From Ismaili Muslim History – Nizari Ismaili dawa in Subcontinent

the ismailis history and doctrine

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The Nizari Ismaili dawa was initiated in the Indian Subcontinent by emissaries or Pirs dispatched by the Nizari Imams from Persia around the twelfth century. At first, these emissaries concentrated their efforts in Sind (modern day Punjab in Pakistan).

Pir Satgur Nur is reported to have been the earliest Pir sent to the Subcontinent for the propagation of Nizari Ismailism, which in India became designated as Satpanth, the True Path. Pir Sadr al-Din played a key role in the propagation and organization of the Nizari dawa in the Subcontinent. He converted large numbers of Hindus and referred to the convertees as “Khoja” derived from the Persian word “khwaja” meaning lord or master. Henceforth, the Nizari Ismailis came to be known as Khojas.

Pir Sadr al-Din is also credited with establishing the first Nizari jama’at-khana in Kotri, Sind. He established two Nizari centers in Punjab and Kashmir and appointed their “mukhis” or leaders. The term is derived from the Sanskrit word “mukhya” meaning most important or chief. Although he extended the dawa to other areas of Gujarat, Pir Sadr al-Din’s centre of activities remained in Sind.

– Farhad Daftary, The Isma‘ilis: Their History and Doctrines (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)

Ismaili Muslim History

One thought

  1. This is so important for Ismialis from India, Pakistan the sub-continent and for those in Europe, North America who are descended from this heritage. Especially in their deeper study and appreciation of Ginans our recited Oral Tradition in Jamatkhanas today.

    Actually, my unpublished Thesis on Social Change is cited by professor Daftary in the Appendix or Bibliography. Mine was a mere Social Anthropological study as I do not claim to be a scholar in Islam or Ismailism, I shall humbly say this. However Khojas spread right from there into to the Western world having been enlightened by these Pirs over a century ago with Reference to the Institute of Imamat.


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