In Islām, death and all the rites of it are a simple matter, in line with the Sunnah of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. These rites do not involve extravagant expenses, functions, speeches, money collections, and lengthy periods of delay. The books of Fiqh and Hadīth detail the rites and procedures for Muslims, and one can study it there.
The focus of this article is the funeral rites in Ismā’īlism.
All of these rites have no link with Islām and are totally forbidden.
On the Deathbed
When an Ismā’īlī is on his or her deathbed, the mukhi and kamadia (Ismā’īlī priests) visit the person and carry out a chhanta ceremony. This involves sprinkling ‘holy water’ on the face. The purpose of this ceremony is supposed to wash the person clean of his or her sins. Ismā’īlīs believe that a person then dies gracefully and paradise for him or her is guaranteed.
Death is an expensive affair in Ismā’īlism. No pun intended.
Every Ismā’īlī is under the jurisdiction of a Jamat Khana. The Mukhi is informed first of any death. This information must be supplied with a pair of the best clothes of the deceased, the coffin fees and a price for a grave in an Ismā’īlī cemetery.
Salawāt is then recited 99 times at a gathering of people at the home of the deceased. The salawāt is repeated in the Jamat Khana and attendees console the family.
Attendees collect funds – mehmani – which is an offering to the Imām through the mukhi and kamadia. Special food is prepared by the family and well-wishers and this is taken to the Jamat Khana. This food is then auctioned in the Jamat Khana and the proceeds, called ‘naandi’, are collected by the mukhi and kamadia.
Reminiscent of paganism and ancestor worship, the Ismā’īlīs believe that the food reaches the deceased and all the dead have a feast in the cemetery.
The belongings of the deceased are taken to the Jamat Khana from where they could be disposed of. However, the Ismā’īlīs have started a new custom where they donate the belongings of the deceased to the Jamat Khana and then buy it back. This ritual is simply to add to the coffers of the Jamat Khana.
A chhanta is held on the day of the funeral. This chhanta is very potent according to Ismā’īlī belief. It supposedly cleans a person of his past, present, and future sins. This important chhanta also costs a packet. This chhanta is bought by all community members and can be repeated a number of times.
After the body is washed, all the relatives gather around the coffin and the closest relative of the deceased gets the sins of the deceased pardoned upon payment of the fees. Relatives repeat this process, and then it is done by neighbors and friends. Every participant is expected to pay cash.
After this, the mukhi asks for samar – another payment of money – which is considered the hard currency during the journey from the grave to the Day of Judgement.
More Payments After Burial
All the people who participated in the funeral then gather in the Jamat Khana. Each person carries a packet of sweets. Du’a is made and all those who participate pay a sum in advance for the Du’a.
Food offerings are auctioned at the Jamat Khana, going to the highest bidder. The proceeds go to the Aga Khan.
The Third Day
The ceremonies of the first day are repeated, with sweets and more payments for services. Money collected from the Du’a and sweet auction go to the Aga Khan as his private property.
The Tenth Day
On the tenth day, a ceremony called ‘Ziarat of Daswee’ is held. Family, relatives, and neighbors participate in this ceremony. Items like food, drinks, crockery, utensils, clothes, cloth, furniture, jewelry, and ornaments are brought to the Jamat Khana by the participants. The sweets and items are auctioned and the proceeds go to the Aga Khan.
After Forty Days
Payments are made again to the mukhi at an auction ceremony of food, then monthly and then annually.
As Muslims, we can pray for the guidance of such lost people. Death can been an expensive and traumatic affair. The Aga Khan pockets millions annually from his followers, who spends it mindlessly and aimlessly, filling his coffers and sponsoring his lavish lifestyle. In all the Shi’ite sects I have studied, the main feature of them all seems ‘money collection’. Greed for the world is pathetic and nauseating.
May Allah Ta’ala keep us on the straight path of Islām, in line with the Noble Qur’ān and Blessed Sunnah. Amīn
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