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Difference Between Sunni and Ismaili

Sunni vs Ismaili

The difference between Sunni and Ismaili is that Sunni Muslims believe in following the ways and verbal sayings of the last Prophet whereas Ismaili Muslims is a sect of Shia which differs from Sunni Islam. Sunnis believe strictly in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and strongly reject any introductions, exclusion and interpretations of Sunah.

Sunni Muslims are in majority whereas Ismaili exists in minority in some parts of the world.

Ismaili sect believes in the seven Imams and therefore is called the ‘Seveners.’ Ismaili followed the descendants of Imam Ismail and still follow up to the present day. The present Imam of Ismaili sect is called Prince Kareem Agha Khan who is the forty -ninth descendant from the fourth caliph, Ali. Sunni Muslims believe in a secular political leadership whereas the Ismailis believe in a religious ruler.

Sunnis also have many sub -sects like the Shiites such as deobandi, brailvi, wahabi etc. Ismailis pray in Jamaat Khana whereas Sunnis pray in the mosques. Ismaili men and women pray in a joint session whereas Sunni men and women pray separately. Usually Sunni women prefer to pray at home but some of them offer Juma or Friday prayers in mosques.

Agha khan, being the religious ruler holds the most significant place in the Ismaili sect. The Imam decides names for the newly born babies and couples are allowed to marry after he gives permission. Sunnis do not believe that any religious leader is a divine spirit as they consider it is shirk or an unforgivable sin.

Sunni and Ismaili rituals are also different. There is a difference in the way they pray. Ismailis unlike Sunnis do not sacrifice their animals in the name of Allah. Isamailis are very closely knit society. All the rich and influential help their community to keep it strong. Some of the ismaili in the northern parts of Pakistan are very mild in nature. They do not get into feuds . They are a female- dominated society as females are more educated and there are more girls’ schools then boys ‘ schools in that area. The Ismailis of North have a closely knit social and security setup which does not allow any other religion or sect to interact with them at a personal level.

Summary:

1. Ismaili and Sunni both have different kalma or difference in the verses of Quran such as ismailis having an extra verse added beyond what Shias recite.
2. Sunni Muslims are strict in following the Prophets teachings and practices and do not accept any interpretations, additions or omissions.
3. Ismaili sect is a sub sect of Shia Muslims who believe in the religious leadership whereas Sunni Muslims believe in a secular political leadership.
4. Sunni and Ismaili Muslims have major differences in their prayer and other rituals.
5. Sunni Muslims are in majority as compared to Ismailis which is a sect.


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52 Comments

  1. .. ismaili also sacrifice there animals but the way of distribution is different. In bakra Eid . areas wise all animals who wish to sacrifices them. are bring to one place . and the meet is distributed to all families of that area..also there is no begging system in ismaili community

  2. There is not much difference between them the person who wrote this article don’t know mush about the Sunni and Ismaili Muslims

  3. this has many false statements… it sounds like the writer for this website is a sunni and is writing what an ismaili is in his/her perspective. thats not right.

  4. “does not allow any other religion or sect to interact with them at a personal level”

    The above sentence indicates ismailis and their relegion is not open and inviting relegion. Is that tru?

    • No, Your observation is wrong. I am an Ismaili and i welcome each and every human to my religion…

    • Yes it… My mom married a sunni… On the death of my grandfathers sister.. (Mums side).. Me n my dad were not allowed in the jamat khana.. Only bcaz we were sunnis… They were going to stop me even when i entered their jamat khana during my grandmothers funeral (Moms mom who was an ismaili) but i created a scene on that.. So yes they r close knit.. They help only their… I know this uo close bcaz my mums side family is ismaili..

      • Yes you are true 100%. My wife is a ismaili and when her mother died i was not allowed to enter and yes ismaili is not a sect and more than a cult. I know many things now which i was not known before marriage.

        • Nadir and zeenat u guyz are using Facebook?I really want to know something about ismailis that’s really really important for me. Please help me

  5. The author of this article has very less research regarding practices of Ismailis. Following statements are wrong ;
    1.”The Imam decides names for the newly born babies and couples are allowed to marry after he gives permission.”
    No such thing exists in Ismaili practices. Some of the followers ask Imam of the time for the Name of their Child , but it is general norm in every society or religion for suggesting names. Secondly, permission for marriage not required in Ismaili faith.

    2. “Ismailis unlike Sunnis do not sacrifice their animals in the name of Allah”
    This is not true.

    3.”They are a female- dominated society as females are more educated and there are more girls’ schools then boys ‘ schools in that area”
    The ismailis believe in equality of rights of women towards education & other fields of life. The man are also educated & are working together for the betterment of their life & society.

    Please amend these points in your article.

  6. Ismailis may be muslim, but not Nizari Ismailis (agakhanis) they are shirk filled people.. constantly twisting the word of God. Not praying (duas instead, while their Aga Khan has been seen in Sunni Mosques praying with Muslims).
    premarital sex isn’t even haram. No masjids, only jamaatkhanas..

    I just don’t get it. Create your own religion, don’t twist Islam.

    • you have no knowledge about ismailism,ismaili muslims are exist from the time of prophet (SAW).ismaili is not new made religion.we are exist in every area of the world.we have no need of any sunni Or shia’s to gustify we are muslim or not,,this article is not on the basis of facts and realities,i think the author of this article might be SUNNI or SHIA….

      • hey plz cntct me

      • My wife is a ismaili and i know about ismaili. You guys belive that prophet Muhammada imam Ali and agha khan are Allahs mazhar and Allah changed their form. You guys belive in trinity. You belive that Ali is Allah. Mohammad and Ali combine together to become God like Muhammad is the city and Ali is the gate of knowledge. You guys belive in janams like hindus belive in janams and your imam has the authority to wash your sins just like church has. I can talk more.

    • You have stated the Biased Sunni exaggerated stories. The are where i belong, Sunni children go to learn Quran from Ismaili Qazi,s. Ismailis are liberal and having very balanced Pardah. Much educated and well practioners of Islam.

    • may Allah forgive them ! the most painful part is they claim to be muslims .only if they knew!

  7. I am not an Ismaili but I am a Muslim. And this article is poorly written and does not serve either side much. It lacks information on both sides. Please either delete this article and write a well informed and actual researched information for both sides.

    Thank you.

  8. I am Ismaili, 90percent of this article is correct. there is great diffrence between us and Sunnis. We are Educated and so our girls. we don’t fight as Sunis do. We respect all religions around the world and sunnis don’t. W are the most peaceful people and Sunis are not. We beilive in humanity more than a religion itself but sunis are religious shell.

    • This is completely ridiculous. You just said you respect everyone’s religion? This is not respect. This is vicious stereotyping and generalization. You are making this assumption based on what you have seen in the media. This does not apply to every Sunni out there. I respect you and your beliefs and it would be nice if you stopped stereotyping and respect mine.

    • But you are not perfect Muslim you also missing something

    • Thats good thing that you are more towards humanity,, everyone appreciates but please the thing is there are many verses in Quran which are clearly violated by ismaili religion. they are far away from the main stream of islam, as drinking is common in ur community, u rarely go for hajj, no azaan in ur jamatkhana,no hijab, prayer is different, and hundred of many practices and beliefs which you people dont obey, those are clear orders from Allah. what to talk about ismiali community just take agha kha ur imam. he dont present a true picture of islam himself, why u call it personel life, he is imam not ordinary person, he drinks,he divorced his wife, married non muslims , no application of sunnah ( which depicts true love and respect for prophet ) is it islam or what ??? in short ismailis have totaly twisted islam in a new way which is far different from all muslims around the globe.

    • Hey..i just want to know that are you ismailis muslim or not? I mean can a sunni girl marry a ismaili? And is your kalma different from ours? Is your namaz also different? Pkease do rey me I am in a problem please help

      • Their kalma is different. Imam is their mazhar of God. Ali is god. Muhammad and Ali as are uniting factor of Allah. Imam is walking talking quran and he can mend quran anytime. They belive in janams and doesnt belive in hell or heaven. More closer to hindusism.

    • may Allah forgive you ☺your religion has met up with the biggest sin in islam ,shirk! idolizing an imam. i pray that Allah removes the veil on your dear heart .peace be upon you !

    • Can you point me to anywhere in the Quran or Sahih Hadeeth where it is mentioned anything about Sunni, Shia, Ismaili, Qadayani, or any other sect by name ?
      Yea we know about the Hadith of 73 sects but which sect is on the right path?
      How can we be sure ?
      May Allah swt give us all true guidance… Aameen

    • You are following imam and declared him as god.

  9. Wow, look at you so called Muslims attacking one another. First of all, the author of this article clearly has an ismaili name but I could be wrong just saying…ismailis should know that a little better. Secondly, Ismailis are a branch sect off Shia which is a branch sect in itself from the majority Sunni. Majority meaning the original that never changed, never will Inshallah! (takbir).

    As a basic logic way of looking at it…no man can come in between man and god, so who is this man? A successor? I choose to learn the truth and not listen a normal man se as the rest of us put on this earth to modify and tell me what the truth should be according g to the times!

    Thanks for reading, hopefully the average reader can see the truth for themselves. You don’t need to open schools to indoctrinate the special teachings of a branch sect off the true religion that we are the special chosen ones aside from the rest of us. That’s for God alone to decide and we shall all find out.

    Problem is will it be too late?

  10. when sanity is overpowered by ignorance, you get to witness, live and experience ‘conservative tension’ as opposed to ‘creative tension’. The opinions expressed above all are enveloped in sheer ignorance and prejudice. Who are you all to decide who is infidel and who isn’t. As they say ‘your actions speak louder than your words’. Just take a look around the globe to judge for yourself as to who is in ignorance and poverty, who is causing chaos around the globe and who bleeds and sucks the blood of his own brethren? Calling oneself a Muslim is insufficient. What unique and exceptional in calling oneself so. be human first. If any religion was (which I don’t think is the case with any of the religions of the world) meant to use to hate, snub, discard, disregard, ridicule and kill others, then I don’t think, that religion would ever be the choice of a human loving society or an individual. Why hating human being to love God should ever be the preference of a saner person. It should rather be to love and respect human being first to seek refuge in God and attract love of God. Doing this, doing that x pillars and y pillars of any religion will remain irrelevant unless one recognizes the importance of freedom, self-expression, culture, practice and way of loving and preaching God.

    • Thats good thing that you are more towards humanity,, everyone appreciates but please the thing is there are many verses in Quran which are clearly violated by ismaili religion. they are far away from the main stream of islam, as drinking is common in ur community, u rarely go for hajj, no azaan in ur jamatkhana,no hijab, prayer is different, and hundred of many practices and beliefs which you people dont obey, those are clear orders from Allah. what to talk about ismiali community just take agha kha ur imam. he dont present a true picture of islam himself, why u call it personel life, he is imam not ordinary person, he drinks,he divorced his wife, married non muslims , no application of sunnah ( which depicts true love of prophet ) is it islam or what ???

    • Ahmad I understand what you are trying to say but is it not our responsibility to speak up if someone is doing something wrong? The question arises then who is right and who is wrong and at the end we always say “don’t judge others”. Well I personally am not judging anyone… All I want to know is who is on the right path and which path is the right path???
      How should we find out the answer to this if we don’t discuss it?
      And if somehow we do find the answer to these questions then is it not obligatory for us to inform others as well ?

  11. A0A..!!
    I read your artical twice . Your artical is 60 % right but i think you have lack of knowledge about difference between sunni and ismali muslim. I would like to justify some suspence that… The different between sunni and ismaili have been form 1400 year when our last prophet (PBUH) passed away from this mortal world. From there sunni choice their leader Hazrat umar and Hazrat Abubar sadique. Who were muslims #KALEFAs also but ismaili which is the sub sect of shia follow Hazrat Ali as iman .this is small story of differnt between sunni and ismaili in the very starting days after completed of islam. My dear bro here in this artical you have written some wrong things about ismaili that iman is responsible of marriage of his follower this is totally wrong and ridiclous. You have written that ismaili has different type of Quran verses and kalima this statement is also wrong and strangable.
    You have written that ismaili are favour of femal education Yes ismaili muslim are very favour of femal eduction for this our prophet also has gives us many advices in his Haidths In my society sunni, shia and ismaili all are living aside and help one another in every trouble sitution. At last i would like to tell you that sunni shia and ismaili are muslim becauce they strongly belive in God ,last Prophet from God muhammad (PBUH) and other all prophets who were came before Muhammad (PBUH) the Holy Quran , sahaba-a-karam and Ahla-A-Baidth. Who believes in these they are real muslim
    thank you

    • Correct me if I’m wrong…my knowledge is very limited…my perception was that a “Muslim” is someone who submits their will to the will of Allah swt. I believe in the Quran as the true word of Allah swt and I believe in his final Prophet Muhammad pbuh.
      My question is a simple one … where did all these sects come from and why? Well maybe the question is not that simple after all

    • My wife is ismaili. And ismaili belives Ali is the manifestation of Allah including the agha khan. They dont belive in hell and heaven and belives in janams or cycles.

  12. This article is false. Ismaili belief in spirituality harmony and peace , I have worked with them and almost all of them are humble. In fact they are the only sect which still have continues Imamate . If they were false then why don’t they decline they are progressing every day . Keep up good work . Just one thing I want to say to Ismaili brothers try to lessen the differences as you people are very flexible . And pray in mosque as well as in jamatkhana and perform hajj . Otherwise you are the best best community I have ever found . May Allah bless you. Amin
    Dr Ammad Hassan Drammad@live.com

    • Jews are also progressing and are not declining. So does it mean Jews are right and Muslims are wrong? You may call some Muslims wrong but you can’t possibly call Islam to be wrong.

  13. Ismaili Imamat

    Islam: General Introduction
    The last in the line of the Abrahamic family of revealed traditions, Islam emerged in the early decades of the seventh century. Its message, addressed in perpetuity, calls upon a people that are wise, a people of reason, to seek in their daily life, in the rhythm of nature, in the ordering of the universe, in their own selves, in the very diversity of humankind, signs that point to the Creator and Sustainer of all creation, Who alone is worthy of their submission.* It was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) in Arabia from where its influence spread rapidly and strongly, bringing within its fold, in just over a century after its birth, inhabitants of the lands stretching from the central regions of Asia to the Iberian peninsula in Europe. A major world religion, Islam today counts a quarter of the globe’s population among its adherents, bound to their faith by the affirmation of the witness that there is no divinity except God, and Muhammad is His messenger.

    Muslims are those who submit to God. They are a community of the middle path, of balance, which is taught to avoid extremes, to enjoin good and forbid evil, using the best of arguments. Such a community eschews compulsion, leaves each to their own faith and encourages all to vie for goodness: it is the nobility of conduct which endears one in the sight of God. In its pristine sense, Islam refers to the inner struggle of the individual, waged singly and in consonance with fellow believers, to engage in earthly life, and yet, to rise above its trappings in search of the Divine. But that quest is only meaningful in tandem with the effort to do good for the kin, the orphan, the needy, the vulnerable; to be just, honest, humble, tolerant and forgiving.**

    The spiritual dimension of Islam varies from individual to individual according to their inner capacities as conditioned by the external environment. Equally in the collective domain, a divergence of views has persisted, since the demise of the Prophet, among the pious and the learned, on what constitutes the best community. The very comprehensiveness of the vision of Islam, as it has unfolded over time and in a multiplicity of cultures, has rendered a monolithic conception of the ideal society difficult. Nevertheless, whatever the cultural milieu in which Islam takes root, its central impulse of submission to the Divine translates into patterns of lifeways and acts of devotion, which impart a palpable impress of an Islamic piety to whichever spheres Muslims occupy.

    Shia Islam: Historical Origins
    Within its fundamental unity, Islam has elicited, over the ages, varying responses to its primal message calling upon man to surrender himself to God. Historically, these responses have been expressed as two main perspectives within Islam: the Shia and the Sunni. Each encompasses a rich diversity of spiritual temperaments, juridical preferences, social and psychological dispositions, political entities and cultures. Ismailism is one such response integral to the overall Shia perspective which seeks to comprehend the true meaning of the Islamic message, and trace a path to its fulfilment.

    All Muslims affirm the unity of God (tawhid) as the first and foremost article of the faith, followed by that of Divine guidance through God’s chosen messengers, of whom Prophet Muhammad was the last. The verbal attestation of the absolute unity and transcendence of God and of His choice of Muhammad as His Messenger constitutes the shahada, the profession of faith, and the basic creed of all Muslims.

    During his lifetime, Prophet Muhammad was both the recipient of Divine revelation and its expounder. His death marked the conclusion of the line of prophecy, and the beginning of the critical debate on the question of the rightful leadership to continue his mission for the future generations. The debate ensued as a result of the absence of consensus, in the nascent Muslim community, on the succession to the Prophet.

    A variety of viewpoints on the nature of the succession continued to be expressed before being consolidated into systematic doctrine, propounded by legal scholars and theologians, towards the end of the ninth century. From the beginning, however, there was a clear distinction of views on this matter between those, known as shi’at Ali or the “party” of Ali, who believed that the Prophet had designated Ali, his cousin, as his successor, and those groups which followed the political leadership of the caliphs. These latter groups eventually coalesced into the majoritarian, Sunni branch, comprising several different juridical schools.

    In essence, the Sunni position was that the Prophet had not nominated a successor, as the revelation, the Quran, was sufficient guidance for the community. Nevertheless, there developed a tacit recognition that the spiritual-moral authority was to be exercised by the ulama, a group of specialists in matters of religious law, the shariah. The task of the ulama came to be understood as that of merely deducing appropriate rules of conduct on the basis of the Quran, the Hadith or the Prophetic tradition and several other subordinate criteria. The role of the caliph, theoretically elected by the community, was to maintain a realm in which the principles and practices of Islam were safeguarded and propagated.

    The Shia or “party” of Ali, already in existence during the lifetime of the Prophet, maintained that while the revelation ceased at the Prophet’s death, the need for spiritual and moral guidance of the community, through an ongoing interpretation of the Islamic message, continued. They firmly believed that the legacy of Prophet Muhammad could only be entrusted to a member of his own family, in whom the Prophet had invested his authority through designation. That person was Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s cousin, the husband of his daughter and only surviving child, Fatima, and his first supporter who had devoutly championed the cause of Islam and had earned the Prophet’s trust and admiration. Their espousal of the right of Ali and that of his descendants, through Fatima, to the leadership of the community was rooted, above all, in their understanding of the Quran and its concept of qualified and rightly guided leadership, as reinforced by Prophetic traditions. The most prominent among the latter were part of the Prophet’s sermon at a place called Ghadir Khumm, following his farewell pilgrimage, designating Ali as his successor, and his testament that he was leaving behind him “the two weighty things”, namely the Quran and his progeny, for the future guidance of his community.

    Among the early Shia were the pious Quran readers, several close Companions of the Prophet, tribal chiefs of distinction and other pious Muslims who had rendered great services to Islam. Their foremost teacher and guide was Ali himself who, in his sermons and letters, and in his admonition to the leaders of the tribe of Quraysh, reminded Muslims of his family’s right, in heredity, to the leadership for all time “as long as there is among us one who adheres to the religion of truth”.

    The Shia, therefore, attest that after the Prophet, the authority for the guidance of the community was vested in Ali. The Sunni, on the other hand, revere Ali as the last of the four rightly-guided caliphs, the first three being Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman. Just as it was the prerogative of the Prophet to designate his successor, so it is the absolute prerogative of each Imam of the time to designate his successor from among his male progeny. Hence, according to Shia doctrine, the Imamat continues by heredity in the Prophet’s progeny through Ali and Fatima.

    Evolution of Communities of Interpretation
    In time, the Shia were sub-divided. The Ismailis are the second largest Shia Muslim community. The Ismailis and what eventually came to be known as the Ithna ashari or Twelver Shia parted ways over the succession to the great, great grandson of Ali and Fatima, Imam Jafar as-Sadiq, who died in the year 765. The Ithna asharis transferred their allegiance to as-Sadiq’s youngest son Musa al-Kazim and after him, in lineal descent, to Muhammad al-Mahdi, their twelfth Imam who, they believe, is in occultation and will reappear to dispense perfect order and justice. Led by mujtahids, the Ithna asharis are the largest Shia Muslim community, and the majority of the population in Iran.

    The Ismailis gave their allegiance to Imam Jafar as-Sadiq’s eldest son Ismail, from whom they derive their name. Throughout their history, the Ismailis have been led by a living, hereditary Imam. They trace the line of Imamat in hereditary succession from Ismail to His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, who is their present, 49th Imam in direct lineal descent from Prophet Muhammad through Ali and Fatima.

    There was also divergent growth among the Sunnis. From the early decades, various, embryonic systems of law began to emerge in response to concrete situations of life, reflecting initially the influence of regional custom in the way the Quran was interpreted. Eventually, these were consolidated into four major schools, which came to command the allegiance of the majority of Sunni adherents.

    The history and evolution of Islam, thus, witnessed the growth of different communities of interpretation with their respective schools of jurisprudence. However, whatever the differences between the Shia and the Sunni or among their sub-divisions, they never amounted to such fundamental a divergence over theology or dogma as to result into separate religions. On the other hand, in the absence of an established church in Islam, and an institutionalized method of pronouncing on dogma, a proper reading of history reveals the inappropriateness of referring to the Shia-Sunni divide, or to interpretational differences within each branch, in the frame of an orthodoxy-heterodoxy dichotomy, or of applying the term “sect” to any Shia or Sunni community.

    Principles of Shiism
    The essence of Shiism lies in the desire to search for the true meaning of the revelation in order to understand the purpose of human existence and its destiny. This true, spiritual meaning can never be fettered by the bounds of time, place or the letter of its form. It is to be comprehended through the guidance of the Imam of the time, who is the inheritor of the Prophet’s authority, and the trustee of his legacy. A principal function of the Imam is to enable the believers to go beyond the apparent or outward form of the revelation in search of its spirituality and intellect. A believer who sincerely submits to the Imam’s guidance may potentially attain the knowledge of self. The tradition attributed to both the Prophet and Imam Ali: “He who knows himself, knows his Lord”, conveys the essence of this relationship between the Imam and his follower. The Shia thus place obedience to the Imams after that to God and the Prophet by virtue of the command in the Quran for Muslims to obey those vested with authority.

    The succession of the line of prophecy by that of Imamat ensures the balance between the shariah or the exoteric aspect of the faith, and its esoteric, spiritual essence. Neither the exoteric nor the esoteric obliterates the other. While the Imam is the path to a believer’s inward, spiritual elevation, he is also the authority who makes the shariah relevant according to the needs of time and universe. The inner, spiritual life in harmony with the exoteric, is a dimension of the faith that finds acceptance among many communities in both branches of Islam.

    Intellect and Faith
    The intellect plays a central role in Shia tradition. Indeed, the principle of submission to the Imam’s guidance, explicitly derived from the revelation, is considered essential for nurturing and developing the gift of intellect whose role in Shiism is elevated as an important facet of the faith. Consonant with the role of the intellect is the responsibility of individual conscience, both of which inform the Ismaili tradition of tolerance embedded in the injunction of the Quran: There is no compulsion in religion.

    In Shia Islam, the role of the intellect has never been perceived within a confrontational mode of revelation versus reason, the context which enlivened the debate, during the classical age of Islam, between the rationalists who gave primacy to reason, and the traditionalists who opposed such primacy without, however, denying a subordinate role for reason in matters of faith.

    The Shia tradition, rooted in the teachings of Imams Ali and Jafar as-Sadiq, emphasizes the complementarity between revelation and intellectual reflection, each substantiating the other. This is the message that the Prophet conveys in a reported tradition: “We (the Prophets) speak to people in the measure of their intelligences”. The Imams Ali and Jafar as-Sadiq expounded the doctrine that the Quran addresses different levels of meaning: the literal, the alluded esoteric purport, the limit as to what is permitted and what is forbidden, and the ethical vision which God intends to realise through man, with Divine support, for an integral moral society. The Quran thus offers the believers the possibility, in accordance with their own inner capacities, to derive newer insights to address the needs of time.

    An unwavering belief in God combined with trust in the liberty of human will finds a recurring echo in the sermons and sayings of the Imams. Believers are asked to weigh their actions with their own conscience. None other can direct a person who fails to guide and warn himself, while there is Divine help for those who exert themselves on the right path. In the modern period, this Alid view of Islam as a thinking, spiritual faith continues to find resonance in the guidance of the present Imam and his immediate predecessor. Aga Khan III describes Islam as a natural religion, which values intellect, logic and empirical experience. Religion and science are both endeavours to understand, in their own ways, the mystery of God’s creation. A man of faith who strives after truth, without forsaking his worldly obligations, is potentially capable of rising to the level of the company of the Prophet’s family.

    The present Imam has often spoken about the role of the intellect in the realm of the faith. Appropriately, he made the theme a centrepiece of his two inaugural addresses at the Aga Khan University (AKU): “In Islamic belief, knowledge is two-fold. There is that revealed through the Holy Prophet and that which man discovers by virtue of his own intellect. Nor do these two involve any contradiction, provided man remembers that his own mind is itself the creation of God. Without this humility, no balance is possible. With it, there are no barriers. Indeed, one strength of Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened, and continues to open, new windows for us to see the marvels of His creation”.

    Muslims need not be apprehensive, he said, of these continuing journeys of the mind to comprehend the universe of God’s creation, including one’s own self. The tendency to restrict academic inquiry to the study of past accomplishments was at variance with the belief in the timeless relevance of the Islamic message. “Our faith has never been restricted to one place or one time. Ever since its revelation, the fundamental concept of Islam has been its universality and the fact that this is the last revelation, constantly valid, and not petrified into one period of man’s history or confined to one area of the world.”

    Crossing the frontiers of knowledge through scientific and other endeavours, and facing up to the challenges of ethics posed by an evolving world is, thus, seen as a requirement of the faith. The Imam’s authoritative guidance provides a liberating, enabling framework for an individual’s quest for meaning and for solutions to the problems of life. An honest believer accepts the norms and ethics of the faith which guide his quest, recognises his own inner capacities and knows that when in doubt he should seek the guidance of the one vested with authority who, in Shia tradition, is the Alid imam of the time from the Prophet’s progeny.

  14. Ismaili Community

    History
    [From the Preface of Farhad Daftary, The Ismailis: Their history and doctrines (Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp.xv-xvi. See also A Short History of the Ismailis: Traditions of a Muslim Community, (Edinburgh University Press, 1998) by the same author.]

    “The Ismailis constitute the second largest Shia community after the Twelvers in the Muslim world and are now scattered in more than twenty countries of Asia, Africa, Europe and America. This book traces the history and doctrines of the Ismaili movement from its origins to the present time, a period of approximately twelve centuries.”

    “The origins of Sunnism and Shiism, the two main divisions of Islam, may be traced to the crisis of succession faced by the nascent Muslim community following the death of the Prophet Muhammad, though the doctrinal bases of these divisions developed gradually in the course of several centuries. In time, Shia Islam, the minoritarian view, became subdivided into different groups, many of which proved short-lived. But Imami Shiism, providing the common early heritage for several Shia sects, notably the Twelvers and the Ismailis, was a major exception.”

    “The Ismailis have had a long and eventful history. In mediaeval times, they twice established states of their own and played important parts for relatively long periods on the historical stage of the Muslim world. During the second century of their history, the Ismailis founded the first Shia caliphate under the Fatimid caliph-imams. They also made important contributions to Islamic thought and culture during the Fatimid period. Later, after a schism that split Ismailism into two major Nizari and Mustalian branches, the Nizari leaders succeeded in founding a cohesive state, with numerous mountain strongholds and scattered territories stretching from eastern Persia to Syria. The Nizari state collapsed only under the onslaught of all-conquering Mongols. Thereafter, the Ismailis never regained any political prominence and survived in many lands as a minor Shia Muslim sect. By the second half of the eighteenth century, however, the spiritual leaders or imams of the Nizari majority came out of their obscurity and actively participated in certain political events in Persia and, then, in British India; later they acquired international prominence under their hereditary title of Agha Khan (Aga Khan).”

    Because of political developments in Iran in the late 1830s and early 1840s the 46th Imam, Aga Hasan Ali Shah, emigrated to the Indian subcontinent. He was the first Imam to bear the title of Aga Khan, which had been previously bestowed on him by the Persian Emperor, Fath Ali Shah. He settled in Bombay in 1848 where he established his headquarters, a development that had an uplifting effect on the community in India and on the religious and communal life of the whole Ismaili world. It helped the community in India gain a greater sense of confidence and identity as Shia Ismaili Muslims, and laid the foundations for its social progress. It also marked the beginning of an era of more regular contacts between the Imam and his widely dispersed followers. Deputations came to Bombay to receive the Imam’s guidance from as far afield as Kashgar in China, Bokhara in Central Asia, all parts of Iran, and the Middle East.

    In the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Ismailis from the Indian sub-continent migrated to East Africa in significant numbers.

    The Ismaili Community in the 20th Century
    Under the leadership of Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III, the first half of the twentieth century was a period of significant development for the Ismaili community. Numerous institutions for social and economic development were established on the Indian sub-continent and in East Africa. Ismailis have marked the Jubilees of their Imams with public celebrations, which are symbolic affirmations of the ties that link the Ismaili Imam and his followers. Although the Jubilees have no real religious significance, they serve to reaffirm the Imamat’s world-wide commitment to the improvement of the quality of human life, especially in the developing countries.

    The Jubilees of Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III, are well remembered. During his 72 years of Imamat (1885-1957), the community celebrated his Golden (1937), Diamond (1946) and Platinum (1954) Jubilees. To show their appreciation and affection, the Ismailis weighed their Imam in gold, diamonds and, symbolically, in platinum, respectively, the proceeds of which were used to further develop major social welfare and development institutions in Asia and Africa.

    On the subcontinent of India and Pakistan, social development institutions were established, in the words of the late Aga Khan, “for the relief of humanity”. They included institutions such as the Diamond Jubilee Trust and the Platinum Jubilee Investments Limited which in turn assisted the growth of various types of cooperative societies. Diamond Jubilee Schools for girls were established throughout the remote Northern Areas of what is now Pakistan. In addition, scholarship programmes, established at the time of the Golden Jubilee to give assistance to needy students, were progressively expanded. In East Africa, major social welfare and economic development institutions were established. Those involved in social welfare included the accelerated development of schools and community centres, and a modern, fully-equipped hospital in Nairobi. Among the economic development institutions established in East Africa were companies such as the Diamond Jubilee Investment Trust (now Diamond Trust of Kenya) and the Jubilee Insurance Company, which are quoted on the Nairobi Stock Exchange and have become major players in national development.

    Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah also introduced organisational forms that gave Ismaili communities the means to structure and regulate their own affairs. These were built on the Muslim tradition of a communitarian ethic on the one hand, and responsible individual conscience with freedom to negotiate one’s own moral commitment and destiny on the other. In 1905 he ordained the first Ismaili Constitution for the social governance of the community in East Africa. The new administration for the Community’s affairs was organised into a hierarchy of councils at the local, national, and regional levels. The constitution also set out rules in such matters as marriage, divorce and inheritance, guidelines for mutual cooperation and support among Ismailis, and their interface with other communities. Similar constitutions were promulgated in the Indian subcontinent, and all were periodically revised to address emerging needs and circumstances in diverse settings.

    Following the Second World War, far-reaching social, economic and political changes profoundly affected a number of areas where Ismailis resided.

    In 1947, British rule in the Indian subcontinent was replaced by the two sovereign, independent nations, of India and Pakistan, resulting in the migration of at least a million people and significant loss of life and property. In the Middle East, the Suez crisis of 1956 as well as the preceding crisis in Iran, demonstrated the sharp upsurge of nationalism, which was as assertive of the region’s social and economic aspirations as of its political independence. Africa was also set on its course to decolonisation, swept by what Mr. Harold MacMillan, the then British Prime Minister, aptly termed the “wind of change”. By the early 1960s, most of East and Central Africa, where the majority of the Ismaili population on the continent resided (including Tanganyika, Kenya, Uganda, Malagasy, Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire), had attained their political independence.

    This was the world in which the present Aga Khan acceded to the Imamat in 1957. The period following his accession can be characterised as one of rapid political and economic change. Planning of programmes and institutions became increasingly difficult due to the rapid changes in newly-emerging nations. Upon becoming Imam, the present Aga Khan’s immediate concern was the preparation of his followers, wherever they lived, for the changes that lay ahead. This rapidly evolving situation called for bold initiatives and new programmes to reflect developing national aspirations.

    In Africa, Asia and the Middle East, a major objective of the Community’s social welfare and economic programmes, until the mid-fifties, had been to create a broad base of businessmen, agriculturists, and professionals. The educational facilities of the Community tended to emphasise secondary-level education. With the coming of independence, each nation’s economic aspirations took on new dimensions, focusing on industrialisation and modernisation of agriculture. The Community’s educational priorities had to be reassessed in the context of new national goals, and new institutions had to be created to respond to the growing complexity of the development process.

    In 1972, under the regime of the then President Idi Amin, Ismailis and other Asians were expelled, despite being citizens of the country and having lived there for generations. The Aga Khan had to take urgent steps to facilitate the resettlement of Ismailis displaced from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and also from Burma. Owing to his personal efforts most found homes, not only in Asia, but also in Europe and North America. Most of the basic resettlement problems were overcome remarkably rapidly. This was due to the adaptability of the Ismailis themselves and in particular to their educational background and their linguistic abilities, as well as the efforts of the host countries and the moral and material support from Ismaili community programmes.

    Spiritual allegiance to the Imam and adherence to the Shia Imami Ismaili tariqah (persuasion) of Islam according to the guidance of the Imam of the time, have engendered in the Ismaili community an ethos of self-reliance, unity, and a common identity. The present Aga Khan continued the practice of his predecessor and extended constitutions to Ismaili communities in the US, Canada, several European countries, the Gulf, Syria and Iran following a process of consultation within each constituency. In 1986, he promulgated a Constitution that, for the first time, brought the social governance of the world-wide Ismaili community into a single structure with built-in flexibility to account for diverse circumstances of different regions. Served by volunteers appointed by and accountable to the Imam, the Constitution functions as an enabler to harness the best in individual creativity in an ethos of group responsibility to promote the common well-being.

    Like its predecessors, the present constitution is founded on each Ismaili’s spiritual allegiance to the Imam of the time, which is separate from the secular allegiance that all Ismailis owe as citizens to their national entities. The guidance of the present Imam and his predecessor emphasised the Ismaili’s allegiance to his or her country as a fundamental obligation. These obligations discharged not by passive affirmation but through responsible engagement and active commitment to uphold national integrity and contribute to peaceful development.

    In view of the importance that Islam places on maintaining a balance between the spiritual well-being of the individual and the quality of his life, the Imam’s guidance deals with both aspects of the life of his followers. The Aga Khan has encouraged Ismaili Muslims, settled in the industrialised world, to contribute towards the progress of communities in the developing world through various development programmes. In recent years, Ismaili Muslims, who have come to the US, Canada and Europe, mostly as refugees from Asia and Africa, have readily settled into the social, educational and economic fabric of urban and rural centres across the two continents. As in the developing world, the Ismaili Muslim Community’s settlement in the industrial world has involved the establishment of community institutions characterised by an ethos of self-reliance, an emphasis on education, and a pervasive spirit of philanthropy.

    From July 1982 to July 1983, to celebrate the present Aga Khan’s Silver Jubilee, marking the 25th anniversary of his accession to the Imamat, many new social and economic development projects were launched, although there were no weighing ceremonies. These range from the establishment of the US$ 300 million international Aga Khan University (AKU) with its Faculty of Health Sciences and teaching hospital based in Karachi, the expansion of schools for girls and medical centres in the Hunza region, one of the remote parts of Northern Pakistan bordering on China and Afghanistan, to the establishment of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in Gujarat, India, and the extension of existing urban hospitals and primary health care centres in Tanzania and Kenya.

    These initiatives form part of an international network of institutions involved in fields that range from education, health and rural development, to architecture and the promotion of private sector enterprise and together make up the Aga Khan Development Network.

    It is this commitment to man’s dignity and relief of humanity that inspires the Ismaili Imamat’s philanthropic institutions. Giving of one’s competence, sharing one’s time, material or intellectual wherewithal with those among whom one lives, for the relief of hardship, pain or ignorance is a deeply ingrained tradition which shapes the social conscience of the Ismaili Muslim community.

  15. unlike Sunnis do not sacrifice their animals in the name of Allah
    This statement is strongly wrong so revise your article

    And 2nd point
    The imam doesn’t choose a names for newely born babies
    And 3rd one ismaili doesn’t need the permissions to marry as it is natural

  16. This article contains false information about Ismailis. Not sure why we don’t learn from them instead of just fighting. This is why we are so behind

  17. hy
    thnx God i,m ismaili. our kaleema ” la ilaha ilalAah Muhammada Dur RasoolulAah.
    like others Muslim community our faith

    1. Allah
    2. Muhammad (peace be upon him)
    3 Quran And imamul waqt.

    we also believe five pillers of islam, 1. Kaleema Toheet. 2 Namaz. 3. zakat. 4 Rozah. 5 Haj baitullah shareef.

    fareshton per iman, tamam asmani ketaboon pr iman, tamam Rasoolon per iman, yom akherat per iman, and mout k bat jannat and durzakh per iman,

    • Hi i would like to clear something. Ismailis are not muslims because they do not follow the Quran as simple as that.

    • Stop lying.
      I performed 3 years ago and my wife reejcted it and didnt went to me perform for hajj as she belives that her hajj is only seeing his imam and as imam is a walking talking quran and mazhar of allah

  18. In the Name of ALMIGHTY GOD,
    THE ONE, THE ABSOLUTE.

    Bi Idhnil LLAAH your text on Ismailism in not complete and has some flaws.

    The Ismailiyya are divided in 2 Sub-Schools:
    — the Mustali Tayyibi Ismailis, also known as the Bohra;
    — the Nizari Ismailis, commonly known as the followers of Prince Agha Khan ou simply Agha Khanis.

    Bohra Muslims can be found in the region of Najran, in Saudi Arabia, where they number 1 million souls, in the State of Gujrat, in India, where they number 500 thousand souls, a small comunnity in Yemen.
    They are the heirs of the Fatimid Khalifas and they are excelent muslims, believing in TAWHID, performing the 5 Fard Salat and observing the Laws of the Quran, as do Sunni Muslims and Twelver Shia Muslims.

    Now, neither the Bohras, nor the Agha Khanis, have a different Quran. Both the Bohras and the Agha Khanis have the same Quran all Muslims have. This affirmation of mine is based on Knowledge and Observation.

    Bi Idhnil LLAAH SUBHANAHU wa TA’ALA, let us talk about the Agha Khani Ismailis.
    — Many of them consider Agha Khan to be a god and in their Jamatkhanas (Agha Khanis place of worship) they ask him for forgiveness of their sins and ask him for fulfilment of their deeds. This is Xirk and the Agha Khanis that do this are tottally out of Islam;
    — many consider the Agha Khan to have a part of GOD. This is also Xirk because
    ALLAH SUBHANAHU wa TA’ALA, cannot be divided in parts;
    — they do not Observe any Law of the Islamic Sharia, look at the Quran with contempt, do not perform the 5 daily Salat, do not fast, do not eat Hallal Meat, and many of them drink wine and go to casinos. In this, they resemble Catholic Christians who do not observe the Bible at all and claim that faith in Jesus in enough for the attainment of Salvation. The Agha Khanis do the same. They say that blind faith in Agha Khan is enough to attain salvation;
    — they donate huge sums of money to Agha Khan, every month;
    — they do not pay Zakat. Instead they pay a thing called Dasson which goes to their Imam;
    — just like Catholic priests forgive sins to their followers, Agha Khanis have a Priesthood whom they call the “Mukhis” and the “Kamaria” and these forgive sins to the Agha Khanis in the name of Agha Khan. While the Catholic priests have to study for 5 years before being ordained as priests, the Agha Khani Priesthood have no Knowledge at alm about Islam, nor are they required to have a degree in Islamic Theology. Their priesthood are nominated by the Agha Khan and normally are people with money;
    — the Agha Khan himself does not lead an Islamic Life. He has Wine at his home, is a Playboy and has very little Knowledge of Islam. His speaches barely contain elements of Islamic Shariah and are only advices on how to live a good worldly life.

    Bi Idhnil LLAAH, 5 to 10% of the Agha Khanis are true muslims who firmly believe in TAWHID, The Quran and the Sunnah, and they abide by the Quran, not ascribing partners to ALLAH (SWT), reading the Holy Quran, performing 5 daily Salat, paying Zakat, fasting in Ramadan and performing Hajj and Umra. This small group look at the Agha Khan just like any normal person and blend with Sunni Muslims attending Sunni Mosques to perform the 5 Daily Salat, hearing Islamic Speeches, and so on.

    Bi Idhnil LLAAHI TA’ALA, I am a Sufi Muslim Theologian and everything said here is based on Knowledge and Observation.

    So you can see how different are the Bohras from the Agha Khanis.

    Wassalam

  19. There is only One Islam, One Quoran, and One Prophet Mohammed (sw). Anything else is Not not Islam.

    • The Wahabi Suni denied the last year of Prophet Mohammed PUH
      hajjat al wada where prophet Mohammed PUH in Medina at the place of Ghadir Khumm at 10/632 that Of whomsoever I am the master (mowla) Ali is the Master (Mowla) All Muslim 4 Imams including Ismaili agreed except new born religion Wahabi who is teaching is against Prophet Mohammed PUH . Wahabi interpretation of Quran is different from other sect of Suna. Wahabi now has money they acting loco.

  20. Aslamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi wa barakata ho.

    1. I witness that there is no God except ALLAH.
    2. I witness that Mohammad (P.B.U.H) is the last messenger of
    ALLAH.
    3. I witness that Ali (A.S) is the Amir ul Momineen and from GOD.

    This article is based on false and malafied knowlege, what is said is wrong and he has lack of knowledge, I am and Ismaili and proud to be and Ismaili….What I have witnessed above is what we believe, we don’t have any separate Quran we read the same Quran that is read by all other Muslims….Allhamdulliah I am Shia Imami Muslim and I don’t need to justify myself to others….Secondly we never believe that our Imam of the time ( Shah Karim Al- Hussaini ) ( Aga Khan is the title) is as GOD ( Naoozbillah) , he is spiritual leader and direct descendant of Prophet P.B.U.H. We follow the real teachings of Islam….I have lot of words to say but i don’t want to waste the precious time over here… just to inform you that please kindly read and study about us before saying or writing anything…

    Thank you and GOD the Almighty bless you all.

  21. Nadir and zeenat u guyz are using Facebook? I want to know something about ismailis that’s really important for me please help me.

  22. There is only ONE caste: The caste of humanity! There is only ONE language, the language of the HEART! There is only ONE RELIGION, THE RELIGION OF LOVE!!! (GOD IS LOVE>LIVE IN LOVE>>>>The purpose of Human life is to REACH !!! GOD through WORSHIP, FAITH & DEVOTION ! ALL RELIGIONS!! ARE PATHWAYS TO THE “ONE GOD”!!! >>>>>WOMEN ARE THE CRADLE OF MANKIND and BOTH MEN & WOMEN have EQUAL RIGHTS TO ATTAIN GOD<<<<<

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