation made by Ismaili scholar Azim Nanji in the Ismaili magazine Hikmat, of July 1991 (p. 27), that “By the early part of this century, the corpus of the ginan tradition, having accu mulated over several centuries, became stabilized and no new compositions have since been added.â€

A collection of canonical and non-canonical Ginans has been the base of Agakhani Ismailis' Islamic beliefs and traditions. This was their only link with Islam in their own native tongue. Even today, it serves well for the vast majority of Ismailis who do not have the inclination to read the Holy Qur'an or its translation. In the religious classes, usually conducted within the premises of the Jama`at khanas, Ismaili children are taught to recite and memorize verses of the Ginans rather than the verses of the Qur'an.

Because corpus of the Ginans, accumulated over several centuries, has been the primary media of proselytizing, it is essential to study the history of the accumulation and publication of Ginans, the various categories of the Ginans, and the process of editing of these Ginans in the early part of this century in order to understand the second and third phases of proselytizing.

Today, looking at the past, one can well imagine the possibilities for proselytizing a community whose only link with Islam was through a secondary source (Ginans) that was in circulation by oral transmission over a period of several centuries. Ashiqueali H. Hussain, President of the Ismailia Association for Pakistan (1983), writes in the foreword of Ginans of Ismaili Pirs by G. Allana that it was only in the seventeenth century that the first hand-written documents and manuscripts of the Ginans were available.

Three categories of Ginans

The Ismailia Association for India, which has been a pioneer in the research of Ginans, has classified the authorship of the Ginans into three categories:

1. Authorized Ginans composed by appointed Pirs

2. Devotional Songs composed by known Sayyids

3. Devotional Songs composed by unknown Sayyids

The last classification tells us that Songs (not Ginans) composed by unknown authors have been added to the corpus of the Ismaili Ginans.

Next to the obedience of Imam's Farmans comes the compliance with the preaching of the Ginans, for an Ismaili. Abiding by the verses of Ginans, whose authorship is not known, is an unconventional, strange custom.

Caution for the readers of the Ginans

In 1969, the Ismailia Association for India published a Gujrati series entitled Collection of Ginans. In its introductory notes the publisher has issued an astounding caution to the readers:

It should be borne in mind that many Ismaili poets, philosophers and 'Bhagats' [devout] have written songs and propagated the true path of Ismailism. Similarly, Sayyids have also composed Ginans and propagated the faith. These compositions have been preserved in our religious literature. We have only to adopt the preaching that are within these compositions. But, the Ginans of these composers cannot be given the same “weight†as those composed by the authorized Pirs that were nominated by Imam-e-Zaman.

Agakhani Ismailis who have been reciting Ginans in their Jama'at khanas from childhood are mostly unaware of the above categories or the addition of “Songs†within the corpus of “Ginans.†Besides, it is practically impossible for an average Ismaili to separate the “Songs†from the “Ginans,†because they all are published by the Ismailia Association under the nomenclature of Ginans. Similarly, it is not possible to separate the “Edited†Ginans from the “Unedited†Ginans. The process of editing has continued to this day.

Editing of the Ginans

In the last two decades, the Ismailia Association for Pakistan has published several collections of Ginans after editing the verses and making them conducive to the climate prevailing in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The office-holders of the Ismailia Association for Canada have objected to this practice of her sister association. The Ismailia Association for Pakistan has mentioned in the introductory notes that the work of editing was officially entrusted to them at a conference in Paris (1975) that was chaired by Karim Aga Khan and maintains that the editing has been done in accordance with the guidelines provided at the conference.

After a generation or two, the Ginans that will survive will be fully edited to confirm with the present Ismaili beliefs and, the others will be lost for ever.

Ivanow's work went “out of printâ€

Professor W. Ivanow is regarded by Western scholars as one of the leading authorities on Ismaili literature and history. After his migration to Bombay from St. Petersburg, Russia, Ivanow devoted his time to research and travel looking for primary documents and manuscripts on Ismaili history and doctrine.

In his Farmans to Ismailis, Aga Khan III lavishly praised Ivanow, “a Christian cleric†and Asaf Ali A. Fyzee, “a Sulaymani Bohra†for their research and study of Ismaili literature. Professor Ivanow's works were mostly published by the Ismaili Society, founded in Bombay in 1946. In those days the professor was in the good books of the Aga Khan. Ivanow had translated into English a short (unfinished) treatise in Persian on the spirit of the fundamental principles of Ismailis, written by Aga Khan III's elder brother (Pir) Shihabu'd-din Shah al-Husayni.

In 1957 and 1958, Ivanow was financed by a private “Study Group†in Mombasa, Kenya, headed by C. K. R. Paroo and M. H. Rashid, in exploring the historical site of Alamut. The aim of the expedition was to uncover the mystery surrounding to the founder of Alamut, Hasan bin Sabbah (The Old Man of the Mountain), and his successors, especially the enigmatic Grand Master, Hasan `ala dhikrihis- salam (Hasan II).

Professor Ivanow's independent research, published in Tehran in 1960, did not support Ismaili beliefs. The publication was entitled Alamut and Lamasar. Ivanow wrote (p. 25):

It would be too long to go into details of the story, but when Kiya Muhammad, the son and successor of Kiya Buzurg-Ummid [successor to Hasan bin Sabbah], died in 557/1162, he was succeeded by the person, who was officially regarded as the son of Kiya Muhammad, but later recognised as the Imam, Khudawand Hasan 'ala dhkiri-hi's- salam.

This kind of reporting, specifically the one that had challenged the genealogy of their Imam, was unacceptable to the community leaders. When Ivanow continued to write unfavourably about Ismaili history and literature, most of his publications suddenly went “out of print.â€

We learn from Professor Ivanow's later publications that some of the manuscripts that he had translated as Ismaili literature were in fact plagiarised Ithna'ashri documents, passed on to him by Ismailis as works of their Pirs and Imams.

“Ginans composed at much later date†— Ivanow

On the subject of Ginans, W. Ivanow writes in one of his out-of-print books, Ismaili Literature, published by the Ismaili Society, Tehran, 1963, under the heading “The Literature of the Khojas and Sat-panthis in India†(p. 174):

It is quite possible to think that what is now in existence is the result of a process of selection which was at work for a long time. The gnans, of which it chiefly consists, were never built into a “canonical version,†respectfully preserved. Creation of new compositions is suggested by oral tradition, the new good ones were apparently accepted, and the inferior old ones were allowed to fall in oblivion. A great majority of gnans are the creation of anonymous authors. Apparently quite a considerable proportion of those attributed to the authorship of Great Pirs probably have nothing to do with them, and were composed at a much later date. This particularly applies to the gnans about various pirs, their miracles, their sayings.

On the subject of Ginans, what Ivanow calls the “new good ones†are in reality the “new Batini Ginans,†that were plagiarized centuries later in the names of Pirs and Sayyids, and the “inferior old ones†are the “old Shari`ati Ginans†that were composed nearly seven centuries ago by the Pirs of Khojahs. We shall shortly observe what has been added and adopted under the disguise of Batiniyat and what has been allowed to fall in oblivion or discarded under the name of Shari`at.

Note: The term Batiniyat means an esoteric doctrine which is “inward†and therefore often kept secret. It also means a doctrine that is of a dubious nature. The term Shari'at means a doctrine based upon prescribed Laws. It means the canonical Laws of Islam that were revealed to Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace.

Dr. G. Allana's critical notes on Ginans

The Ismailia Association for Pakistan has published in 1984 a book entitled Ginans of Ismaili Pirs, by Huzur Vazir Dr. Ghulamali Allana. On page 51 of Volume I, we find an interesting observation by the author, who after quoting a verse of a Ginan which is said to have been written by an Ismaili Pir named Nooruddin, writes:

The above ginan has been written in Hindi. It is interesting to point out that it is generally believed that the earliest poets [sic] in Hindi was Amir Khusroo, born in Uttar Pradesh, India, in the year 1253 a.d. and who died in the year 1325 a.d.

According to Dr. Allana, Pir Nooruddin came to India 200 years before Khusroo. The question is, did Pir Nooruddin write these Ginans in Hindi (an Indic language) 200 years before Khusroo or did someone who wrote them later gave the authorship to the Pir?

After quoting verses from Pir Sadr-din's Ginan and a famous Sindhi poet's work, Allana writes (pp. 90-91):

Pir Sadruddin was born in 1300 a.d., and Shah Abdul Latif in 1688 a.d. Both wrote poetry, among other languages, in Sindhi. It is interesting to note that in the above refrain, Pir Sadruddin has written in the last line; in Sindhi, thus:

. Shah Abdul Latif, three hundred and ninety years after Pir Sadruddin, has put same thought, in about identical words, as follows
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Continued from Section Two


1840 A.D. — A political refugee from Persia

Professor Peter B. Clarke writes in the December 1976 issue of the British Journal of Sociology that in 1840, the first Aga Khan (Shah Hasan `Ali Shah) fled from Persia after an unsuccessful rebellion against the throne. The political refugee came to Afghanistan, accompanied by a few hundred of his horsemen, seeking the sanctuary of the British Raj. Before leaving Persia, the Aga Khan had sent his family to Iraq, fearing persecution from Emperor Muhammad Shah and his army. For the majority of Persians that were conforming to the Twelver Shi'ah persuasion of Islam, Iraq was a center of refuge.

Having lost all his lands in Persia, the “adventurous and romanticâ€

Aga Khan was obliged to help the government of British India in their conquest of Afghanistan and, thereafter of Sind, who in turn could help him recover his lost territories from the Shah of Persia.

“Aga Khan†is not a title

Many Ismailis regard “Aga Khan†to be a title conferred upon Aga Hasan Ali Shah (Aga Khan I) by the late Shah of Persia. According to Aga Khan III's own admission before Justice Russell at the Haji Bibi Case (Bombay Law Reporter, 1908, Volume 11, p. 432) “['Aga Khan'] is not a title but a sort of 'alias,' a pet name when Hassan Ali

[Aga Khan I] was a young man....â€

Biographer Willi Frischauer records in The Aga Khans that Shah Hasan 'Ali Shah was known in Persia by the pet name of Aga Khan (great chief), which he adopted as his hereditary title. Dr. Daftary writes (p. 23) that “Aqa Khan†is the proper term for “Agha Khan.â€

1851 A.D. — Attempt to acquire community properties

Documents recorded with the High Courts of Bombay indicate that Aga Khan I, who was a kind of political prisoner of the British Government in Calcutta at the insistence of the Persian ruler Muhammad `Ali Shah, came to Mazagon (Bombay) in 1849. As soon as the Aga Khan moved his headquarters to Bombay, he aspired to take over the properties belonging to the Khojah community of Bombay. These properties were built long before the arrival of the Aga Khan, by the Khojah community with their own resources, as declared before the judiciary.

The Khojahs had from time to time subscribed money for the Jamat's purposes and out of such subscriptions, legacies and gifts, the Jamat had become possessed of a Durgah, and burial ground and Masjid, and also a Jamatkhana and some other property.

In 1851, a Declaration of Rights was pronounced by Justice Sir Erskine Perry, which read: “...the property belonged exclusively to the Jamat, and that the Jamat and not the Aga Khan, could dispose it off as it liked.†Sir Erskine Perry also pronounced that: “Every Khojah be he a Soonee, or a Sheeah, had a right to go to the Jamatkhana for worship, and to use the utensils and other properties therein.â€

The above pronouncement tells us that Sunni Khojahs used to go to Khojah Jama`at khanas for worshipping. Obviously, Sunni Khojahs must be reciting Namaz of the Sunni Tariqah, in the Jama'at khanas, as a part of their worship. No Sunni Muslim would recite Du'a of the Ismaili Tariqah in which 'Ali is witnessed “Sahi Allah or Aliyyullah.â€

Today, the Khojah Jama'at khanas, the Khojah burial grounds, and the patriarchal Durgahs of the Khojahs have become the private property of Karim Aga Khan. Only the followers of the Aga Khan are allowed to enter these Jama`at khanas. The followers can only recite Ismaili Du'a and not the Islamic Salah (Namaz) in these Jama'at khanas.

1861 A.D. — Aga Khan admits “Khojahs are Sunnisâ€

In the cause célèbre tried in the High Court of Bombay before Sir Joseph Arnould in April and June 1866, and popularly known as “The Khojah Case†or “Aga Khan Case,†a judgment document was issued on 12 November 1866 and recorded in the Bombay High Court Reporter (Volume 12, 1866, pp. 323-63). Going through that document we come across a crucial remark made by Justice Arnould about an Exhibit, numbered 19, that was filed by the Aga Khan's own Counsel during the trial. Exhibit No. 19 tells us that until 1861 the converted Khojahs were Sunni Muslims, according to Aga Khan's own admission.

An extract from the judgment document reads:

...on the 20th October, 1861, Aga Khan thought fit to publish the paper, a translation of which is printed in Schedule B to his answer, and is also filed as Exhibit No. 19.

In this paper Aga Khan expresses his desire to bring the Khojahs to conform to the practices “of the Imamujah creed of his holy ancestors,â€....He states that having seen it in print that the Khojahs are Sunis [sic], and that a certain person (meaning himself) is “peremptorily inviting them to embrace the Imamujah creed,†he has prepared this paper....The paper ends thus. “Now he who may be willing to obey my orders shall write his name in this book...that I may know him.â€

After a few generations of allowing people to read and hear that their ancestors were converted as Imami Nizari Ismailis by the Pirs that came to India from Persia, it is very difficult to convince otherwise. However, the above recorded fact shows that twenty years after the arrival of the Aga Khan in India, the converts of Pir Sadr-din were yet Sunni Muslims.

The facts presented hereafter show that Aga Khan I and his family members were practicing the Ithna'ashri faith and that the concept of “Hazar Imam†was either missing or had not yet been developed.

“Taziyadari†— “an obligatory duty†writes Aga Khan I

The year in which Aga Khan invited Khojahs to join the faith of his ancestors, he published his autobiography in Persian. The book was entitled Ibrat-afza and was lithographed in Bombay in 1861. The narrative is in the first person and the work is written in simple prose, according to Professor W. Ivanow. In his autobiography, Aga Khan I, described his journey from Persia and the difficulties he had to face before reaching Bombay.

Four years later, the autobiography was translated into Gujrati and published for Bawa Karim Dadji by Oriental Press, Bombay. Ibrat- afza is one of those rare books of which Ismailis of this age have no knowledge. In fact most of the Ismailis do not even know that Aga Khan I wrote his autobiography. Below is an English translation of an extract from the Gujrati translation. The selected portion is from the last page of Aga Khan's description of his journey from Gujrat to Bombay:

...thereafter I travelled to Anjar and after accomplishing the Jama'ati work of the surrounding districts I travelled to Halar and Kathiawar. And, in the month of Muharram 1261 A.H. [1845 A.D.), I fulfilled the rituals of “Taziyadari†for Abba Abdullah of Jamnagar ...thereafter travelled to Damman via the port of Surat. And, in the month of Muharram in 1262 a.h. [1846 a.d.], I fulfilled the “Lawajama†[the obligatory duties] of “Taziyadari†in Damman. From there, in the end part of the month of Safar of the said year, I arrived in Bombay.

The word “Taziyah†means “solace†or “condolence.†It is also a name, in the Shi'ah Ithna'ashriyya sect, for a “passion play†wherein a preacher verbally recreates the details of 1400-year-old historical events and arouses frenzied compassion for the martyrs. The act of fulfilling this religious duty is called “Taziyadari.â€

Aga Khan I has confirmed that in 1261 and 1262 A.H. (1845 and 1846 A.D.), he had “fulfilled the obligatory duties of Taziyadari.†This statement would certainly make an Agakhani Ismaili look back into the history of his Imams and ponder; if his forty- sixth Imam, Aga Khan I, was a living Imam or if he was advocating the concept of an ever- living “Hazar†Imam, then how could he have mourned for a dead Imam or participated in the ritual of “passion play†(Taziyadari). And, that too with a conviction that the rituals performed by him were the components of his obligatory duties. To commemorate a dead Imam was to admit that the Imamate, which in essence is spiritual and not physical, had not been passed on to the next Imam and it died with the dead Imam.

“Passion Play†or Taziyadari is a hallmark of the Ithna'ashri faith. Shi'ah Imami Ismailis do not mourn the death of any of their past Imams. The month of Muharram comes and goes unnoticed by them.

Ismailis often defend the fact that the ancestors of Karim Aga Khan were Nizari Imami Ismailis but were practising the Ithna'a shriyya faith, perhaps for the sake of Taqiyyah (dissimulation in order to protect oneself), because of religious persecutions in Persia. However, the rituals mentioned in the autobiography were performed in India during the British India rule under which everyone enjoyed the freedom of religious practices.

Khalu Jama'at

Eventually, Aga Khan I settled in a palace in Bombay together with his entourage. The palace was called “Aga Hall.†In his Memoirs, Aga Khan calls it “a place of pilgrimage†for his followers. In the servant quarters of the palace were settled the distant relatives of the Aga Khan and the descendants of the horsemen that accompanied Aga Khan when he arrived in India. These Persian-speaking relatives and ex-comrades of Aga Khan were known as “Khalu†and the community as a whole was known as Khalu Jama`at. Many of these Khalus used to work for the Aga Khan and look after his racehorses. Almost all of them received a pension or free quarter on Aga Khan's land in Bombay or Poona. In the course of time, many of these Persian-speaking Khalus “married Indian wives, many of them of Ismaili families,†writes Aga Khan in his Memoirs. In other words, Khalu families were not considered as “Ismaili families†by the late Aga Khan. As we shall observe in the following pages, Khalus were Ithna'ashries.

Khalu families and the black dresses

During the Second World War, the British military had taken over the Aga Hall and converted into a school in which I was studying. The English-speaking young Khalus, who were residing in the compound of the Aga Hall became friendly with the Ismaili students. They were often surprised at the strange beliefs of Khojah Ismailis for one of their fellow countryman.

During the month of Muharram and the following ten days, almost all members of this Khalu Jama'at, with the exception of a few families that had intermarried with Ismailis, would wear black dresses. They would strictly observe the solemnity of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn in Kerbala. During these days of mourning, they would have no social entertainments or festivities. The closest relatives of the Aga Khan, with the exception of a couple of families, used to frequent the Mogul Imambaras of the Shi`ah Ithna'ashries in Bombay and Poona wearing black dresses.

In those days no believing Ismaili would wear a black garment at any time of the year. Black was regarded as a symbol of the dissident Khojahs. Visiting Jama'at khanas or attending social functions wearing a black dress was a kind of taboo.

Invocation of Fourteen Ma'sums

The fact that the ancestors of Aga Khan I were practising Ithna'ashri faith is further attested by Dr. John Hollister in the following text. He writes in 'The Shi'a Of India' (p. 335), quoting an extract from one of the Ivanow's rare book, 'Tombs of Some Persian Ismaili Imams'(pp.53-54):

Within the mausoleum there are five graves besides the central one, and others are outside. Within, tombstones “are fixed in the walls in a standing position†which helps to preserve them. The central grave is covered with a sanduq (box) of carved wood. The carvings contain the usual sura Ya' Sin, an invocation of blessings upon the fourteen ma'sums, and rhythmically repeating ornament with square svastion- like combination of four words, 'Ali. In one place it is clearly written: `this is the box (sanduq) of Shah Mustansir bi'llah, the son of Shah 'Abdu's salam.' Written on the 10th of Muharrum 904.


1. Ismaili historians have recorded that their thirty-fourth Imam was named Gharib Mirza but was known as Shah Mustansir bi'llah III. He was a son of Imam 'Abdu's salam. He died in 902 a.h. (1498 a.d.).

2. The term “fourteen ma'sums†refers to Bibi Khadija (the wife of the Prophet), Bibi Fatima (the wife of Imam 'Ali), and the twelve Imams of the Ithna'ashries.

3. Any one that invokes blessings upon “twelve Imams†has accepted the Imamate of Imam Musa Kazim and his descendants. Consequently, he has rejected the Imamate of Imam Ismail (the brother of Musa Kazim) and of his descendants as well.

One has but to admit that such a person cannot be qualified as an “Ismaili†or as an “Imam of the Imami Nizari Ismailis.†In other words, Shah Mustansir bi'llah and his family members were “Twelvers†Shi'ahs and not Nizari Imami Ismailis.

1905 A.D. — Aga Khan III's frank admission

In 1905, a suit was brought against Aga Khan III and some of his relatives by a widow named Haji Bibi. The widow was a daughter of Jungi Shah, an uncle of Aga Khan III. The petition was filed in the High Court of Bombay under Civil Suit No. 729. All extracts connected with the Haji Bibi Case quoted hereafter are reproduced from the Bombay Law Reporter (O.C.J. 1908, Volume 11. Justice Russell records in his judgment (p. 425):

There can be no doubt that the mother of defendant 1 [Aga Khan III] and some of his relatives are Asnasharis. He himself frankly admitted that he had been present on an occasion when the Ziarat to the 3rd, 8th and the 12th Imams [of the Asnasharis] was said but he did not repeat it....

Note: The participants at a Ziarat ceremony listen to the recitation. They do not have to repeat it.

1905 A.D. — Questions and answers in Kilwa, Tanganyika

In 1905, a German officer arranged a meeting between Aga Khan III and a group of Khojahs in the port of Kilwa, Tanganyika, East Africa. At that time the territory was under the German rule. The group members were Khojah Shariff Noormohammed, Suleman Walji, and Haji Suleman Bhimji. An Ismaili named Hasambhai acted as an interpreter on behalf of the Aga Khan. The purpose of the meeting was to resolve some of the issues that the members of the Khojah community had raised during the Aga Khan's visit to Tanganyika. The questions asked by the group and the answers given by the Aga Khan at this meeting were published in a booklet. Below is the translation of one particular question and its answer, which appear on pp. 20-21:

Shariff Noormohamed questions:

Four years ago from now, in Savant 1952 (i.e., 1901 A.D.), during the month of Ramadhan, I was in Bombay. On the nights of 19th, 21st, and 23rd Ramadhan there were gatherings in the main Jamatkhana. At these gatherings you had placed Qur'an upon your head, asked the others to do so and did the Amal of Sabe-Qad'r. During these ritual the names of each of the Ithna'ashri Imams were taken ten times and thereafter Magfarat (forgiveness) was sought from Allah in the name of “Fourteen Ma'sums.†At that time you did not remember the Ismaili Imams. Please explain your reasons for this.

The Aga Khan answers:

Imam Jaffar Sadiq had two sons. One was Musa and the other was Ismail. Now please tell me, what is the relationship between the sons of Musa and Ismail?

Shariff Noormohamed replies:

Cousin brothers.

The Aga Khan rejoins:

They are our cousin brothers. Evidently, we should remember them. Why should we not remember them? Because of you!

Such an evasive response and remark by a person claiming to be a Mazhar (literally, copy, manifestation) of Allah and a Spiritual Father and Mother of his followers cannot but reflect adversely. It nevertheless clearly shows that Aga Khan III himself led and his followers participated routinely, in Ithna'ashriyya ceremonies and indeed Ithna'ashrism was practised by him and his community well into the first few decades of the 20th century.

“Jangname†were read in every Jama'at khana

Jangname (literally, narratives of war; in Shi'ah terminology events describing the martyrdom of Imam Husayn in Kerbala) that the Aga Khans had brought with them from Persia were translated into the Sindhi language. These Jangname were recited in every Jama`at khana of India and East Africa starting from 10th of Dhu'l-hijja until the Chelum (the fortieth day of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn).

Hollister writes (pp. 409-10):

The first Agha Khan used to attend the jama'at khana for the recitation of the day- to-day events of Muharram, and so did the second Agha Khan. By way of concession majalis for the recital of the story of Husain are still continued in the jama'at khana, but the present Agha Khan never attends,...

Aga Khan III allowed the recitations of Qissahs and Bayyans in the Jama'at khanas. This fact also is evident from his early Farmans, in which he tells his followers not to place their trust in everything that is narrated in these Qissahs and Bayyans.

Until the beginning of the twentieth century, Bapu Missionary, father-in-law of missionary Abualy Aziz, used to sit on a wooden Takhat (raised platform) and do the recitation in the chief Jama'at khana of Bombay.

Aga Khan — a murid of Mast 'Ali Shah

Referring to a text from Ibrat-afza, the autobiography in Persian written by Hasan 'Ali Shah, Agha Khan Mahallati (ed. Husayn Kuhi Kirmani, Tehran, 1325/1946, p. 13), Farhad Daftary writes in 'The Ismailis: Their History and Doctrines' (Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1990, p. 507):

At the time of Muhammad Shah's [Emperor of Persia's] coronation, Mast 'Ali Shah, who had been enjoying the Agha Khan's hospitality for some time at Mahallat, accompanied his Nizari friend [Agha Khan] to Tehran. As a reflection of their close friendship, Mast 'Ali Shah indeed once boasted to Muhammad Shah that 'I have a murid like the Aqa Khan who himself has thousands of murids in most countries (bilad) of the world'.

Mast 'Ali Shah (Hajji Zayn al-'Abidin Shirwani) was a successor to Majdhub 'Ali Shah, the thirty-eighth Qutb of the ibn 'Ata Allah Sufi Order. Aga Khan I had initiated himself in this Sufi order. In the literary sense the word majdhub means “holy fool,†a person who is seemingly mad but possesses an aura of sanctity. Ismaili historians have recorded that the ancestors of Aga Khan were affiliated with the Nimat Allahi Sufi order. Their fortieth Imam Nizar was “commonly known as Ataullah in the Sufic circle†and Imam's followers “were known as Ata'ilahis or Ata'is.†Non-Ismaili scholars Pourjavady, Nasrollah and Peter Lamborn Wilson have written articles in Studia Islamic (Volume 41, 1975) on “Isma'ilis and Ni'matullahis.â€

In the Ismaili concept, “Hazar Imam†is the Supreme Authority and also a Mazhar (literally, copy, manifestation) of Allah. It is indeed surprising that an individual who had a god like status among his followers and was acknowledged as the fountainhead of all knowledge and all authority, was himself a follower and had a Master!

Aga Khan no different from any other Syed

In the famous Haji Bibi Case of 1905, Justice Russell has recorded the evidence of witness Gulam Hussein Alu Muraj (Bombay Law Reporter, p. 454) as under:

There is no difference between the present Aga Khan and any other Syed. There are many thousands of Syeds in the world....I consider them equal, they are descendants from Fatima. There was no difference between Ali Shah and the descendants of Syeds in the world. I give the same answer as to Hasan Ali....I believe they were Syeds because they said so....This has been so ever since I can remember.

Aga Khan was called “Pir Salamut†by Khojahs

Nawroji M. Dumasia, an assistant editor of the 'Times of India', Bombay, is one of the few authors who have published books on the early history of the Aga Khans. In his Memoirs, Aga Khan addresses Dumasia as “a talented Parsee and a friend.â€

Dr. John Norman Hollister quotes an important passage from Mr. Dumasia's book 'A Brief History of the Aga Khan' pp.85-85 in his book The Shi'a of India (p. 366):

In Bombay the Agha Khan occasionally presided at the Jamat Khana or Council Hall of the Khojas (which, together with other landed properties was purchased out of the offerings made to the Agha Khan whom they called the 'Pir Salamut') on the more sacred anniversaries of the Mahomedan calendar. On the occasion of the Mohurrum he attended with some state to hear the solemn recitation by Shiah Moolas of the legend of the great Martyrdom. On stated days he led the 'nimaz' or prayer in the Jamat Khana and presided over the distribution of water mixed with the holy dust of Kerbella.


1. The quoted text tells us that the Aga Khan, after having got the control of the Khojah Jama`at Khana and the Council Hall in Bombay, was yet called “Pir Salamut†and not “Imam Salamut†by his followers.

2. That the Aga Khan had not corrected his followers during all these years shows that the Khojahs had accepted Aga Khan as a Sufi Pir (Master), which he was. In those days, there were many Ithna'ashri Sufi Masters in Persia who had their followers. Since the Aga Khan was an eminent follower of a Persian Sufi Master Mast `Ali Shah, he could have been very well accepted as a Sufi Pir (Master) by the Khojahs and hence was called “Pir Salamut.â€

3. The quoted text records, “on the occasion of the Mohurrum†Aga Khan and his followers were attending “the solemn recitation of the legend of the great Martyrdom†in the Jama`at khanas of Bombay. This unequivocally proves that Aga Khan I and his followers were practising the Ithna'ashri faith. The practice of Rozakhani (reciting legends of the suffer ings of Imam Husayn and his family members at Kerbala) and Ziarat of the great Martyrdom even continued during the early years of my parents.

4. The quoted passage also tells us that the converted Khojahs were reciting “Nimaz†and Aga Khan I used to lead the “Nimaz.†My father- in-law tells me that his grandfather used to recite “Nimaz†(Namaz) in those days.

The obvious question is, who abolished this practice of reciting Islamic Namaz from the Khojah Jama'at khanas and introduced the practise of reciting Du'a facing the photographs of Aga Khan? And, before the arrival of the Aga Khans, whose photographs were hung from the walls of the “Ismaili†Jama'at khanas, if there were any? Prior to the arrival of the Aga Khans, the Jama'at khanas were known as Khojah Jama'at khanas. Shi'ahs and Sunnis, both used to attend these places of worship, as declared by Sir Erskine Perry in his judgment.

Bring forward an authority

“These our people have taken for worshipgods other than Him: Why do they not bring forward an authority clear (and convincing) for what they do? Who doth more wrong than

such as invent a falsehood against Allah?†Holy Qur'an 18/15


Aga Khan's “Circular†disputed for twenty years

As we have seen during the first phase of proselytization, the Hindus were converted to Khojah Sunni Muslim, by Pir Sadr-din and his descendants. The second phase started with Aga Khan I arriving in India.

When he first came to India, he and the horsemen that accompanied him were practising the Shi'ah Ithna'ashriyya rites and rituals that their ancestors had observed in Persia. After having seen that the converted Khojahs were Sunnis, as acknowledged in his letter of invitation dated 20 October 1861, quoted previously, he extended an invitation to these Khojah Sunni Muslims to join the creed of his ancestors, that is to become Khojah Shi`a Ithna'ashries. It is very important to note that the invitation extended in 1861 by the Aga Khan I, was not to join the Nizari Imami Ismaili faith but to join the “Imamujah creed of his holy ancestors.â€

The converts of Pir Sadr-Din, the ancestors of the Agakhani Ismailis, did not immediately accept him as their religious leader. “The first Agha Khan established his religious authority in India after some difficulties,†records Dr. Daftary (p. 514).

In 1845, prior to the date of this invitation, Aga Khan I had issued a “Circular†addressed to the Khojahs of India, asking them to change their religious ceremonies to Shi'ah Tariqah and ritual, to be performed by Shi'ah Maulvis and Sayyids instead of Sunni Mullahs.

Alimohammad J. Chunara writes in Noorum- Mubin (p. 661) that some influential wealthy Jama'ati members opposed the order and said:

“Khojahs are originally Sunni, therefore the ceremonies of their marriages and griefs should be performed at the hands of Sunni Mullahs under the rituals of Ahle Sunnat.â€

In Kutchh, the Khojahs of Kera opposed the Circular. At the command of Aga Khan I, his son Aga 'Ali Shah came to Kutchh in 1858 to settle the dispute. But, Noorum-Mubin records, the party belonging to the residents of Kera was very strong and did not come to terms. In Kathiawar, the Khojahs of Mahuwa opposed the Circular. They too refused to obey the order. Finally, in 1874 (i.e., eight years after the judgment of the “Khojah Caseâ€) a settlement was reached, records Noorum-Mubin.

“Reciting Namaz with hands folded makes it nullâ€

Editor Jaffarali of a Gujrati monthly, Alamdar, writes in Noor-e-Haqq (Bombay, 1964, p. 27):

A warning was issued by Aga Khan the third in a small booklet published in Gujrati in Bombay in Hijri 1312 [1895 a.d.], 'Khojah kom na mazhab na ketlak mul-tatwoh tatha kirya sabandhi nu nanu pustak' on the subject of the fundamental basic religious rites and ceremonies of the Khojah community. Aga Khan pronounced that reciting Namaz (Salah) with both hands folded and/or saying of “Ameen†after “Sura al-Hamd†during the Namaz, makes it null and void, except in the case of observing a Taqiyyah (dissimulation).

The Shi'ah Muslims keep their hands on their sides while reciting their Namaz and the Sunni Muslims (except for those following the Maliki school of thought) recite with both their hands folded. This document confirms that when this booklet was published by the Aga Khan, the converted Khojahs were Sunni Muslims and had been reciting the Namaz in accordance with the Sunni Tariqah of Islam which necessitated issuance of such a warning.

Aga Khan's greatest hour

Below is an extract from the article “My Finest Hour†written by Aga Khan III for the British media and reproduced by his biographer Harry J. Greenwall in The Aga Khan (p. 46):

My greatest hour — I have no doubt of it — occurs regularly every week. It is on a Friday, and invariably sometime after noon. Every Friday I, like every other Moslem in the world, spend an hour in meditation and prayer. That hour is my greatest hour. The little instrument which lies before me as I write — a watch and compass combined, which I carry with me wherever I go — tells me the time has come, and it also tells me in what direction I am to turn.

Always I must turn towards Mecca,....I am a very busy man, and it is on very few occasions indeed that I find myself in the Moslem mosques at Woking or in Paris. If I cannot go there, I simply kneel down wherever I happen to be....


1. The Mosque at Woking being a Sunni Mosque, the Imam of the Mosque leads the prayers with folded hands. In accordance with the above warning the Namaz of that Imam and his followers would be null and void, yet Aga Khan preferred to go to Woking.

2. If Friday Noon Prayer was the greatest hour for the Aga Khan, then he should have directed his followers to pray at that time also. Unfortunately, the Ismaili Jama'at khanas all over the world are closed at noontime because there is no such thing as Noon Prayers in the Ismaili doctrine.

3. Aga Khan kept a small compass and recited his prayers facing Mecca. His followers recite prayers facing any direction they choose, preferably in front of a photograph of Aga Khan.

1864 A.D. — Sunni Mullah replaced with Shi'ah Mullah

The documents filed in the famous “Khojah Case of 1866†reveal that two years before the case, in February 1864, Aga Khan I, removed the officiating Sunni Mullah from the old Khojah Mosque in Bombay and replaced him with a Shi`ah Mullah to perform the ceremonies according to Shi'ah forms.


1. If the converted Khojahs were Shi'ahs then they would not have hired a Sunni Mullah to officiate their religious ceremonies, especially in the city of Bombay where there has never been a shortage of Shi'ah Mullahs.

2. A Sunni Mullah will not recite and invoke blessings upon the names of “Twelve Imams†or “Hazar Imam,†hence the religious ceremonies of the Shi`ahs cannot be performed by a Sunni Mullah which often 'necessitates sending blessings upon these names.

3. Aga Khan had established his headquarters in Bombay since 1849.

If the Mosque and the Durgah in Bombay belonged to his followers, he could have removed the Sunni Mullah forthwith and not after fifteen years.

1866 A.D. — A turning point in history

In 1866, a complaint was filed against Aga Khan and others in the High Court of Bombay. It is popularly known as the “Khojah Case.†In the judgement document, it is recorded:

...the relators and plaintiffs contend that Pir Sadr-ud-din, (whom both sides admit to have originally converted the Khojahs from Hinduism to some form of Mahomedanism) was a Suni; that the Khojah community has ever since its first conversion been and now is, Suni; and that no persons calling themselves Khojahs who are not Sunis, are entitled to be considered members of the Khojah community, or to have any share or interest in the public property of the Khojah community or any voice in the management thereof.

The plaintiffs lost the court battle. Historians write that a landmark court decision pronounced by Justice Sir Joseph Arnould in favour of the Aga Khan was a turning point in the history of the Khojah community, and the years of exile for the political refugee from Iran were over. At the time of the judgment all the properties of the Khojah Jama'at, including the Jama'at khanas, burial grounds, etc., stood in the name of the Jama`at, and after that date the properties were transferred into the name of Aga Khan. The judgment sealed the fate of the Khojah community. Aga Khan got a Raj (regime) of his own to dictate and steer the Khojah Muslims the way he and his descendants would decide.

1866 A.D. — Majority defeated, minority wins

Justice Arnould recorded in his judgment document that there were between 13,000 to 15,000 houses or families of Khojah Muslims in the 1860s. Continuing a little further, he wrote that Aga Khan's Counsel had submitted, along with the previously mentioned Exhibit No. 19, a book of signature. The document also tells us that the said Exhibit ended thus: “Now he who may be willing to obey my [Aga Khan's] orders shall write his name in this book that I may know him.†The judgment document records that the book “was signed by some 1,700 males.†This clearly shows that only an insignificant minority, 1700 males out of 13,000 or 15,000 families of Khojahs, had shown their willingness to obey his orders.

Raj's policy: “Divide and Ruleâ€

A question is often asked: Why did Justice Arnould, knowing the above facts, pass a judgment that would give Aga Khan the authority to command a community eighty-two percent of whose families or heads of families were not willing to obey his orders? Here are the plausible answers:

1. During the period of Imperial Colonial Rule, it was a well-known policy of the British Raj to “Divide and Rule.†With this court decree (issued by a British judge) the Colonial administration was able to separate a group of 15,000 Indian Muslims from their formidable international brotherhood, the Ummah.

2. By placing this newly separated community under the leadership of a staunch ally of the British, the Raj created a new religious party that would be friendly and cooperative with the administration.

3. The following submission, made by Aga Khan's Counsel before Justice Arnould and quoted in the judgment document appears to be a sort of indirect, circuitous reminder to one of the representatives of the British Government of India that a return favour was due.

...during the latter stages of the Afghan war (in 1841 and 1842) [Aga Khan and his cavalry members] were of some service to General Nott in Candahar and also to General England in his advance from Scinde to join Nott. For these services and for others which he was enabled to render to Sir Charles Napier in his conquest of Scinde in 1843-44 Aga Khan received, and it seems still enjoys, a pension from the British Government of India.

The Aga Khan was seeking a territorial “Raj†in return for the services that he and his cavalry had offered to Her Majesty the Queen of England. One can say that the favour was returned and Aga Khan got a “Raj†to rule a community instead of a territory. Aga Khan III records in his Memoirs that the court decision accorded his grandfather “princely status by the British Raj and its representatives in India.â€

Diamond Rattansi — an Ismaili scholar

Diamond Rattansi is an Ismaili scholar from North America. Extracts from his works Islamization and the Khojah Isma'ili Community in Pakistan (Ph.D. dissertation, Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University, Canada, 1987) and “The Nizari Ismailis of Pakistan: Ismailism, Islam and Westernism viewed through the Firmans: 1936-1980†are often quoted by university professors in their articles. On the subject of Justice Arnould's verdict Rattansi writes (p. 29):

The British not only confirmed the Agha Khan's absolute and divine authority but had earlier recognized Isma'ili loyalty to the British by granting the Agha Khan the title of “His Highness,†and a life pension of Rs. 3,000 per annum. In this gesture the British probably sought an advantage by rallying support against those Muslims who resented the British rule.

A pagan emperor seals the fate of Christians

Nearly three centuries before the birth of Prophet Muhammad, the Christian community was on the brink of dividing into two. A Christian scholar, Arius, advocated Arianism, which professed that the Father alone was really God and that Jesus was different from his Father and did not share in the being of “God the Father.â€

Bishop Alexander and his Church advocated Trinitarian beliefs. They excommunicated Arius and declared Arianism a Christian heresy. The theological rift became serious and divided the Christian community. The monotheism promoted by Arius gained widespread support and the Church began to lose ground.

It is interesting to know who played a prominent part in deciding for the Christians their future: a pagan Emperor named Constantine (d. 337), who had nothing to do with Jesus Christ or Christianity. The Trinity document was drafted under his auspices in his Imperial palace by a Council. An Imperial Decree made that document a law of the land.

The fate of one and a half billion Christians today, was sealed by a pagan Decree that was promulgated sixteen centuries ago by a pagan Emperor.

A Christian judge seals the fate of Khojahs

A similar situation arose in the middle of the nineteenth century within the Khojah community of India. Aga Khan advocated Shi'ahism, which would give him the needed authority to rule the community. The group that filed a suit with the British Courts advocated Sunnism, which would deny Aga Khan the role of a spiritual leader.

The evidence recorded by the court very explicitly shows that only a small percentage of the Khojah Muslims was willing to take orders from the Aga Khan.

A Christian judge appointed by the British Raj, who had nothing to do with Prophet Muhammad or Islam, decided for a community of Muslims whether their religious practices and beliefs should be regulated and dictated by a certain Persian “nobleman†or by the Sunnah (literally, custom) as practised by the Prophet of Islam. The fate of nearly one million Khojah Muslims today, was sealed by a British decree signed by a Christian judge in 1866.

1841 A.D. — Aga Khan's “Stout assistance†to the British

In his Memoirs (p. 182) Aga Khan III recorded with pride the “stout assistance†rendered by his grandfather “to the British in their process of military and imperial expansion northwards and westwards from the Punjab†and “during the latter stages of the first Afghan War, in 1841 and 1842.â€

Today, this “stout assistance†for the expansion of Christian Raj in India is regarded by many scholars as a disservice to Islam. Willi Frischauer writes in The Aga Khans (Bodley Head, London, p. 48):

The Aga Khan was gratified when his help in the Afghan war was recognised: 'As a reward for my services,' he wrote, 'the General gave me presents. He further assigned to me the territory of Moola Rusheed yielding an income of forty thousand rupees.'

Betrayal avenged by Baluchi Mirs

When Aga Khan I came to Sind from Afghanistan, he and his army weregiven shelter by Mir Nasir Khan of Sind. When Sir Charles Napier was about to attack the Mirs (Amirs), the Aga Khan had promised the Mirs his support. “When the British attacked Sind, the Aga Khan led his own cavalry regiment in the field by their [british] side. The campaign ended with the conquest of Sind...,†records Willi Frischauer (p. 48).

After the conquest of Sind, Aga Khan helped the British subjugate Baluchi Mir Shir (Shermohammad) Khan. He sent his brother Muhammad Baqir Khan and his horsemen to help the British, records Dr. Farhad Daftary (p. 511).

Aga Khan's betrayal was avenged by Mir Shir Khan. In 1843, the Mir and his cavalry attacked the camp of Aga Khan in the town of Zirukh (Sind) and pillaged his possessions. Noorum-Mubin records that seventy Ismailis died that night. The Aga Khan saved his life by fleeing on a horse in his night shirt in the darkness of night. During the flight, he fell off his horse, became unconscious and had to be carried away to Hyderabad by his followers. Ismailis respect those killed at Zirukh as martyrs.

1898 A.D. — Aga Khan's assistance to Jewish settlement

In his Memoirs Aga Khan III recorded the personal assistance and services that he offered to his Zionist friend Haffkine, an eminent bacteriologist of Bombay. Professor Haffkine was a Soviet Jew and a strong proponent of the settlement of European Jews in the Holy Land. The Jewish professor had successfully convinced the Aga Khan that establishment of Zionism in Palestine was a good idea. Aga Khan writes (p. 151): “As Haffkine propounded it, I thought this sort of Zionism useful and practical.â€

In 1898, Aga Khan approached Sultan Abdul Hamid of the Ottoman Empire with a statement for the establishment of a Jewish settlement in Palestine. The statement was prepared by Rabbi Kahn, who was introduced to Aga Khan by Professor Haffkine. The scheme was turned down by the Sultan. The late Aga Khan, who had been claiming all along to have Arab blood in his veins, expressed his disappointment in these words:

However, the scheme, good or bad as it may have been, was turned down by the Sultan, and I heard no more of it. I must say its rejection has always seemed to me one of Abdul Hamid's greatest blunders.

1906 A.D. — Aga Khan dismisses “Khojah Joostisâ€

Immediately after the Haji Bibi Case of 1905, Aga Khan dismissed the jurisprudent committees of the Khojah Community. These committees were operative in India from olden days and were known as “Khojah Joostis.†Aga Khan replaced these Joostis with “Shi'ah Imami Ismaili Councils.†The elected members of the Khojah Joostis were generally elderly members of the community, including Mukhi and Kamadia, and were selected by the Jama'at on the merits of their experience to resolve Jama'ati problems. The office-holders of the Ismailia Councils were now appointed by the Aga Khan. The democratic process was thus abolished.

Since 1906, appointments for the posts of Local, Regional, Provincial, National, and World Councils have been hand-picked (nominated) by the Aga Khans. Recently, appeals by Ismailis have appeared in the local papers of Africa requesting the Aga Khan to restore the democratic process of election for these and other administrative posts in the community.

1910 A.D. — “Khojahs†become “Obedient Agakhanisâ€

In 1910, Aga Khan promulgated a legally drafted “Shi'ah Imami Ismaili Constitution,†ordained under his seal. He made a strict Farman (religious pronouncement) to his Jama'at, commanding them to abide by the promulgated laws. In 1906, the democratic process of electing community leadership was abolished from the Khojah Jama'at. Now the nominated leaders of the Jama`at were obligated to decide the Jamati problems within the frame work of a constitution that was ordained by the Aga Khan. The essential role of the nominated members of the Aga Khan's “Shi`ah Imami Ismailia Councils†was and is to see that the Khojah Jama`at dutifully obeys the laws that are ordained by the Aga Khans from time to time.

The Constitution of 1910 has been periodically revised and upgraded. The most recent one was ordained in Geneva on December 13, 1986. The opening article of this Constitution is entitled “Power and Authority of Mawalana Hazar Imam.†The opening clause reads:

1.1 Mawlana Hazar Imam has inherent right and absolute and unfettered power and authority over and in respect of all religious and Jamati matters of the Ismailis.

“A warm supporter of British rule in Indiaâ€

Professor Alfred Guillaume writes in Islam (Cassell, London, p. 124):

The Agha Khan, a descendant of the chief of the Assassins, once a President of the All India Muslim League, was a warm supporter of British rule in India before the advent of the new State of Pakistan.

The late Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, referring to the famous Round Table Conferences that were held in London to decide the future of India, wrote in Nehru: The First Sixty Years (New York, 1965, p. 256):

... he [Aga Khan III] could thoroughly appreciate and represent our rulers' interests and viewpoint. He was an able representative of Imperialist England at that Round Table Conference. The irony of it was that he was supposed to represent India.

Harry J. Greenwall writes in His Highness The Aga Khan (p. 234):

In those far off days when Queen Victoria paid heed to him, His Highness worked heart and soul for Britain. True, when the question of Indian independence arose, the Aga Khan supported India's claim, but he always added that India should remain within the framework of the British Empire....There were from time to time troubles in Egypt, but never did one hear one word of comment unfavourable to Britain from the Aga Khan.

Petition for a territorial state rejected

We learn from the Aga Khan's Memoirs (pp. 285- 86) that following the Second Round Table Conference held in London in 1932, Aga Khan approached the Government of India and suggested that he might be given a territorial State so that he could join the company of Indian Maharajahs and Princes. The offer was, however, rejected by the Macdonald government and a story circulated that Aga Khan was deeply offended and that the Government of India disapproved of Aga Khan for having made such an approach.

Harry Greenwall writes (p. 190) that on Monday, 23 July 1934, the matter was taken up in the British House of Commons when a question was asked of the Secretary of State for India by Major-General Sir Alfred Knox. The Secretary had nothing more to add to the answer given in the Indian Legislative Assembly. The land on which the Aga Khan had his eye was in the Province of Sind.

Willi Frischauer writes in The Aga Khans (p. 116): “...the Aga Khan never completely abandoned the idea and his successor has been toying with it ever since his accession.â€

Aga Khan — a secret agent of the British Raj

Harry Greenwall writes in The Aga Khan (p. 63):

As long as the British Raj ruled in India, the secret services of the Aga Khan were in constant demand....He himself refers to such services, not as secret service, but as 'secret diplomatic missions.'

... It was in 1913 that the Aga Khan was requested to undertake a very delicate and secret diplomatic mission to Cairo. The Khedive of Egypt was under grave suspicion.

...The Aga Khan's mission produced evidence that the Khedive was prepared, in the event of War, to support Germany. Sustained by the Aga Khan's evidence, the British Government decided on a master stroke.

In 1843, Aga Khan I disclosed the battle plans of Nasir Khan, the Talpur Amir of Kalat, to Major James Outram, the British political agent in Sind. As a result, the British camp was saved from a night attack, records Dr. Farhad Daftary (p. 510).

“These are our intercessors with Allahâ€

They serve, besides Allah, things that hurt them not nor profit them, and they say: “These are our intercessors with Allah.†Say: “Do ye indeed inform Allah of something He knows not,

in the heavens or on earth? — Glory to Him!

And far is He above the partnersthey ascribe (to Him)!â€

Holy Qur'an 10/18

Commentary by A. Yusuf Ali:

When we shut our eyes to God's glory and goodness, and go after false gods, we give some plausible excuse to ourselves, such as that they will intercede for us. But how can stocks and stones intercede for us? And how can men intercede for us, when they themselves have need of God's Mercy? Even the best and noblest cannot intercede as of right, but only with His permission (X-3). To pretend that there are other powers than God is to invent lies and to teach God. There is nothing in heaven or earth that He does not know, and there is no other like unto Him.

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Continued from Section Three


A radical transformation

As we have seen during the second phase of proselytization, the Khojah Sunni Muslims were converted to Khojah Shi`ah Ithna'ashries. The third phase started when Aga Khan III began making Farmans to his followers and prescribing his own formulas.

We learn from the autobiography of Aga Khan I, historical records and court documents that the ancestors of Aga Khan III were Sufi Ithna'ashris. They had introduced the faith of their ancestors to the converts of Pir Sadr- din. The proselytized Sunni Khojahs were now following the rituals of Shi'ah Ithna'ashriyya Tariqah. But, the concept of Imamah (for the first Imam 'Ali) was that of 'Ali-un-Waliy- Allah (meaning, 'Ali is the beloved of Allah) and not of 'Ali Sahi Allah (meaning, 'Ali is truly Allah). Aga Khan I was respected and revered by his followers as a Sufi Master, who are often called in India “Pirji†or “Pir Salamut,†and after the Khojah Case, as an Imam in the Ithna'ashriyya sense (similar to the late Ayatollah Khomeini). Since the Aga Khan had claimed his descent from Prophet's daughter, he was also given the honour that is normally bestowed upon every other Sayyid by a Muslim.

Aga Khan I used to receive the Dassondh, very similar to the Khums received today by the Ithna'ashri Aqas in Persia and Iraq, from the Khojah Ithna'ashries. At a court hearing in 1905 (p. 432), the offerings to the Aga Khans was remarked as very similar in many respects to “Peter's Pence,†which had been offered to the Popes for so many years.

Khojah Ismailis used to recite their Namaz (Salah) facing Mecca, read the Qur'an, attend the Majlises of Muharram and recite the Qissahs and Bayyans (narrations and tales) of the Martyrdom of Imam Husayn, during the month of Muharram in the Jama`at khanas.

Willi Frischauer writes in The Aga Khans (p. 50):

The Aga Khan [the first] took his religious duties very seriously, visited the jamatkhana, the Ismaili religious centre, on all holy days and led the community in prayer on the anniversary of Hazrat Huseyn's martyrdom, presiding over the ritual distribution of water mixed with the holy dust of Kerbela.

After the death of Aga Khan II, these ancestral concepts were systematically thrown out and the new concepts were introduced. The faith that was practised by the ancestors of the Agakhani Ismailis during the period of the first Aga Khan and the one that is practised today is not the same. Between these periods, there has been a radical transformation. This transmutation in the history of proselytizing of the Khojahs, who were now observing Ithna'ashriyya rituals is fascinating as well as eye-opening. In this chapter we shall observe the circumstances that influenced this shift and its definitive effects upon the religious beliefs of the Agakhani Khojahs today. We shall also examine how confused the followers of the Aga Khan were during this transition period.

“Petit prince cheriâ€

In April 1881, Aga Khan I died in Bombay and his son became the next Imam. Aga Khan II's Imamate lasted for a brief period of four years. During that period a school for Khojah children was opened in Bombay. His interests in life were horse breeding, racing, and big- game hunting. Aga Khan II died in August 1885. Like his father, he was a devout Ithna'ashri. Aga Khan III recorded in his Memoirs that his father died in Poona but his body was sent to Iraq, at his own request, to be buried at Nejaf on the west bank of the Euphrates, near the tomb of Imam 'Ali, one of the holiest places on earth for the Shi'ahs.

After the death of Aga 'Aly Shah (Aga Khan II), his young widow, Shams al-Muluk, who was popularly known among the British circles as Lady 'Aly Shah, the mother of a child of eight, became a sort of trustee and a behind- the-scenes acting leader of the Khojahs. Aga Khan III, the forty-eight Imam, was yet petit prince cheri and his uncle Aga Jangi Shah was appointed as his guardian.

Lady 'Aly Shah was very strict and a dedicated Ithna'ashri lady. She always wore a chador (Hijab). She was deeply versed in Persian and Arabic literature. Every night, the child would go to his mother's apartments and join with her in prayer whose religion was resolutely practical, records Aga Khan. It was Lady `Aly Shah's desire that she should die in Iraq and be buried in Nejaf, near Kerbala. Following a serious illness in January, she was sent to Baghdad, where she died on February 5, 1938 and was buried next to the tomb of her husband.

Dumasia records, Aga Khan III wrote to his friend: “No loss, not even that of my son who died in infancy which was a terrible blow to me as a father, has been quite so terrible as this.†The Aga Khan dedicated his book 'India in Transition' to his mother.

“Relentlessly was I held on the chain†— Aga Khan

The strict discipline to which, at the age of eight, the new Imam was subjected was rigid, and even the little free time that he was allowed was subject to invasion by followers who brought him gifts, etc. In return they received thanks, blessings, and benedictions — but as a child he resented the fact that they came during the small amount of free time allowed by the curriculum and never, never during lesson time, records Aga Khan in his Memoirs (p. 12).

The young prince grew up feeling a deep frustration with “the typical and unchanging pattern†of his life, and expressed them in these words:

“There was no room for a holiday for me, a month, a fortnight, even a week off the chain; at the most a rare day. And relentlessly was I held on the chain.â€

Narrating an incident in which he and his cousin were caught stealing books from a book shop in Bombay, he writes (p. 20): “But there was one small impediment: my mother allowed me no pocket money.â€

Aga Khan's hatred for Ithna'ashri Maulvis

Aga Khan developed a hatred for the strict regimentation he was subjected to by his mother and uncles. As he grew up, he developed the same resentment for the religious training he was subjected to, as well as for his tutors (the Ithna'ashri Maulvis) and their philosophy. Here are a few extracts from his Memoirs (pp. 12 and 18):

Thereafter I had three hours' instruction in Arabic....After dinner came the horror of horrors. I was set down to two hours of calligraphy of the dreariest and most soul-destroying kind. My mother had been impressed by the advice — the foolish advice as it turned out — of Arabic and Persian scholars and pedants, who had assured her that calligraphy in the classical Persian and Arabic scripts was of the highest importance....My mother, my uncles, and everyone else in our household united in compelling me to this horrible calligraphy. It was in fact a very real martyrdom for me....

Then I would have to go back to my gloomy treadmill and hear my tutor cursing and railing as was his habit. Since he was a Shia of the narrowest outlook he concentrated his most ferocious hatred not on non-Muslims, not even on those who persecuted the Prophet, but on the caliphs and companions of the Prophet....

This form of Shiaism attains its climax during the month of Moharram with its lamentations and its dreadful cursings. Reaction against its hatred, intolerance, and bigotry has, I know, coloured my whole life, and I have found my answer in the simple prayer that God in His infinite mercy will forgive the sins of all Muslims, the slayers and the slain....

Aga Khan vents his hatred

In 1899, the petit prince, who was now twenty- two, got his first opportunity to address his Jama'at in Africa. He was no longer “held on the chain.†His childhood hatred was now vented in Zanzibar on 13 July in the following Farman:

Within ten, twenty or thirty years, the Ithna'ashri religion will be worn out. After 100 years the Ithna'ashri religion will not exist at all. It will not exist in Iran either because that religion's base is not on Aq'l [the power of reasoning]. Our religion's base is on Aq'l.

Every night during his childhood, Aga Khan would join his mother in prayer, which was an Ithna'ashri Salah (Namaz). Elderly Ismailis who had seen the young Aga Khan, accompanied by his mother and uncles, attend Majlises of Muharram that were held in the Mughal (Ithna'ashri) Imambaras of Bombay and Poona were surprised to hear this Farman denouncing the faith of this parents and grand-parents. Below is an anecdote often related by Ismaili missionaries in their sermons.

“Hum Husayn†not “Hai Husaynâ€

An elderly Ismaili requested Aga Khan to explain the reasoning behind his participation, during the early years of his Imamate, in the rituals of Matam (passion play), wherein the participants raise their hands, one after another, and beat their chests in a frenzy, yelling “Hai Husayn, Hai Husayn,†when according to his own Farmans, made a few years later, he was a living Husayn and his followers should not mourn or wear black dresses during the month of Muharram.

In the words of the missionaries, the Aga Khan replied: “When I was lowering my hand to my chest, I was pointing it at my chest and saying 'Hum Husayn, Hum Husayn' instead of 'Hai Husayn, Hai Husayn.'†“Hai Husayn†is an expression of grief very similar to “Oh! Husayn.†The phrase “Hum Husayn†translates to “I am Husayn.â€

Such a remark would reflect adversely on the purity and straightforwardness of the claimant, to fulfil his parental responsibilities as a “spiritual†Father and Mother, was never thought of by the missionaries, who were more desperate to defend the action of their Imam during the early years of his Imamate.

Accepted it was a facade, as claimed by the Aga Khan, but the above narrative clearly shows that his family members who participated routinely in these ceremonies were Ithna'ashries. In other words the Imamate of Ismail and his descendants was not recognized, even by these immediate family members of the Aga Khan, well into the first few decades of the twentieth century.

1905 — Confused followers of the Aga Khan

The court records from the Haji Bibi Case indicate that the witnesses appearing before Judge Russell were “Khojahs†but they did not know the distinction between the sect of “Ismailis†and “Ithna'ashries.â€

For those who are unfamiliar with the fundamental differences that separate these two sub-sects of Shi`ah Muslims, here is a brief explanation. Agakhani Shi'a Ismailis believe in an ever-living Hazar (present) Imam. Karim Aga Khan is the their Hazar Imam. Shi'a Ithna'ashries believe in a Ghayab (hidden) Imam. Their last (twelfth) Imam disappeared in a grotto and is expected to return during the final period of this earth. These two concepts are basically opposite. For any Shi`ah Muslim, Imam is the base of his religion, hence he must know with certainty the past and present status of his Imam. Below are four extracts from the Bombay Law Reporter (1908, Volume 11, pp.438, 440-42, 454):

1. The first witness of the plaintiff goes as far as to say that he considers His Highness the Aga Khan and his family as his Murshed, i.e., spiritual leader....He concludes by saying that he is a Khojah, but he is neither Ismaili nor an Asnashari. He does not know the distinction between the two.

2. [Witness] Fazulbhoy Joomabhoy Lalji in the commencement of his evidence says there is no difference between the faith of a Khoja Ismaili and an Asnashari and he said to me that the Asnasharis believed in 12 Imams. Khoja Ismailis believe the same and never believed anything else. And again he says at page 345 that he really believes the first Aga Khan was an Asnashari.

3. Witness No. 3, Nathu Virji, is neither Shia Ismaili nor Shia Asnashari. He cannot say what sort of a Shia Khoja he is. He does not understand what is meant by Shia Ismailis nor Shia Asnasharis. But he believes only in the 12 Imams.

4. [Witness] Mahomed Nanji, commission agent and doing business on his own account....But although he says that he follows at present the Khoja Shia Ismaili faith, he cannot explain what Shia Ismaili means, and to the question “If those who follow the Shia Ismaili faith believe in Hazrat Ali, and those who have succeeded him on the gadi down to the present Aga Khan as their Imams, do you still consider yourself as a Khojah following the Shia Ismaili faith,†he answered “No;†from which it would appear as if his views on the subject of his own religion were somewhat obscure to say the least.

If the converted Khojahs were truly Ismailis believing in the Imamate of the ancestors of the Aga Khan from day one of their conversion by Pir Sadr-din, then such confusion would not have lasted for seven centuries. Secondly, if Aga Khan I, who arrived in 1840, had converted the Khojahs as Nizari Imami Ismailis upon his arrival, then these confusions would not have lasted for seven decades, by the time the witnesses appeared before the judge. The only logical answer would be that the indoctrination of the theory of “Hazar Imam†must be a very recent one, for the converted Khojah Ithna'ashries, the then followers of the Aga Khan I and II.

“Aga Khan invented a new Doowaâ€

The following is an extract from the judgment document delivered by Justice Russell in the Haji Bibi Case (p. 425). (The name “Coochick†stands for Aga Coochick Shah a cousin of Aga Khan III; the name “Jungi†stands for Aga Jungi Shah the uncle of Aga Khan III).

Thus Coochick, p. 187 says:

“My case is that the present faith dates from Jungi's death, or a year after. The fanatic followers of the Aga Khan do date from that time. I cannot say before or after Jungi's death. The new religion has been going 15 years since Aga Khan's new Bhagats started preaching, 2 years before Jungi's death. I cannot say Doowa is a new invention of the last 12 or 14 years, since the present Aga Khan came of age. This new invention was never heard of before Jungi's death. Aga Khan has invented a new Doowa in Gujrati, the former one was in Arabic.â€

Ismailis are told that their Gujrati Du'a was written by Pir Sadr-din. The above document tell us that like the majority of Ismaili Ginans, the Gujrati Du'a was also a recent composition that had been attributed to Pir Sadr-din, who as we have seen earlier on, was a Sunni Da`i.

The Judge had dined twice with Aga Khan and asked him to dinner

In the Haji Bibi Case, Justice Russell's judgment went totally in favour of the Aga Khan. The plaintiff lost each and every one of the 128 points. The counsel for plaintiff and those defendants who supported the plaintiff retired from the case and walked out of the court. From the following text recorded by Justice Russell, one can easily visualize the influence of the Aga Khan upon the judges of the Bombay High Courts.

At the beginning of the case to my astonishment it was suggested by plaintiff's counsel that I [Justice Russell] should not try the case as I was what he termed a friend of Aga Khan's. Mr. Inverarity [defendant's counsel] replied that in that respect I was in no different position probably than all the other Judges in Bombay. I said I had exchanged calls with the Aga Khan and had dined twice with him and had asked him to dinner and he had not been able to come.

Today, under the similar circumstances a judge would immediately retire and ask for a transfer of the case.

The Judge clears the Court

Immediately following the above recorded text we learn that during the trial of the Haji Bibi Case, when Aga Khan was being cross- examined, particularly on the subject of his own personal beliefs as a Shi'ah Muslim, the judge asked the Court to be cleared of all persons that had come to witness the trial. He further ordered that the evidence given by the Aga Khan should not to be reported or published, which in the judge's opinion would probably create hostility between the Muslim communities in Bombay.

Under the circumstances the plaintiff (Haji Bibi), instructed her counsel not to proceed with the case. Thereupon, the counsel for the plaintiff and for the defendants who supported the plaintiff's case withdrew.

Followers of Aga Khan admonished by Iraqi Mullahs

Since the rituals of Muharram and ceremonial rites of martyrdom were introduced by Aga Khan I, every year hundreds of Shi'ite Khojahs were making regular pilgrimage to the holy Shi'ite sites in Iraq. Later on, when the Islamic Salah was replaced with Gujrati Du'a, the Iraqi Mullahs were shocked to learn that the followers of Aga Khan III, who were reciting this Gujrati Du'a instead of Arabic Namaz, had broken the most fundamental tenet of Islam itself. They were now venerating Hazrat 'Ali and therewith the Aga Khan as “Allah†by reciting “'Ali Sahi [truly] Allah.â€

The astonished Mullahs admonished the followers of Aga Khan and explained that worship of `Ali or the Aga Khan as an “associate,†“manifestation,†or “incarnation†of Allah; or truly Allah, nullifies their prayers, voids their fasting, pilgrimage, etc. In the hereafter, hell would be their place of abode if they did not stop reciting that kind of Shahadah (confession of faith) in their Du'a. The admonished Ismailis requested Aga Khan III to change the wordings of the Shahadah in the Du'a to “'Ali-un-Waliy-Allah†meaning, “'Ali is the beloved of Allah.†The Aga Khan refused to change the Shahadah and the group of enlightened Khojah Ithna'ashries left the Jama'at.

How could a God cease to be a God?

In 1956, under pressure from his Syrian followers, Aga Khan III changed the Ismaili Du'a from Gujrati to Arabic. He also changed the wordings of the Shahadah from “`Ali Sahi (truly) Allah†to “`Aliyyullah.†The later phrase translates “The `Ali, The Allah.†But, in the book of Ismaili Du'a it is translated as “`Ali is from Allah.†Today, by the virtue of this wilful mistranslation, Agakhani Ismailis claim that they are not venerating Karim Aga Khan as God.

The fact that the Du'a had to be changed in order to make the explicit affirmation that `Ali and by inference, Aga Khan was “truly Allah†implicit, indicates the growing importance of Islam on the world stage. Yet, to say otherwise would not only go against all the Ismaili religious practices, but even expose this “religion†to the charge of hypocrisy. How could a God cease to be a God? This is why the explicit statement was converted into a less explicit one which could then be mistranslated deliberately to such modern needs as shown in my earlier publication, Understanding Ismailism.

Aga Khan's Mukhi stabbed by an Ithna'ashri

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Qadir Husayn Kerbalai, an Ithna'ashri Mullah, settled in Bombay. In 1862, he opened a Madrasa (religious school) to indoctrinate people in the Ithna'ashri school of thought. Thereafter Mullah Qadir returned to Kerbala. At the end of the nineteenth century he was invited by some Khojahs of India. Shi`ah Mujtahid in Iraq sent Mullah Qadir Husayn to Bombay. When Ismailis became aware of his activities they began threatening the Mullah and his students.

One day the Mullah's favourite student, Killu, was mercilessly beaten by fanatic Ismailis. Killu remained hospitalized for some time and became temporarily invalid. After recovering from his injuries, he stabbed the chief Mukhi of the Aga Khan with a knife. Mukhi Hasan died. Killu admitted to the killing and was sentenced to death by hanging. The court trials of Killu, as well as his subsequent funeral procession and burial, brought the dissident Khojahs out in the open. Prominent among them were Haji Dewji Jamal, Haji Gulam Ali Haji Ismail, and Haji Khalfan Rattansi.

Two Ismaili Fida'is attack three Ithna'ashries

In 1901, the splinter group made an announcement in the newspapers and established a Khojah Ithna'ashri Jama`at in Bombay. The group became known as Chhoti (small) Jama`at, and the mainstream was called Bari (big) Jama`at. When the splinter group decided to build their separate Mosque in Bombay, it was rumoured that Aga Khan, before his departure for Europe, had offered to contribute financially. The group members rejected this offer when they learned that Aga Khan wanted to have administrative control over the Mosque, similar to the one he had over the Jama`at khanas.

I have come across correspondence in which the author writes that Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah, Aga Khan III, had agreed to inaugurate the Khojah Ithna'ashri Mosque in Bombay, known as Pala Gali Mosque, upon his return from Europe.

However, when Sir Sultan Mohammed was on board, returning to Bombay from Southampton, two Fidayeen's within the Ismaili community, seeking the cue from the `Hashsashins' of Alamud took upon themselves, the recourse to murder Haji Allarakia, Laljee Sajjan and Abdullah Laljee, the three known protagonists of the Isna'sheri faction whom the Ismaili `Hashsashins' identified as the destroyers of the Jammat....Whether or not, the `Hashsasins' were sponsored by the Aga Khan Sir Sultan Mohammed or his mother Lady Ali Shah is an issue that will remain shrouded in the mysteries of Mankind,....

This murderous attack by two Fidayeen (self sacrificing fanatics) was instrumental in creating a permanent division between the splinter group and the mainstream. Haji Allarakia and Laljee Sajjan succumbed to their injuries. The third victim, Abdullah Laljee, survived the attack because the weapon was blunt and the assailant was prevented from making a second stab by Noormohamed Dossa. Abdullah Laljee was of the founding members of the Ithna'ashri Jamat. He played a leading role in the building of the Pala Gali Mosque.

Severance of all social and religious contacts

It was reported during the police investigation that bags of golden guineas were discovered in the hutments of these Fida'is, and a hidden hand was suspected in this murderous attack on the Ithna'ashri activists. The Fida'is were tried, convicted, and hanged. Their bodies were buried in a Muslim graveyard in Worli, a suburb of Bombay. Ismailis who had hypocritically disassociated themselves from the Fida'is during the trials began paying their respect to the martyrs by visiting their graves in Worli. Later on, at the instance of the Aga Khan, the remains of the Assassins were removed from the Muslim graveyard and buried in an Ismaili graveyard in the Khojah Mohallah. Aga Khan was now openly criticized and insulted by the dissidents for the assassination of their protagonists.

In those days, Aga Khan used to commute in a four-horse carriage from his residence in Mazagon to the Chief Jama`at khana in Khadak. His carriage used to pass through a narrow lane known as Pala Gali. The splinter group had constructed their mosque on Pala Gali and it was likely that there would be a direct confrontation between the two rival groups during the journey. Aga Khan was obliged to change his route. The supporters of the new mosque began residing in this lane and Pala Gali became a landmark for Ithna'ashri Khojahs of Bombay. Even today, Ismaili men and women going to their Jama`at khana avoid travelling through Pala Gali. My brothers and sister and I were told by our parents not to journey through that lane and believe me, we were afraid to do that.

Aga Khan ordered severance of all social and religious contacts with the Ithna'ashri Khojahs. Ismailis were indoctrinated by their missionaries not to eat food or even drink a glass of water in an Ithna'ashri home. Rule number 142 of the Karachi Council authorized any member of the Council to lodge a complaint in the Council against any Ismaili murid taking part in any feast, marriage, or mourning of a Khojah dissident Ithna'ashri. The offender could be excommunicated by the Council. These social restrictions divided many Khojah families permanently. Even today, there are many Ismailis who will not drink, dine or do business with the members of the Khojah Ithna'ashri Jama`at because they are considered dissidents. Khojah Ithna'ashries, on their part, contest that the Agakhani Ismailis are the ones who have deviated from the path of their ancestors and have changed the faith. The truth of course was that both had deviated from the original path shown by Pir Sadr-din. However, while Ithna'ashries still remained within the broad belief of Islam, the Ismailis transformed 'Ali into God and thus broke with Islam itself in philosophical term as well as in practice. Many Muslims who have known the inner secrets of the Agakhanis refuse to acknowledge them as Muslims.

1910 A. D. — Persian Nizaris change religious practices

Farhad Daftary records in The Isma'ilis, Their History and Doctrines (p. 537):

Around 1910, in line with the directives issued to the Qasim-Shahi Nizaris of other countries, Agha Khan III began to introduce certain changes in the religious practices and rituals of his Persian followers. In particular, he changed or simplified some of those religious rituals that the Persian Shi`is, like other Muslims, had categorized as the furu`-i din, comprising the positive rules of the Islamic law, such as the rituals of praying, ablution, fasting, the hajj pilgrimage, and so forth.

Hitherto the Persian Nizari Ismailis were observing the Shi'ah rituals and practices that were observed by all other Twelver Shi'ahs. Now they were ordered to observe the practices observed by the Khojah Ismailis of India. Dr. Daftary writes (p. 537):

But now they were required to set themselves drastically apart from the Twelvers, asserting their own identity as a religious community. For instance, they now recited the entire list of the Nizari Imams recognized by the Qasim-Shahis at the end of their daily prayers. They were also discouraged from joining the Twelvers at their mosques on special occasions, and from participating in the Shi`i mourning rituals of Muharram, because the Nizaris had a living and present (mawjud wa hadir) imam and did not need to commemorate any of their dead imams. Indeed, they were now required to observe only those religious pre scriptions that were directly endorsed or issued by their living imam.

On page 539, Dr. Daftary records:

Agha Khan III was pleased by the progress made by his Persian followers when he visited them in 1951. He was particularly glad to see that the Isma'ili women had abandoned the chadur, the traditional Muslim veil worn in Persia.

Ismaili rituals that have become history

Elderly Ismailis who have lived their early years in Bombay or Zanzibar will confirm that many of the Ithna'ashriyya rites and rituals that were introduced into the Khojah community by the Aga Khan I were diligently practised by the ancestors of the Khojah Ismailis until the 1940s. I distinctly remember my childhood as an Agakhani Ismaili. The Chief Jama`at khana of Bombay, built in 1920, was across from the house where I grew up. Standing on my balcony, I could watch and hear the religious ceremonies taking place in the Jama`at khana. In most of these ceremonies I took part as a young volunteer serving cold water and Joora to the congregants. I also remember serving “Haleem and Nan†or “Kaliya and Paw†(a special dish of meat and bread) on the 10th, 20th, and 30th day Muharram, and on the “Chelum†(40th day of martyrdom) of Imam Husayn. Ismailis from the various quarters of Bombay used to assemble in the compound of the Darkhana (Chief) Jama`at khana for these annual feasts. A group of Ismailis used to build a Shabil of Hazrat Abbas near the main entrance of the Darkhana Jama`at khana and distribute Sharbat (sweetened milk and water) to the passers-by in memory of the martyrs.

Ismailis also used to visit the Mausoleum of Aga Khan I in Hasanabad, Bombay, to offer special prayers during the month of Muharram. They would receive a packet of Malida (a mixture of roasted flour and sugar) from the Bawa Sahib, who was a close relative of the Aga Khan. On `Id al-Adha (literally, “the feast of the sacrificeâ€), the ceremonies of “Kurbani†(sacrifice of a dozen or so goats and a couple of cows), after the early morning `Id prayers, within the compounds of the Chief Jama`at khana was an annual event.

On the twenty-third night of Ramadhan, Sayyid Mustaqali, another close relative of Aga Khan, would lead a special ceremony of reciting nearly 100 times or so the five venerated names of the “Pujtan-pak.†The Jama`at would be asked to place a small square card, printed with the names of the Punjtan- pak (`Ali, Muhammad, Fatima, Hasan, Husayn) on their heads (caps) and join the recitations. Often, my card would fall off from my red fez cap, which we students were obliged to wear in Jama`at khanas and religious classes. Thereafter, Mustaqali would recite a special Du'a in Gujrati wherein the entire genealogy of the Aga Khan, over 200 generations and incarnations, starting with “Fish†the first creation would be recited. And, thereafter a special Niyaz (Holy Water), prepared from the clay of Kerbala would be distributed to the Jama`at. The ceremonies of that special night would conclude with the forgiving of sins, by sprinkling the Holy Water on the face of every individual. These rituals show that there were in existence, during my childhood, beliefs within Ismaili Khojahs which had their roots for in the Ithna'ashriyya traditions such as the sacrosanctity of “clay of Kerbala.†The importation of clay from Kerbala has now been discontinued as it bears no more significance.

Today, the majority of Ismaili students and young scholars have no knowledge of these and other rituals that were performed by their parents half a century ago because the history of the religious practices of the Agakhani Ismailis has never been written.

Niyaz was made from the clay of Kerbala

There would arrive from time to time, at the Chief Jama`at khana of Bombay, a shipment of special clay from Kerbala. This holy clay was believed to be sanctified by the blood of the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn. I remember taking part in the making of tiny clay balls the size of a dried black pepper, along with other Ismailis. These would then be distributed to all other Jama`at khanas.

Every morning, every Thursday evening, and on a new moon night, the person who would lead a special Du'a of Ghat-paat would dissolve one ball of clay into a bowl of water while reciting the Du'a and prepare Niyaz (Holy Water). Once the Niyaz was prepared, Ismailis would rush (today they form a queue) towards the table on which the Niyaz was placed. Upon reaching the table, they would place a cash contribution in a plate, pick up a tiny cup filled with the holy water and drink it to purify the body and spirit.

Today, the clay of Kerbala which used to bear religious significance until the early years of the Imamate of Aga Khan III bears no more significance and as such it is not imported any more. Aga Khan himself recites a small prayer over a bowl of water and the Holy Water is ready for distribution. Almost everything that is considered “Holy†by the Agakhani Ismailis has its roots into “Hazar Imam.†The Niyaz that used to be distributed on Thursday nights is now distributed on Friday nights. And the sins are forgiven with the Holy Water on the night of the new moon.

Aga Khan was too afraid to remove a Minbar

Aga Khan III systematically replaced almost all the ancestral rites and rituals of the Twelvers, such as prayers, ablutions, recitation of the Qur'an, fasting, pilgrimage to Mecca, and of paying homage to the martyrs of Kerbala with his own prescriptions. However, Aga Khan did not uproot and throw out a Minbar (pronounced Mimbar; a pulpit in a mosque) of Hazrat Abbas and a Hoj (sunken pond) of Bibi Fatima in front of the pulpit, which were built near the main entrance on the main floor of the Darkhana Jama`at khana in Bombay. These ancient relics built with white marble during the days of Lady `Ali Shah, have survived as the living proof of Khojah community's recent history.

During my school days, twice a week or so, the sunken pond (Hoj) of Bibi Fatima would be filled with a special sweetened milk (120 quarts) topped with almonds and pistachios. The milk would then be distributed to the Ismaili boys and girls in their schools. Hazrat Abbas was one of the most respected martyrs of Kerbala, and to uproot his marble pulpit from its foundation or to cover up the Hoj of the beloved wife of Hazrat `Ali, Bibi Fatima, would be naked aggression against Shi`ism. Aga Khan was perhaps too afraid to take upon himself such a venture.

I could see from the balcony of my house that many Ismailis who were steadfast in their ancestral practices would visit this Minbar of Hazrat Abbas and recite their Namaz (Islamic Salah of Shi`ah Ithna'ashriyya Tariqah) facing the pulpit. Thereafter, they would offer Fateha for the martyrs of Kerbala. A few of these visitors would sit near the pulpit of Hazrat Abbas and read verses from the Holy Qur'an. Copies of the Qur'an for recitation were available at Minbar but none were available in the prayer hall of the Jama`at khana, located one floor above. Ismailis are led into believing that they have a “Speaking Qur'an†— the Aga Khan, whose Farman changes with the times. Hence it is superfluous to read a “Silent Qur'an†that is 1400 years old.

I have heard stories from elderly Ismailis that there was a time when there used to be prayer rugs for Namaz and copies of the Holy Qur'an for recitation in the Jama`at khanas of Bombay. For some reason, during a court battle, they were lowered into a well of the Khadak Jama`at khana and the well was sealed.

However, one physical evidence that has survived from the past is a huge water tank with rows of taps and pedestals to do Wadhu (ablution). Similar rows of taps are also to be found in the old Jama`at khanas of East Africa. Ismailis do not perform Wadhu before reciting their Du`a. Muslims are required to do ablution before reciting the Namaz or the Qur'an. The new Jama`at khanas that are built in Canada and Europe at a cost of millions of dollars do not have facilities for ablution.

This also supports the stories that the converted Ithna'ashri Khojahs, the followers of Aga Khan I and II, used to perform ablution before reciting their Namaz and reading of the Qur'an. Several elderly relatives of my friends and my wife have personally confirmed to me that their grandfathers used to recite Namaz and read the Qur'an, in particular those whose ancestral roots are in Kutchh and Zanzibar.

Aga Khan's concept of Nubuwwa and Imamah

In a small town of Kutchh named Mundra, Aga Khan III made a Farman which is published in a Gujrati book, Kutchh na Farman (pp. 28-29). The translation reads as follows:

When Nabi Mohammed Mustafa departed from this world he appointed Pir Imam Hasan as his successor to carry on the work. Similarly, Murtaza Ali appointed Imam Husayn as the Imam after him.

Note: The mainstream Shi'ahs consider Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn as Imam No. 2 and 3 respectively. The Agakhani Ismailis have excluded the name of Imam Hasan from the list of their Imams and placed him in the list of Ismaili Pirs as the second Pir.

In the Ismaili hierarchy Pir is a preacher who is appointed by an Imam to do the preaching. By declaring the successors of Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, as Pirs, and declaring the successors of Hazrat 'Ali as the Imams, Aga Khan III raised his own status higher than that of the Prophet.

Quranic verses reconstituted to establish further authority

In 1956, Aga Khan III replaced the old Gujrati Du'a with an Arabic Du'a. The majority of Agakhani Ismailis are unaware of the fact that the Aga Khan has introduced a reconstituted verse of the Qur'an in this new Du'a. Two fragmented portions from two separate verses from two different chapters were joined to make this reconstituted verse. It was done to firmly establish “the knowledge and authority of everything†in Imam-e-Mubeen (manifest Imam), meaning the Aga Khan.

Below is the reconstituted verse of the Qur'an which Ismailis have been reciting since 1956, three times a day, in their prayers. The first two lines are from the (fragmented) beginning of verse 59 of Sura Nisa (chapter 4). The last two lines are from the (fragmented) ending of verse 12 of Sura Ya' Sin (chapter 36).

Ya ayyuhal-lazeena amanoo, ati-Ullah

wa atiur-Rasool wa Ulil Amri minkum

wa kulla shai'in ahsainahu

fee Imamim-mubeen.

Below is the translation of the above reconstituted verse, copied from the Book of Du'a published by the Ismailia Association for Africa (1963, p. 11). The words within the brackets are also faithfully reproduced from that book.

O ye, who believe! obey God and obey the Apostle and (obey) those who hold Authority from amongst you. And we have vested (the knowledge and authority) of everything in the manifest Imam.

If one were to read the translations of above two verses separately, and in their entirety, then he or she would know that Allah has neither granted the knowledge of everything, nor vested authority over everything, to any human being, living or dead. The deleted lines of the ending verse tells us that the subject matter has to do with “writing†and not “vesting.â€

Those who distort the Book

There is among them a section

who distort the Book with their tongues:

(as they read) you would think

It is a part of the Book,

But it is no part of the Book;

and they say, “That is from Allah,â€

But it is not from Allah:

It is they who tell a lie against Allah,

And (well) they know it!

Holy Qur'an 3/78



Imam Ismail, the Seventh Imam

The name Ismailis is derived from the seventh descendant of the Prophet — the seventh Imam of the Ismailis — who was named Ismail. The Ithna'ashri Shi`ahs contend that Ismail, the elder son of Imam Jafar Sadik, died during the lifetime of his father in 762 a.d. As such, he cannot be recognized as a successor to his father, who died in 765 a.d. They contend that there are written documents to support the fact that a funeral procession of Ismail was held in Medina and attended by his father, and that the body of Ismail lies buried in Medina.

The Ithna'ashri scholars further claim that upon the death of Ismail, the designated Imamate was revoked by his father and redesignated in favour of the younger brother of Ismail, named Musa Kazim. Thus Musa Kazim, and not Ismail, became the next Imam. Ismaili historians record that the funeral procession as well as the burial ceremony of Ismail did take place in Medina but that it “was a mere ruse to mislead the enemies.†They claim that Ismail died in Syria, approximately ten years after the death of his father (between 775 and 777). According to them, Imam Ismail's body was most probably buried in Salamiyya.

Ismailis who used to visit Medina before the Saudi government levelled the ancient graves have personally confirmed to me of having offered “Fateha†at the grave of Imam Ismail in Medina. This practise does not seem to accord with the claims made by Agakhani Ismaili historians.

Eleventh Imam, the founder of the Fatimid dynasty

After an era of the first Dawr-i Satr (a period of concealment of the Imams), lasting for over a century, the Fatimid dynasty began in 909 a.d. with the emergence of the eleventh Ismaili Imam named `Ubayd Allah (`Abd Allah) al-Mahdi. Since the Ismaili Imams had claimed their descent from Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) through his daughter Fatima — wife of Prophet's cousin `Ali, the dynasty was called Fatimid.

Abbasid Caliphs, the contemporary of the Fatimids, had frequently questioned the authenticity of the claim made by `Ubayd Allah, the founder of the Fatimid dynasty, of him being a legitimate descendant of the Prophet. Dr. Farhad Daftary writes in The Isma`ilis (p. 108):

It is necessary to point out at this juncture that the issue of the genealogy of the Fatimid caliphs has been the centre of numerous controversies, some of which seem to defy satisfactory solution. The ancestors of the Fatimids, according to the later official doctrine, were the Ismaili Imams who descended from Muhammad b. Ismail. However, the Ismaili sources are very reluctant to mention the names of the so-called 'hidden imams', the links between 'Ubayd Allah (`Abd Allah) and Muhammad b. Ismail b. Ja'far; individuals who lived under obscure circumstances. Their names are, in fact, not to be found in the earliest Ismaili sources which have so far come to light.Ivanow has interpreted this silence as reflecting an Ismaili prejudice against 'uncovering those whom God has veiled'. Consequently, there has developed some disagreement among the Ismailis concerning the names, number, sequence and the actual descendance of the 'hidden imams', notwithstanding the traditional Fatimid version, namely, Muhammad b. Ismail, 'Abd Allah b. Muhammad, Ahmad b. 'Abd Allah, al-Husayn b. Ahmad, and 'Ubayd Allah ('Abd Allah) b. al-Husayn.

The Qaramati movement or Qaramatians (Carmathians), an offshoot of the Seveners, which formed a majority of the Ismailis in those days, did not recognize the Ismaili Imams that succeeded `Ubayd Allah (al-Mahdi).

Fourteenth Imam and a glorious period of Ismaili history

After three unsuccessful previous attempts by his predecessors, Imam al-Mu`izz, the fourteenth Imam of the Ismaili, was successful in 969 a.d., in conquering Fustat, the then capital of Egypt. The actual honour of this conquest goes to Imam's commander of the Fatimid army, Abul Hasan Jawhar. In the north of Fustat, Jawhar built a new city al-Qahira (Cairo), which became the capital of Egypt and the seat of the Fatimid dynasty until its fall in 1171 a.d. In 970, Jawhar also laid a foundation of the famous Mosque of al-Azhar, which later on during the period of the fifteenth Imam became a site for the famous university of the same name.

Once the Fatimid dynasty was firmly established in Egypt, the name of Abbasid Caliph was dropped from the Khutbah in Friday sermons and replaced it with the ruling Fatimid Imam. From the city of Baghdad, Abbasid Caliphs claimed supreme political and spiritual authority in Islam, and from Cairo Fatimid Caliphs claimed the similar authority in Islam. This period has been a golden era in the history of the Ismailis. The Fatimid empire extended from Palestine to Tunisia and the Fatimid Imams ruled over North Africa, Egypt and Syria.

A split in the Fatimid dynasty

After having ruled Egypt for sixty years, Caliph al-Mustansir, the eighteenth Imam of the Fatimid Ismailis, died in 1094. After the death of al-Mustansir, his followers divided themselves into two branches. This split has been one of the major schisms in the history of Ismailis. The branch that accepted the Imamate of al-Mustansir's elder son Abu Mansur Nizar became known as Nizari Ismailis (or Nizariyya). The other branch, which followed the younger son, al-Musta`li, became known as Musta`lian Ismailis (or Musta`liyya). The members of the latter branch, who are also known as Bohras in India, do not recognize Aga Khan as their spiritual leader or Imam. The leader of the Bohra community is called Da`i Mutlaq (Absolute Preacher). Bohras have Jama`at khanas for social and religious gatherings. The ritual prayers are recited in Bohra mosques.

Al-Musta`li became the next Fatimid Caliph with the help of his brother-in-law, al-Afdal bin Badr al-Jamali, who was the commander of the Fatimid army. Al-Afdal's army besieged Alexandria, imprisoned Nizar and his two sons, who had managed to escape from Cairo and settled in Alexandria. Historians have recorded that the prisoners were “immured†and died in prison. Ismaili legends have various versions of the escape of Imam Nizar's son Hadi and/or his wife from the prison of Alexandria. According to Ismaili versions, the escapee or escapees settled somewhere in Persia among the Assassins and later on moved to Alamut. Details of the escape from prison and settlement in Alamut are sketchy, and dates are unavailable.

1171 A.D. — End of the Fatimid dynasty

Musta'li, who was a political puppet in the hands of his Vizier, died in 1101. Twenty years later al-Afdal was assassinated. The Fatimid Dynasty of the Musta'lian Ismailis did not last for long. In 1171, Egypt was restored to the Sunni Tariqah by the great Kurdish Muslim soldier Salah ad-Din Yusuf al-Ayyubi (d. 1193), known as Saladin in the West. Historians have recorded that Saladin effectively and ruthlessly destroyed the mutinous Fatimid Army. The heretical books of the Fatimid Ismailis were heaped on bonfires and Ismaili jurists, who were mostly Hafizi Musta'lians, were replaced with Sunni Qadis (religious judges). The bidding-prayers (Adhans) were recited in the name of the 'Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad al-Mustadi. It was from Egypt, after the supplantation of the Fatimids, that Salah ad-Din began the conquest of Syria and founded the Ayyubi dynasty.

Emergence of the dreaded Assassins

Hasan bin Sabbah, the founder of the Assassins in Persia, was born into an Ithna'ashri family in the holy city of Qum about 1060 A.D. He was brought up in Rayy, near Tehran. Hasan's conversion to the Ismaili faith was largely due to his contact with an Ismaili Da`i named Amira Zarrab. Thereafter, he came in contact with several other Ismaili Da`is, such as, Abd-al-Malik ibn-Attash. Hasan went to Egypt to see Fatimid Imam al-Mustansir. It is not certain if he met al-Mustansir. Ismaili historians record that Hasan became an active supporter of Imam Nizar, the eldest son of al- Mustansir. Western scholars write that Hasan bin Sabbah went to Cairo in 1078 and shortly thereafter he was deported from Egypt to North Africa. There was no dispute over the succession between Nizar and Musta`li in that period. Al-Mustansir died nearly fifteen years later, in 1094.

On his way to North Africa, Hasan's ship met with an accident. Hasan was saved and taken to Syria. From there he travelled to Persia. Upon his return to Persia, he purchased (some historians say he seized) the impregnable fortress of Alamut (alhu-amut, i.e., eagle's nest) in the Alburz mountains in Persia. Alamut became his stronghold for revolt and a centre of operations. From here he expanded his power to other fortresses and over the tribes living in the mountainous regions far removed from Alamut. His network of Assassins stretched as far as Syria. Since the order for his banishment came from Vizier Badr al- Jamali, and Jamali's son al-Afdal had taken the side of Musta`li, Hasan bin Sabbah — a Fatimid Da`i and an Ismaili propagandist — took the side of Imam Nizar after the death of al-Mustansir.

Hasan bin Sabbah became known as “The Old Man of the Mountain†(Shaykh al-Jabal) of Persia and a Grand Master of the dreaded Assassins. It was their modus operandi that made the Assassins the most feared foe. Fida'iyyah (self-sacrificing Assassins) would infiltrate their enemies as trusted servants or teachers, in the guise of dervishes. After winning the trust of their masters, they would kill the selected leaders, including their masters, upon instructions from Alamut. The killing was mostly with a dagger, which became a symbol of their terror. Often a Fida'i would kill himself with the same dagger after accomplishing his mission. Even a powerful opponent of the Assassins would prefer to make a friendly treaty with them rather than risk his own life at the hands of a trusted servant who might turn out to be a fida'i.

The word Assassin comes from an Arabic term hashshashin, “consumers of hashish,†which, in Medieval Latin, became “Assassini.†There are narratives (by Marco Polo and others) that hashish was used as part of an indoctrination in order to produce the utmost obedience from the Assassins that were ultimately destined to become self-destructive disciples. There is an alternate story that refers to the sect's character as a “weaver of illusion,†again something that is produced under the influence of drugs.

Almost all western scholars have dismissed the story found in Ismaili history books about Hasan bin Sabbah being a schoolmate of the famous poet-astronomer Omar Khayyam and the great medieval politician Nizam al-Mulk. According to the myth perpetuated by the Nizari Ismaili “history†books, the three had made a pact that if any of them rose to a high position of power, he would help the others. The basis for the dismissal of this story by Western scholars is the age differences among the three protagonists.

From Hasan I to Hasan II

Hasan bin Sabbah (Hasan I) was a great thinker and a powerful propagandist, but he never claimed to be an Imam. He was the Hujja (the proof, a high position in the hierarchy of Ismailism) and a leader of the Da'wah. Hasan's emissaries (propagandists) went in all directions and a few undertook a hazardous journey to Syria carrying the “New Preaching†(al-da`wa al-jadida) of Nizariyya Ismailism to the old followers of the Fatimid Imams of Cairo.

Hasan bin Sabbah was a very strict disciplinarian. He killed his two sons for disobedience. From his deathbed in 1124, he appointed his lieutenant Da`i Kiya Buzurgummid as his successor. Kiya Buzurgummid, the second Grand Master of the Assassins died in 1138. His son Da`i Muhammad became the next chief of the Assassins and of the Ismailis. Muhammad died in 1162. He was succeeded by his son Hasan, who is known as Hasan II. Two and half years after his accession, at midday on 8 August 1164, in the holy month of Ramadhan, Hasan II made a historical declaration. A brief text of the declaration appears in the previous chapter. (See Section Two, sub-heading; "Break your fast and rejoice")

Sinan a companion of Hasan II

After the proclamation, Hasan II sent his envoys in all directions to spread the message of Qiya'ma to the old followers of the Fatimid Imams. One such emissary who went to Syria was a crafty strategist named Sinan ibn Sulayman ibn Muhammad al-Basri, commonly known as Sinan Rashid al-Din. Sinan was brought up in Basra and studied with Hasan II in Alamut. He became the companion of Hasan and Alamut's chief Da`i in Syria.

Another version tells us that Hasan's father, Da'i Muhammad, was dissatisfied by his son's intentions and ideas, which ultimately led Hasan to declare the radical theory of Qiya'ma. Sinan being an active supporter of Hasan, Muhammad forced him to leave Alamut. Sinan spent time in Syria waiting for his friend Hasan II to become the Grand Master of Alamut.

Hasan II's son changes the family genealogy

Hasan II, the Bringer of the Resurrection, was stabbed on 9 January 1166 by his own brother- in-law, who opposed the Declaration. Hasan II's nineteen-year-old son, Muhammad II, became the new lord of Alamut. For the next forty-five years, Muhammad II expounded and propagated the Qiya'ma theory. Historians have recorded that this freedom from the Law, the open disregard for the Qur'anic ordinances, and the disrespect for the basic Islamic principles made Ismailis of Alamut Malahida, or heretics par excellence. The Assassins were openly despised and loathed by Sunni Muslims.

Hasan II had claimed, as some historians have recorded, a kind of “Spiritual Filiation†(esoteric descent) with the Imam that was hidden or dead. Muhammad II, who was a prolific writer, “changed the very genealogy of the family†and firmly established himself and his father as the physical descendants of Imam Nizar of the Fatimid dynasty.

Professor Marshall G. S. Hodgson (1922-68) wrote several books on the subject of the Assassins of Alamut and the struggle of the early Nizari Ismailis. Hodgson recorded in The Order of Assassins (Mouton, 1955, pp. 160-62):

He [Muhammad II] established Hasan [his dead father] as imam in the fullest sense, and not merely the representative of the imam; thus changing the very genealogy of the family.

...Once Hasan, and therefore his son Muhammad, was endowed with an 'Alid genealogy, the breach with the time when there were only da'is in Alamut was complete, and the new dispensation inaugurated with all propriety.

Imam gives his pregnant wife to his Da`i

Dr. Farhad Daftary writes in The Isma`ilis: Their History and Doctrines (Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 392):

According to the most widely popular version, a son born to Nizar's grandson or great-grandson, and who subsequently ruled as Hasan II, was exchanged with a son born at the same time to [Da'i] Muhammad b. Buzurg-Ummid, without the latter's knowledge. According to yet another version, a pregnant wife of Nizar's descendant at Alamut was given to Muhammad's care, and, in due course, gave birth to Hasan II. On the basis of the genealogy subsequently circulating amongst the Nizaris, there were three generations between Hasan II and Nizar, Hasan being represented as the son of al- Qahir b. al-Muhtadi b. al-Hadi b. Nizar.

Marshall G. S. Hodgson, after quoting a version similar to the above of “two babies, born at the same time and exchanged three days later by an old woman†added one more folklore on page 162 of The Order of Assassins: “The imam who lived at the foot of the hill committed adultery with Muhammad ibn Buzurg'ummid's wife....Muhammad found it out, and killed the imam....â€

The quoted version of “a pregnant wife of Nizar's descendant at Alamut was given to Muhammad's care, and, in due course, gave birth†is recorded on page 253 of Noorum- Mubin. But, the version records that the son that was born to the pregnant wife of the Imam was named al-Qahir (not Hasan); and this child al-Qahir became the father of Hasan `ala dhikrihis-salam.

The Ismaili story becomes more complicated when Noorum-Mubin records that Da`i Muhammad's wife gave birth to a son at the same time that Imam al-Qahir's wife gave birth to her son. Both, newborn babies were named Hasan. Al- Qahir's son became Imam Hasan and Muhammad's son became Da`i Hasan.

The majority of historians claim there was only one Hasan, and that he was the son of Da`i Muhammad and later became Imam Hasan.

Astonishing historical comparison of “two Hasansâ€

Here is a brief summary of a historical comparison of “Two Hasans,†which is to be found in the books of Ismaili history.

1. Imam Hasan was born in 1126/1127.

Da'i Hasan was born in 1127.

2. Imam Hasan died in 1166.

Da'i Hasan died in 1166.

3. Imam Hasan's father, al-Qahir, died in 1162.

Da'i Hasan's father, Muhammad, died in 1162.

4. Imam Hasan's son was named ala- Muhammad.

Da'i Hasan's son was named Muhammad II.

5. Imam Hasan's son was born in 1147.

Da'i Hasan's son was born in 1147.

A chain of fabrication

In order to try and somehow maintain the myth of uninterrupted succession of their Imams the Nizaris, as we have shown, were obliged to resort to quite outrageous and far fetched distortions of what most trained and unbiased historians have recorded about the period in question.

The enormity of this deception will be better appreciated if we summarize the chain of these fabrications relating to the Alamut period.

1. It has been accepted by most historians dealing with this period that al-Mustansir's eldest son, Abu Mansur Nizar together with his two sons were imprisoned by Nizar's brother al-Musta`li who had usurped the Fatimid throne. It is also generally recognizes by these historians that Nizar and his two sons perished in the prison.

But, Nizari historians insist that Nizar's son Hadi and/or his wife escaped from the prison although they adduce no evidence to substantiate this claim. Indeed, they are not even sure who out of them escaped nor are they able to confirm exactly how, when and where they escaped to or what happened to them over many decades.

2. By all known historical records, Hasan II was the son of Da`i Muhammad who had succeeded his father Da`i Kiya Buzurgummid to the Alamut throne. Moreover Hasan II also known as Hasan, `ala dhikrihis-salam for his Declaration of Qiya'ma, never himself during his lifetime made any claim to be an Imam. It seems most unlikely that a man who dared to make such a dangerous declaration, on behalf of or in the name of a dead or hidden Imam, would wholeheartedly welcome the added authority of him being an Imam and could get away with it by proclaiming it at the same time.

The fact that he did not claim to be an Imam therefore convincingly proves that neither he nor his supporter regarded Hasan II as Imam. The best he could do was to claim a corre sponding authority to act on behalf of a dead or hidden Imam as his Hujjah, which claim happened to be deduced by some as esoteric filiation. Even then, within seventeen months of his radical Proclamation, he was murdered by his own brother-in-law who happened to disagree with him.

3. It was his son Muhammad II, who in order to appropriate for himself the respected Fatimid genealogy, elaborated the doctrine of the Qiya'ma and posthumously declared his father a full fledged Imam. As his son and successor, he automatically became Imam himself. This of course had nothing to do with truth but with political power and gaining added authority to command his subjects. He being a prolific writer could conjure such a move and at the same time propagate it.

Muhammad II's deception of course very much suited the Nizari historians who were seeking uninterrupted succession of Imams from the Fatimid dynasty, provided they could substantiate Muhammad II's claim by any subterfuge.

4. In order to “prove†this direct descent from Nizar, there was no choice but to concoct the filmland scenario of two newly born sons being exchanged without Da`i Muhammad's knowl edge or alternatively through another scenario where two sons, one of a Da`i and another of an Imam, conveniently born exactly at the same time and place happen to have the same name, Hasan.

5. The story becomes even more weird and complicated if one examines the claim made by Noorum-Mubin: “a pregnant wife of Nizar's descendant at Alamut was given to Da`i Muham mad's care, and, in due course gave birth†not to Hasan but to his father, al-Qahir. The convoluted scenario reaches its climax when Noorum-Mubin gives a further twist to this saga by alleging that al-Qahir, who was raised in the house of Da`i Muhammad, had a son named Hasan. It so happened that Da`i Muhammad's wife also gave birth to a son named Hasan. The drama does not end here. Noorum-Mubin records that after the death of al-Qahir and Da`i Muhammad, which also happens to be in the same year, both the Hasans had claimed Imamate but only the son of al-Qahir was the bona fide claimant.

Twenty-fifth Imam proclaims himself a Sunni Muslim

In 1210, Muhammad II, the prolific writer, died of poisoning. He was succeeded by his son Hasan III. In Ismaili history he is known as the twenty-fifth Imam Jalal al-Din Hasan. Hasan III made a complete turnabout from the teachings of his grandfather and circulated a letter announcing strict observance of the Islamic Shari`ah Laws by his followers. Sunni legislators were invited to Alamut to instruct Ismailis in the use of new mosques in the Ismaili villages.

Dr. Farhad Daftary writes in The Isma`ilis (p. 405):

Our Persian historians relate that upon his accession, Hasan [iII] publicly repudiated the doctrine of the qiyama and proclaimed his adherence to Sunni Islam, ordering his followers to observe the Shari`a in its Sunni form.

Historians have recorded that Hasan III's mother was a devout Sunni Muslim. He was very much attached to his mother, and that could be the reason for a change of heart. His conversion was accepted by the 'Abbasid Caliph an-Nasir (1180-1225) and he was surnamed Naw- Musalman (Neo-Muslim). Later on, Hasan III married a sister of the Caliph's governor of Gilan. Ismaili historians have recorded the above changes but they stop short of admitting that their twenty-fifth Imam had embraced the Sunni Tariqah of Islam.

Twenty-sixth Imam slaughtered by his homosexual lover

Hasan III died of dysentery in 1221 and was succeeded by a child of nine named Ala al-Din, Muhammad III. This twenty-sixth Imam of the Ismailis is depicted by historians as a “sickly and unbalanced corrupt figure.†Muhammad III was murdered in 1255.

In 1987, a book examining the history of the Assassins was published in Great Britain by the Aquarian Press. It is entitled The Assassins — Holy Killers of Islam. Author Edward Burman of the University of Leeds writes (p. 86):

Muhammad was murdered by Hasan Mazandari, who had once been his lover and who had received one of the Master's concubines as his wife. Thus the penultimate Grand Master of the Persian Assassins died ignominiously, slaughtered with an axe by the hand of a former homosexual lover.

Twenty-seventh Imam and his followers massacred

Ala-uddin Muhammad was succeeded by his son Ruknu'd-din Khurshah, “the last Khudawand of Alamut.†In 1256, Ruknu'd-din surrendered to the Mongols and within a period of one year all the fortresses and strongholds of the Assassins were razed to the ground. A Brief History of Ismailism records that 80,000 Ismailis were killed by the Mongolian soldiers of Hulegu Khan. Noorum-Mubin records that even babies that were sleeping in their cradles were killed in the massacre. In the words of professor Bernard Lewis in The Assassins (p. 95), historian Ata Malik Juvayni (1226-83) writes:

'He [Ruknuddin] and his followers were kicked to a pulp and then put to the sword; and of him and his stock no trace was left, and he and his kindred became but a tale on men's lips and a tradition in the world.'

This was yet another historical evidence which the Nizari Ismaili historians who were bent upon demonstrating unbroken succession had somehow to explain away. At present there remains nothing of Alamut and all other strongholds of the Assassins of Persia, “except heaps of loose stone,†writes Professor W. Ivanow in Alamut and Lamasar.

Associating others with Allah

It will be said (to them):

“Call upon your `partners' (for help)â€:

they will call upon them,

but they will not listen to them;

and they will see the penalty (before them);

(How they will wish)

`If only they had been open to guidance!'

Holy Qur'an 28/64

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