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Mustā‘lī Ismāʿīlī or Mustā‘lī (Arabic: مستعلي) is a sect of Ismā'īlī Shia Islam, so named for their acceptance of Al-Musta'li as the nineteenth Fatimid caliph and legitimate successor to his father, al-Mustansir. In contrast, the Nizāriyya Muslims—presently headed by the Aga Khan—believe the rightful nineteenth caliph was Musta'lī's elder brother, Nizār. The Mustaʿlī sect originated in Egypt, later moved its religious center to Yemen, and gained a foothold in India through missionaries of the 11th century.
Fiqhs of Mustā‘līyyah: Ṭayyibiyyah and Ḥāfiziyyah
The "Mustā‘līyyah" has a fiqh system, which is known as the Taiyabi or Ṭayyibī (Arabic: طيبي), after the last Imām whom they recognize, Ṭayyib Abī l-Qāṣim. Historically, there was a distinction between the Ṭayyibiyyah and the Ḥāfiziyyah, the latter recognizing the Fatimid rulers of Egypt (between 1130–1171) as legitimate Imāms, and not Ṭayyib Abī l-Qāṣim. The Hafizi view lost all support following the downfall of the Fatimid dynasty: current-day Mustā‘līyyah are all Ṭayyibiyyah.
The largest Mustaali group is the Bohra, and the largest Bohra group is the Dawoodi Bohra, primarily found in India. The name Bohra is a reinterpretation of the Gujarati word vahaurau ("to trade"). The Bohrā people comprise two principal groups: a chiefly merchant class Shīʿī majority, and a Sunnī minority who are mainly peasant farmers.
Currently, the largest sect of Dawoodi Bohra is led by 53rd Dai-al-Mutlaq Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, son of 52nd Dai-al-Mutlaq Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, serving as the representative of the Imam.
According to Musta'lī tradition, after the death of Imām al-Amīr, his infant son, Taiyab abu-al-Qasim, about two years old, was protected by al-Malika al-Sayyida (Hurratul-Malika), wife of Fatimid Dai of Yemen. She had been promoted to the post of hujja long before by Imam al-Mustansir at the death of her husband and ran the dawat from Yemen in the name of Tayyib. She was instructed and prepared by Imām Mustansir and following Imāms for the second period of Imamic seclusion. It was due to her that Imām Tayyib would go into seclusion, and she instituted the office of Dā'ī al-Mutlaq. Zueb-bin-Musa was first to be instituted to this office and the line of Tayyibi Dais that began in 1132 have passed from one Dai to another up to the present day.
In 1592, a leadership struggle caused the Ṭayyibī to split into Sulaymanīs (formerly Makramis) and Dawūdīs. The Sulaimani Bohra – named after Sulayman ibn Hassan – are mainly concentrated in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, while Dawoodi Bohras are found mostly in the Indian Subcontinent. There is also a community of Sunni Bohra in India.
There was a later split in 1046 AH/1637 AD, from the Dawoodis and a new subsect formed, the Alavi Bohra. Further in 2014 Qutbi Bohra broke away from Dawoodi Bohra, which is shown to face succession issue.
According to Mustali belief, the line of Imams (descendents of Ali ibn Abi Talib and hereditary successors to Muhammad in his role of legitimate leader of the community of Muslim believers) is as follows:
- Hasan ibn Ali 625–670 (Imam- 660–670)
- Husayn ibn Ali 626–680 (imam-670-680 )
- Ali ibn Husayn (Zayn al-'Ābidīn) 659–712 (imam-680-712)
- Muhammad al-Baqir ibn ali 676–743 (imam 712–743)
- Jafar al-Sadiq ibn mohd ul bakir 702–765 (imam- 743–765)
- Ismail bin Jafar 719/722–775 (imam 765–775)
- Muhammad ibn Ismail 740–813 (imam 775–813)
- Abdullah ibn Mohammad/Wafi Ahmad 766–829 (imam 813–829)
- Ahmed ibn Abdullah/Taqi Muhammad 790–840 (imam 829–840)
- Husain ibn Ahmed/Rabi Abdullah (Imam 840–909)
- Abdullah Al Mehdi ibn Husain (909–934)
- Muhammad al-Qa'im Bi-Amrillah (934–946)
- Isma'il al-Mansur Bi-Nasrillah ibn Muhammad al-Qa'im (946–953)
- Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah ibn Ismail al-Mansur/al-Muizz Lideenillah (953–975)
- Abu Mansoor Nizar al-Aziz Billah ibn Al-Mu'izz (975–996)
- Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ibn Abu Mansur Nizar (996–1021)
- Ali az-Zahir ibn Al-Hakim (1021–1036)
- Ma'ad al Mustansir Billah ibn Ali az-Zahir (1036–1094)
- Abû’l-Qâsim ʿAhmed al-Mustâ‘lî ibn Ma'ad al Mustansir (1094–1101)
- Manṣūr al-Āmir bi'Aḥkāmi’l-Lāh ibn Al-Musta'li (1101–1130)
- At-Tayyib Abu'l-Qasim ibn al-Āmir
Imams one through five are well-known historical figures in the early history of Islam who are also revered by Twelver Shi'ites. The Imam (from 11 to 21) are the same imam which are narrated in the history of Fatimids.
Followers of the Mustaali-Tayyebi imams also recite the names of these imams in Dua-e-Taqarrub[clarification needed] after the Fard Salah[clarification needed] ever yday. This tradition is reported to have come from the imams of the ahl ul bayt[clarification needed] according to Daim ul Islam. The Dua is as follows in English:
- O Allah send blessings upon Muhammad and his progeny. O Allah I seek nearness to you not only with your help but also with the good wishes of Prophet Muhammad, the chosen one, Ali al Murtadha, the source of Imamah and the successor of the prophet, and lady Fatimah az-Zahra, the daughter of the prophet, and Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain, the grandsons the Prophet and the masters of the youth of paradise, and the descendants of Imam Hussain from Imam Ali Zayn al-Abidin, Muhammad al-Baqir, Jafar al-Sadiq,..(so on as listed above).., Al-Amir and Imam At-Tayyib Abi l-Qasim.
- O Allah indeed I seek nearness to you by my reference to all of them since I love them and keep away from their enemies. O Allah make me steadfast in following their examples and include me in their company on the day of judgement. Bestown honour upon me and success in this world and the hereafter since I am their follower.
- I bear witness and sincerely believe that they will undoubtedly lead me unto you. May your blessings be upon them all.
The above Fatimid era are based on the direct descendants of the Prophet and to reconcile Islamic religion, based on divine revelation.
"The Fatimids claimed to be descendants of Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, and wife of Ali, the fourth caliph and first Shi'i imam. The Fatimid leader defined himself not only as caliph – leader of the Muslim world, but even as Mahdi, the promised leader of the Muslim world. According to old ideas of the caliph, the Fatimid caliphs considered themselves to be infallible and sinless, and divinely chosen perpetuators of the true form of Islam"—mideastweb.org
"The Fatimid Caliphate was an exception in that the ruling elite belonged to the Ismaili branch of
Shia Islam. The rulers were also Shia Ismaili Imams, hence, they had a religious significance to Ismaili Muslims. They are also part of the chain of holders of the office of Caliph, as recognized by most Muslims, the only period in which the Shia Imamate and the Caliphate were united to any degree afterthe death of Ali."—mideastweb.org
The Mustaali also feel themselves on same line and consider their imam and Dais as infallible and sinless, and divinely chosen perpetuators of the true form of Islam. Their Dais are keeping the tradition which was instituted by al‐Malika al‐Sayyida, wife of the Fatimid Dai of Yemen, who was instructed and prepared by Imām Mustansir and following imāms for the second period of Satr.
"However, in the Mustaali branch, the Dai came to have a similar but more important task. The term Dā'ī al‐Mutlaq (Arabic: الداعي المطلق ) literally means "the absolute or unrestricted missionary". This dai was the only source of the Imām's knowledge after the occultation of al-Qasim in Mustaali thought."—mideastweb.org
Dais (earthly leaders)
According to Fatimid tradition, after the death of Imām Al-Amir, al-Malika al-Sayyida (Hurratul-Malika) instituted Dai al-Mutlaq to run the da`wah from Yemen in the name of Imaam Taiyab abi al-Qasim. The Dais are appointed one after other in the same philosophy of nass (nomination by predecessor) as done by earlier imams. It is believed that God's representative cannot die before appointing his true successor. This is being followed from the time of 3rd Imam Ali ibn Husain, the strong army of Yezid also could not think of killing him, although they did not spare even a child of six months Ali Asgar.
On the similar belief, the Mustaali think and their Dai claim, that one day their Imam Tayyab's heir will again reappear as Imam (as happened with 11th imam ABDILLAH who appeared after period of 150 years since 6th imam Ismail).
Under 15th Imam Aziz (5th Fatimid caliph of Egypt), religious tolerance was given great importance. As a small Shia group ruling over a majority Sunni population with a Christian minority also, the Fatimid caliphs were careful to respect the sentiments of people. One of the viziers of Imam Aziz was Christian, and high offices were held by both Shia and Sunnis. Fatimid advancement in state offices was based more on merit than on heredity.
Imam Aziz rebuilt church of Mercurius near Fustat and encouraged public theological debate between Chief Qazi and Bishops in order that the ideas of their religions could merge. Hence the members of this Islamic sect were inclined to be tolerant.
Profession of Faith
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As is the case with the majority of Shi'a Muslims, the followers of the Fatimid school append Aliyun waliallah ("Ali is the friend of Allah") to their Profession of Faith (kalema‐tut‐ sahadat).
Mustaalis recite the kalema as below, there is some exception, the last phrase about Ali is not common, the details are as follows:
- Ash-hadu -an-la-ilaha illal-laha, wa ash-hadu anna Mohammad-an Abdo-hu wa Rasulo-uhu wa ash-hadu anna moulana Ali-un –vasi-un wa vazir-ah.
- "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and I bear witness that Mohammad is Allah's servant and His Messenger and Ali is his successor vasi and minister vazir."
The first part of this kalema, up to --rasul-al-lah is common among all Muslims. The addition of last phrase Ali –un- Wali -ul –lah is tradition of Shia/Fatimid/Ismaili/Bohra.
This is right from Fatemi Imam's era. In one of the Qiblah of Imam Mustansir of Fatemi era masjid of Qahira (Mosque of Ahmed-ibn-tulun) engraved his name and “kalema‐tut‐sahadat" (photo as above) as La ‐ilah‐ ilal‐lah, Mohamad‐un‐ rasul‐al‐lah Ali –un‐ vali ‐ ul –lah. The same kalema exists at Gate Bab-al-Nasr built by minister Badr-al-Jamali at northern wall of Fatimid Cairo(Photo as above). Dawoodi Bohra also have same tradition and read kalema in same fashion.
Fundamental first phrase La- ilaha-ill-al-lah is foundation stone of Islam the belief that "there is no god but Allah". This is confession of Tauhid, monotheism.
The second phrase Mohammad-un –rasul-al-lah fulfills the requirement that there should be someone to guide in the name of Allah, which tells "Mohammad is Allah's Rasul, Nabi, the Messenger, Apostle. This is acceptance of Nabuvat of Mohammad.
Nabi Mohammad declared Ali bin Abu Talib as his successor at a place called Ghadir -al-Khumm (Ref: Hadith of the pond of Khumm), which was required for the continuation of His guidance, that's why he told that "for whoever I am a Moula of them Ali is his Moula”. Hence, the kalma required further confession the third phrase Ali-un- vali-ul-lah, means “Ali is his (Mohammad's) "Wali", "vasi", the real care taker, stressing the need that for continuation of faith there is requirement of “Wali”, which is one and only "Imam after Imam", which are really taking care of Islam, hence this is also known as the confession of "Imamat".
Kalema –tut-Shahadat make three Islamic teaching "Tauhid", "Nabuwat" and "Imamate" together. In this devotion to god, his Nabi Mohammad and Imam are so linked together that these can not be viewed separately. One leads to other and finally to God the "Allah" almighty.
According to Fatimid/Ismaili-Taiyabi-Dawoodi Bohra Ashhadu ana Moulana Aliyan waliullah ("I testify that Ali is the vicegerent of God ") is part of Azaan (but not of iqamah) and they recite it twice after third part of the Azaan. namely 'Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan-rasūlu l-Lāh'
They also recite "Muhammadun -va- Ali-un khayr-ul- bashar va itrat-o- homa khayr-ul-itar" (Mohammad and Ali are the greatest of all men and their descendants are the greatest of all progenies) twice after 7th part "Hayya 'ala-Khayr il-āmal". This is continued from the time of the Aimmat Fatimiyyeen (In the Iqama(h)t they recite 'Qad qamatis Salat" in place of this). Also, "Hayya 'ala-Khayr il-āmal", which had been dropped from the Azaan since after rasūlu l-Lāh, is prayed, loud and clear, according to Nabi's sunnat.
The complete Azaan they recite is as follows:
|4x||الله اكبر||Allahu Akbar||Allah (God) is the Greatest|
|2x||اشهد ان لا اله الا الله||Ash-hadu allā ilāha illa l-Lāh||I testify that there is no god but Allah|
|2x||اشهد ان محمدا رسول الله||Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan-rasūlu l-Lāh||I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah|
|2x||اشهد ان مولانا عليا ولي الله||Ash-hadu anna Aliya wali-ul-Lāh||I testify that Ali is the viceregent of Allah|
|2x||حي على الصلاة||Hayyā 'ālas-salāt||Make haste towards Salāt- (the prayer)|
|2x||حي على الفلاح||Hāyyā 'ālal-falāh||Make haste towards victory|
|2x||حي على خير العمل||Hāyyā 'āla-Khayr al-āmal||Make haste towards the greatest of all things|
|2x||محمد و علي خير البشر و عطرة هما خير عطر||Mohammadun -va- Ali-un khayr-ul- bashar va itrat-o- homa khayr-ul-itar||Mohammad and Ali are the greatest of all men and their descendants are the greatest of all progenies|
|2x||الله اكبر||Allah-u Akbar||Allah is the greatest|
|2x||لا اله الا الله||Lā ilāha illā l-Lāh||There is no god except for Allah|
- Alavi Bohra
- Dawoodi Bohra
- Hebtiahs Bohra
- Patani Bohras
- Sulaymani Bohra
- Sunni Bohra
- Qutbi Bohra
- The Dawoodi Bohras: an anthropological perspective, by Shibani Roy. Published by B.R. Publishing, 1984.
- Mullahs on the mainframe: Islam and modernity among the Daudi Bohras, by Jonah Blank. University of Chicago Press, 2001. ISBN 022605676.Excerpts
- A Short History of the Ismailis, By Farhad Daftary
- The Ismaili,their history & Doctrine, By Farhad Daftary
- Medieval Islamic Civilisation,By Joseph W. Meri, Jere l.Bacharach
- Sayyida Hurra: The Isma‘ili Sulayhid Queen of Yemen,By Dr Farhad Daftary
- Cosmology and authority in medieval Ismailism,By Simonetta Calderini
- Religion, learning, and science in the ʻAbbasid period,By M. J. L. Young, John Derek Latham, Robert Bertram Serjeant
- http://www.ismaili.net/Source/0910.ht Quarterly Journal of the AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT Vol. XXI. Nos. 1 2 Edited by MAHMUD GHUL HIDDEN IMAMS OF THE ISMAILIS
- Mullahs on the mainframe: Islam and modernity among the Daudi Bohras, page-29, By Jonah Blank
- Adapted from: Adhan and Iqamah
- Added to the original Azaan after the demise of Ali.
- Taiyabi claims that it had been deleted from the original Azaan after the demise of the Rasūlu l-Lāh Muhammad.
- Added to the original Azaan after the demise of Ali during Fatimids.