Syria and the Imamat
6th Imam Mowlana Ismail
7th Imam Mowlana Muhammad bin Ismail
8th Imam Wafi Ahmad
9th Imam Taqi Muhammad
10th Imam Raziyid din Abdullah
History of the Ismaili Imams Tarikh-e Imamat
By Al-Waez Alijah Hasan Husayn Nazar AliTable of Contents
Message from The Chairman
Chapter I - Arabia and Imamat 1
Chapter II - Syria and Imamat 14
Chapter III - N.W. Africa and Imamat 21
Chapter IV - Egypt and Imamat 26
Chapter V - Alamut and Imamat 67
Chapter VI - Persia and lmamat 67
Chapter VII - Indo-Pak and lmamat 74
Chapter VIII - Mowlana Shah Karim Al-Husayni Aga Khan IV 86
It is not certain when Imam Ismail was born. He succeeded to the throne of Imamat in 148 A.H., during the reign of the 2nd Abbasid Caliph Mansur. He was closely associated with Dai Abul Khattab and his activities during the lifetime of his father Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq. After Abul Khattab's death, some people began to form a separate Khattabi sect but were later brought back into his following by Imam Ismail.Ithna Ashari writers relate many stories about the differences of opinion and even quarrels between Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq and his son Imam Ismail. They go as far as giving qualities of drunkenness to Imam Ismail. But this can be rejected as a prejudiced (jealousy) viewpoint. It may be true that due to the Abbasis Caliph Mansur's constant watch on Imam Ismail's activities, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq may have been forced to show a fake indifference.
It is accepted by all that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq had given the Imamat to Imam Ismail, but it is uncertain when Imam Ismail died. Most of the Sunni and Ithna Ashari writers hold that Imam Ismail died in 145 A.H., i.e., 3 years before his father's death, and therefore, Imamat was publicly changed from Imam Ismail to his brother Musa al-Kazim. Some of these writers narrate that when Imam Ismail died, Imam Ja'far Sadiq took the signatures of all the people of Medina who had assembled in his house for the funeral. They write that a document about the death of Imam Ismail was also shown to the Abbasid Caliph for his satisfaction. This story also seems to be false from the undignified attitude which it gives to Imam Jaffer.
Ismailis, on the other hand, strongly believe that Imam Ismail outlived his father and no change of Imamat was ever made. It is not certain when Imam Ismail died, he may have died shortly after Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq's death, or according to some reports, after 153 A.H. As long as 5 years after Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq's death, Imam Ismail is said to have been seen in Basra, where he cured a paralytic in the market.
Some later Ismaili writers hold that even if Imam Ismail died in 145 A.H., as it is believed by the Ithna Asharis and Sunni writers, it does not prove that the Imamat was changed to Musa al-Kazim; the Imamat, in fact, was passed on to Imam Ismail's eldest son, Muhammad bin Ismail.
Mowlana Muhammad bin Ismail
Mowlana Muhammad bin Ismail was born in Medina in 131 A.H., during the lifetime of his grandfather Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq. At the time of his father Imam Ismail's death, he was about 22 years of age. He became the next Ismaili Imam and with him, the period of Satr (concealment) begins.
The Da'wa (The Mission):
Imam Muhammad bin Ismail's Imamat falls in the period of the Abbasid Caliphs al-Mehdi, Hadi and a part of Haroon al-Rashid's reign. The Imam was supported by the Dais, who worked in secret for him in all parts of the Empire. They established the Da'wa in his name wherever they went and thus the mission spread. The Dais considered their alloted quarters their new homes. At the Centre (Medina), the Imam was supported by Dais like Mubarak and Abdullah bin Maymun al-Qaddah.
Journey to the East:
All the sources of our information agree that Imam Muhammad bin Ismail left Medina for the East. Some say he went to Farghana in Central Asia and stayed there; others say that he passed the last days of his life in Nishapur in Persia, where he married and where his son and next Imam, Wafi Ahmad, was born.
The famous author, Rashid-ud Din, says in his record, that after leaving Medina, the Imam went to Iraq, then to Rayy, where the Imam stayed for some time. After Rayy, he went to Dumand, a mountain resort near Rayy where he stayed for a while. Then he arrived in Samla in Iran, which was later named Muhammadabad, after him.
Some authors say that the Imam had to escape from Medina due to usurpation of Imamat by Musa al-Kazim, but the real reason was Imam's desire to spread, as well as make his Da'wa firm in the East.
Dais were sent to all parts of the world by the Imam and Ismailism spread throughout the length and breadth of the civilized world of that time. Large amounts of money were received as gifts and offerings to the Imam; the money was used for the Da'wa and the Faith.
Death of the Imam:
Imam Muhammad bin Ismail died in Nishapur, leaving many sons. He was succeeded to the Imamat by his son Wafi Ahmad. The date of Imam Muhammad bin Ismail's death is not known.
Mowlana Wafi Ahmad
A son of Imam Muhammad bin Ismail, by the name of Ahmad, was residing in Persia. He became the successor to the Imamat. He was born in Nishapur in the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Haroon al-Rashid and was later known by the title of Wafi. During his lifetime, his father, Imam Muhammad bin Ismail, had asked his Dais to adopt Imam's name as a cover and protection for the Imam.
Abdullah bin Maymun al Qaddah:
Abdullah, the son of Maymun al-Qaddah, had served Imam Muhammad bin Ismail as his chief advisor and Dai throughout his life. After the death of Imam Muhammad bin Ismail, he continued to be the advisor of Imam Wafi Ahmad. He became Imam's "Hujja" (chief Dai), as well as his "Hidjab" (cover).
Headquaters of the Da'wa:
Salamiya, in Central Syria, had been adopted by Imam Muhammad bin Ismail and Dai Abdullah bin Maymun as their headquarters. However, in his last days, Imam Muhammad bin Ismail had to go to the East. During this journey, Imam Wafi Ahmad was born in Nishapur.
Imam Wafi Ahmad came to Salamiya, to the headquarters of the Da'wa. But the persecution and manhunt conducted by the Abbasid agents did not allow him to live in peace in Salamiya. Therefore, he had to travel to Daylam (Mazanderan), then to Ahwaz and onwards to Mesopotamia and Sammara. Ultimately, he came back to Salamiya where he died.
The Da'wa was conducted in full force during Imam Wafi Ahmad's time. Even when he was in Daylam, he had a group of thirty-two Dais with him to look after the Da'wa affairs. The Da'wa work went on smoothly without any serious disruption.
The Successor Imam:
Imam Wafi Ahmad had three sons; Ebrahim, Aly and Muhammad, and one daughter named Fatima. We do not know much about Ebrahim and Aly. Muhammad was born in Daylam and was appointed by Imam Wafi Ahmad as his successor to Imamat.
Mowlana Taqi Muhammad
9th Imam Early Life:
Imam Taqi Muhammad succeeded to the throne of Imamat at Salamiya during the Caliphate of the Abbasid Caliph Mamun. Abdullah bin Maymun al Qaddah continued to be the Hujja or the Chief Dai of the Imam. The Imamat of Imam Taqi Muhammad was a distinguished one because of its literary and political activities. Dais had spread all over the Abbasid Empire.
Rasail Ikhwan as-Safa (Encyclopedia of the " Brethern of Purity"):
A society called Ikhwan as-Safa or the Brethern of Purity, which was formed during the Imamat of Imam Ja'far as Sadiq, spread among all classes of people and in all counties during the time of Imam Taqi Muhammad. The Ismaili Dais and other scholars began to compile a new encyclopaedic work called Rasail Ikhwan as-Safa under the direct supervision of Imam Taqi Muhammad. They summed up the Greek philosophical ideas and reconciled them with Ismaili Religious doctrines. They met secretly in a cave because of the unfavourable state of affairs and were scattered over various countries until the opportune time came. (See Note on page 12)
When the Rasail Ikhwan as-Safa was completed, Imam Taqi Muhammad gave orders to distribute copies of it in various mosques of the country. This was reported to the Abbasid Caliph Mamun, who began to look for the source of this new form of mission. He invited many scholars to discuss certain philosophical matters in his court.
Among the many who went there was the Ismaili Dai Tirmidhi. He participated in the discussion with the scholars of different religions so brilliantly, that the Caliph pretended to have converted himself to Ismailism. He asked the Dai to reveal the name of the Imam to whom he promised to hand over the kingdom. As a precaution, the Dai revealed himself to be the Imam, upon which he was immediately beheaded. This saved the life of Imam Taqi Muhammad and exposed the enmity of Caliph Mamun towards the Imam and Ismailism.
Death of the Imam:
Imam Taqi Muhammad died in Salamiya in the early decades of 3rd century after Hijra. He had two sons; Abdullah, who was appointed his successor, and Muhammad Said Khayr, who later became the guardian of his nephew, Imam al-Mahdi.
Mowlana Razi-din Abdullah
10th Imam Early Life:
On his father's death, Imam Abdullah succeeded to the Imamat at Salamiya. The aged Dai Abdullah bin Maymun died and the charge of the Da'wa was taken over by Imam's brother Said al-Khayr, who also officiated as Imam, as a Hidjab (coverman). Imam Abdullah is known as Raziyid-din Abdullah. He is said to have written the summary of the Rasail Ikhwan as-Safa, titled Risalat al-Jamia. The Jamia is usually added as the last chapter to the encyclopedia. Risalat al-Jamia is more Ismaili in character than the rest of Rasail Ikhwan as-Safa.
The mission on behalf of Imam Raziyid-din Abdullah became widespread; his Dais carried on his Da'wa in distant lands too. Many people were converted to the Ismaili sect, and its organization became firm and well established. The Abbasids became alarmed by this and began their search for the Imam, but the Dais kept his name a secret.
Imam Raziyid-din Abdullah lived in Salamiya, disguised as a Hashmid merchant. He held a great influence over the Governor of Salamiya. Nobody suspected Imam's identity and this enabled him to direct the Ismaili movement well. Dais came to him from faraway centres. They brought with them great wealth which was placed in Imam's central treasury.
The Time for Action:
About 260 A.H., it became clear to Imam Raziyid-din Abdullah that the time of action had come. In Southern Iraq and Persia the Ismaili movement was so advanced that the Dais were waiting for a word to start the revolt. Imam had to travel to the East to investigate the situation.
In Kufa, one of the most important Dais, Firuz, introduced to the Imam a person called Ibn Hawshab known as Mansur al-Yemen. It was decided that the first Ismaili state was to be established in Yemen, where Ibn Hawshab would prepare the ground in advance. This became a common understanding among all Dais. Ibn Hawshab set out for Yemen that very year, 260 A.H., and reached there in 268 A.H.
The Future Imam:
From Kufa, Imam Raziyid-Din Abdullah proceeded to Askar Mukram and arrived there at the end of the same year, 260 A.H. Imam had married a lady from Basra and by her a son was born to him on 12th Shawwal, 260 A.H. He became the future Imam, Imam al-Mahdi.
After 8 years, i.e. in 268 A.H. Imam Raziyid-Din died at Askar Mukram, leaving his son and Imam, 8-year old Mahdi, in charge of his brother, Said al-Khair.
Said al-Khair was officiating as Imam in Salamiya during the absence of Imam Raziyid-Din Abdullah. There he tried to usurp the Imamat for his own sons, but they all died. Thus Imam al-Mahdi's right remained intact. On becoming of age, Imam al-Mahdi married the daughter of Said al-Khair. She became the mother of the future Imam, al-Qaim. Soon after the wedding, Said al-Khair died at Salamiya. Imam al-Mahdi then took over the full charge of the Imamat and the Ismaili Dawa in his own hands.
Back to Index Top
Famous Muslim Personalities | Home | Guestbook | Email | Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Children's Page | Contents | Search | What's New | Email us Back to Ismaili Web Website designed by Graphics Media Copyright 1996 All Rights Reserved