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#1
Old 01-31-2005, 04:40 PM
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Ask the Shi`a Nizari Ismaili Muslim Woman

After the locked and deleted GD thread – “Ask the Muslim Woman”, and pit thread here, I’ve decided (after some persuasion) to start this thread.


I am a Shi`a Nizari Ismaili Muslim. My background is sub-continental Indian, although I was born, and have been brought up in the UK.

Ismailism is a very small sect, even by the standards of Shi`aism, but it is a very liberal one – women and men have equal rights, a woman is considered as good as a man, in every way shape and form. The only segregation of the sexes that we have is in our mosque, men pray on one side of the room, whilst women pray on the other. However, there are no curtains, partitions or anything separating the men and women, merely a strip of carpet, which after the prayers are over, both sexes are free to cross. Men and women participate equally in all religious ceremonies, and on many occasions, the women will actually be the ones reciting the prayers. We also have no requirement for women to wear headscarves/abayas/burkhas etc. All we are required to do in everyday life, is to dress for the style of the country in which we live. For prayer, we are required to dress modestly, i.e. no plunging necklines, mini skirts that show your knickers, things like that, and for men and women, legs and hair should be covered whilst at prayer.

We follow all the basic tenants of Islam, but we do not, unlike other Muslims, regard the Hadith as authoritative. This is because we believe that after the Prophet’s (pbuh) death, there was a succession of spiritual guides, known as Imams, who were divinely appointed, in order to guide the faithful, and interpret the Koran according to the climate of the time – i.e. we believe that Allah would have known that the world today is not the same as the world 1400 years ago, and that the interpretation of Islam would need to adapt with the changing times. We believe that this guidance has continued unabated for 1400 years, through the line of Imam `Ali, through Imam Hussien.

Well, ask away.
#2
Old 01-31-2005, 04:50 PM
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Thanks for this thread, and peace be with you.

How do you decide which are the Imams you need to listen to?

Specifically, I have heard the Ayatollah Khomeini referred to as an Imam. Was he one, in your opinion, and how do you tell?

Regards,
Shodan
#3
Old 01-31-2005, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan
How do you decide which are the Imams you need to listen to?
We believe that the Imamat (i.e. the 'institution' of Imams) is a hereditary line, passed on through the male line -- the incumbent Imam will name his successor, nowadays, publically, although in the past only to a few trusted people -- we believe that this is a divinely inspired choice, and that on the incumbent Imam's (whom we term "Hazar Imam", literally "Present Guide") death, the 'light' of knowledge, of guidance is passed to the successor, who is traditionally a son or grandson.

Quote:
Specifically, I have heard the Ayatollah Khomeini referred to as an Imam. Was he one, in your opinion, and how do you tell?
In Ismaili tradition, he is a cleric, rather than an Imam. He is the leader of the Twelver Shi`as, but he is not an Imam in the divinely appointed, direct descendant of Hazrat `Ali way, in the way that we believe an Imam is.

Nowadays, the identity of the new Hazar Imam is made public upon the death of the previous Imam, generally within hours of the death. This becomes a day of celebration, rather than mourning, as we commemorate the fact that Allah has not broken his covenant with us, and still guides us. In the past, when Ismailis faced extreme persecution, the Hazar Imam's identity would have been a closely guarded secret, and Ismailis would have been sworn to secrecy. This is where a lot of rumours and legends about our beliefs and practices comes from.
#4
Old 01-31-2005, 05:11 PM
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Angua:

Can you explain what the difference between Twelvers, Fivers, and Seveners is? I think I've got that right.
#5
Old 01-31-2005, 05:21 PM
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Thanks for your reply.

Is there a formally defined process by which you determine which of the utterances of the Imam are authoritative, similar to the Pope speaking ex cathedra, or is everything he says invested with the same authority? Does he have an official set of approved writings?

Regards,
Shodan
#6
Old 01-31-2005, 05:27 PM
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Do you oppose gay marriage?
#7
Old 01-31-2005, 05:37 PM
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I've got a question that could either be amazingly mundane or trivial...

It's my understanding that the Islamic calender began its counting of years from the year that Muhammed fled Mecca for Medina, the hegira. My question is, why does the calender use this event as its starting point, rather than the year in which Muhammed began receiving his revelations that became the Qu'ran? It seems to me that the receiving of the Qu'ran would be a more significant event in Islamic history, rather than a relocation from one city to the next.

hopes he didn't misspell anything
#8
Old 01-31-2005, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah W
Angua:

Can you explain what the difference between Twelvers, Fivers, and Seveners is? I think I've got that right.
OK, the main difference is in the number of hereditary Imams the sects believe followed `Ali. The Twelvers believe that there were 11 Imams after `Ali -- his son Hasan, then Hasan's brother Hussein, through to Ja`ffar al-Sadiq, the sixth Imam. Ismailis believe that al-Sadiq's elder son, Ismail was the rightful Imam, and follow his line. The Twelvers believe that al-Sadiq's younger son, Musa, was the rightful Imam, and followed him and his desendants for 5 generations. The last Twelver Imam, al-Madhi, is believed to have never died, but gone into some form of spiritual hiding, and will return again to save the Earth on Judgement day. I'm not entirely sure about the Fivers and Seveners, so someone like Tamerlane would be better off answering that one for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shodan
Is there a formally defined process by which you determine which of the utterances of the Imam are authoritative, similar to the Pope speaking ex cathedra, or is everything he says invested with the same authority?
It is a similar situation to when the Pope is speaking ex cathedra, when he is giving a Mulaqat, or Durbar, i.e. an audience with Ismailis only, then his utterances are authoritative, and called farmans. Similarly, if he sends an official letter, or Talikah, as we call it, to be read in the mosque, then it is authoritative. His speeches as a public secular persona in academia, social work etc., are meant for the general public, and whilst we're expected to pick up on what he's said there, it doesn't neccesarily mean that its authoritative. That said, I cannot recall a single instance where the public secular speeches have clashed with the farmans.

Quote:
Does he have an official set of approved writings?
Yes -- the Farmans, they tend to be published by Ismaili publishers, and are very difficult to get hold of outside the Ismaili community.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liberal
Do you oppose gay marriage?
Personally, I don't. The Ismaili stance on this is "live and let live" -- we are not in a position to judge anyone. Whilst I can't see a gay marriage contract being signed in an Ismaili mosque (mainly because of prejudices of the Indian community in general, rather than the Ismaili community specifically), I can't imagine there being a huge outcry if a gay Ismaili went and enacted a civil union partnership. The outcry would probably be more because he/she had married an 'outsider', but again, this is more of a general Indian thing, rather than an Ismaili specific thing.
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Old 01-31-2005, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atreyu
I've got a question that could either be amazingly mundane or trivial...

It's my understanding that the Islamic calender began its counting of years from the year that Muhammed fled Mecca for Medina, the hegira. My question is, why does the calender use this event as its starting point, rather than the year in which Muhammed began receiving his revelations that became the Qu'ran? It seems to me that the receiving of the Qu'ran would be a more significant event in Islamic history, rather than a relocation from one city to the next.
You know, I'm not entirely certain. However, the Hegira was the foundation of the first real Muslim settlement, so it makes sense, to an extent, to start a new calendar at the start of a new life, in a new city, relatively free from persecution. In a sense, the Hegira was probably as significant as the first revelation of the Koran, since whilst the Koran established Islam, the Hegira established a new Muslim community.
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Old 01-31-2005, 05:47 PM
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Can you tell me just what the difference between a Nizari Ismaili and an Ismaili is? Or is there one?
#11
Old 01-31-2005, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah W
Can you tell me just what the difference between a Nizari Ismaili and an Ismaili is? Or is there one?
The term "Ismaili" in general, refers to those sects who carried on following the line of Ismail. This includes at least two major sects -- Nizari Ismailis and Bohra Ismailis. Nizari Ismaili refers to a specific branch of Ismailism, which traces the lineage of Hazir Imam through the Fatimid caliphs, and al-Nizar at Alamut, which is now in present day Iran.


After the death of Jafar al-Sadiq, and the subsequent split into Ismailis and what became the Twelvers, Ismail feared for his life, as at the time, caliph and Imam were one and the same -- rather like the Pope in 19th century Italy, the spiritual and secular ruler was the same person -- and his younger brother, Musa, and his followers had seized the caliphate. Ismail was forced to flee and go into hiding, a period known as dawr al-satr, when, whilst the Ismaili faith was preached, the person of the Imam was unknown.

However, around 899, the Imam Abd-Allah, succeeded in establishing the Fatimid Empire in Eqypt, North Africa, and eventually, parts of Southern Europe, and the Middle East. Eventually, in the reign of Imam al-Mustansir the Empire collapsed, and the Imam was forced to flee for his life once again. This caused another split in who believed who was the rightful Imam, in the early 11th century. Those who believed that it was al-Nizar, followed him to the Alamut fort (in what is now Iran, I believe) and established a presence there. They became known as the Nizari Ismailis, and stayed at Alamut until the Mongols destroyed the fort and its surroundings.

Others followed the younger son of Mustansir, Abu`l Qasim, and became known as the Musta`lians. This sect eventually split into the Hafisi, and the Tayyibi, or Bohras.
#12
Old 01-31-2005, 06:48 PM
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I know this is not entirely related to Ismailis, but Shias, are they more willing to have a seperation of Mosque and state than we're lead to believe? I always got the inclination that Shias Imams let people do as they desire, but show them how it conflicts with Islam, and then stays out of the picture, leaving the individual with a moral choice to whether stop what they're doing, or to carry on. Is this true?
#13
Old 01-31-2005, 10:07 PM
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I don't have any specific questions for you, Angua. I just wanted to thank you for starting this thread. I was reading what you and the other Muslim posters said with great interest in the now-hidden thread.

I think it's very important that all Muslims get their voices out there, that we non-Muslims don't hear just the Intolerant Would-be Rulers (the same goes for all the other religions/philosopies/groups, of course).

From my viewpoint as a "secular neo-pagan", I tended to see all of the Religions of the Book--Judaism, Christianity, Islam--as more alike than different. They seemed authoritarian, intolerant of dissent or thought, and prone to becoming worldly and oppressive political structures. I thought of them only as the unthinking opposition to a culture of tolerance, fair play, and "live and let live".

Various posters on the SDMB showed me the heart that lives in these religions, and and reminded me of the charity and the duty to help that lies at their core. I have learned a lot about Christianity and Judaism here, and I now have a much more positive attitude towards them.

I look forward to learning more about Islam.

Funny, isn't it, how, by actually listening to other people, you will get a much more positive reception to your message, than you get by just performing a drive-by witnessing and quoting some lines from a Book. Makes me wonder whether some of these witnessers are actually weakening their religions by pushing people away?

Just don't ask me to debate any of it. I'm not that organised. Yet.
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#14
Old 01-31-2005, 10:41 PM
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We've have some enjoyable flirting online. If I ( or any other man ) were to do so irl, would you or your friends and family find that distasteful?

Are there zealously enforced rules about other activities, such as drinking or premarital relations in your religious community?

You are quite well received academically in your chosen feild of scientific study (I gather), how does that sit with others of your faith? Especially since you are a woman?


Not being difficult or harsh to Angua, in case anyone's wondering. I have a huge amount of respect for her, and i think she is so beautiful my eyes are likely to explode. But, since she opened the thread... well, just curious.
#15
Old 01-31-2005, 11:12 PM
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You mentioned that this is a small sect, and mentioned specific features that are unique to your sect's mosques. Would adherents to your faith be significantly limited in where they could live and still be faithful followers? Is this a challenge to young people growing up in your sect? Are you aware if your sect's population is stable, increasing, or decreasing?

Thanks for the thread!
#16
Old 02-01-2005, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angua
I'm not entirely sure about the Fivers and Seveners, so someone like Tamerlane would be better off answering that one for you.
The term Sevener is usually applied to the Isma'ilis as a whole, since the dispute over succession was over who was properly designated as the seventh Imam. More specifically though it refers to those Isma'ilis that regarded Muhammad b. Isma'il as the final ( Seventh ) Imam, who was occultated and would return as the Mahdi. The medieval Qaramita fell into this category ( largely, anyway - they were initially defined as such, but gradually morphed ).

Fivers is synonmous with the Zaydi branch of Shi'ism. This group split over the succession of the fifth Imam, as a minority rejected the fourth Imam's designated successor in favor of a non-designated son, Zayd, who rose in rebellion against the Umayyads. Among other differences the Zaydis reject taqiyya, the formal designation of successors, and the concept of the Mahdi. Today most Zaydis can be found in northern Yemen, where an Imamate persisted until 1962.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angua
After the death of Jafar al-Sadiq, and the subsequent split into Ismailis and what became the Twelvers, Ismail feared for his life, as at the time, caliph and Imam were one and the same -- rather like the Pope in 19th century Italy, the spiritual and secular ruler was the same person -- and his younger brother, Musa, and his followers had seized the caliphate. Ismail was forced to flee and go into hiding, a period known as dawr al-satr, when, whilst the Ismaili faith was preached, the person of the Imam was unknown.
Just to be clear, this is the Isma'ili take. But less most readers be confused, when history books refer to Caliphs in this period they are referring to the the Sunni Abbasid Caliphs in Baghdad up until 909, when the Fatimid Isma'ili Ubayd Allah formally claimed the title in opposition to the Abbasids. Then there was two Caliphs, joined shortly by a third in 929 when the Umayyad ruler in Cordoba claimed the title as well ( almost certainly in reaction to the Fatimids who were a real threat to them in North Africa ). There were then three Caliphs in existence ( and compeititioon ) until 1031, then two again ( Fatimids and Abbasids ) until 1171, then down to one ( the Abbasids, persisting ) again. The Abbasid Caliphate itself essentially terminated in 1258 ( Mongol conquest ), though the Mamluks of Egypt resurrected a shadow Caliphate that lasted until the Ottoman conquest in 1517, when the title was appropriated by Selim I, whose descendants held it until 1924.

Further a small correction - the dawr al-satr I believe usually begins with the wanderings not od Isma'il, but of Isma'il's son, Muhammad al-Maktum ( the Hidden One ) b. Isma'il and ends with 'Abd Allah al-Mahdi creating the Fatimid state.

- Tamerlane
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Old 02-01-2005, 12:33 AM
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By the way just in case I confused anyone, Ubayd Allah = 'Abd Allah .
#18
Old 02-01-2005, 12:57 AM
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Angua, About homosexuality. You say you follow all basic tennants of islam. How can you agree with homo-sexual marriage if homo-sexuality is a sin, according to the quran?

http://islam101.com/sociology/homosexuality.html



Homosexuality and Lesbianism have no place in Islam. This issue is clear from the primary source of Islam, The Holy Quran. No Muslim scholar, Imam or a leader of a Muslim community can alter this injunction. A person committing such an act is in violation of God's Law and should seek repentence before God gives up on him or her. As the following verses tell us, it was the people of prophet Lot (peace be on him) who started this evil act and were severly punished by God.

We also (sent) Lut: he said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? "For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." And his people gave no answer but this: they said, "drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!" But We saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime! (The Holy Quran, 7:80-84)
#19
Old 02-01-2005, 01:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan_Liam
I know this is not entirely related to Ismailis, but Shias, are they more willing to have a seperation of Mosque and state than we're lead to believe? I always got the inclination that Shias Imams let people do as they desire, but show them how it conflicts with Islam, and then stays out of the picture, leaving the individual with a moral choice to whether stop what they're doing, or to carry on. Is this true?
The answer to this is complicated. I'm not a scholar and this will obviously be a bit oversimplified for brevity:

The nature of rulership in Islam has been a central theme since the beginning. When Mohammad died, they used the word Caliph (lit. "successor") deliberately, as it was only vaguely defined. The debate centred on the nature of rule: should it be temporal (political) or spiritual? Did the ruler have "divine right"? How would succession be determined? Should the ruler always come from the Prophet's family?

Anyway, the followers of 'Ali (the son of Muhammad's uncle and husband of his daughter Fatima) were generally dissatisfied over early choices for the Caliph, which were made by tribal consensus. They instead believed that 'Ali and his descendents were spiritual successors to the Prophet and eventually developed the concept of Imams, who succeeded by way of nass, or designation by the previous Imam (usually father, but sometimes brother of the successor). Another characteristic of Imams was ilm, which referred to divinely inspired knowledge of the Qur'an (esoteric and exoteric meanings), passed on via nass. Shia is short for a phrase that means "Partisans of 'Ali".

There were a lot of disputes over the early Caliphate, but the Shia were usually the ones getting shafted every time. More than that, they were persecuted by the Sunni Caliphs, who at various points saw them as political threats. Shia viewed political authority as being somewhat less important when considered against the divinely inspired Imamat, one did not require temporal rule with such a powerful spiritual mandate. According to Shia tradition, only the Imams held the necessary knowledge to guide believers and help them live a pious life that followed Islamic principles. The emphasis on spiritual guidance, along with the usual position of the Shia as revolutionaries against the established Sunni Caliphate, probably led to the idea that they were more comfortable with "separation of church and state".

Of course, one only needs to look at Iran for an alternate take on the above ideas. Iran has an elected government, but the direction of domestic and foreign policy is set by the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) and legislation is subject to approval by a council of Islamic clerics.

Various nationalist/socialist movements in MENA over the early part of this century involved severe repression of Islam as a voice in state affairs. Failure of secular states to address public concerns (due to corruption, colonialism and other factors) has made people extremely wary of purely secular government. This is why insurgencies have often taken up Islam as a rallying cry, it is widely seen as a force against corruption and unjust rule.

It is my impression that failure to effective secular governance in many MENA countries has made a lot of people in the region very mistrustful of governments that do not have religious sanction. Not necessarily anything particular to the Shia.
#20
Old 02-01-2005, 02:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gum
Angua, About homosexuality. You say you follow all basic tennants of islam. How can you agree with homo-sexual marriage if homo-sexuality is a sin, according to the quran?
Being against homosexuality is not a central tenet. That Angua, or any other Muslim, supports homosexual marriage does not push her beyond the boundaries of normative Islam.

Again, adhering blindly and literally to Qur'anic scripture is very literalist, fundie thinking. Muslims do realize that many suras have a specific temporal reference and may not be immediately relevant a thousand years later. One does not have to adhere strictly to every rule laid out in the Qur'an in order to be a Muslim (unless you're neo-Salafist, in which case any Muslim who doesn't adhere strictly is a heretic). That many disagree with homosexuality probably has as much to do with cultural mores as it does religion. This shouldn't be surprising when you consider the backlash against gay marriage in the US.
#21
Old 02-01-2005, 02:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gum
We also (sent) Lut: he said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? "For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." And his people gave no answer but this: they said, "drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!" But We saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime! (The Holy Quran, 7:80-84)
For what it's worth, I just noticed that this particular verse is discussing the story of Lot, also found in the Bible. I think it's a review of the Sodom and Gomorrah story.
#22
Old 02-01-2005, 02:21 AM
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It's not a basic tenet? How about that verse (The Holy Quran, 7:80-84) then?

I know about the backlash against gay marriage in America. I'm not talking about marriage. I'm talking about being against homo-sexuality.

Angua, how about this?

The Qur'an promises hell to non-Muslims 3:85, 4:56, 5:37, 5:72, 8:55, 9:28, 15:2, 21:98-100, 22:19-22, 22:56-57, 25:17-19, 25:55, 29:53-55, 31:13, 66:9, 68:10-13, 72:14- 15,
The Qur'an warns Muslims against mixing with non-Muslims 2:21, 3:28, 3:118, 5:51, 5:144, 9:7, 9:28, 58:23, 60:4.
The Qur'an calls on Muslims to wage war against non-Muslims 2:191, 2:193, 4:66, 4:84, 5:33, 8:12, 8:15-18, 8:39, 8:59-60, 8:65, 9:2-3, 9:5, 9:14, 9:29, 9:39, 9:73, 9:111, 9:123, 25:52, 37:22-23, 47:4-5, 48:29, 69:30-37.
The Qur'an promotes war against the non-Muslims by glorifying it 2:216, 9:41, 49:15, or by promising lust in paradise to the Shaheeds (martyrs) who die in such a war 3:142, 3:157-158, 9:20-21.

Don't tell me.
There's another way to interpret the quran, right?

Could you then explain why a liberal country, like mine, [albeit a country full of atheďsts] is pestered and terrorized by muslims who believe - and act upon - those above mentioned verses?
Could you explain why atheďsts, like me, are considered bigots, when criticizing those verses, while the real bigots are the ones that want to wage a war against non-muslims, warns against mixing with non-muslims and promises hell to non-muslims?

Do you think that's a fair attitude, Angua?
I am the bigot in this?
#23
Old 02-01-2005, 02:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gum
Angua, About homosexuality. You say you follow all basic tennants of islam. How can you agree with homo-sexual marriage if homo-sexuality is a sin, according to the quran?

[snip]
I am not an Ismaili, but I have studied quite a bit about Ismailism, particularly about Nizari Qasim-Shahi Ismailism.

Unlike many Muslims, Nizari Ismailis (hereinafter "Ismailis") do not bind themselves to what the Qur'an or hadith or shari'a says. Ismaili belief, practice, and policy derives from the Hazir Imam (AS). It is believed that the Qur'an has various levels of meaning: in order for a Muslim to understand its most relevant interpretation, he or she must consult with what the Imam has said. Ismailis are far more open and free regarding the source of their practice and beliefs. What's also important is that Ismailis regard the Imam as a "Speaking Qur'an," explaining and elucidating what the written Qur'an says and offering the most important and authentic interpretation of the written text. (Daudi Ismailis hold the same belief for their Imam or, in the Imam's absence (as the case is today), the Dai al-Mutlaq.) So, if the written Qur'an says something, they turn to their Speaking Qur'an for guidance. Thus, solely appealing to the written Qur'an does nothing for Ismailis.

The Nizari Ismaili Imam, also known as the Aga Khan, is, thank God, a very modern and progressive person. On another message board, there was (and is) a heavy debate on this very topic. But because the Imam has not made any explicit statements regarding this issue, nothing definitive can be said. Ismailis quote the Qur'an in favor of tolerance of homosexuality and against homosexuality. Based on what the Imam has and has not said, no one can really come out and authoritatively say: "Homosexuality is banned in Islam." Now, the Hazir Imam (AS) has spoken out against illicit sexual relations and adultery and the like - such may be found in His firmans. But as Angua so fittingly stated, Ismailis live and let live: for Ismailis what's most important is one's own spiritual progress and comprehension, not what other people do or say.

Ismailis believe in various stages of spiritual understanding and development: shariat, tariqat, haqiqat, and ma'rifat. The "shariat" level concerns itself with outward issues: orthopraxy, rituals, the obvious meanings of things; "tariqat" begins to delve into the "batin" or hidden aspects of the "zahir" or outward aspects that shariat deals with (as well as explaining the real meanings behind zahiri practices). But tariqat retains some shariati aspects - hence, Ismailis congregate for prayer three times a day, fast during certain periods, are permitted to do Hajj, etc.

Since I am not an Ismaili, I may say this: Ismailis do not normally fast during the Muslim month of Ramadhan/Ramzan. This may come as a shock to many: Ismailis are Muslims yet do not fast. However, they believe in spiritual fasting every day of the year: the attitude of piety, humility, and goodness that prevails amongst Muslims during Ramadhan, the Ismailis believe should be held every day, and so Ismailis fast every day whereas other Muslims fast only during one month. This is one example of how:
- a shariati practice has been replaced with a tariqati practice
- a batini explanation is given for the original injunction for the zahiri practice

One important note: Maula (Lord) Hazir (Present) Imam (Guide) His Highness Prince Shah Karim al-Husseini Aga Khan IV (may God bless Him and His Household) - the current Nizari Ismaili Imam - is wont to remind people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, that there is a great amount of diversity in Islam and amongst Muslims. He has a very important and correct point: Islam is not monolithic. Amongst Muslims, there is considerable difference of opinion on various important elements of the faith. One example is how to pray: there are so many guidelines on how prayer is performed: Twelver Shia, Nizari Ismaili, Daudi (Bohra) Ismaili, Hanifi, Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi'i, Ahmadi - I'm sure there are many others. It is incorrect to assume or believe that all Muslims believe or practice one way in any matter.

Nor is it possible for anyone, seeing the above, to dictate what or who a Muslim is, what a Muslim must believe, or what a Muslim must do. Everything is subject to how it is interpreted. As such, Ismailis believe in the Pillars of Islam but practice them differently due to their interpretation of the same pillars. A Hanifi Sunni interprets them one way, and behaves accordingly; an Ismaili interprets them another way, and behaves accordingly.

Ismailis are admired by many for their unity and their warm relations with each other. They take care of their own, they're very close-knit. They're a very model of a Muslim society. They are often highly educated, successful, humble people.

A personal note: Amongst the many Muslim groups, denominations, factions, sects, and movements, I admire the Nizari Ismailis the most. If it weren't for my own religious idiosyncracies, I'd still be attempting to join the Ismaili tariqah. As it is, Ismailis rock!

Thank you, Angua, for this thread.

WRS - Wa ash'hadu anna Maulana Shah Karim al-Husseini al-Imam al-Hazir al-Mawjud!
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By the Grace of MELKOR: the Dark Lord of Middle-earth, the Lord of the Rings, the Flaming Eye, the Nine-Fingered Sovereign, the Chief of the Maiar, the Challenger of the Valar, the Terror of All Sentient Beings, Lover of Truffles and Dainty Chocolates.
#24
Old 02-01-2005, 02:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gum
It's not a basic tenet? How about that verse (The Holy Quran, 7:80-84) then?

I know about the backlash against gay marriage in America. I'm not talking about marriage. I'm talking about being against homo-sexuality.

Angua, how about this?

The Qur'an promises hell to non-Muslims 3:85, 4:56, 5:37, 5:72, 8:55, 9:28, 15:2, 21:98-100, 22:19-22, 22:56-57, 25:17-19, 25:55, 29:53-55, 31:13, 66:9, 68:10-13, 72:14- 15,
The Qur'an warns Muslims against mixing with non-Muslims 2:21, 3:28, 3:118, 5:51, 5:144, 9:7, 9:28, 58:23, 60:4.
The Qur'an calls on Muslims to wage war against non-Muslims 2:191, 2:193, 4:66, 4:84, 5:33, 8:12, 8:15-18, 8:39, 8:59-60, 8:65, 9:2-3, 9:5, 9:14, 9:29, 9:39, 9:73, 9:111, 9:123, 25:52, 37:22-23, 47:4-5, 48:29, 69:30-37.
The Qur'an promotes war against the non-Muslims by glorifying it 2:216, 9:41, 49:15, or by promising lust in paradise to the Shaheeds (martyrs) who die in such a war 3:142, 3:157-158, 9:20-21.

Don't tell me.
There's another way to interpret the quran, right?

Could you then explain why a liberal country, like mine, [albeit a country full of atheďsts] is pestered and terrorized by muslims who believe - and act upon - those above mentioned verses?
Could you explain why atheďsts, like me, are considered bigots, when criticizing those verses, while the real bigots are the ones that want to wage a war against non-muslims, warns against mixing with non-muslims and promises hell to non-muslims?

Do you think that's a fair attitude, Angua?
I am the bigot in this?
There are many stupid, idiotic, bigoted Muslims out there who don't know their religion while believing they know everything about it.

Did you know that these same Muslims have attacked people who were working for the Aga Khan's charities in the north of Pakistan? Simply because they were working for the Aga Khan, whom some believe to be a corrupt infidel bent on destroying Islam? (La'natullah on these attackers!) I believe Ismailis will support you, gum.

Ismailis reject any call for jihad. The Aga Khan firmly rejects the use of violence by Muslims for any means whatsoever. The Aga Khan and other knowing Muslims emphasize that Islam is a religion of peace. This warmongering, blood-thirstiness, intolerance, and narrow-mindedness is foreign to the true interpretation of Islam.

Oh, Ismailis know very well just how brutal and horrid Muslims can be. They lived for many, many years under the fear of persecution, hiding their faith under the guise of Twelver Shi'ism or Shia Sufism. They hid their beliefs and practices. Even today, Ismailis in Karachi are forbidden from discussing their religion with non-Ismailis. Even today, there are people calling for the blood of Ismailis. Even today, there are people who label Ismailis as non-Muslims. Even today, Ismailis live in fear or persecution and even violence. Even today, the progressivism of this wonderful movement is condemned by narrow-minded idiots.

So, gum, you will find that Ismailis will be quite supportive of any efforts to weaken and drive away such violence-minded so-called Muslims.

Sure, the Qur'an may say this or that. So what? Do Christians agree on what the New Testament says? Do Jews agree on what the Torah says? Why should Muslims be any different? Like all Scriptures, the Qur'an is a complex document, whose interpretation is not for amateurs. Ismailis know this very well - they leave interpreting the written text and turn to their Speaking Qur'an for guidance. Good and better, I say!

When I enter a store and see Qur'anic verses, I become guarded. But the moment I see a picture of the Hazir Imam (AS), my soul brightens and I am at ease. I trust Ismailis. I like Ismailis. I admire Ismailis. And I hope the day will come when Nizari Ismailis will speak proudly, boldly, and publicly of their faith to bring in their practice other Muslims, to finally envelope more Muslims in the peace and love for peace that characterizes Ismailism.

These Ismailis are different folks. And I love them to bits.

WRS - Ya Ali! Ya Muhammad! Ya Muhammad! Ya Ali!
#25
Old 02-01-2005, 03:03 AM
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I know the Aga Khan is involved in a lot of charity work (especally in Tajikistan IIRC). Does this stem directly from his religion? Are other Ismailis equally generous to others?
#26
Old 02-01-2005, 03:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gum
It's not a basic tenet? How about that verse (The Holy Quran, 7:80-84) then?
The basic tenets of Islam are:

1. Acknowledging that there is one God and Muhammad is his Prophet. (This is also the Biblical God)

2. Prayer

3. Charity

4. Pilgrimage (to the Holy Sites)

5. Fasting during Ramadan

Some sects have added pillars, but these are the basic 5 recognized by all Muslims. As you can see, hating gays isn't really core to the religion.

Quote:
I am the bigot in this?
If you're not a bigot, you're certainly unaware of how most humans operate. Fundies of all religions pull quotes out of scripture to support barbaric acts. Non-religious people selectively use ideology or law to justify heinous acts. People are assholes, this is nothing new. Religion has little to do with the very human tendency to be a bastard.

For every sura advocating war and action against non-muslims, there is one advocating compassion and recognizing the Abrahamic religions as part of the Islamic tradition (Muhammad being the "Seal of the Prophets" in a long line that includes both Abraham and Moses). If Xtians and Jews are so bloody terrible, why is it okay for Muslim men to marry their women? Obviously scripture can be interpreted in a variety of ways.
#27
Old 02-01-2005, 03:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapioca Dextrin
I know the Aga Khan is involved in a lot of charity work (especally in Tajikistan IIRC). Does this stem directly from his religion? Are other Ismailis equally generous to others?
Forbes called him a venture capitalist for the developing world. Big proponent of Islamic architecture and preservation of monuments. Also builds schools, hospitals and other public works in developing countries (Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, Africa), used by all citizens regardless of religion. Funds come directly from Ismai'lis and/or investments managed through Aga Khan NGOs. A very well-organized and wealthy sect, actually. See this link for details: http://akdn.org

Charity is a pillar of Islam, it's required to donate a fixed portion of one's annual salary and/or assets to charity. Proportions and recipients vary by sect.

Angua could probably tell you more, but I have insomnia, so...
#28
Old 02-01-2005, 03:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapioca Dextrin
I know the Aga Khan is involved in a lot of charity work (especally in Tajikistan IIRC). Does this stem directly from his religion? Are other Ismailis equally generous to others?
The Aga Khan and Ismailis in general are very charitable people. The Aga Khan has so many charitable organizations and initatives and involvements that I've lost count. Part of the reason people don't like the Aga Khan (and these people are usually idiotic close-minded Sunni clerics) is because the Aga Khan has a lot of influence through His works. The Aga Khan, His charities, and Ismaili charities are very active throughout the world. One source of the Aga Khan's funds are tithes (dasondh) from Ismailis - so Ismailis rightfully share the Aga Khan's glory and success and accomplishments.

The best hospital and medical school in Pakistan is the Agha Khan University Hospital. (In Urdu, it is rendered "Agha," whereas it is rendered officially as "Aga" in English.) My father worked as a professor there part-time the eight years we were in Pakistan (he had a full-time job elsewhere); he had the opportunity to meet the Aga Khan a number of times. Great man, the Aga Khan. Wonderful people, the Ismailis.

By the way, I'd like to mention: every congregation has four leaders. Two men and two women. Talk about equality! :-)

WRS - Okay, I'll stop gushing now.
#29
Old 02-01-2005, 03:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gum
It's not a basic tenet? How about that verse (The Holy Quran, 7:80-84) then?
Well, here's one guy's take:

http://geocities.com/WestHollywood/7563/page3.html

Quote:
Don't tell me.
There's another way to interpret the quran, right?
Yep. Many ways, same as with the other Abrahamic religions. If you don't accept that is true, there probably isn't much to debate ( though if you dig through the archives I'm sure you can find some of those passages you plucked out being debated in earlier threads ).

- Tamerlane
#30
Old 02-01-2005, 04:23 AM
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On a personal note, Angua (and good luck/well done with the PhD - didn't you say you'd done your viva?), have you ever found anything in the course of your astrophysics or study of science in general which you consider conflicts with your beliefs to the extent that you were forced to accept that one or the other was simply wrong?
#31
Old 02-01-2005, 04:36 AM
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For Angua:

1a. How often do you usually go to jamatkhana (if you don't mind me asking)?

1b. How often do Ismailis usually attend jamatkhana?

2a. Do you know any converts to the tariqah?

2b. What is your view/opinion on people converting to the tariqah?

3. Have you ever seen or met Mawla Hazir Imam (AS)?

4. Do you feel closer to other Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, or Muslims in Sufi tariqas?

WRS - Allahumma salle ala Muhammadin wa ala ali Muhammad!
#32
Old 02-01-2005, 04:56 AM
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Gum, WeRSauron has answered your question probably as well as I could -- we are Muslims, but until the day comes when Hazar Imam tells us we should "hate the gays", we won't (and I really doubt that that day will ever come). I will add though, that we do fast during Ramadhan is as compulsory on us as any other Muslim man or woman.

WeRSauron also points out another important aspect of Ismailism, whilst we have very close, tight knit communities (when I was an undergraduate, an Ismaili couple I'd never met before, and didn't know, looked me up, took me under their wing, and looked after me extensively), religion is an individual search. Whilst we believe that the act of praying together is important, what is equally important is what you are like as a person -- you can be a "model" Ismaili, that is going to the mosque every day, giving dasond reqularly, participating in all the ceremonies, but, if outside the mosque, you are intolerant of others, if you lie and cheat in your buisiness affairs, etc., then you may as well not bother with any of it.

As regards the Aga Khan and charity. I think a lot of his charity work does stem directly from the religion -- there are things like the Aga Khan Development Network which basically help to build up communities in the third world -- regardless of the religion of the recipients. According to the five pillars, one is required to donate at least 2.5% as Zakat, i.e. charity. As Ismailis, we are required to give 12.5%. All of which will go towards development projects, and other charitable works. The link that Iridium's posted is probably comprehensive in describing the work of the Aga Khan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoClueBoy
We've have some enjoyable flirting online. If I ( or any other man ) were to do so irl, would you or your friends and family find that distasteful?
I doubt it very much. My friends would probably react as any other friends, i.e. smile and wink a lot, and tell me I'm in there, and so, probably would my mum. My dad and brother, however, like all dads and brothers, would probably want to castrate you!


Quote:
Are there zealously enforced rules about other activities, such as drinking or premarital relations in your religious community?
Not really. Drinking is tolerated, so long as its not out of hand, so the odd tipple now and then is OK, but if you're going out seven nights a week, getting blind drunk, then that is bad, and has been said so by Hazar Imam.

We're allowed to have relationships before marriage, and many people my age will have had at least one relationship.

Quote:
You are quite well received academically in your chosen feild of scientific study (I gather), how does that sit with others of your faith? Especially since you are a woman?
Its never been a problem. Being well educated is an absolute neccessity according to Ismailism. Being a well educated woman is even more so an absolute neccessity. Ismaili boys and girls are encouraged particularly by the Aga Khan in his Farmans, to achieve academic excellence -- there's one particular Farman, where he tells the students that he doesn't want mediocrity, he doesn't want us to even be doing well at school, he wants us to be the best student in our class, no ifs or buts about it -- Ismaili students are encouraged to try as hard as they can to be as good as they can. So, my academic success is generally met with praise from the general community. The fact that I'm a woman only adds to this -- we see no difference between the intellectual capabilities of men and women, women are encouraged just as much as men, and well, many in the Ismaili community are acutely aware of the lack of women in science, and the fact that I'm in science, tends to mean that my name gets bandied about a bit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LilyoftheValley
You mentioned that this is a small sect, and mentioned specific features that are unique to your sect's mosques. Would adherents to your faith be significantly limited in where they could live and still be faithful followers? Is this a challenge to young people growing up in your sect? Are you aware if your sect's population is stable, increasing, or decreasing?
We're quite lucky in that although we're a small sect, we're very well spread out -- there are Ismailis in many many countries of the world, particularly in the Western World. However, because of the nature of Ismailism, just because you're isolated, doesn't mean that you can't be a faithful follower. Whilst going to the mosque is required, one's own search, one's own private, personal mediation on Allah is equally as important, and that can be carried out anywhere.

The numbers of Ismailis is fairly stable I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SentientMeat
On a personal note, Angua (and good luck/well done with the PhD - didn't you say you'd done your viva?), have you ever found anything in the course of your astrophysics or study of science in general which you consider conflicts with your beliefs to the extent that you were forced to accept that one or the other was simply wrong?
I haven't quite finished yet -- submitted a couple of papers, and am in the process of writing up that "T" word. Although I'm an astrophysicist, I haven't found anything that has forced me to accept that one or the other is wrong. Cosmology and the Big Bang did leave me wondering for a while, but we generally reconcile the Big Bang with Islam by pointing out that Allah could well have been the "first cause" before the Big Bang, particularly as in the Koran, He is referred to as "being outside time".

Quote:
Originally Posted by WeRSauron
1a. How often do you usually go to jamatkhana (if you don't mind me asking)?

1b. How often do Ismailis usually attend jamatkhana?

2a. Do you know any converts to the tariqah?

2b. What is your view/opinion on people converting to the tariqah?

3. Have you ever seen or met Mawla Hazir Imam (AS)?

4. Do you feel closer to other Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, or Muslims in Sufi tariqas?
1a. I try to go at least once a week, sometimes I go more.

1b. It all depends on the person. Some people you'll see in there every day, others will go once a month, and on special occasions.

2a. Yes.

2b. I'm not quite sure what you're getting at by this, but I have absolutely no problems whatsoever with those who've converted -- they made a consious decision, and I respect them for that.

3. Yes I have.

4. Whilst I can identify with other Muslims, the liberal-ness of Ismailism means that I really don't feel 'closer' to them, if you see what I mean.
#33
Old 02-01-2005, 05:03 AM
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I should also, quickly, say thank you to all those, Iridium, WeRSauron, Tamerlane, who've come into the thread, added useful pertinent information, and been able to explain the Ismaili doctrine. Thank you.

Tamerlane -- thanks for clarifying the history that I got slightly muddled -- my history notes are rather confused, and I must get round to clarifying them somewhat. Thank you again.
#34
Old 02-01-2005, 05:11 AM
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Are there any remaining ideological connections to the Hashshashin? Does Hassan-i-Sabah's famous maxim on truth and what is permissible still have any adherents?
#35
Old 02-01-2005, 05:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FinnAgain
Are there any remaining ideological connections to the Hashshashin? Does Hassan-i-Sabah's famous maxim on truth and what is permissible still have any adherents?
Ah, the Hashshashin, I thought a thread on Ismailism may well come round to this.

In short, the "Assassins" are a western orientalist creation. Hasan bin Sabah was an Ismaili Dai, in the post-Fatimid period, when it had again become dangerous to be an Ismaili, and so Ismailism was practiced in secret. I'll try and give a fuller answer tonight, as I'm just about to leave for the office, but I would reccomend that you read Farhad Datfary's The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Ismailis for a full scholarly treatment of this.
#36
Old 02-01-2005, 05:20 AM
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Thanks much. Ever since I read The Illuminatus! Trilogy some years ago I've been quite interested in the truth behind the stories.
Now I just need to find out if there're any scholarly works on a possible connection with the Knights Templar
#37
Old 02-01-2005, 05:31 AM
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As a follow up then, until I get a chance to go to the campus library and get the book you've cited... Is this article mistaken?

I'm certainly more than willing to wait till you're done with work, but I'm quite curious about your understanding of the actual history of this group. Were they, as Wikipedia claims, a mystic group? If so, did they have ties to Sufism? (Gotta love me some of that Rumi)
#38
Old 02-01-2005, 05:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FinnAgain
As a follow up then, until I get a chance to go to the campus library and get the book you've cited... Is this article mistaken?

I'm certainly more than willing to wait till you're done with work, but I'm quite curious about your understanding of the actual history of this group. Were they, as Wikipedia claims, a mystic group? If so, did they have ties to Sufism? (Gotta love me some of that Rumi)
OK, the Ismaili tradition is a spiritual one, where individual meditation, and the search for spiritual union with Allah is encouraged, so in that respect, then there is some element of mysticism. There is no direct link with Sufiism, although the works of Rumi to tend to be read a lot in the Ismaili community.

The article seems to be merely rehashing all the old legends that have been bandied about about the Ismailis since the medieval period. I'd say it was innacurate at best, downright wrong at worst. I'd advise you to read the book I've cited, it explains the development of these myths, where they came from, why they came to the fore, and what the actual history of Ismailism at Almut is.
#39
Old 02-01-2005, 05:53 AM
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Will do. Thanks for taking the time to clear up my ignorance.
#40
Old 02-01-2005, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeRSauron
Oh, Ismailis know very well just how brutal and horrid Muslims can be. They lived for many, many years under the fear of persecution, hiding their faith under the guise of Twelver Shi'ism or Shia Sufism. They hid their beliefs and practices. Even today, Ismailis in Karachi are forbidden from discussing their religion with non-Ismailis. Even today, there are people calling for the blood of Ismailis. Even today, there are people who label Ismailis as non-Muslims. Even today, Ismailis live in fear or persecution and even violence. Even today, the progressivism of this wonderful movement is condemned by narrow-minded idiots.
Thanks Angua for starting this thread and others for contributing! This aroused my curiosity; how bad are things between Ismailis and other Muslims? How widespread is the disdain and violence of Ismailism? Angua, have you met any of these problems?

Also, how is the conversion rate between Muslim sects? Is it common to convert to Ismailism or from it?
#41
Old 02-01-2005, 06:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angua
Ismailism is a very small sect, even by the standards of Shi`aism, but it is a very liberal one – women and men have equal rights, a woman is considered as good as a man, in every way shape and form.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Angua
We believe that the Imamat (i.e. the 'institution' of Imams) is a hereditary line, passed on through the male line ... the 'light' of knowledge, of guidance is passed to the successor, who is traditionally a son or grandson.
If a woman is considered "as good as a man, in every way shape and form", why is the Imamat passed only through the male line?
#42
Old 02-01-2005, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polerius
If a woman is considered "as good as a man, in every way shape and form", why is the Imamat passed only through the male line?
Because that's how the Imamat was established by the Prophet and Hazrat `Ali, and indeed the link between the Prophet and `Ali is primarily through the female line, seeing as `Ali was married to the Prophet's daughter, Fatima. It may well be that in this generation, the Imamate may pass through his daughter, but traditionally it has been passed through the male line.

However, I will re-iterate this, in Ismailism, there is no such thing as sex discrimination. Men and women are considered each other's equals, there is no sense of "you can't do such and such because you're a women". There are no positions denied to anyone because of their sex -- women, just as much as men, are allowed to become community leaders (appointed by the Hazar Imam), lead the congregation in prayer, become teachers to teach the community, etc etc. Being an Ismaili woman is not an obstacle to anything.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Windwalker
Thanks Angua for starting this thread and others for contributing! This aroused my curiosity; how bad are things between Ismailis and other Muslims? How widespread is the disdain and violence of Ismailism? Angua, have you met any of these problems?
Personally, I haven't met any of these problems. Yes, I've had people tell me I'm not a true Muslim, but then, with some patient talking to, I can get them to see sense. However, as Ismailis, we are still rather secretive about our doctrines, I think this has to do with the persecution endured in the past, many people don't actually realise that they're talking to Ismailis when they are. In Pakistan, the Ismaili community is widespread, and has its own very prosperous housing estates, called "colonies", and the like, but having only visited Karachi for six weeks a while back, I don't think I'm in any position to comment. However, in Western Europe and North America, the main problem we face are the people who lump all Muslims together as backward terrorists, and its hard to change that view.
#43
Old 02-01-2005, 05:21 PM
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The Hashshishin and the Ismailis

The term hashishiyya as applied to the Ismailis first comes to the fore in about 1123, in Egypt, from the then strongly anti-Nizari Ismaili Fatimid Caliphate, and eventually spread throughout the Islamic world, and became used as a term of abuse for the Ismailis. This was due to the perception in most of the Arabic world that hashish users were basically low class ‘rabble’, so to speak.

Further works, mainly written by Sunni authors, who firstly did not understand the Shi`a traditions, and secondly wanted an explanation for the devotion of the initiated, or fida`is, as they were called, attributed the actual use of hashish to the Nizari Ismails, particularly as part of their ‘initiation’ rituals, and to induce the fida`is into committing politically motivated murders, or assassinations, as they became known.

In the early twelfth century, such explanations were picked up on by the western Crusaders and missionaries, who readily accepted that the use of hashish was the only explanation for the devotion of the Nizari fida`is. They mainly got their information from other, mainly Sunni, Muslims who really had very little idea regarding Nizari Ismailis, what with it having become highly dangerous once more to openly be a practising Nizari Ismaili.

Various western writers, observers and commentators, including Marco Polo, picked up on, and embellished this myth, leading to the “Old Man of the Mountain” myth, that is so readily propagated about the Ismailis (for an example, see the Wikipedia link above). In the absence of any Ismailis coming forward to explain their rituals and devotion, along with the general enmity of the general Muslim population towards Ismailis, such myths have readily propagated, and become accepted as fact.

However, whilst Hasan bin Sabah did take over the fort at Almut, and establish an Ismaili settlement there, there is no evidence that he had a garden of ‘paradise’, or that he, or any of the Imams, used hashish as a recruiting or indoctrination tool. I really suggest that if you’re interested, you read Daftary’s The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Ismailis, as he covers the development of the legend in great detail.
#44
Old 02-01-2005, 06:21 PM
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Just to expand slightly on Angua's post, the correct term for a hashish user in colloquial Arabic of the time would have apparently beenhashshah. This term is never found in medieval sources, only the older word hashishiyya, which more often used to refer to 'horse fodder' ( originally the term referred to any dried herbal material, especially fodder - the association with cannabis was a later development, which is why the newer term of hashshah came into use ). Moreover it was never used in Persian sources ( where the Nizaris were strongest ), only in levantine, mostly Syrian works. So it does appear to have been more just a local epithet.

The specific use of hashish was a speculation by the 19th century French historian Silvestre de Sacy, who extrapolated from the word and medieval accounts of drugged Nizaris a la Marco Polo and others. These stories more usually revolved around the giving of potions to new initiates. But the local narrators for these stories were unreliable in the extreme ( Marco Polo not least of all ) and no Isma'ili source has ever come to light to confirm any of this. If it ever was a tradition ( and it almost certainly was not ), it certainly didn't survive very long as modern Nizaris practice nothing similar far as I know. It is much more likely the word gave rise to the legend, not the other way around.

Also the "Old Man of the Mountain" was again originally a strictly Syrian thing that was later conflated with the Nizari leadership in Alamut.

- Tamerlane
#45
Old 02-01-2005, 06:52 PM
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I read somewhere (don't remember where) that Muslims don't believe in using artificial birth control. Do Ismailis believe in using birth control?
#46
Old 02-01-2005, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
I read somewhere (don't remember where) that Muslims don't believe in using artificial birth control.
Actually, to my knowledge, must Sunni authorities at least allow it as long as it doesn't involve abortifacients like the pill or the IUD. There are in fact hadiths where it is established as permissible to use coitus interruptus as a form of birth control. Condoms et al. are seen as just an advanced form of that.

No clue about the Shi'ites, though.
#47
Old 02-01-2005, 08:54 PM
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Wonderful thread, Angua :D

[celestina steps up to the mike and says: testing, testing. The mike lets forth a loud burst of static.]

Well, I just wanted to make sure it's on since folks seem to like to ignore my questions around here.

1. Okay, I don't mean no disrespect or nothing because your religion sounds right nice and all, but I was wondering about the Hazar Imam. You got any checks and balances built in your system of Imamat? I mean, what happens if, heaven forbid, your Hazar Imam like goes crazy or starts telling y'all to do things that are not good, or gets in an accident without declaring his successor? Since y'all say he's your spiritual leader and responsible for coming up with progressive interpretations of the Qu'ran and stuff, then aren't y'all at the mercy of him, and wouldn't y'all be in trouble if he gets power hungry and greedy?

2. What's y'all's position on divorce? How do y'all go about divorcin' if it comes to that?

3. Catholics have confession, where they go to priests, do y'all have that? If not, then how do y'all atone for any sins/indiscretions you have since humans ain't perfect? How do y'all deal with one of your own who's really messed up and committed one of your biggest sins? Do y'all forgive him/her, or excommunicate him/her, or something else?

4. What's y'all's position on abortion?

5. Do y'all go out and try to convert non-Muslims over to your faith? I mean I've heard Muslims say that they ain't supposed to be actively converting folks, but a friend of mine what used to work over in Saudi Arabia told me lots of folks over there were trying to convert him to Islam.

6. You say your religion focuses on the individual's search for enlightenment and such like, but what happens if your search leads you to a different conclusion than the one the Hazar Imam has? Do you submit to the Hazar Imam's, or just be quiet about what you think, or is there some fora where you can debate with the community and/or the Hazar Imam and come to a democratic consensus?

7. What's y'all concept of the afterlife, or do you have one? If you do have an afterlife, is it just for your sect, or do y'all think y'all will connect up with other religions' heavens. Will your family pets--for those who have beloved pets go to the afterlife with y'all? Do y'all go to heaven, or do y'all go through a reincarnation process until you reach Nirvana?

8. What separates y'all from the Sufis?

9. What got you into astrophysics, and do you know anything about fixin' busted spaceships?

10. Tamerlane, are you sure you ain't some kind of history or religious studies professor? I declare everytime I turn around you educatin' the experts Dopers. Come on. 'Fess up, hon.
#48
Old 02-01-2005, 08:56 PM
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I would just like to add:
y'all.
#49
Old 02-01-2005, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoClueBoy
Not being difficult or harsh to Angua, in case anyone's wondering. I have a huge amount of respect for her, and i think she is so beautiful my eyes are likely to explode. But, since she opened the thread... well, just curious.
Do you have a picture? (Well, I have to be curious about the woman so beautiful she causes people's eyes to explode.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Angua
We believe that the Imamat (i.e. the 'institution' of Imams) is a hereditary line, passed on through the male line -- the incumbent Imam will name his successor, nowadays, publically, although in the past only to a few trusted people -- we believe that this is a divinely inspired choice, and that on the incumbent Imam's (whom we term "Hazar Imam", literally "Present Guide") death, the 'light' of knowledge, of guidance is passed to the successor, who is traditionally a son or grandson.
So what if the Imam didn't produce any offspring? Does that ever happen? I'm assuming it wouldn't be a big deal if it did. What if the Imam dies suddenly, without indicating a successor?


What about the Hadiths? Sadly, I'm not too well-educated on even the basics of Islam, as is probably apparent right now - so, Angua and fellow Muslims, please tell me about your respective groups' beliefs in this regard. How many sources are there? Do the Nizari Ismaili consider any of them authoritative, or are they not needed as the Hazar Imam can provide such guidance as to matters of how to live and conduct oneself? What about other Muslim groups - which ones to Sunnis and the other flavors of Shi`a accept?
#50
Old 02-01-2005, 11:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Excalibre
So what if the Imam didn't produce any offspring? Does that ever happen? I'm assuming it wouldn't be a big deal if it did. What if the Imam dies suddenly, without indicating a successor?
I can't answer all of this, but I believe that the concept of nass - designating one's successor - is so important that no Imam would ignore this. Unless something happened (Heaven forbid!) before the Imam can designate someone. I suppose if something like that happened, leaders close to the Imam would enthrone whom they believe the Imam would have designated. Disputes arise when an Imam's nass is unclear, and there have been various such disputes. Perhaps the most famous is what gave the Ismailis their name: Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq died; he originally designated his son Ismail to become the Imam but, depending on one's sources, Ismail died, had his designation withdrawn, or faked his death for safety. In any case, the majority of people believed that another son of Imam Ja'far, Musa al-Kazim, should become the Imam. People who supported Ismail recognized Ismail's son, Muhammad ibn Ismail, as the Imam, counting Ismail as an Imam in their list of Imams (so, it would go Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq, Imam Ismail, Imam Muhammad ibn Ismail, etc.). The majority followed Musa al-Kazim, creating what are now known as the Twelver or Ithna Ashari Shias (their line goes Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq, Imam Musa al-Kazim, etc.).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Excalibre
What about the Hadiths? Sadly, I'm not too well-educated on even the basics of Islam, as is probably apparent right now - so, Angua and fellow Muslims, please tell me about your respective groups' beliefs in this regard. How many sources are there? Do the Nizari Ismaili consider any of them authoritative, or are they not needed as the Hazar Imam can provide such guidance as to matters of how to live and conduct oneself? What about other Muslim groups - which ones to Sunnis and the other flavors of Shi`a accept?
The ahadith (plural; singular, hadith) are part of sunnah or tradition. Ahadith are the sayings of Muhammad and others close to him. Sunni fiqh depends on ahadith to a large degree. Because Shias accept authoritative figures after Muhammad (viz., the Imams), their utterances are also classified as ahadith by Shia jurists. Of course, Sunnis do not accept Shia Imams' utterances as part of ahadith; in a similar vein Shias do not accept the utterances of the first three Sunni caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman) as part of ahadith.

It's always fun to watch Shias and Sunnis having hadith-fights, each flinging ahadith at the other to support their claims, no end in sight. It's interesting that nearly any party can find a hadith to justify its claims.

A statement by the Hazir Imam is classified according to audience, occasion, and purpose. The Hazir Imam's statements are higher than sunnah.

WRS
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