BIO DATA OF AN ISMAILI SHI'IA
By Akbarally Meherally
Seventy one years ago, I was born in England into a very dedicated and devoted Agakhani Ismaili family. Every grown-up member of our household was supposed to meditate in the early morning, between four and five. Three times a day, we all used to go to Jamatkhana (Ismailis' Prayer House), and recite the ritual prayer. This was a formally prescribed official prayer in Gujrati (a language the majority of Aga Khan's followers speak), known as the Ismaili Du'a. Every believing follower was supposed to recite this authorized Du'a with full faith, without any variation. Until replaced in 1956, that (old) Du'a had a phrase (Kalimah) which formally Declared and Witnessed; Aly (son-in-law of the Prophet), the master of the believers, is Shahi (truly) Allah. While reciting that enigmatic Du'a, one would repeatedly prostrate oneself before the photographs of His Highness The Aga Khan Sultan Muhammad Shah Mehlati and affirm with firm conviction; the photographed mortal was the prevalent physical manifestation of the Almighty God (Allah). Huge multicoloured photos of the Aga Khan were hung from all the four walls of all the Jamatkhanas in the world. There was also a verse in that Old Du'a which recited; Aly-Muhammad yakk Khuda huqq sanakh'th dafeh ballah. It translates; If you have the true understanding that 'Aly and Muhammad (jointly) are one Allah', then (all) your calamities will vanish. Any Ismaili can verify these facts from his/her Old Du'a Book or by asking the elders, over the age of sixty five. Those were the times in the Ismaili history, when I was born.
The Aga Khan had repeatedly announced that he was the 48th direct hereditary physical descendant of Hadhrat Aly. He had the same Noor (the manifest Light of Allah), that Aly - the first Imam had. Whenever the Aga Khan would give his Holy Deedar (glimpse of his Noorani face), he would address us as "My Beloved Spiritual Children". He would most graciously bestow upon us his "Special Paternal and Maternal Loving Blessings". Such merciful bestowing would bring the tears rolling down my cheeks. Our material and spiritual success was due to these Holy Blessings. We were the chosen few, out the billions to have been so very fortunate. Giving him 12, 1/2% of what was bestowed upon us by his mercy was like saying "Thank You". He would multiply our offerings and reward us manifold, here and hereafter. These were and are the popular beliefs. Majority of the Ismaili would pay this percentage once a month from their monthly gross income, but my parents would pay it daily.
Ismailis are taught by their parents and the missionaries that Aga Khan's Farmans (Proclamations), are the solemn Divine Dictates, being the very word of a Living God. Each and every Proclamation made by the Aga Khan should be entertained and understood as the verses of a "Speaking Qur'an". On several occasions, these Proclamations would overrule the sacred verses of the "Silent Qur'an" but that should not bother us. We were tutored into believing that what was revealed, 1400 years ago to a community of the Pagan Arabs living in the age of ignorance, through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), was outdated. Instead, we were ordered by the late Aga Khan to recite the devotional Songs called Ginans, alleged to have been written by the Ismaili Pirs. Majority of these Ginans, which attributed Divinity to Aga Khan were composed at a much later date, by the Ismaili poets and printed by the Ismaili Printing Press in Bombay. Please click GINANS to read more on the subject.
Majority of these ancient beliefs and acts have not changed. Even today (1999), Ismailis do recite the Ginans that attribute Divinity to Aga Khan. Instead of a dozen or so photographs, today there are only a couple of them, which are pulled down during the official visit of a non-Ismaili dignitary. Ismailis do recite their Du'a (a modified version), facing all the directions. At times their backs are facing the "Sacred Mosque". In the 80's, when the multi-million dollar Burnaby Jamatkhana in British Columbia was under planning, I wrote a personal letter (as an ex-President of the Ismailia Council), to Karim Aga Khan. I earnestly requested that looking ahead of time it would be advisable to construct this new Jamatkhana facing the Qiblah (Ka'bah). The prestigious Burnaby Jamatkhana does not face the direction of Makkah. The verses of the Holy Qur'an explicitly dictate that every Muslim should face the "Sacred Mosque" in Makkah, while praying. (Qur'an 2:149/150) This is one of the major reasons why Ismailis do not allow any non-Ismaili to enter any of their Jamatkhanas, specially during the prayer timings. However, many young Muslim students in North America have, out of curiosity, sneaked into these restricted prayer halls and observed the UNIQUE practices of the so called "Ismaili Muslims".
For the next fifty four years, following the footsteps of my grandparents and parents, I whole heartedly served the two Imaams of my times and the Ismaili community, with Tan, Man and Dhan (Body, Mind and Money). Even today, my efforts are directed at bringing these misguided Ismailis to the Deen of Allah. In 1972, in the recognition of my dedicated services to the community, specially to the Ismaili orphans and widows of Karachi, I was appointed President of the Ismailia Regional Council for Karachi and Baluchistan by Karim Aga Khan himself. I devotedly discharged my duties as a senior community leader, until I emigrated to Canada in 1975.
Towards the end of 1982, when I was a devoted Ismaili, I published my first book on the history (the Divine Link) of the Aga Khans. It was entitled 'From Abraham to Aga Khan'. The information contained in it was mostly based upon the religious teachings that I had received over the years from my parents, the Ismaili missionaries (many of them were paid by the Aga Khans) and the literature published by the Ismaili Religious Institutions in India and Pakistan (financed by the Aga Khans). Several of the non-Ismaili and a few Ismaili readers pointed out to me that Karim Aga Khan was not the physical direct descendants of the Prophet, as claimed by him. They all suggested that I should read the history of the Assassins of Alamut.
As the years went on, I continued my research on the subject of Ismaili literature and history. At the same time I augmented my studies with the revealed and inspired messages that are to be found in the Bible and the Qur'an. By the grace of Almighty Allah , I got out of my inherited tunnel vision that I had so firmly established for more than half a century. I could now compare with an open mind what I had studied in the past, with what I was learning in the present. I began asking questions in private as well as in public, by writing letters and pamphlets. I approached from the lowest to the highest authority but got no answer.
The real change in my attitude came when I discovered to my utter surprise that the Aga Khans were not the direct descendants of the Fatimid Imaams that ruled Egypt between the ninth and tenth centuries. Even today (2000), no Ismaili organization or institute has published any book refuting my research or my published works. This total silence of more than a decade on their part has been a cause of true concern for the Ismaili students, facing a barge of questions from the Muslim Students who have visited my Internet Web Site. Yes, I have seen lots and lots of totally baseless and fictitious documents that simply does the unscrupulous dirty job of the author's "character assassination". I am not a Saudi Agent (paid or otherwise). I never ever had a kidney transplant, so the story of Saudis having donated a kidney and/or the money, is a Big Lie like the rest of the lies.
At the end of 1988, based upon my advanced studies and the most recent discoveries, I published 'Understanding Ismailism'. Shortly after its publication, in December 1988, the honorary secretary of the Aga Khan's Ismaili Council for British Columbia filed a "Complaint" before the Aga Khan's Conciliation and Arbitration Board. The Complainant had asked the Board to recommend my expulsion from the community, under the Ismaili Constitution that is ordained by Karim Aga Khan. In March 1989, before the Board could pass a judgement of ex-communication, I publicly withdrew my oath of allegiance to Karim Aga Khan, upon the advice of my lawyers.
The roots of Fatimid Ismailis were in the Middle East where Islam was born. The roots of majority of the Agakhani Ismailis are in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent. Their conversion from Hinduism has gone through various phases of proselytizing. During the past one and half centuries, the religion of these converts has undergone such drastic changes that the present generation of the Agakhani Ismailis is totally ignorant of the practices of their forefathers that lived only three or four generations ago. To make these followers of Aga Khan, aware of their own roots and the various stages of proselytizing, in 1991, I published 'A History Of The Agakhani Ismailis'. The book has since then been well received by the open minded Ismailis and the Muslims at large. Anyone interested can download from my web site, 'Understanding Ismailism' and 'A History Of The Agakhani Ismailis'
Since the age of eighteen I had been reading with interest, the Holy Bible. In 1949 I wrote my first article based upon John's Gospel and the Book of Revelation. In the 1970's, I began comparing the texts of Holy Bible with the Holy Qur'an (Koran). At the end of 1989, I wrote 'Understanding the Bible - through Koranic Messages'. It was published at a time in the history of the Middle East when there was a greater need for Jews, Christians, and Muslims - the three children of Abraham, to re-examine their own roots and unite as brothers. Today the situation is out of hand due to the continued heavy handedness and the human right violations committed by the ruling Israeli Government. The book was reviewed by the famous Canadian author Tom Harpur. He is a former professor of the New Testament, and the Religious Editor of 'The Toronto Star'. Several months later, I was interviewed by Tom Harpur in his nationally televised series 'Heaven and Hell'.
For the past many years I have attended several Bible Study Classes run by Christian missionaries and scholars. Here I was given the opportunity to compare the teachings of prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), and the present day beliefs and practices of various denominations of Christianity. In 1992, I published a booklet 'Understanding Jesus - the factual perceptions'. In the field of inviting Christians to the path shown by Jesus - the righteous Messiah, I have invited scholars from North America and England and held several dialogues and public lectures in North America.
By the Grace of Allah (SWT), my wife and I are now Sunni Muslims. The question often asked by the Shiah readers is; Why my wife and I, who were Shiahs by birth joined the Sect of Sunni Muslims after leaving the enigmatic Sect of the Agakhani Ismailis?
To know the answer please click SUNNAH .
I cordially invite the readers to read the various articles placed on this Web Site. They are the tools for the Believing Muslims to give the "Daw'ah" (Invitation), to the misguided generations of Christians and to the mislead Agakhani Ismailis.
Ismailis are in the habit of quoting the last verse of Surah Al-Kafirun (109), "to you be your Way and to me mine" and add, why do not the Da'is (persons doing the Daw'ah) leave the Agakhani Ismailis alone to their own Way of following their Hazar Imaam and the Da'is just keep following the Qur'an? These interrogators are probably unaware that the Opening Verse of this Surah reads, "Say: O ye that reject Faith!". The obvious counter question would be; Are the interrogators, who wish to be left alone are in effect admitting; they are the Rejecters of Faith?
I conclude with a verse from Surah Al-I'imran (3)Verse 104 :
Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity.
May the Most Merciful Allah Guide the misguided rejecters of HIS TRUTH, that was Revealed through His Messengers, Ibrahim (a.s.), Musa (a.s.), Issa (a.s.) and Muhammad (s.a.w.s)