Ismā‘īlī Gnosis blog (ismailignosis.com) is a study of classical Shī‘ī Ismā‘īli Muslim philosophy and other esoteric traditions (Sufism, Kabbalah, Christian mysticism, Vedanta, etc.) including metaphysics, philosophy, history, theology, cosmology, esoteric interpretation (ta’wīl), spirituality, comparative studies and eschatology. This body of sacred knowledge is designated by the term gnosis (Arabic: ma‘rifah; Persian: shinākht) – a direct, innate knowledge of spiritual truths (haqā’iq). The blog shares insights and perspectives from intellectual traditions as available in academic and scholarly publications and does not represent nor is related to any community, organization or institution or school of thought. The posts featured on this blog are individual reflections and perspectives which are informed by and rooted in traditional texts, commentaries and sources. More.
Following are some of the original articles published by the blog. Click on More links to follow the complete articles at the source.
- What is Ismā‘īli Gnosis?
- From Ādam to Āga Khān: The Universal Imāmat
- The Concept of God in the Teachings of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III
- The Esoterics (Batin) of Prayer: From Salah to Du‘a’
- The Seven Pillars of Islam: The Esoterics of Walāyah
- Esoteric Apocalypse (Qiyamah): Isma‘ilī Muslim Perspectives on the “End of the World” (Part 1)
- Esoteric Apocalypse (Qiyamah): Isma‘ilī Muslim Perspectives on the “End of the World” (Part 2)
- Common Questions/Answers about Shī‘ī Ismā‘īlī Islam
- Iqrā’ – ‘Read’ or ‘Remember’? Rethinking the First Revelation of the Qur’ān
- Sawm: The Esoterics (Bāṭin) of Fasting
- Laylat al-Qadr: Qur’ānic Revelation and Prophetic Inspiration
- The Eternal Imam: Songs of Krishna – Sermons of ‘Alī
- Ibn al-‘Arabi and Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah on Continual Creation and Escaping from Boredom
- Mourning for Ma‘rifah: Imam Husayn at Karbala
- Why Philosophy is Important
What is Ismā‘īli Gnosis?
Gnosis is that ‘supreme knowledge’ ‘which unifies and sanctifies’ the human being. (Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Knowledge and the Sacred, 41). Gnosis is not acquired by discursive learning, but it is innate to the human soul and intellect. More.
From Ādam to Āga Khān: The Universal Imāmat
The Imāmat is the office of spiritual and religious leadership recognized in Shī‘ī Islam according to which the Imām is the spiritual and religious successor (waṣī) of the Prophet Muḥammad. While prophetic revelation ended with the Prophet Muḥammad, divine inspiration, spiritual authority, religious guidance, and mystical gnosis continued in the institution of Imāmat. More.
Iqrā’ – ‘Read’ or ‘Remember’? Rethinking the First Revelation of the Qur’ān
According to traditional interpretations, the verse (iqra bi-smi rabbika) instructs the Prophet to read the verses of the Qur’ān. But there is another way of understanding these verses, based on early Muslim tradition and sources, which yields a different interpretation and in turn reveals the spiritual secrets of the prophetic mission. More.
Sawm: The Esoterics (Bāṭin) of Fasting
Fasting (ṣawm) is among the seven pillars (arkān) of classical Shī‘ī Ismā‘īlī Islām and the five pillars of classical Sunnī Islām. For Ismā‘īlī gnosis as taught by the Ismā‘īlī Muslim theosophers , each pillar (rukn) of Islām has an exoteric form (ẓāhir), an esoteric meaning (bāṭin), and a spiritual reality which is the esoteric beyond the esoteric (bāṭin al-bāṭin). More.
Laylat al-Qadr: Qur’ānic Revelation and Prophetic Inspiration
The traditional interpretation holds that on the Night of Power, the entirety of the Holy Qur’ān as a Scripture including all of its chapters and verses were ‘sent down’ to the lowest heaven and that the Angel Gabriel then began dictating this ‘text’ to the Prophet Muḥammad over twenty-three years. But this is merely the exoteric interpretation which is based on subjective assumptions and not actually supported by the Qur’ān itself. More.
The Eternal Imam: Songs of Krishna – Sermons of ‘Alī
The Eternal Imām is the Supreme Name of God which comprises all the Divine Names and Attributes: the Living (al-ḥayy), the Self-Subsistent (al-qayyūm), the Knowing (al-‘ālim), the Perfect (al-tamm), the High (al-‘alī), the All-Merciful (al-raḥmān), the Eternal (al-qādim), the Creator (al-khāliq), the Sustainer (al-rabb), the Light (al-nūr), the One (al-wāhid), the Witness (al-shāhid), the Face of God (wajh Allāh), etc. More.
Common Questions/Answers about Shī‘ī Ismā‘īlī Islam
Q. Why do Ismā‘īlī Muslims seek the blessings and forgiveness of the Imām in the course of their prayers? More.
The Seven Pillars of Islam: The Esoterics of Walāyah
In the present time, many people have sought to reduce the entire meaning of Islam to the practice of the so-called ‘Five Pillars of Islam’. In doing so, they flatten and hollow out the theological and intellectual depth of the faith. As Islam has developed historically, the Pillars have never constituted the entirety of religion. More.
Esoteric Apocalypse (Qiyamah): Isma‘ilī Muslim Perspectives on the “End of the World” (Part 1)
In the esoteric perspective, qiyāmah is not a physical event, but rather, it is a spiritual or soul-related event which has effects and manifestations in the physical world. This is because qiyāmah is related to creation (khalq). More.
Esoteric Apocalypse (Qiyamah): Isma‘ilī Muslim Perspectives on the “End of the World” (Part 2)
When interpreting the prophecy about the 49 Imāms, it must be remembered that all Shī‘ī groups including the Ismā‘īlī da‘wah of the Fatimid period considered Imām ‘Alī ibn Abi Ṭālib as the first Imām, his elder son Imām al-Hasan ibn ‘Alī as the second Imām, and his younger son Imām al-Husayn ibn ‘Alī as the third Imām. The Ismā‘īlī thinkers do differentiate al-Hasan from the rest of the Imāms because he was an Entrusted Imām (imām mustawda) while Imām al-Husayn and the Imāms succeeding him in his lineage are Permanent Imāms (imām mustaqarr). More.
The Esoterics (Batin) of Prayer: From Salah to Du‘a’
This post will address the exoteric (ẓāhir), the esoteric (bāṭin), and the reality (ḥaqīqah) of prayer (ṣalāh) and their relationship to the rituals of the sharī‘ah, the practices of the ṭarīqah, and the realities (ḥaqā’iq) of universal spirituality. In specific, the esoteric relationship between the formal Ṣalāh and the Ismā‘īlī Du‘ā’ will be addressed in great detail. More.
The Concept of God in the Teachings of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III
Ismā‘īlī Gnosis presents Imām Sulṭān Muḥammad Shāh’s teachings on the concept of God as found in his public speeches, interviews and writings. More.
Ibn al-‘Arabi and Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah on Continual Creation and Escaping from Boredom
Muḥyī al-Dīn Ibn al-‘Arabī, the great Sufi mystic and theosopher, explains how getting “bored” is the symptom of the person who fails to realize that God’s creative act is perpetual and renewed at every instant and that therefore, no moment or experience of the Cosmos is identical to another. If one realized that all things are anew at every instant, one would never experience boredom. More.
Mourning for Ma‘rifah: Imam Husayn at Karbala
The Battle of Karbala, from the esoteric perspective, was the manifestation of the opposition that takes place in every age and time between the forces of the Imām of the Time and the forces of his Adversity (ḍidd). Just as the Imām of the Time is the inheritor of Haḍrat Adam and the vicegerent of God on earth, the Adversary (ḍidd) is the inheritor of Iblīs and the devil (shayṭān) among human beings. More.
Why Philosophy is Important
In the realm of religion and theology, philosophy must be used to understand statements such as “God exists” since this phrase already assumes a concept of “existence”, and a concept of “God”. But what does it mean “to exist”? And what is the nature of “God”? And how can one rationally support the “existence” of “God”? More.