History of Nizari Ismailism

The History of Nizari Isma'ilism from the founding of Islam covers a period of over 1400 years. It begins with Muhammad's mission to restore to humanity the universality and knowledge of the oneness of the divine within the Abrahamic tradition, through the final message and what the Shia believe was the appointment of Ali as successor and guardian of that message with both the spiritual and temporal authority of Muhammad through the institution of the Imamate.

A few months before his death, Muhammad who resided in the city of Medina made his first and final pilgrimage to Mecca, the Farewell Pilgrimage. There, atop Mount Arafat, he addressed the Muslim masses in what came to be known as the Farewell Sermon. After completion of the Hajj pilgrimage, Muhammad journeyed back toward his home in Medina with the other pilgrims. During the journey, Muhammad stopped at the desert oasis of Khumm, and requested other pilgrims gather together, and there he addressed them with the famous words: "Whose mawla (master) I am, this Ali is also his mawla. O God, befriend whosoever befriends him and be the enemy of whosoever is hostile to him." This is known as the event of Ghadir Khumm, which is remembered in the hadith of the pond of Khumm.

Following Muhammad's death the Shia or "Party" of Ali believed he had been designated not merely as the political successor to Muhammad ("Caliph") but also his spiritual successor ("Imam"). And looked toward Ali and his most trusted supporters for both political and spiritual guidance. Ali's descendants were also the only descendants of Muhammad as Ali had married Muhammad's only surviving progeny, his daughter Fatimah. Through the generations, the mantle of leadership of the Shia passed through the progeny of Ali and Fatimah, the Ahl al-Bayt, embodied in the head of the family, the Imam. Both Ismaʿili and Twelver Shia accept the same initial Imams from the descendants of Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah and therefore share much of their early history; the Zaydi are distinct.[1]

The modern Nizari faith refers to itself as a tariqa or "path", the term for a Sufi order, following centuries hiding from oppression as Twelver tariqa.

Imami Shia

Ja'far al-Sadiq was acknowledged leader (Imam) of the Shia and head of the Ahl al-Bayt. A highly accomplished theologian, Ja'far tutored Abu Hanifa, who would go on to found the Hanafi madhhab ("school of jurisprudence"), the largest Sunni legal school practiced today; Malik ibn Anas, founder of the Maliki Sunni madhhab; and Wasil ibn Ata, who founded the Muʿtazila theology that all the major Sunni madhhabs follow.

During a period of rapid change, when Muslims no longer threatened were beginning to concern themselves with questions like "what does it mean to be a Muslim?". Most sought answers from the new learned classes which would eventually develop into Sunni Islam, but for some the answers to such questions were always sought from the Ahl al-Bayt led by Imam Jaʿfar; who saw the need for a systematic school of thought for those who sought guidance, and were loyal to Muhammad's family, as distinct from the new scholar schools which would synthesis into Sunni Islam. His answer was Ja'fari jurisprudence, a madhhab "school of jurisprudence" distinct to the Shia. This period marks the founding of the distinct religious views of both the Shia and the Sunni.

Imami Schism

A fresco by Raphael depicting Aristotle and Plato; Greek philosophy played a pivotal role in the formation of the Isma'ili school of thought.

Ja'far al-Sadiq was married to Faṭimah, herself a member of the Ahl al-Bayt. Together they had two sons, Ismā'īl al-Mubarak and his elder brother, Abdullah al-Aftah. Following Fatimah's death, Ja'far al-Sadiq was said to be so devastated he refused to ever remarry.

The majority of available sources - both Ismā'īli and Twelver as well as Sunni - indicate that Imam Jafar as-Sadiq designated Ismā'īl as his successor and the next Imam after him through nass ("a clear legal injunction") and there is no doubt concerning the authenticity of this designation. However, it is controversially believed that Ismā'īl predeceased his father. However, the same sources report Ismā'īl being seen three days after in Basra. His closest supporters believed Ismail had gone into hiding to protect his life. Therefore, upon as-Sadiq's death, a group of Jafar al-Sadiq's followers turned to his eldest surviving son, Abdullah because he was the son of the daughter of the Caliph and the oldest son of Jafar al-Sadiq after Ismā'īl's death. He claimed a second designation following Ismā'īl's disappearance. Later most of them went back to the doctrine of the Imamate of his brother, Musa, together with the evidence for the right of the latter and the clear proofs of his Immmate (i.e. his character) When Abd-Allah died within weeks without an heir, many more turned again to another son of as-Sadiq, Musa al-Kadhim, a son from a slave named Umm Hamida, who Ja'far had taken after his wife's death. While some had already accepted him as the Imam following the death of Jafar as-Sadiq, Abdullah's supporters now aligned themselves with him giving him the majority of the Shia.

Isma'ilis argue that since a defining quality of an Imam is his infallibility, Ja'far as-Sadiq could not have mistakenly passed his nass on to someone who would be either unfit or predecease him. Therefore, the Imam after Ismā'īl was his eldest son Muhammad ibn Ismā'īl, known as al-Maktūm..

The Early Imams

Callers to Islam

Main article: Brethren of Purity
Arabic manuscript from the 12th century for Brethren of Purity (Arabic , Ikhwan al-Safa اخوان الصفا)

Imam Muhammad al-Maktūm retained Ismā'īl's closest supporters, who were few in number but highly disciplined, consisting of philosophers, scientists, and theologians; like his father Imam Muhammad retained an interest in Greek philosophy, political, and scientific thought. Muhmmad al-Maktūm was himself several years the senior of his half-uncle, Musa al-Kadhim. Muhammad al-Maktūm reconciled with Musa al-Kadhim and left Medina with his father's most loyal supporters, effectively disappearing from historical records and instituting an era of Dar al-Satr (epoch of veiling) when the Imams would vanish from public view. There followed a period when mysterious intellectual writings of an Isma'ili character appeared, most famously the Rasa'il Ikhwan al-safa (the epistles of Brethren of Purity) an enormous compendium of 52 epistles dealing with a wide variety of subjects including mathematics, natural sciences, psychology (psychical sciences) and theology. Isma'ili leadership also produced an array of propaganda attacking the political and religious establishments with calls for popular revolution, through a dāʻwah propagation machine called "Callers to Islam". This distinctive characteristic of the Isma'ili to challenge established social, economic, and intellectual norms with their vision of a just society was opposed directly opposed to Twelver quietism and political apathy and would be a hallmark of Isma'ili history.[1][2]

First Period of Concealment: The Isma'ilis leave Mecca and propagate their faith in secret, and produce literature against the established state.

8. Abdallah al Wafī Aḥmad, son of Muhammad.

9. Aḥmad at Taqī Muḥammad, son of ʿAbd Allāh.

10. Ḥusayn ar Radhī ad-dīn ʿAbd Allāh, son of Aḥmad.

The Fatimid Caliphate

In the face of persecution, the bulk of the Isma'ili continued to recognize Imams who, as mentioned, secretly propagated their faith through Duʻāt (singular, dāʻī) "Callers to Islām" from their bases in Syria.[3] However, by the 10th century, an Isma'ili Imam, Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah, correctly known as ʻAbdu l-Lāh al-Mahdī, had emigrated to North Africa and successfully established the Fatimid Caliphate in Tunisia.[4] His successors subsequently succeeded in conquering all of North Africa (including highly prized Egypt) and the Fertile Crescent, and even holding Mecca and Medina in Arabia.[2][4] The capital for the Fatimid state subsequently shifted to the newly founded city of Cairo (al-Qāhirah, meaning "The Victorious"), in honour of the Isma'ili military victories, from which the Fatimid Caliph-Imams ruled for several generations, establishing their new city as a centre for culture and civilization. It boasted the world's first university, Al-Azhar University and the House of Knowledge,[4] where the study of mathematics, art, biology, and philosophy reached new heights in the known world.

A fundamental split amongst the Isma'ili occurred as the result of a dispute over which son should succeed the 18th Imam and Fatmid caliph al-Mustansir Billah. While Nizar was originally designated Imam, his younger brother al-Musta'li was promptly installed as Imam in Cairo with the help of the powerful Armenian vizier, Badr al-Jamali, whose daughter he was married to. Badr al-Jamali claimed that Imam Mustansir had changed his choice of successor upon his death bed, appointing his younger son.[1]

Although Nizar contested this claim, he was defeated after a short military campaign and imprisoned; however, he did gain support from an Isma'ili Dāʿī based in Iran, Hassan-i Sabbah. Hassan-i Sabbah is noted by Western writers to have been the leader of the legendary "Assassins".[5]

Fatimid Caliphs

The Nizari Ism'ailis recognize only the first eight Fatimid caliphs from the nine listed below:

Medieval depiction the fortress of Alamut.


Main article: Alamut

Most Isma'ilis outside North Africa, mostly in Iran and the Levant, came to acknowledge Imam Nizar ibn Mustansir Billah’s claim to the Imamate as maintained by Hassan-i Sabbah, and this point marks the fundamental split. Within two generations, the Fatimid Caliphate would suffer several more splits and eventually implode.

Hassan began converting local inhabitants and much of the military stationed at the fortress to the Isma'ili ideals of social justice and free thinking as he plotted to take over the fortress. During the final stages of his plan, he is believed to have lived within the fortress - possibly working as a chef - under the pseudonym "Dihkunda." He seized the fortress in 1090 AD from its then-ruler, a Zaidi Shia named Mahdi. This marks the founding of the Nizari Isma'ili state. Mahdi's life was spared, and he later received 3,000 gold Dinars in compensation.

Hassan-i Sabbah termed his doctrine al-Dawa al-Jadida ("The New Preaching") to contrast the Fatimid "Old Preaching". He was viewed as the Hujjah or "Proof" of the Imam, having direct secret contact with Imam Nizar and his rightful successors. Hassan-i Sabbah is also known as the first of the "Seven Lords of Alamut Castle", as he chose this secluded fortress as his base.

Under the leadership of Hassan-i Sabbah and the succeeding lords of Alamut, the strategy of covert capture was successfully replicated at strategic fortresses across Iran, Iraq, and the Fertile Crescent. Nizaris created a state of unconnected fortresses, surrounded by huge swathes of hostile territory, and managed a unified power structure that proved more effective than either that in Fatimid Cairo or Seljuq Bagdad, both of which suffered political instability, particularly during the transition between leaders. These periods of internal turmoil allowed the Isma'ili state respite from attack, and even to have such sovereignty as to have minted their own coinage.

The Fortress of Alamut was thought impregnable to any military attack, and was fabled for its heavenly gardens, impressive libraries, and laboratories where philosophers, scientists, and theologians could debate all matters in intellectual freedom.[6]


Main article: Assassins

Owing to the difficult situation in which the Ismailis were placed, their system of self-defence took a peculiar form. When their fortresses were attacked or besieged, they were isolated like small islands in a stormy sea. They prepared their garrisons for the fight, but were unable to mount a sizable army so trained military commandos (fidā'iyyūn) as a rear-guard action. Fidā'iyyūn were covertly dispatched into the very heart of the Abbasid Court and enemy military strongholds as sleeper agents. In order to remove key figures planning or responsible for attacks against Isma'ili populations, fidā'iyyūn would take reprisal action for an attack or the planning of one by placing a dagger or a note within the chambers of their opponent as a warning or even assassinating a key opponent when they deemed it necessary. Known today as Assassins, these Isma'ilis were referred to as "Hasshashin" by their enemies, as many of their political enemies believed them to consume the intoxicant hashish before being dispatched as agents although modern scholarship tends to dispute this theory as polemic fabricated to discredit the Isma'ili. Other theories suggest the term originates from them being followers of "Hassan". The term entered Western vocabulary through the returning Crusaders as "assassin".

The Seven Lords of Alamut Castle

Artistic Rendering of Hassan-i Sabbah.

The fortress was destroyed on December 15, 1256, by Hulagu Khan as part of the Mongol offensive on Islamic Southwest Asia. The Hashshashin made a critical mistake in the murder of Genghis Khan's son, Jagati, who ruled part of Persia. Jagati had offended the Ismali's and Hashshashin by forbidding certain rituals involved in prayer and slaughter of food animals.

In 1256, the Mongols took their revenge. Most of the Hashshashin were killed and their mountaintop fortresses destroyed. The Church Knights, already weakened by Mongol incursions and civil war, did not send assistance.

The last leader of the Hashshashin, Rukn al-Din Khurshah, surrendered it as part of a deal with Hulagu. However, the Monguls slaughtered the inhabitants, burnt the libraries, and brought down the fortifications. Isma'ili survivors made several attempts to recapture, and restore Alamut, and several other Isma'ili forts, but were defeated. In subsequent years, the punishment for anyone suspected of being Isma'ili would be instant death, it was common for political or social enemies to claim their rivals as secret Isma'ilis and call for their deaths.

Further information: List of Ismaili castles

The Wandering Mystics

A page of a copy circa 1503 of the Diwan-e Shams-e Tabriz-i

The Isma'ili Imams, and their followers would wander Iran for several centuries in concealment, The Imams would often take on the garb of a tailor, or mystic master, and their followers as Sufi Muslims. During this period Iranian Sufism, and Isma'ilism would form a close bond. Shamsu-d-Dīn Muḥammad succeeded Ruknuddin Khwarshah as the 28th Imam, escaping as a child and living in concealment in Azerbaijan. The 29th Imam Qāsim Shāh, 30th Imam Islām Shāh and 31st Imam Muḥammad ibn Islām Shāh also lived in concealment. Here the Ismaili Imam became a Sufi master (murshid) and his followers mureeds which are terminologies that are used today.

Anjudān/Safavid Period

With Safavid Iran's establishment of Twelver Islam as its official religion, many Sufi orders declared themselves to be Shi’i. Approximately one hundred years before this however, the Ismaili imamate was being transferred to the village of Anjudan, near the Shi’i centres of Qumm and Kashan. This revival is commonly termed the "Anjudān period" and constituted a revival of Ismaili political stability, for the first time since the fall of Alamut.[7] By the 15th century, a mini renaissance begins to develop in the village Anjudan near Mahallat. The Imams involved in the Anjudan Renaissance were 32nd Imam Mustanṣir billāh II, 33rd Imam Abd as-Salām Shāh and 34th Gharīb Mirzā Abbas Shah / Mustanṣir billāh III. The Anjudan Renaissance ends by the 16th century with the Safavid dynasty gaining power in Iran and making Twelver Shia Islam the state religion. The Ismailis practice taqiyyah/dissimulation as Twelver Shiites with the 36th Imam Murad Mirza being executed for political activity and the 45th Imam Shah Khalīlullāh III being murdered by a Twelver Shia mob in Yazd, Iran.

The Aga Khans

The period of the Aga Khans begins in 1817, when 45th Imam Shah Khalīl Allāh was murdered while giving refuge to his followers by a Twelver mob led by local religious leaders. His wife took her 13-year-old son and new Imam, Hassan Ali Shah to the then Qajar Emperor Shah in Tehran to seek justice. Although there was no serious penalty brought against those involved; Fath-Ali Shah Qajar gave his daughter, the princess Sarv-i Jahan, in marriage to the new Imam, and awarded him the title Agha Khan (Lord Chief).[6]

Contemporary Isma'ili

Main article: Aga Khan IV
Further information: Ismā‘īlī Constitution

Almost all Nizaris today accept Karim al-Husayni, known by his title "Aga Khan IV", as their Imām-i Zāmān "Imam of the Time", but for about 15,000 in western Syria.[2] In Persian he is referred to Religiously as Khudawand (Lord of the Time), in Arabic as Mawlana (Master), or Hādhir Imām (Present Imam). Karim acceded his grandfather Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III to the Imamate in 1957, aged just 20, and still an undergraduate at Harvard University. He was referred to as "the Imam of the Atomic age". The period following his accession can be characterized as one of rapid political and economic change. Planning of programs and institutions became increasingly difficult due to the rapid changes in newly emerging post colonial nations where many of his followers resided. Upon becoming Imam, Karim's immediate concern was the preparation of his followers, wherever they lived, for the changes that lay ahead. This rapidly evolving situation called for bold initiatives and new programs to reflect developing national aspirations, in the newly independent nations.[8]

In Africa, Asia and the Middle East, a major objective of the Community's social welfare and economic programs, until the mid-fifties, had been to create a broad base of businessmen, agriculturists, and professionals. The educational facilities of the community tended to emphasize secondary-level education. With the coming of independence, each nation's economic aspirations took on new dimensions, focusing on industrialization and modernization of agriculture. The community's educational priorities had to be reassessed in the context of new national goals, and new institutions had to be created to respond to the growing complexity of the development process.

In 1972, under the regime of the then President Idi Amin, Isma'ilis and other Asians were expelled from Uganda despite being citizens of the country and having lived there for generations. Karim undertook urgent steps to facilitate the resettlement of Isma'ilis displaced from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and also from Burma. Owing to his personal efforts most found homes, not only in Asia, but also in Europe and North America. Most of the basic resettlement problems were overcome remarkably rapidly. This was due to the adaptability of the Isma'ilis themselves and in particular to their educational background and their linguistic abilities, as well as the efforts of the host countries and the moral and material support from Isma'ili community programs.

In view of the importance that Islām places on maintaining a balance between the spiritual well-being of the individual and the quality of his life, the Imam's guidance deals with both aspects of the life of his followers. The Aga Khan has encouraged Isma'ili Muslims, settled in the industrialized world, to contribute towards the progress of communities in the developing world through various development programs. Indeed, the Economist noted: that Isma'ili immigrant communities, integrated seamlessly as an immigrant community, and did better at attaining graduate and post graduate degrees, "far surpassing their native, Hindu, Sikh, fellow Muslims, and Chinese communities".[9]

Notable Isma'ili

In recent years, Isma'ili Muslims, who have come to the US, Canada and Europe, mostly as refugees from Asia and Africa, have readily settled into the social, educational and economic fabric of urban and rural centers across the two continents. As in the developing world, the Isma'ili Muslim community's settlement in the industrial world has involved the establishment of community institutions characterized by an ethos of self-reliance, an emphasis on education, and a pervasive spirit of philanthropy. Spiritual allegiance to the Imam and adherence to the Nizari tariqa according to the guidance of the Imam of the time, have engendered in the Isma'ili community an ethos of self-reliance, unity, and a common identity notwithstanding centuries of being marginalized and persecuted by native and established societies.

Notable Isma'ili include:

Silver Jubilee

From July 1982 to July 1983, to celebrate the present Aga Khan's Silver Jubilee, marking the 25th anniversary of his accession to the Imamate, many new social and economic development projects were launched. These range from the establishment of the US$300 million international Aga Khan University with its Faculty of Health Sciences and teaching hospital based in Karachi, the expansion of schools for girls and medical centers in the Hunza region, one of the remote parts of Northern Pakistan bordering on China and Afghanistan, to the establishment of the Aga Khan Rural Support Program in Gujarat, India, and the extension of existing urban hospitals and primary health care centers in Tanzania and Kenya. These initiatives form part of an international network of institutions involved in fields that range from education, health and rural development, to architecture and the promotion of private sector enterprise and together make up the Aga Khan Development Network.

It is this commitment to man's dignity and relief of humanity that inspires the Isma'ili Imamate's philanthropic institutions. Giving of one's competence, sharing one's time, material or intellectual ability with those among whom one lives, for the relief of hardship, pain or ignorance is a deeply ingrained tradition which shapes the social conscience of the Isma'ili Muslim community.

Golden Jubilee

During his Golden Jubilee from 2007-2008 marking 50 years of Imamate the Aga Khan commissioned a number of projects, renowned Pritzker Prize winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki was commissioned to design a new kind of community structure resembling an embassy in Canada, The "Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat" opened on 8 December 2008, the building will be composed of two large interconnected spaces an atrium and a courtyard. The atrium is an interior space to be used all year round. It is protected by a unique glass dome made of multi-faceted, angular planes assembled to create the effect of rock crystal the Aga Khan asked Maki to consider the qualities of "rock crystal" in his design, which during the Fatimid Caliphate was valued by the Imams. Within the glass dome is an inner layer of woven glass-fibre fabric which will appear to float and hover over the atrium. The Delegation building sits along sussex drive near the Canadian parliament. Future Delegation buildings are planned for other capitals, beginning with Lisbon, Portugal.

In addition to primary and secondary schools, the Aga Khan Academies were set up to equip future leaders in the developing world with a leading standard education. The Aga Khan Museum, which will open in Toronto, Canada, will be the first museum dedicated to Islamic civilization in the west, due for completion in 2011 it will be dedicated to the "acquisition, preservation and display of artefacts - from various periods and geographies - relating to the intellectual, cultural, artistic and religious heritage of Islamic communities". A series of new Isma'ili centre are underway, including Toronto, Canada; Paris, France; Houston, Texas; Dushabi and the Pamir; Tajikistan.

The Isma'ili Imamate Timeline

Main article: List of Ismaili imams

Those Imams recognised by both ‘Isma'ilis and Twelvers:'

1. 'Alī ibn Abī Tālib, died 661 CE

2. Husayn, son of Ali, died 680
3. 'Alī Zayn al-Ābidīn, son of Husain, died 713
4. Muḥammad al-Bāqir, son of Ali Zayn, died 732
5. Ja'far aṣ-Ṣādiq, son of Muhammad, died 765

The Isma'iliyah and Ithna' Ashariya split:

6. Ismā'īl bin Jafar, Jafar's son and designated heir, d. 755 accepted as Imam by the Ismailis.
7. Muhammad ibn Ismā'īl, Ismail's son, died under the reign of Al-Amin circa 813.

A Period of Concealment: The Isma'ili leave Mecca and propagate their faith in secret, and produce literature against the established state.

8. Wafī Aḥmad, also known as ʿAbd Allāh.

9. Aḥmad Taqī Muḥammad, son of ʿAbd Allāh.

10. Ḥusayn Radhī ad-dīn ʿAbd Allāh, son of Aḥmad.

The Fatimid Caliphate The Isma'ili re-emerge and found the Fatimid Caliphate in North Africa, proclaiming themselves caliphs of the Muslim world.

11. Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah, openly announced himself as Imam, first Fatimid Caliph, died 934

12. Muḥammad al-Qā'im bi-'Amrillāh second Fatimid Caliph, died 946

13. Abū Ṭāhir Ismā'il al-Manṣūr bi-llāh, third Fatimid Caliph, died 953

14. Maʿād al-Muʿizz li-Dīnillāh, fourh Fatimid Caliph, died 975

15. Abū Manṣūr Nizār al-ʿAzīz billāh, fifth Fatimid Caliph, died 996

16. Al-Ḥakīm bi-Amri 'l-llāh, sixth Fatimid Caliph, disappeared 1021.

The Druze believe in the divinity of Al-Hakim's disappearance, believed by them to be the occultation of the Mahdi.

17. ʿAlī az-Zāhir li-Iʿzāz Dīnillāh, son of al-Hakim, seventh Fatimid Caliph, died 1036.

18. Abū Tamīm Ma'add al-Mustanṣir bi-llāh, eighth Fatimid Caliph, died (1094)

The list continues with the Nizari Imams known as the “Lords of Alamut”: Imam Nizar is imprisoned and executed. Hassan-i Sabbah leads a rebellion in his cause, working toward establishing Alamut as the centre of a new state, later the crusaders would mark them out as the Order of the Hashshashin (Assassins).

19. Nizār ibn al-Mustanṣir billāh, son of al-Mustansir, died in prison 1094

20. Ali al-Hādī (escapes to Alamut with a Nizari Da'i Abul Hasan Saidi, "The Period of Second Concealment", remained concealed from public)

21. Muhammad al-Muhtadī ("The Period of Second Concealment", remained concealed from public)

22. Hassan al-Qāhir (aka: Hasan I, "The Period of Second Concealment", remained concealed from public)

23. Hasan II - son of Imam al-Qahir and the first Nizari Imam of Alamut to openly declare himself as such, died in 1166

24. Nūru-d-Dīn Muḥammad II, son of Hassan II, openly declared himself the Imam, died 1210

25. Jalālu-d-Dīn Ḥassan III, son of Nur al-Din Muhammad II, died 1221

26. ‘Alā’ ad-Dīn Muḥammad III, son of Jalaluddin Hasan, died 1255

27. Rukn al-Din Khurshah, son of Muhammad III,

The Last Lord of Alamut, Rukn al-Din Khurshah, surrendered to Hulagu Khan in 1256. He travelled to the court of Kublai Khan but was murdered on the journey back.

The Period of Third Concealment of the Imams: Nizari communities manage to survive the destruction of their state, and practice secretly to escape persecution, forming a close relationship with Sufism.

28. Shamsu-d-Dīn Muḥammad
29. Qāsim Shāh
30. Islām Shāh
31. Muḥammad ibn Islām Shāh

the Anjudan Renaissance By the 15th century, a mini renaissance begins to develop in the village Anjudan near Mahallat. The Imams involved in the Anjudan Renaissance are below:

32. Mustanṣir billāh II
33. Abd as-Salām Shāh
34. Gharīb Mirzā Abbas Shah / Mustanṣir billāh III

the Anjudan Renaissance Ends By the 16th century, the Safavid dynasty gained power in Iran making Twelver Shia Islam the state religion. The Ismailis practice taqiyyah/dissimulation as Twelver Shiites with the 36th Imam Murad Mirza being executed for political activity.

35. Abū Dharr ʿAlī Nūru-d-Dīn
36. Murād Mīrzā
37. Dhu al-Fiqār ʿAlī Khalīlullāh I
38. Nūru ad-Dahr (Nūru-d-Dīn) ʿAlī
39. Khalīl Allāh II ʿAlī
40. Shāh Nizār II
41. Sayyid ʿAlī
42. Ḥassan ʿAlī
43. Qāsim ʿAlī (Sayyid Jaʿfar)
44. Abu al-Ḥassan ʿAlī (Bāqir Shāh)
45. Shāh Khalīlullāh III Murdered by a Twelver Shia mob in Yazd, Iran.

The Aga Khans: The age of the Agha Khans begins, and final steps toward unifying and reorganising the Isma'ili community start in earnest.

46. Aga Khan I, died 1881
First Ismaili Imam given the title of Aga Khan, rebels against the Iranian Shah but is defeated and joins the British in Afghanistan. Dies in Mumbai, India.

47. Aga Khan II, son of Aga Khan I, died 1885
48. Aga Khan III, son of Aga Khan II, died 1957

The Current Nizari Imam:

49. Shāh Karīm-al-Ḥussaynī, His Highness Prince Karīm Āgā Khān IV

A list of the Isma'ili Imams can also be found here.


  1. 1 2 3 Daftary, Farhad (1998). A Short History of the Ismailis. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 34–36. ISBN 0-7486-0687-4.
  2. 1 2 3 Azim A. Nanji (ed.), ed. (1996). The Muslim Almanac. USA: Gale Research Inc. pp. 170–171. ISBN 0-8103-8924-X.
  3. Daftary, Farhad (1998). A Short History of the Ismailis. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 36–50. ISBN 0-7486-0687-4.
  4. 1 2 3 Daftary, Farhad (1998). "3". A Short History of the Ismailis. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0-7486-0687-4.
  5. Daftary, Farhad (2001). The Assassin Legends. London, New York: I.B. Tauris. pp. 28–29. ISBN 1-85043-950-8.
  6. 1 2 Daftary, Farhad (1998). The Ismailis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-42974-9.
  7. Virani, Shafique N. The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, A Search for Salvation (New York: Oxford University Press), 2007.
  8. Daftary, Farhad (1998). A Short History of the Ismailis. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 206–209. ISBN 0-7486-0687-4.
  9. The Economist: Islam, America and Europe. London, UK: The Economist Newspaper Limited. June 22, 2006.
  10. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/835mgwfz.asp?pg=2

External links

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