History of the Ismaili Imams Tarikh-e Imamat
By Al-Waez Alijah Hasan Husayn Nazar Ali
TABLE 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 86
Al-Husayni Aga Khan IV
CHAPTER VI PERSIA AND IMAMAT
28TH IMAM MOWLANA SHAMSUD-DIN MUHAMMAD
29TH IMAM MOWLANA QASIM SHAH
30TH IMAM MOWLANA ISLAM SHAH
31ST IMAM MOWLANA MUHAMMAD BIN ISLAM SHAH
32ND IMAM MOWLANA MUSTANSIR BIL-LAH
33RD IMAM MOWLANA ABDAS SALAM
34TH IMAM MOWLANA GHAREEB MIRZA
35TH IMAM MOWLANA ABUZAR ALI
36TH IMAM MOWLANA MURAD MIRZA
37TH IMAM MOWLANA ZULFIQAR ALI
38TH IMAM MOWLANA NURUD-DIN ALI
39TH IMAM MOWLANA KHALILULLAH ALI
40TH IMAM MOWLANA NIZAR
41ST IMAM MOWLANA SAYYED ALI
42ND IMAM MOWLANA HASAN ALI
43RD IMAM MOWLANA QASIM ALI
44TH IMAM MOWLANA ABUL HASAN ALI
45TH IMAM MOWLANA KHALILULLAH ALI
MOWLANA SHAMSUD -DIN MUHAMMAD 28th Imam - (654 A.H. - 710 A.H.) The destruction of the Ismaili fortress at Alamut, together with the efforts of the Mongols to completely destroy the followers of the Ismaili sect, greatly crippled the Ismaili movement, and for a long time it was believed that the Ismaili sect had been destroyed, and that the families of the Imams had been wiped out too. But history has shown us that the sect was not destroyed. Many Ismailis in Persia were saved by Taqiya (disguise) and other means; many others fled to Afghanistan, to the Himalayas and to Sind.
Ismaili tradition says that Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah, the last of the Imams at Alamut, sensing danger for his family and for the Ismaili community at Alamut, sent his son, Shamsud-Din Muhammad, then a boy of seven years, to a place of safety with his uncle. It is known from the Persian poet Nizari Quhistan that Imam Shamsud-Din Muhammad and Imam Qasim Shah lived in Adharbayjan, and the vicinity of Adharbayjan seems to have been the centre of Imamat for about two centuries.
Imam Shamsud-Din Muhammad lived as a Zardoz (an embroider) for the purpose of Taqiya (concealment) and was commonly known as Muhammad Zardoz. Referring to the Imam, whom he knew, Nizari Quhistan wrote:
"HE IS THE KING OF THE WORLD,
THE CROWN OF RELIGION,
HE IS THE SON OF ALI, WHO IS THE LIGHT
OF THE EYES OF THE KING OF THE WORLD,
HE IS THE FATHER OF SPIRITUALISM
AND THE SWEETEST FRUIT OF THE ETERNAL
GARDEN OF CREATION."
MOWLANA QASIM SHAH 29th Imam - (710 A.H. - 771 A.H.) Imam Shamsud-Din Muhammad was followed by his son Imam Qasim Shah to the throne of Imamat. Both the Imams contributed a great deal to the reorganization of the Ismaili Da'wa and a number of Dais were sent out of Iran. One of these was Pir Shamsud-Din Sabzwari.
Pir Shamsud-Din Subzwari traced his descent to Imam Ismail through Sayyed Hashamali who had gone to Cairo from Yemen. Hashamali's mother was Khairun-Nissa, who also traced her genealogy to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq. It was Hashamali who was entrusted to accompany Imam Hadi, son of Imam Nizar from Cairo to Alamut. A strong group of these Ismaili Sayyeds moved from Cairo to Sabzwar in Iran and Pir Shams was froin that colony.
Pir Shams was asked by Mowlana Qasim Shah to carry out the Ismaili Da'wa in countries beyond the boundaries of Iran. Before starting the mission entrusted to him, Pir Shams presented himself in the holy presence of Imam Qasim Shah, kissed Imam's hand and received his blessings. When he reached Badakshan, a large number of people came to see him and after being convinced, they accepted the Ismaili faith and swore allegiance to Imam Qasim Shah.
Pir Shams then left Badakshan for Tibet, where he stayed for a few days to carry out his mission. He then proceeded to Kashmir by way of Hindu Kush, passing through Ghazna, Chinab and Analnagri. Throughout his journeys, Pir Shams remained steadfast in his faith, although often he could not get any food for any price and had to starve. He endured all these difficulties with an unflinching heart and at last succeeded in reaching his destination. He settled in Kashmir and learnt local languages so that he could preach to the people in their own tongue.
Pir Shamsud-Din Sabzwari has been confused with Shams Tabriz. Shams Tabriz was the "Spiritual Master" of Mowlana Jalalud-Din Rumi, the great mystic poet of Iran. Rumi wrote a book of poems in honour of his master, entitled "Diwan of Shams Tabriz" which has been translated by R.A. Nicholson. Shams Tabriz,. was the son of Imam Alaid-Din Muhammad of Alamut; he left the fortress before its destruction, even before Imam Shamsud-Din Muhammad, the son of Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah had left. He also attained recognition as a Saint, but, he did not go to India.
MOWLANA ISLAM SHAH 30th Imam and MOWLANA MUHAMMAD BIN ISLAM SHAH 31st Imam
Imam Islam Shah, son of Imam Qasim Shah succeeded his father to the Imamat. It was during the period of his Imamat that Tamarlane, the Tartar, conducted a campaign through Persia during which he, without doubt, massacred many Ismailis.
Ismaili tradition informs us that Imam Islam Shah resided at Shahri Babak and later at Kahak. It seems that the Ismaili Imams maintained their connection with Adharbayjan until a much later date; however, it is highly probable that Imam Islam Shah found it necessary to shift his residence during Tamarlane's purge of the Ismailis.
Imam Islam Shah sent Pir Sadrud-Din (known as Pir Sadardin in Indo-Pak), to India. Pir Sadrud-Din had been trained under Pir Shamsud-Din Sabzwari and assumed charge of the communities in Kashmir, Sind and Punjab. Because of his teaching, there are thousands of Ismaili Muslims today in India, Pakistan, Burma and Africa.
Imam Muhammad bin Islam Shah also maintained the growing Ismaili community in India under Pir Sadrud-din.
THE GREAT SATR (CONCEALMENT) PERIOD OF PERSIA
MOWLANA MUSTANSIR BI--LAH II 32nd Imam to MOWLANA ABUL HASAN ALI 44th Imam
Ismailis in Persia passed through a long period of unexpected calamity and continuous persecution in the form of the Mongol invasion and mass killings by Tamarlane. Therefore, for many years, Isrnailis had to live under strictest secrecy in Persia. Anjudan, and later Kahak came to be known as the residences of the Imams. However, Ismailism continued to grow in the sub-continent of India during Imamat of Mowlana Mustansir-bi-Lah II, Mowlana Abdas-Salaam and Mowlana Ghareeb Mirza.
The oldest of the 3 mausoleums in Anjudan contains the grave of Imam Mustansir bil-Lah II. It is an octagonal building with a conical dome. It is popularly known as Shah Qalander but no reason for this can be found.
It is not known where Imam Abda-Salam's grave is. Behind an old mosque and not very far from the mausoleum of Imam Mustansir bil-Lah, there is another mausoleum known as Shah Ghareeb. Within the mausoleum, there are five graves besides the one in the centre,and others are outside.
The name of Imam Ghareeb Mirza does not appear an any one of those graves.
It would seem that the next Imams, i.e. Mowlana Abuzar Ali, Mowlana Murad Mirza, Mowlana Zulfiqar Ali, Mowlana Nurud-Din Ali, Mowlana Khalilullah Ali and Mowlana Nizar must have moved to Kahak, because near the western end of that village, is the mausoleum of Mowlana Nizar. This is within a garden, and the building has several rooms, each with several graves in the style of Sufic mausoleums in Persia. Mowlana Nizar is buried in the main chamber which is dome-shaped.
An interesting fact to be noted here is that some of the graves, apparently of those of the servants of the Imams, bear Khojki inscriptions; these could presumably be the graves of the Indian followers of the Imam.
In the gardens belonging to the house of the Imam, there is a stone platform raised on stone legs like a table and set in a depression. Local inhabitants say that Imam Nizar used to sit upon this platform, which when the depression was filled with water, formed an island, where he used to receive his guests, who were seated amidst flower-beds around the water.
The unsettled political condition which marked the next century, is reflected in the very fact that we do not have much information about the Imams of this period. Indeed we know almost nothing of the activities of Mowlana Sayyed Ali, Mowlana Hasan Ali and Mowlana Qasim Ali.
Our 44th Imam, Mowlana Abul Hasan Ali was for some time the governor of Kirman under the Zend kings. It is thought by some that Mowlana Abul Hasan Ali accompanied Nadir Shah to India at the time of his invasion in 1738 A.D. The Imam retired from his position at kirman and resided in Muhallat. Indian tradition places his death in around 1194 A.H.(1780 A.D.)
Imam Abul Hasan Ali is said to be buried in the mausoleum of the famous Sufi, Mushtak Ali. The grave, which is said to be of Imam Abul Hasan Ali's, is covered with a greenish coloured slab, with no inscription. A little distance from his tomb, there is another mausoleum, octagonal in shape. The inscription on this seems to record the burial of a daughter of the Imam. Other graves are also there, but their condition makes it impossible to identify them. W. Ivanow thinks that it is possible that some of the Imams were buried at Najaf, for it was a recognized custom at that time.
MOWLANA KHALILULLAH ALI
45th Imam - (1730 A.D. - 1817 A.D.)
After his death, Mowlana Abul Hasan Ali was succeeded by his son, Mowlana Khalilullah Ali, who was also known as Sayyed Kahaki, because he had established his residence at
Kahak near Muhallat. His position as the Spiritual head of the Ismailis was recognized by the Persian sovereign, Fateh Ali Shah. Mowlana Khalilullah Ali was greatly revered by his followers. Ismailis from India as well as from other countries used to make pilgrimages to Kahak to pay tribute to their Imam and to receive Imam's benedictions. The praise of the Imam has been given in Kalami Pir as follows:
"One who riseth by the Command of God,
The River (Qayyer) of the present time and eternity, The Source of Generosity and Mercy, our Master, Our Lord, one who knows the Mysteries of what is Open and what is Hidden. Our Lord Shah Khalilullah Ali Prostration and Glorification be due at His mention."
Mowlana Khalilullah Ali took up a temporary residence at Yezd. In 1817, Imam and a number of his followers were killed by a mob, provoked by a mullah who was jealous of Imam's popularity.
Mowlana Khalilullah Ali was buried at Najaf. His murder terrified the ruler, Fateh Ali Shah, who ad ' ministered severe punishment to the ones who were guilty of this crime; the mullah was cast naked into a freezing pond and beaten with thorny stick.
The young son of the Imam, Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali Shah, was richly rewarded by Fateh Ali Shah, who gave him the districts of Kum and Muhallat, in addition to Imam's inherited estate. Fateh Ali Shah also recognized Shah Hasan Ali Shah as the head of the Ismailis and gave him the title of Aga Khan. Later, he gave the Imam one of his daughters, Sarv-e-Jahan, in marriage.
The young Prince, Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali, governed well. Fortune smiled upon him as long as Fateh Ali Shah lived, but upon Fateh Ali Shah's death in 1834, a civil war broke out and the Royal Princes got into a dispute as to who should be
the successor to the Royal throne. This changed the situation of the Ismailis in Persia and the Persian Period of Nizari Ismaili Imams came to an end.
......Photos of 46th, 47th and 48th Imam.
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1. IPS Dare-es-salaam
2. The Institute of ismaili Studies, London.
3. Jami' - ul - Hakim, Cairo.
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