Life – An Exalted Destiny – Aga Khan III

Life - An Exalted Destiny - Aga Khan III Life is a great and noble calling; not a mean and grovelling thing to be shuffled through as best as we can, but a lofty and exalted destiny.

Reza Shah-Kazemi

Imam Ali and the Power of Compassion — Dr. Reza Shah-Kazemi

Imam Hazrat AliDr. Reza Shah-Kazemi Yawm-e Ali lecture Video delivered at the Ismaili Centre, London

The 2010 Yawm-e Ali Lecture at the Ismaili Centre, London was delivered on 14 July, 2010 by Dr Reza Shah-Kazemi, Research Fellow at The Institute of Ismaili Studies in London. In his lecture titled Imam Ali and the Power of Compassion, Dr. Shah-Kazemi explored the role played by Rahma — divine compassion — in the teachings of Hazrat Ali.

He stressed the relationship between intellect and compassion as one of the key polarities in the thought of Imam Ali. Just as the operation of the intellect requires the participation of all the cardinal virtues — compassion above all others, says Dr Shah-Kazemi, likewise, the deeper meaning and transformative power of the virtue of compassion can only… Continue reading

Beyond Polemics and Pluralism: The Universal Message of the Qur’an — Reza Shah-Kazemi

Behzad's Advice of the Ascetic (c.1500-1550) - Amaana.orgBeyond Polemics and Pluralism: The Universal Message of the Qur’an[1]

— Reza Shah-Kazemi

Editor’s Note: It was a delight to hear Dr. Shah-Kazemi’s lecture on the subject in person yesterday. Please view my picture with him below! Yay! My sincere thanks to Dr. Shah-Kazemi for providing this article and I am honored to present it on the Ismaili Web. Alhamduli’Llah! Please also view video of this presentation made in June 2014 at the end of this article and I just added his presentation at FIU on March 31, 2015. Thank you!

And they say: None entereth Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian. These are their vain desires. Say: Bring your proof if ye are truthful.

Nay, but whosoever submitteth his purpose to God, and he is… Continue reading

Pluralism and the Quran – Reza Shah-Kazemi

This is an edited version of extracts from speeches delivered by Dr Reza Shah-Kazemi at Milad al-Nabi Celebrations held in Atlanta and San Francisco, USA, in 2007. It first appeared in The Ismaili, USA, 2008.
In the 9th year after the Hijra (631 CE), a prominent Christian delegation from Najran, an important centre of Christianity in the Yemen, came to engage Prophet Muhammad in theological debate in Medina. The main point of contention was the nature of Christ: was he one of the messengers of God or the unique Son of God? What is of importance for our purposes is not the disagreements voiced, nor the fact that the debate was cut short by a revelation instructing the Prophet to challenge the Christians to a mutual imprecation, the mubahala; rather,… Continue reading

Universality of the Quranic Message – Reza Shah-Kazemi

Infinite is the Grace of Allah towards you. - Quran 4:113

 

They are not all alike. Of the People of the Scripture there is a staunch community who recite the revelations of God in the watches of the night, falling prostrate.

 

They believe in God and the Last Day, and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency, and vie with one another in good works. These are of the righteous.

And whatever good they do, they will not be denied it; and God knows the pious. (Quran 3: 113-114)

Thou wilt find the nearest of them [the People of the Scripture] in affection to those who believe to be those who say: Verily, we are Christians. That is because there are among them priests and monks, and they are not proud. (5: 82)

I believe in whatever scripture God hath… Continue reading

Layla tul Qadr – The Night of Power and Destiny

Layla tul Qadr The Night of Power Quran Sura 97 - Amaana.org

Man kana yarjoo liqaa Allahifa-inna ajala Allahi laatin wahuwa assamee AAualAAaleem

Whoever hopes to meet Allah, the term appointed by Allah will then most surely come; and He is the Hearing, the Knowing. – Quran 29:5

Please visit my previous Layla tul Qadr page where I describe traditional details of this holy night of Ramadan. With that as a foundation, I would like to present my views of this veritable Night of Power with focus on the above verse from the Quran wherein God hints that we are programmed to meet Him and that the term appointed will surely come when we will become Fana fi Allah, annihilated in God. To me, this is also congruent with Inna Lillahi wa inna Illaiyhi Raajioon – from God we have come and… Continue reading

Imamat Day July 11, 2013 – Mashallah! 56 Years!

Mowlana Hazar Imam’s 56th Anniversary of the Ascent to the Imamat – July 11, 2013

Mowlana Hazar Imam’s GJ 2007 Amaana.org Aga Khan

Spiritual Leader and Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims – His Highness the Aga Khan at the 50th Imamat Day Golden Jubilee Celebrations amongst a gathering of his followers – Imam of the Time, Lamb of the Ages! To the right is the Alaam – the Standard, used in processions and official events of the Imams. This one dates back to the Fatimid period and has the Arabic calligraphy depicting the names of Allah, Muhammad and Ali, a theme running in the Shia Ismaili tradition that God did not leave mankind without a Living Guide! Our Zikr Tasbi (remembrance chant) calls these three names Allah, Muhammad and Ali. Mashallah! These three names can be seen in… Continue reading

Defining Without Confining – Reza Shah-Kazemi

Shahadah calligraphy on a mosque

 

Defining Without Confining:
Reflections on a prophetic usage of sacred space.

 

Reza Shah-Kazemi

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In this article I intend to show that, in traditional Islamic consciousness, to define the space of the sacred (the mosque, the qibla, etc.) does not confine the sacred (wherever ye turn there is the face of God), and thus that the space of the sacred cannot be subject to what we might call ‘religious nationalism’. The sacred is both transcendent and immanent, combining both poles of tanzīh (incomparability), and tashbīh (similarity). At the heart of the sacred lies the paradox that its divine essence is absolutely unknowable; but there is nothing that does not, in its own way, manifest the sacred.

 

In the first part, I will… Continue reading

Love for Imam Ali in the Quran and Sunnah

Imam Ali Haider

Love for Imam Ali in the Quran and Sunnah

By Reza Shah-Kazemi

Chapter 10:

What we have said so far has shed light on the value and influence of love, and it has incidentally become clear that love for the pure ones is a means for the reform and refinement of the soul, not that it is an end in itself. Now we must see whether Islam and the Qur’an have chosen someone we should love or not. When the Quran relates what the previous prophets have said, it points out that they have all said: “we do not ask a wage from people, our only reward is from God. “However it addresses the Seal of the Prophets thus:

Say: “I do not ask of you a wage for this,… Continue reading

Importance of Imam Ali for All Muslims – Reza Shah Kazemi

Imam Hazrat Ali

The Importance of Imam Ali for All Muslims

By Dr. Reza Shah Kazemi

By analyzing original sources, the author explores the wisdom of Imam ‘Ali which has been described as an intellectual treasure locked in the Arabic language.

“One of the things I tried to do in this book”, said Dr Shah-Kazemi, “is to make some of the jewels of this treasury of spiritual wisdom accessible to those who cannot read Arabic. And to make that timeless spiritual wisdom speak across the ages in a dialect which is intelligible to contemporary readers.”

In Part One, the author describes the spiritual and ethical dimensions of Imam ‘Ali’s teachings. The second chapter sheds light on the ‘Sacred Conception of Justice’ in his teachings while the third segment focuses on ‘Realisation through Remembrance’.… Continue reading

The Prophet of Islam and the Spirit of Tolerance – Reza Shah-Kazemi

Prophet Muhammad receiving the first revelation of the Holy Quran from Angel Gabriel at Mount Hira.jpg

 

By Reza Shah Kazemi
from the book The Spirit of Tolerance in Islam
(London: IB Tauris/IIS, 2012, pp.111-125)

 

Prophet Muhammad receiving the first revelation of the Holy Quran from Angel Gabriel at Mount Hira in Mecca

The Prophetic Paradigm: Compassionate Forbearance

To speak about the intellectual search for knowledge, therefore, is also, and inescapably, to speak about the pursuit of virtue, and it is here that the paradigm of prophetic perfection is of the utmost importance: ‘I was raised up as a Prophet to perfect the most noble traits of character (makārim al-akhlāq)’,[1] the Prophet said, in an allusion to the principle that understanding the message of divine oneness—the conveyance of which was the chief reason for his being ‘raised up’ as a prophet—both requires… Continue reading

Nasir Khusraw – By Alice C. Hunsberger

 

Khusraw and the Lion Persian 1632
Amir Khusraw coaching students Nasir Khusraw Collection

 

Abu Mo’in Hamid al-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw is an important figure in the development of Ismaili philosophy. Much of his biography and philosophical ideology has been obtained through fragmented texts, both in poetry and prose.  Born into a politically connected family, Khusraw was well-educated in the sciences and humanities.  Having spent most of his life occupying prestigious positions within the Saljuq court, Khusraw converted to the Ismaili faith at the age of forty after careful study.  He spent the rest of his life writing and advocating for the Ismaili faith, and eventually was forced into exile by Sunni authorities.

 

Consistent with other Ismaili philosophers, Khusraw’s cosmology is heavily inspired by Neoplatonism.  His metaphysics describes a God from which… Continue reading

I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate – Ana madinatu’l-ilm wa Ali babuha

I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate Ana madinatul ilm wa Ali babuha

I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate;
so whoever desires knowledge, let him enter the gate.
(Ana madinatu’l-ilm wa Ali babuha;
Fa-man arada’l-ilm fal-ya til-bab).1

This profound Hadith, (saying of the Prophet) recorded by Muslims of every theological school, shows the unique place given by Prophet Muhammad to Hazrat Imam Ali, who, married to the Prophet’s daughter, Bibi Fatima, was also cousin to the Holy Prophet; Abdul Mutalib was their common grandfather.

Imam Ali did not fail the Prophet in this position of gate of the Prophet’s knowledge as evidenced by the vibrant spiritual traditions descending from him in the esoteric practice of Islam in Sunni and Shia followers.

The Quran highlights the Prophet’s spiritual and material behavior in 68:4: ‘Verily, thou art… Continue reading

Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad attributed to Imam Hazrat Ali – Reza Shah-Kazemi

 

God helps him who helps his brother - Prophet Muhammad

 

‘No companion of the Prophet has had such fada’il ascribed to him as those which have been ascribed to ‘Ali b. Abi Talib.’

 

 *

‘Truly, ‘Ali is from me and I am from him (inna ‘Ali minni wa ana minhu), and he is the wali (patron/spiritual master) of every believer after me.


‘Ali is with the Qur’an and the Qur’an is with ‘Ali. They will not separate from each other until they return to me at the [paradisal pool] (alhawd).


‘Three things were revealed to me regarding ‘Ali: he is the leader of the Muslims, the guide of the pious and chief of the radiantly devout (sayyidu’l-muslimin, imamu’l-muttaqin, wa qa’idu’l-ghurra’l- muhajjalin)’.


‘Gazing upon ‘Ali is an… Continue reading

Quran, 13:28

ألا بِذِكْرِ اللهِ تَطمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

“Verily! In the remembrance of Allah do hearts find contentment.” - Quran, 13:28

Prophet Muhammad

Prophet Muhammad:

‘Ali is ‘as my own soul’ (ka-nafsi).

He said to ‘Ali, ‘You are from me and I am from you (anta minni wa ana minka).’

‘Truly, ‘Ali is from me and I am from him (inna ‘Ali minni wa ana minhu), and he is the wali (patron/spiritual master) of every believer after me.’

Hazrat Ali

12. When some blessings come to you, do not drive them away through thanklessness.

13. He who is deserted by friends and relatives will often find help and sympathy from strangers.

Imam Ali Sayings

Imam Jaffer Sadiq

لاَ يَكُونُ شَيْءٌ فِي اْلاَرْضِ وَلا فِي السَّمَاءِ إِلاَّ بِهذِهِ الْخِصَالِ السَّبْعِ: بِمَشيئَةٍ وَ إِرادَةٍ وَقَدَرٍ وَقَضَاءٍ وَ إِذْنٍ وَكِتابٍ وَأَجَلٍ. فَمَنْ زَعَمَ أَنَّهُ يَقْدِرُ عَلى نَقْضٍ وَاحِدَةٍ، فَقَدْ كَفَرَ.

“Nothing occurs in this earth and in the heaven except with the following seven stages: Will, intention, destiny, decree, permission, book and implementation. Then whoever thinks that he can reduce any of these stages, then indeed he has disbelieved.”

- Imam Jaffer Sadiq, Usul al Kafi, vol. 1, p. 149

Rumi on Ramadan

The month of fasting has come, the emperor’s banner has arrived; withhold your hand from food, the spirit’s table has arrived. The soul has escaped from separation and bound nature’s hands; the heart of error is defeated, the army of faith has arrived. Fasting is our sacrifice, it is the life of our soul; let us sacrifice all our body, since the soul has arrived as guest. Fortitude is as a sweet cloud, wisdom rains from it, because it was in such a month of fortitude that the Koran arrived. …Wash your hands and your mouth, neither eat nor speak; seek that speech and that morsel which has come to the silent ones.

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99 Beautiful Names

Asma-ul Husna

 

Aga Khan jokes

Aga Khan Speech Brown University May 1996:

"Looking around this colorful gathering, I recall helping in the choice of the Aga Khan University's regalia. Our research into Islamic traditions of academic dress revealed that an academic's rank determined the height of his hat. The higher the rank, the taller the hat. The senior most professors therefore appeared taller than their students even when sitting down. I have just learnt that my friend Neil Rudenstein, the President of Harvard has given instructions that all Harvard hats are to be heightened by at least a foot. This has caused havoc in the Ivy League which is now debating resolution MAHH96, standing for Maximum Allowable Hat Height. My academic standing and that of President Gregorian, should be evident from the hats that we are presently wearing!"

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