In order to understand the bounty of Islām, one should do a comparative study of other religions and see the aims, goals, and end results of the belief system and their day-to-day practices. All praise is for Allāh Ta’ālā, as we build conviction and educate ourselves in accordance with the true creed in Islam, we become happier and more content with the system of Islam we have.
The details of the Ismā’īlī beliefs and ways were not so well known before because of the cult-like functioning within the Ismā’īlī tradition. Ismā’īlīs are not allowed to reveal what happens within their circles. However, with the rise of ex-Ismā’īlīs, very important information has come to the fore, in English especially. To grasp the Ismā’īlī belief structure and to understand it, one will have to first appreciate the pure and pristine system of Islām and then do a comparison.
A basic comparison is presented below:[Ismā’īlīs, the followers of Aga Khan, practice none of the five pillars of Islām:
- Shahādah: Ismā’īlis do not have the same Shahādah as the Muslims. Their shahādah is ‘There is no deity but Allāh, and Muhammad is His Messenger, and Ali is the Amīr-ul-Mu’minīn, ‘Alī is Allāh”.
- Prayer: Ismā’īlis do not pray five times a day like the Muslims do, in a Masjid. Instead, they offer three prayers a day in their community centers known as Jamatkhanas.
- Fasting: Ismā’īlis do not fast during Ramadhān. Instead, they fast three to four days a year on the occasion of “Shukarwari Bīj” – the days when Friday coincides with the sighting of the moon.
- Zakāt: Ismā’īlis do not pay 2.5% Zakāt on their wealth to the poor as other Muslims do. Instead, they pay a monthly tithe of 12.5% directly to the Aga Khan. This tithe is called ‘Dasond‘.Ismā’īlis are disallowed to pay Dasond to any charitable organization or to the poor. It has to be paid directly to the Aga Khan through their community centers.
- Hajj: Ismā’īlis do not go for Hajj, Instead, their Hajj is the sight/glimpse of the Aga Khan himself. At the end of their daily prayer, Ismā’īlīs wish the person next to them with the greeting of ‘Shah Jo Dīdār’ (meaning that ‘May you have a glimpse of the Shah’). The term Shah is used by the Ismā’īlīs to refer to Aga Khan, who is also known as ‘Shah Karim al Husayni’.]
With the major difference from the very first pillar, i.e., īmān, we realize that something is terribly wrong. Sayyidunā ‘Alī radiyallāhu ‘anhu is taken as the deity. This is polytheism. Period.
Thereafter, there are no obligations to Allāh Ta’ālā, as they do not take Him as the Supreme Deity in control of the universe. Hence, in a nutshell, Ismā’īlism is simply a polytheistic religion that cannot claim any link to Islām or Muslims.
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A History of the Agakhani Ismailis, Akbarally Meherally
Understanding Ismailism, Akbarally Meherally
Agakhaniyyat ki Haqiqat, Maulana ‘Ubaydullah Chatrali