Recognition of the Imam: Realizing the “Ali Allah” Reality

By Shafeen Ali

Imam Mustansir Bi’llah II (A.S.), our 32nd Imam:
“It is obligatory and necessary for the true believer to recognize his Creator who is manifest in this world in the form of a human being, and to see Him here in order to see Him also in the hereafter.” [1]

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“Is Imam God?” It is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions in the hearts of many believers of Shia Ismaili Islam, often the youth, who have been challenged by their friends, by social media, or their own self-reflection to arrive at this question.  Usually, they are seeking a “Yes” or “No” response.  If the answer arrived at is “Yes”, the immediate next question is: “Isn’t that shirk (associating partners with God), a major sin in Islam?”  If the answer arrived at is “No”, a barrage of questions follow: “Why, then, do we pray to the Imam?”  “Why do we have his pictures in our homes and places of prayer?” “Why do we treat the Imam like we would treat God?”

Often, a concept, which was recited, in the old Ismaili Du’a (regular prayer), of “Ali Allah” or “Ali Sahi Allah” (Sahi implying the meaning “right” or “true”) is invoked to support the “Yes” argument.  It is countered often times, by those holding the “No” position, by the concept of “Shafa’a” or “Intercession”, where Allah is seen as transcendent and the Prophets and Imams are seen as “ladders” or “ropes” designated by God for mankind to reach Him.

It is in light of this divisive background that I have attempted in this essay to address the question of the divinity of the Imam.  My attempt is MINE ALONE; it is NOT intended as an official or institutional position on this question.  I hope that my brothers and sisters will forgive me my shortcomings and I hope this essay will help each find his/her own answer.

Read the essay written by Shafeen Ali at the source:

https://shafeenali.com/recognition/

Shafeen Ali is a Shia Ismaili Muslim who has been a faith-based teacher and speaker for the last 10+ years.  He has delivered more than 150 presentations and workshops throughout the world on faith and religious education. To contact, please email: contact@shafeenali.com or visit website: www.shafeenali.com

 

 

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

15 thoughts

  1. Thank you for sharing this very informative meaning which you are right is a question in almost all Ismaili minds and more so our children growing up today. When we don’t know ourselves, how do we answer our children.

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  2. You have started with a quotation and claimed that it has been said by 32nd Imam.
    How u have confirmed the authenticity of this statement, which indicates that ALLAH has manifested HIMSELF in form of human being. (nauzubillah)
    I am surprised that either you have not read Maulana Hazir Imam (AS) farmans on Tauheed, or you are hiding for a purpose.
    Hazir Imam (AS) has clearly mentioned in his farmans that there is no one like ALLAH.
    Surah e Ikhlas clearly mentions that there is no one like ALLAH.
    Why you are propagating something which is not in accordance with our Imam’s teachings and Quranic teaching.
    Why you are labeling it under Ismailism.
    Have you been given any authority from Imam(AS) to propagate your ideas like this.
    As per constitution, only Imam(AS) has authority to interpret religion.
    Why u are coming with your own interpretation and labeling it as Ismaili interpretation.

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    1. Dear Ali, Ya Ali Madad, The sources for each quote are located in the essay itself. The quote from Imam Mustansir Bi’llah II, our 32nd Imam is from Pandiyat-I-Jawanmardi Or Advices of Manliness, trans. W. Ivanow (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1953), pg 101-102.

      Here is more information on this historic text at the IIS website: https://iis.ac.uk/library/pir-pandiyat-i-jawanmardi

      In regards to your other comments, dear Brother, the Qur’an says, 2:256: “There is no compulsion in religion.” The essay is my articulation of faith and religion. Yours is yours. As the Qur’an says, 109:6, “For you is your faith, and for me is my faith.”

      Finally, Imam beautifully said in the conference, Word of God, Art of Man (The Ismaili Centre, London, October 19, 2003): “This freedom of interpretation is a generosity which the Qur’an confers upon all believers, uniting them in the conviction that All-Merciful Allah will forgive them if they err in their sincere attempts to understand His word.”

      I hope for your forgiveness in making you uncomfortable with the essay.
      Warm regards,
      Shafeen Ali

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  3. On a purely spiritual level Allah and Imam can not be defined ,described ,understood ,comprehended ,explained or interpreted ,one has to get to that level to feel Him, in short one has to be Mansoor- Al Hilaj ,and when one achieves that level ,every thing else is not worth the dust on the road I mean all material things.But that domain is out of body ,non human and is only understood by the one who is there.

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  4. I will quote a very short story linked to the topic under discussion ,during the time of Imam SMS ,Nizari Ismsilies who take Bada Mullah as their Dai ,wanted to merge with us the Imami Iamailies ,If instead of saying Ali Sahih Allah we would say Ali Wali Allah ,meaning Ali is the friend of Allah ,which the Imam SMS did not agree to

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  5. Even today in jamat khanas in Pakistan many Murids call out at the end of kalma Ali Shahi Allah loudly that the streets of Pakistan reverbtaes with echo of Ali shahi Allah ,Imam SMS in one of His Farman had mentioned ,that if four blind people would touch different parts of an elephant ,each description would be different ,like wise depending upon each murid’s nearness to the creator would produce for him an image that is just perfect for him . Yet in another Farman Imam SMS had mentioned that when lightening strikes a mountain ,it appears that both are the same, He goes on to say that very few have achieved the state of Fana Fillah – to be one with Allah ,He quotes Mansoor Al Hilaj, Jesus Christ ,Pir Shams, Pir Saderddin and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) Of Islam But man can achieve that status ,He further added.

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  6. Some brothers and sisters have had a question related to how the Ali-Allah reality relates with Surat l-Ikhlas in the Qur’an as also recited in our Du’a. This was not in the essay so following is my attempt at this. Again, this is my own personal interpretation. Please, forgive me my shortcomings!

    Surat l-Ikhlas, Qur’an Chapter 112 (Shakir Translation)

    112:1 – Say: He, Allah, the One.

    For me, this statement bears witness to mono-realism rather than mono-theism as explained by Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah (A.S.) in his Memoirs. It relates with the Ali-Allah reality in that Ali is not separate from Allah and is also contained within the one reality (Tawhid) which is Allah. In my understanding, through Ali, through the wasilah (“means” OR “vessel”) of Ali, Allah makes His creation emanate from Himself. Then, in creation, through Ali, through the wasilah of Ali, Allah makes Himself known to His creation. Finally, through Ali, through the wasilah of Ali, Allah makes His creation return to Himself. Prior to emanation, and after the return, there is absolutely a point where Ali doesn’t exist, for even that separate identity dissolves in the unity that is Allah, thus, Ali is Al-Awwal and Al-Akhir, as explained in the essay. The river dissolves in the ocean as described in the essay as per the speech of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah (A.S.) at the First Ismailia Mission Conference.

    112:2 – Allah is He on Whom all depend.

    For me, this statement is about the complete dependence-reliance (Tawakkul) of each and every one of us on Allah. While as-Samad testifies to Allah’s independence from us, it also testifies to our complete dependence on Him. But how can we depend on Allah if He is beyond everything, above everything else? How can you hold a hand that you cannot see? This statement relates with the Ali-Allah reality in that through Ali, through the wasilah of Ali, Allah makes His hand available for us to hold. We say this in the 4th part of our Du’a which is from the Qur’an 48:10: “Those who give you their allegiance, they give it verily to Allah; Allah’s hand is upon their hands.”

    112:3 – He begets not,

    For me, again, this statement testifies to the unity (Tawhid) of Allah where everything is contained in Him, in the one reality that is Him, is NOT separate from Him, and thus NOT begotten from Him. This is beautifully explained in the following quote of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah (A.S.), wherein he says:

    “Take the central principle of “Allāhu Akbar”. Here we find on one side divinity, on the other side infinity. For what is the greater – time, space, the starry heavens, intelligence, knowledge? – wherever existence goes, there His greatness extends. Greaterness here, to anyone who understands the implications of the Arabic language, does not mean “greaterness” as literally translated into English. It means that everything else is within the womb of the greater – everything else is maintained and sustained by Divine Power, including the furthest spaces of imagination.” (Foreword, Al-Hajj Qassim Ali Jairazbhoy, Muhammad: A Mercy to All Nations, pg 12-13)

    This relates to the Ali-Allah reality in that just as everything else is maintained and sustained by Divine Power, so is Ali. The mazhar is not separate from that which it makes zahir otherwise the unity of God would be divided and “He begets not” would be untrue. This is important to understand because often times we may pray to the Imam (i.e. saying YA ALI MADAD, not just a greeting, also a prayer) and then we may pray to Allah (i.e. saying ALLAHUMMAGHFIR LANA ZUNOOBANA) and we imagine our prayers going to two different directions. If so, then we have divided God and have made the Imam a lower God and Allah a higher God. This cannot occur for there is only ONE God who “begets not”. This is where the idea of NUR is central for NUR is the essence which unites all manifestations of God into ONE unity. This is further explained in the essay.

    112:3 – Nor is He begotten.

    For me, this statement describes Allah as the ULTIMATE destination, the ULTIMATE truth, i.e. “He who is Above All Else.” This means that all individual identities end there and only Allah exists. This relates to the Ali-Allah reality in that it raises Allah above Ali in ontology, in being. This is aligned with Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah (A.S.)’s speech at the First Ismailia Mission Conference, as discussed in the essay, where he describes Ali as the river and Allah as the ocean. They are both H2O, Nur, but the ocean is the ultimate destination of the river, dissolving in which, the river doesn’t exist.

    112:4 – And none is like Him.

    For me, this statement speaks to the non-materiality of God for nothing in existence that we can detect with our physical senses is like Him. This relates with the Ali-Allah reality as follows:

    The physical body of Ali, the human form itself of the Imams, is NOT divine. The body is temporal and not eternal. But as per Quran 24:35, Ayah-e-Nur, within that body is a lamp, and within that lamp is a light, and that light is lit even though no fire has touched it (i.e. it has not been begotten). And it doesn’t belong to the east or the west for it is not of this earth and it is bound to a tree, a family tree, a hereditary lineage, the family of the Prophet.

    Thus, in the body of the Imams is this Nur, the “Nur of Allah”, which according to the essay is the real meaning of the phrase “Ali Allah”. In my understanding, when Imam Mustansir Bi’llah II (A.S.), our 32nd Imam, tells “the true believer to recognize his Creator who is manifest in this world in the form of a human being,” he is asking us to recognize the Nur which is manifest in the Imam. Again, this is explained in further depth in the essay itself.

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  7. To me Shafeen’s article is mostly collection of postings from ismaili.net and ismaili gnosis. Though basically the topic is about Ali Allah and recognition of Imam but he has spread his thesis by including other topics seems not directly related to topic. Looks like he has twisted the statement and sayings of Imam in favor of his topic. Mostly what he has described have been told and told again and again in waizes except his personal experience at dedaar time. My intention is not to discourage him but clarify some of his assertions and contradictions.

    Following are the Farman of MSMS:
    In every time Imam has something new to reveal.
    You should obey the Farmans of the Imam of the time.
    My Farmans in years to come will be QUITE DIFFERENT FROM THE PRESENT ONES.The whole world will change, therefore you should obey the Farmans of the Imam of the time.
    As the time changes so do the Farmans change.

    In 1950 MSMS himself replaced the sentence Ali Sahi Allah to Aliyyullah in Dua. He also issued a Farman; ” I have made this change with my hands and this Dua is for the jamaits of India, Pakistan, and African jamaits”.

    The meaning of Aliyyullah in Dua meaning books is ” Ali is from Allah”, published by ITREBs and this meaning is given on instructions from Imam of the time.

    Shafeen wrote:
    Why is the “Ali Allah” reality a key to the recognition of the Imam?

    Reply:
    None of our Imams claimed to be Allah.

    Shafeen wrote:
    Who or What is the Imam in relation to God?
    Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (A.S.), our 5th Imam:
    “We are the gates of God. … He who approaches Him through us is brought near Him. … He who turns away from us goes astray.”

    Reply:
    Imam Jafar said,” We are the gates of Allah “, Imam has used the words ‘gates of Allah’. It does not imply ‘We are Allah’ as Imam said.

    Shfeen wrote:
    The answer lies in the concept of “mazhar” which in Arabic literally means that which makes something “batin”, hidden, “zahir”, apparent or manifest. When God breathes His spirit (ruh) into Adam, God makes Himself “zahir”, apparent or manifest, through Adam. Adam is, therefore, a “mazhar” of God. Adam is also a “wasilah”, a “means of approach” or a vessel, through which, God makes Himself known. When the angels were asked to prostrate to Adam, they were not prostrating to the body of Adam; they were prostrating to the batin, which that body, made zahir, the spirit of God, within Adam. In other words, the Imam, in every age and time, fulfills the nature and purpose of Adam as mentioned in the Qur’an, to be the mazhar and khalifa of God on earth.

    Reply:
    Here comes the contradiction. You wrote, Adam is MAZHAR OF ALLAH, Adam is WASILAH, MEANS OF APPROACH, KHALIFAH it shows you are talking about INTERCESSOR.
    Please read the meaning of Dua given by Imam where the word ‘BI HAQQI’ which means Wasilah, Tufail, or in the name of Allah, is used 5 times.

    Shafeen wrote:
    In this age and time, it is our 49th hereditary Imam, Mawlana Hazir Imam Shah Karim al-Hussaini (A.S.), who, as per our faith, is the mazhar, witness or proof of God on earth, and God’s khalifa, bearing the Nur, as he himself has said:
    Since my grandfather, the last Aga Khan, died, I have been the bearer of the “Nur” a word which means ‘The Light’. The Nur has been handed down in direct descent from the Prophet.

    Reply:
    Here again Shafeen is contradicting his assertion that Imam is GOD. The words used are, mazhar, wittness or proof of God.
    Noor of who? Obviously that is Noor of ALLAH. Two different entities.

    Shafeen wrote:
    Alternatively, what we currently recite in our Du’a and Tasbihs, “Aliyyullah”, written in Arabic as Aliyyullah_graphic, is grammatically a genitive case called iDafa, and translates to “Ali of Allah”. Making the substitution for “Ali” based on the above, “Aliyyullah” also means “Nur of Allah”. The genitive case implied in “Ali Allah” is made explicit in Arabic through “Aliyyullah”, with the meaning remaining the same, “Nur of Allah”.

    Reply:
    In the phrase Aliyyullah there is no mention of noor in this phrase. Ali means High, Exalted and Noor means light. Imam has not used the words Noorullah in Dua.

    Shafeen wrote:
    This is the esoteric significance of the word “Sahi” in the saying “Ali Sahi Allah”, also from the old Ismaili Du’a, with the word “Sahi” representing “direct”. Direct indicates that there is no “intercessor”, no “go between”, no step, no stair, between Ali and Allah. If Allah is completely transcendent and if Ali is in “direct” contact with Allah, this, then, makes Ali the means (“wasilah”, as mentioned in the last section) from, and to, Allah. Two necessary truths must also follow.

    Reply:
    Again contradict. Shafeen wrote,”…then makes Ali the means “Wasilah” from and to Allah. Two necessary Truths.
    Two necessary truths shows two different entities and Ali is Wasilah from and to Allah does not imply Ali is Allah.

    Dua is foundation of Ismaili Tariqah, one must learn and follow the meaning.

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    1. Dear Shiva,
      It appears that you have spent a lot of time reading and analyzing the essay. I appreciate your time and effort and respect your opinions. A community of pluralism relies on being open to disagreement. In many ways, we only grow in new plains of thoughts and ideas when we disagree. Then, new paths to knowledge may open up that were not originally visible.
      In the beginning of the essay, I wrote how there are two perspectives out there within our community in regards to the divinity of the Imam: first that sees the Imam as God and second that sees the Imam as an intercessor. The question then becomes, which one of us is right? For me, this is a trap, when we want to just have a black and white answer, instead of going on the journey to find the answer.
      In many ways, this essay is my journey and I am sharing it with my brothers and sisters, not to convince them of my point of view, but to engage them to find their own journey, instead of being satisfied with a “yes” or a “no”. The times when you have noted the contradictions in the essay are my attempt to reconcile both opinions of the community, so we don’t have a single black or white answer, but rather a grey that makes room for both perspectives. It is in this spirit that I have made a conscious choice to define the phrase “Ali Allah” as “Nur of Allah”, instead of “Ali is Allah”, because for me, the Nur can be both the means (wasilah) and the end/destination (fana) of one’s spiritual journey. For me, this is validated by current Imam’s farmans which I have intentionally not quoted in the essay (I have used published speeches and materials instead).to respect the right of the Imam over his farmans.
      In the end, I wish you well, dear Brother, in your search, as I wish all brothers and sisters who have engaged with my journey.
      My love and respect to you!
      Warm regards,
      Shafeen Ali

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  8. I wanted to expand on the statement I made above in my comment: “Nur can be both the means (wasilah) and the end/destination (fana) of one’s spiritual journey.” This statement is important because for me, it reconciles the notion of Imam being a Wasilah, from and to, God, and at the highest level, being in God direct. I CANNOT quote current Imam’s farmans regarding this in the public forum but I CAN share with you an analogy that may help explain this statement. This analogy is not found in the essay so explaining below. All analogies are limited, not perfect, so again, please forgive me my shortcomings!

    Harvard is a University. The President of the University represents the university at the HIGHEST level. A student of the University also represents the university but is far removed from the level of responsibility and authority of the President. Moreover, the buildings, the landscape, even the logo of the University itself, represent Harvard, at some level, THROUGH WHICH, one may experience Harvard, even visitors. As the President interacts with others outside the university, such as at an Admissions Event, one may say that “Today, we are going to meet the President FROM Harvard.” The President is the MEANS for Harvard to communicate with those outside. At the same time, the President is the MEANS for those outside to communicate with Harvard. After such an event, when the attendees are communicating with other family members, they may say, “Today we met WITH Harvard on their admissions process.” They see the President AS Harvard because he represents Harvard at the HIGHEST level. The President is both a MEANS FROM AND TO Harvard while at the same time BEING Harvard himself. The University has CHOSEN the President for that purpose.

    Harvard above is a metaphor for the Nur of Allah – Allah IS Nur as per Qur’an 24:35. The President is a metaphor for Ali and the Imams. The Harvard student is a metaphor for a Mu’min, the true believer. The Harvard logo, buildings, and landscape are metaphors for the words and works, THROUGH WHICH, one may participate in, and experience, the Nur. The people attending the admissions event are a metaphor for the murids, those holding a murad, desire, to be admitted into Harvard. The Imam is a Wasilah, MEANS FROM Allah for those murids to reach Allah, to realize and gain entry, Fana, into Allah. Thus, “Ali (is) from Allah” or “Ali (is) of Allah” is correct. At the same time, when those murids, see the Imam, pray to the Imam, adore the Imam, they are DIRECTLY seeing, praying to, and adoring Allah, for the Imam is the HIGHEST representation of Allah, available to them. Thus, “Ali Sahi Allah”, is also correct. The Imam is both a MEANS FROM AND TO the Nur while at the same time BEING the Nur himself. Existing students of Harvard, Mu’mins, also represent Allah, also carry Nur, are Nur, but not at the same level (darjat or stations) as the Imams, because Allah has CHOSEN the Imam as His Khalifa (His President) and Mazhar (Makes Harvard Known) in the heavens and the earth.

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  9. Some brothers and sisters have had a question related to how the Ali-Allah reality relates with our current Du’a. This was not in the essay so following is my attempt at this. Again, this is my own personal interpretation. Please, forgive me my shortcomings!
    Following are at least seven occurrences where, in my understanding and experience of our Du’a, the Ali-Allah reality has been invoked:
    FIRST OCCURRENCE: At the end of the first part of our Du’a, we say:
    ALLAHUMMA LAKA SUJOODI WA TA-‘ATI.
    O Allah to You alone is my prostration and obedience.
    This actually occurs at the end of all six parts. But this first one is special because it is the first time we say it. And right after, at the beginning of the second part, we quote Qur’an 4:59, and say:
    YA AYYUHALLAZEENA AAMANOO, ATIULLAH WA ATI-UR-RASOOLA WA ULIL AMRI MINKUM.
    O you, who believe, obey Allah and obey the Prophet (S.A.W.) and (obey) the holders of (divine) authority from amongst you.
    This appears to be a contradiction because we just said “O Allah, to You ALONE is my obedience” and then we are being told in the Qur’an “obey the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the ulil-amr, the Imams”. For me, this contradiction resolves through the realization that the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the Imams are ONE with Allah, with His Nur, and thus, their obedience is Allah’s obedience ALONE.
    This may also be the reason why there is no differentiation in our Tariqah between us taking the tasbih of Ya Allah, Ya Muhammad, Ya Ali, or the names of the Imams. For they all, point to ONE essence, the Nur.
    SECOND OCCURRENCE: In the middle of the second part of our Du’a, we say:
    ALLAHUMA YA MAWLANA MINKA MADADI WA ‘ALAIKA MU’TMADI; IYYAKA NA’BUDU WAIYYAKA NASTA’EEN. YA ‘ALY BILUTFIKA ADRIKNI.
    O Allah, O our Lord, from You alone is my help and upon You alone is my reliance; You alone we worship and from You alone we seek help. O Aly, (Alaihi salaam) help me with your kindness.
    This prayer in the second part starts out with referring to Allah clearly specifying that Allah ALONE is the one who we turn to for help and reliance. Then suddenly, it switches to Ali (A.S.) asking his help through his kindness. Again, this is a contradiction, which for me is resolved through the realization that Ali and Allah are ONE through the Nur. We are turning to the Nur and asking of the Nur when we ask of Allah or Ali.
    THIRD OCCURRENCE: Near the end of the second part of our Du’a, the reference to ‘Aliyyullah, “Ali of Allah”, which I interpret as “Nur of Allah”. I have explained this in much more depth in the essay: https://shafeenali.com/recognition/#Question2
    FOURTH OCCURRENCE: In the middle of the third part of the Du’a, we say:
    LA ILAHA ILLAHUL HAIYYUL QAIYYOOM;
    There is no deity except Allah, the Ever-Living, the Eternal;
    Here we describe Allah as HAIYYUL QAIYYOOM. There is a Tasbih that we recite on different occasions in our Tariqah in which we say:
    YA HAYYUL QAIYYOOM, YA ‘ALIYYUL ‘AZIM, YA SAHIBAZ ZAMAN, YA HAZAR IMAM
    O the Ever-Living, the Eternal; O the Sublime, the Tremendous, O Master of the Time, O Imam-of-the-Time.
    This Tasbih describes the Imam of the Time as HAIYYUL QAIYYOOM. Again, there would be a contradiction between the two unless we recognize that the Imam makes manifest, is the MAZHAR, of Allah, and thus His Attributes, the Ever-Living, the Eternal.
    FIFTH OCCURRENCE: In the beginning of the fourth part of the Du’a, we say:
    IN-NAL LAZEENA YUBA-YI-‘UNAKA, IN-NAMA YUBA-YI-‘UNALLAH; YADULLAHI FAUQA AIDEEHIM.
    Those who give you their allegiance, they give it verily to Allah; Allah’s hand is upon their hands.
    This is the first part of Qur’an 48:10 and refers to the act of giving of Bayah, allegiance, by the believers to the Prophet in his time and of the believers to the Imam in his time. The act of Bayah was done in the Prophet’s time by the believer LITERALLY giving his hand into the hands of the Prophet to give him his allegiance. We do this today by giving our hand LITERALLY into the hands of the representatives of the Imam. It DOESN’T say above, “Those who give you their allegiance (O Prophet, O Imams), they give it (LIKE THEY WOULD GIVE IT) to Allah.” The presence of the Arabic IN-NAMA, VERILY, makes it clear that it is “to Allah”, directly. And therefore, “Allah’s hand”, not the Prophet’s not the Imam’s, “is upon their hands”. For me, unless there is a unity, TAWHID (to make Wahid or ONE), between Allah, the Prophet, and the Imams, through Nur, this would be, again, a contradiction.
    SIXTH OCCURRENCE: In the end of the fifth part of the Du’a, we say:
    YA IMAMAZ-ZAMAN, YA MAWLANA, ANTA QUWWATI, WA ANTA SANADI, WA ‘ALAIKA TIKALI.
    O Imam of the time, O our Mawla, You are my strength and you are my support and on you I rely.
    This extract is VERY SIMILAR to an extract in the first part of the Du’a, where we say:
    SAJADA WAJHI ILAYKA WA TAWAKKALTU ‘ALAYKA; MINKA QUWWATI WA ANTA ‘ISMATI, YA RABBAL ‘AALAMEEN
    I prostrate before You and I rely upon You; from You is my strength and You are my protection, O Sustainer of all the worlds.
    The extract in the first part of the Du’a follows the Fatiha and preceeds ALLAHUMA SALLI ‘ALA – “O Allah, let Your peace be on” so we can presume that it is addressed to Allah.
    In the first part, Allah is identified as the source of our strength and the object of our reliance. In the fifth part, Imam is identified as the source of our strength and the object of our reliance. Again, for me, there would be a contradiction, unless, we recognize an equivalency between the Imam and Allah as a common source, a common direction, ONE essence, ONE Nur, that sustain personally each of us, and all the worlds.
    SEVENTH OCCURRENCE: We start the sixth part of the Du’a with Surat l-Ikhlas, Qur’an 112:1-4. This Surat testifies to the Tawhid (UNITY, ONENESS) of Allah. What follows right after is the following:
    ALLAHUMMA BI HAQQI MUHAMMADINILMUSTAFA WA ‘ALIYYINIL MURTAZA WA FATIMATAZ-ZAHRA, WAL HASANI WAL HUSSAIN
    O Allah THROUGH Muhammad-al-Mustafa (S.A.W.) – the chosen, and Aly-ul-Muratza (A.S.) and Fatima-al-Zahra, and (Hazrat) Hasan and (Imam) Hussain.
    This continues with the same attribution to the Imams i.e. ALLAHUMMA BI HAQQI MAWLANA ‘ALY … all the way to our current Imam
    WA BI HAQQI MAWLANA WA IMAMINAL HAZIRIL MAUJOOD SHAH KARIMIL HUSSAINIRHAMNA WAGHFIR LANA.
    And THROUGH our Mawla and our present living Imam Shah Karim al-Hussaini, have mercy upon us and forgive us.
    The key words here in Arabic are BI HAQQI. They are translated in the above Du’a translation as “through” but in some translations say “In the name of”. But the actual Arabic words that compose BI HAQQI are BI (meaning “in” or “through” as in Bi-Ismillah) and HAQQ (Truth, which is also a name of God and what Hallaj claimed when he said he was God). One may also draw a correlation between HAQQ and NUR for when one reaches HAQIQAT, one sees NUR. Therefore, to me, we may translate BI HAQQI as “Through the TRUTH of” or “Through the NUR of” or “Through the COMMON DIVINE REALITY of”.
    For me, this whole part speaks to the Ali-Allah reality as the TAWHID, Unity of ALLAH, in Surat l-Ikhlas, unfolds “through the TRUTH of” the PANJTAN PAAK, with Ali as a member, and “through the TRUTH of” the Imams, with Ali as the first Imam, through whom, we, the murids, receive Allah’s mercy and forgiveness.

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    1. Shafeen wrote:
      In the beginning of the essay, I wrote how there are two perspectives out there within our community in regards to the divinity of the Imam: first that sees the Imam as God and second that sees the Imam as an intercessor. The question then becomes, which one of us is right? For me, this is a trap, when we want to just have a black and white answer, instead of going on the journey to find the answer.

      Reply:
      Shafeen there is no trap. Ismaili ideology is clear on this subject. From the time of Mowla Ali to Mowla Karim none of our Imams claimed to be God. In my opinion this wrong ideology was created by some past senior missionaries and continued by their BAQIYAAT till today. Please read the information I am sharing with you and for all readers of this blog.

      1. IN 1964 Hazar Imam was asked question about Aliyyullah by a participant from Africa, during a meeting of presidents of Ismailia Associations in Karachi Pakistan. Imam explained the meaning of ALIYULLAH in our holy Du’a. Hazar Imam mentioned that “IT IS NOT ALI ALLAH BUT IT IS ALIYULLAH which means ALI IS FROM ALLAH”.
      Hazar Imam said,” Yes, Farman on that was very clear from my grand father. It was not Aly Allah, it was Alyyullah, which has different meaning, which means that ALY IS FROM ALLAH. Do not confuse it.This means that the spirit of Aly and the Noor of Aly is from Allah, and this is the belief which the jamait has; this is the true conception of Noor.
      When Imam says ‘Ali is from Allah’ then being an Ismaili we can not argue.

      2. At the time of Imam Hakim bi Amar Allah a group of Ismailis believed Imam Hakim is God. Imam Hakim refuted their claim and distanced away from them. When they did not listen to Farman of Imam, He excommunicated them. These people in history are named as DRUZIYAH, and they are still waiting for Imam Hakim to come back & rule.
      They are mostly found in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel.

      3. In Dec, 1983 issue of Life magazine an article about Hazar Imam was published at the time of Silver Jublee. The reporter mentioned Hazar Imam as Living God and spokesman of ALLAH. Immediately there was a clarification from Aiglemont refuting that claim saying,” Both of these assertions are not fundamentally erroneous, but of immeasurable offense to Muslims everywhere.” That complete clarification can be read in the Feb, 1984 issue of Life magazine letters section.

      4. Please think about meaning of SALAWAT,” ALLAHUMA SAL E ALA MUHAMMAD, WA AAL E MUHAMMAD.” meaning,” YA ALLAH SHOWER THY BLESSINGS ON MUHAMMAD PBUH AND HIS PROGENY( aal e Muhammad).” Is MHI aal e Muhammad or nor? In last paragraph of first part of Du’a, we say,” Allahuma sal e alla Muhammadinil Mustafa wa ala Aliyinil Murtadha, wa allal a’imatil ———–” YA ALLAH shower your blessings on Muhammad Mustafa and shower your blessings on Ali Murtaza and on pure Imams——–”

      5. Nasir-e-Khusraw in his Knowledge and Liberation refers to group of muslims [I am not sure if they are Ismailis or not?], as “Mimiya” and “Ayiniya”. These two words are derived from “Meem” [letter M, in persian] to refer to Prophet Mohammad, and “Ayn” [The letter A or H in persian] refer to H Ali. These group of people believe that Prophet Mohammad or H Ali is God. And Nasir refuted their claim very harshly saying that the Prophet and Imam are disgusted by their claim. And from whom the Prophet and Imam are disgusted, God is disgusted from them as well.

      6. MSMS wrote in Memoirs,” I am cetain that many muslims and I am convinced that I MYSELF HAVE HAD MOMENTS OF ENLIGHTENMENT AND OF KNOWLEDGE OF A KIND WHICH WE CAN NOT COMMUNICATE BECAUSE IT IS SOMETHING GIVEN AND NOT SOMETHING ACQUIRED.” ( Memoirs of Aga Khan 3rd.)

      7. There is a Farman in KIM; Translation; Mowla Ali said, “(If) I do not see Khuda (Allah), I shall not do his ibadat. If no one sees Khuda (while bandagi) with his/her eyes is considered blind”.

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  10. Shafeen wrote:
    Harvard above is a metaphor for the Nur of Allah – Allah IS Nur as per Qur’an 24:35. The President is a metaphor for Ali and the Imams. The Harvard student is a metaphor for a Mu’min, the true believer. The Harvard logo, buildings, and landscape are metaphors for the words and works, THROUGH WHICH, one may participate in, and experience, the Nur. The people attending the admissions event are a metaphor for the murids, those holding a murad, desire, to be admitted into Harvard. The Imam is a Wasilah, MEANS FROM Allah for those murids to reach Allah, to realize and gain entry, Fana, into Allah. Thus, “Ali (is) from Allah” or “Ali (is) of Allah” is correct. At the same time, when those murids, see the Imam, pray to the Imam, adore the Imam, they are DIRECTLY seeing, praying to, and adoring Allah, for the Imam is the HIGHEST representation of Allah, available to them. Thus, “Ali Sahi Allah”, is also correct. The Imam is both a MEANS FROM AND TO the Nur while at the same time BEING the Nur himself. Existing students of Harvard, Mu’mins, also represent Allah, also carry Nur, are Nur, but not at the same level (darjat or stations) as the Imams, because Allah has CHOSEN the Imam as His Khalifa (His President) and Mazhar (Makes Harvard Known) in the heavens and the earth.

    Reply:
    Your post dated April 28, 2019 regarding example of Harvard is confusing. You tried hard to explain but you are lost.. I agree mostly analogies are limited. Though President of Harvard represents university but he does not take crucial decisions by on its own. There is board of directors with whom he has to consult and debate on issues. Where as God is on its own to decide and implement by saying KUN.

    Shafeen can you define NOOR according to Ismaili ideology and Ginans? What is Noor? To compare Noor with light is not a proper explanation.

    You keep contradicting your statements; You have put your one foot in boat of ‘Ali is from Allah’ and other foot in the boat of ‘Ali Sahi Allah’. You wrote,”… when those murids see the Imam, pray to Imam, adore the Imam, they are directly seeing, praying to, and adoring Allah, for the Imam is the HIGHEST REPRESENTATION OF ALLAH AVAILABLE TO THEM”. It shows Imam represents Allah and himself is not. It is like to say,” Mukhi who represents the Imam”.

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  11. Shafeen you have right to interpret Dua according to your understanding, but a person who knows Arabic and word by word meaning of Dua will not agree with you. You have described 7 occurences where according to you Ali Allah is invoked. Let me explain my views.

    Shafeen wrote:
    1- FIRST OCCURRENCE: At the end of the first part of our Du’a, we say:
    ALLAHUMMA LAKA SUJOODI WA TA-‘ATI.
    O Allah to You alone is my prostration and obedience.
    This actually occurs at the end of all six parts. But this first one is special because it is the first time we say it. And right after, at the beginning of the second part, we quote Qur’an 4:59, and say:
    YA AYYUHALLAZEENA AAMANOO, ATIULLAH WA ATI-UR-RASOOLA WA ULIL AMRI MINKUM.
    O you, who believe, obey Allah and obey the Prophet (S.A.W.) and (obey) the holders of (divine) authority from amongst you.
    This appears to be a contradiction because we just said “O Allah, to You ALONE is my obedience” and then we are being told in the Qur’an “obey the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the ulil-amr, the Imams”. For me, this contradiction resolves through the realization that the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the Imams are ONE with Allah, with His Nur, and thus, their obedience is Allah’s obedience ALONE.
    This may also be the reason why there is no differentiation in our Tariqah between us taking the tasbih of Ya Allah, Ya Muhammad, Ya Ali, or the names of the Imams. For they all, point to ONE essence, the Nur.

    Reply:
    NO WHERE IN 6 PARTS OF DUA IMAM HAS MENTIOND THE WORD NOOR OR THE PHRASE NOORULLAH.
    Please look at the wordings of paragraph we recite in first part before saying, ‘Allahuma laka sujudi wa ta’ati’. We recite ‘Allahuma salli ala Muhammadinl Mustafa wa ala Aliyyinil Murtadha wa alal a’matil athaar…..’means O Allah shower your blessings on Muhammad Mustafa and on Ali Murtadha and on all pure Imams…..
    Allah is showering His blessing on the Prophet and the pure Imams Then how come Ali become Allah. Is one Allah showering blessings on other Allah!!

    2. SECOND OCCURRENCE: In the middle of the second part of our Du’a, we say:
    ALLAHUMA YA MAWLANA MINKA MADADI WA ‘ALAIKA MU’TMADI; IYYAKA NA’BUDU WAIYYAKA NASTA’EEN. YA ‘ALY BILUTFIKA ADRIKNI.
    O Allah, O our Lord, from You alone is my help and upon You alone is my reliance; You alone we worship and from You alone we seek help. O Aly, (Alaihi salaam) help me with your kindness.
    This prayer in the second part starts out with referring to Allah clearly specifying that Allah ALONE is the one who we turn to for help and reliance. Then suddenly, it switches to Ali (A.S.) asking his help through his kindness. Again, this is a contradiction, which for me is resolved through the realization that Ali and Allah are ONE through the Nur. We are turning to the Nur and asking of the Nur when we ask of Allah or Ali.

    Reply:
    Please read the paragraph properly after ‘Ya Aliyu bilutfika adrikni’. We recite ‘La illaha illallah Muhammadur rasullillah Aliyyun Amirul mumineena “Aliyyullah”. Here Aliyyullah means Ali is from Allah which is mentioned in all translation books of Dua published by ITREBs. When Ali is from Allah how come he becomes Allah!!
    In Kalimah Pak there are 3 differnt names mentioned, which are related to the opening paragraph of 2nd part, Allah, Rasul, and Ulil Amr.

    3. THIRD OCCURRENCE: Near the end of the second part of our Du’a, the reference to ‘Aliyyullah, “Ali of Allah”, which I interpret as “Nur of Allah”.

    Reply:
    Please show in which part of Dua the word NOOR is used. How to interpret when this particular word does not exits there.

    4. FOURTH OCCURRENCE: In the middle of the third part of the Du’a, we say:
    LA ILAHA ILLAHUL HAIYYUL QAIYYOOM;
    There is no deity except Allah, the Ever-Living, the Eternal;
    Here we describe Allah as HAIYYUL QAIYYOOM. There is a Tasbih that we recite on different occasions in our Tariqah in which we say:
    YA HAYYUL QAIYYOOM, YA ‘ALIYYUL ‘AZIM, YA SAHIBAZ ZAMAN, YA HAZAR IMAM
    O the Ever-Living, the Eternal; O the Sublime, the Tremendous, O Master of the Time, O Imam-of-the-Time.
    This Tasbih describes the Imam of the Time as HAIYYUL QAIYYOOM. Again, there would be a contradiction between the two unless we recognize that the Imam makes manifest, is the MAZHAR, of Allah, and thus His Attributes, the Ever-Living, the Eternal.

    Reply: I do believe Imam is Mazhar of Allah but not Allah himself. If some one’s name is Qayyum, it does not imply that he is God. In the third part the word “FATA” is used for Ali, IS ALLAH BE CALLED FATA? The word FATA is not included in the 99 atribute names of Allah.
    The Tasbih you quoted in not included in Dua. Infact it started few decades back.

    5. FIFTH OCCURRENCE: In the beginning of the fourth part of the Du’a, we say:
    IN-NAL LAZEENA YUBA-YI-‘UNAKA, IN-NAMA YUBA-YI-‘UNALLAH; YADULLAHI FAUQA AIDEEHIM.
    Those who give you their allegiance, they give it verily to Allah; Allah’s hand is upon their hands.
    This is the first part of Qur’an 48:10 and refers to the act of giving of Bayah, allegiance, by the believers to the Prophet in his time and of the believers to the Imam in his time. The act of Bayah was done in the Prophet’s time by the believer LITERALLY giving his hand into the hands of the Prophet to give him his allegiance. We do this today by giving our hand LITERALLY into the hands of the representatives of the Imam. It DOESN’T say above, “Those who give you their allegiance (O Prophet, O Imams), they give it (LIKE THEY WOULD GIVE IT) to Allah.” The presence of the Arabic IN-NAMA, VERILY, makes it clear that it is “to Allah”, directly. And therefore, “Allah’s hand”, not the Prophet’s not the Imam’s, “is upon their hands”. For me, unless there is a unity, TAWHID (to make Wahid or ONE), between Allah, the Prophet, and the Imams, through Nur, this would be, again, a contradiction.

    Reply:
    Please note at that time Mowla Muratza Ali also had Bayah with other 1400 Suhabah on hands of Prophet Muhammad, means one hand of God was on the hand of other God!!

    6. SIXTH OCCURRENCE: In the end of the fifth part of the Du’a, we say:
    YA IMAMAZ-ZAMAN, YA MAWLANA, ANTA QUWWATI, WA ANTA SANADI, WA ‘ALAIKA TIKALI.
    O Imam of the time, O our Mawla, You are my strength and you are my support and on you I rely.
    This extract is VERY SIMILAR to an extract in the first part of the Du’a, where we say:
    SAJADA WAJHI ILAYKA WA TAWAKKALTU ‘ALAYKA; MINKA QUWWATI WA ANTA ‘ISMATI, YA RABBAL ‘AALAMEEN
    I prostrate before You and I rely upon You; from You is my strength and You are my protection, O Sustainer of all the worlds.
    The extract in the first part of the Du’a follows the Fatiha and preceeds ALLAHUMA SALLI ‘ALA – “O Allah, let Your peace be on” so we can presume that it is addressed to Allah.

    Reply:
    Please note that SAJADA IS PAST TENSE means I prostrated and not I prostrate or prostrating. Think why the word SAJADA used in past tense. What that SAJADA in past tense means?
    Usually in sufi poetry as well in Ginans for the Murshid the phrases like; I have faith in you, you are my love, you are my life, you are my strength, I rely upon you, I need your protction, I am because of you, I trust you and so on are commonly used. We believe in Imam as Mazhar of Allah and Intercessor, thereforewe request for help and support. The last line in 5th part reads; YA SHAH KARIMUL HUSSAINI ANTAL IMAMUL HAQQUL MUBIN.
    In wordly affairs we also seek help from our parents, elders, leaders, relatives, and friends to solve the problems.

    7. SEVENTH OCCURRENCE: We start the sixth part of the Du’a with Surat l-Ikhlas, Qur’an 112:1-4. This Surat testifies to the Tawhid (UNITY, ONENESS) of Allah. What follows right after is the following:
    ALLAHUMMA BI HAQQI MUHAMMADINILMUSTAFA WA ‘ALIYYINIL MURTAZA WA FATIMATAZ-ZAHRA, WAL HASANI WAL HUSSAIN
    O Allah THROUGH Muhammad-al-Mustafa (S.A.W.) – the chosen, and Aly-ul-Muratza (A.S.) and Fatima-al-Zahra, and (Hazrat) Hasan and (Imam) Hussain.
    This continues with the same attribution to the Imams i.e. ALLAHUMMA BI HAQQI MAWLANA ‘ALY … all the way to our current Imam
    WA BI HAQQI MAWLANA WA IMAMINAL HAZIRIL MAUJOOD SHAH KARIMIL HUSSAINIRHAMNA WAGHFIR LANA.
    And THROUGH our Mawla and our present living Imam Shah Karim al-Hussaini, have mercy upon us and forgive us.
    The key words here in Arabic are BI HAQQI. They are translated in the above Du’a translation as “through” but in some translations say “In the name of”. But the actual Arabic words that compose BI HAQQI are BI (meaning “in” or “through” as in Bi-Ismillah) and HAQQ (Truth, which is also a name of God and what Hallaj claimed when he said he was God). One may also draw a correlation between HAQQ and NUR for when one reaches HAQIQAT, one sees NUR. Therefore, to me, we may translate BI HAQQI as “Through the TRUTH of” or “Through the NUR of” or “Through the COMMON DIVINE REALITY of”.
    For me, this whole part speaks to the Ali-Allah reality as the TAWHID, Unity of ALLAH, in Surat l-Ikhlas, unfolds “through the TRUTH of” the PANJTAN PAAK, with Ali as a member, and “through the TRUTH of” the Imams, with Ali as the first Imam, through whom, we, the murids, receive Allah’s mercy and forgiveness.

    Reply:
    He who is born cann’t be God. He who is born has to die. In Surah Ikhlas the Ayat reads, Qul huwallahu ahad and NOT Qul huwal Imam ahad.
    Your explanation for Bi Huqqi is not correct. For Allah the attribute name is AL HUQQ. By adding bi is preposition to noun Huqq changes meaning. You wrote.” For me, this whole part speaks to Ali Allah reality as the Tawhid…… through the truth of Punjtan Paak, with Ali as a member, and through the truth of Imams, with Ali as first Imam through whom we, the murids RECEIVE ALLAH’S MERCY AAND FORGIVENESS”.
    Look at your wordings, “with Ali as a member”, “with Ali the first Imam”,’ Murids receice Allah’s mercy and forgiveness”. What you want to conclude ALI as ALLAH or ALI as a INTERCESSOR!!
    After Surah Ikhlas the next paragraph is; O Allah, in the name of Muhammad the chosen, and Ali the favorite, and Fatima the radiant, and (Hazrat) Hasan, and (Imam) Husayn.

    O Allah in the name of our mowla Ali
    (In the name of) our Mowlana Hussaun
    (In the name of) our Mowlana Zainil Abideen
    Recite 48 names of Imams

    Last paragraph;
    O Allah and in the name of of our lord and present Imam Shah Karim Al Hussaini forgive our sins and have mersy on us.
    We are seeking Allah’s mercy “in the name of Panj tun Pak, Holy Imams,and in the name of present Imam Shah Karim Al Hussaibni.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. There are a number of Ginan by our pirs and Sayaads ,which throw light on thes topics under discussion ,one that is recited very popularly ,and comes to my mind is composed by Pir Saderddin is Ali ne Allah Kari janjo tema sak ma lavjo lagar translated it means Recognise Ali as Allah and in that belief don’t have even a shred of doubt,
    The second one is Partak pater ne parakhi ne preme pujo nipay ,there are too many of them and Tariqua Board must translate them in Gujarati ,I know there are Ginans which proclaim Ali as the tenth incarnation of Allah ,pardon me if I am wrong ,but this is my understanding of it,

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