Sunday, 11 June 2017

Confused Shi'ite Doctrine of Imamate (Part 2)


بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم

الصلوة والسلام على من لا نبى بعده

Confused Shi’ite Doctrine of Imamate

Part 2

The Isma’iliya

Continuing from the previous entry in this series, we left off with a brief discussion about the Mubârakiya (proto-Isma’ilis). Recall that the Isma’iliya in their numerous factions are all united in their acceptance of Isma’il b. Ja’far as the designated successor of his father, Ja’far al-Sadiq رضى الله عنه. However, Isma’il died within his father’s lifetime, which created a turbulent crisis in the history of Imamiya Shi’ism. How could the allegedly infallible and divinely-appointed Imam have designated his son as his heir and successor and then that son died within his own lifetime? The Imamiya were bewildered and extremely perplexed because of this and began to debate among each other in an attempt to maintain their apparently erroneous narrative. This episode in their history was what triggered the introduction of a new doctrine called Badâ’ (revision) which posits that Allah Most High has not fixed a definite course for human history, and certain divine proclamations are in fact subject to amendment and alteration depending on how events unfold.


The Imamiya fragmented after the death of Ja’far al-Sadiq. Some, like the Nawusiya, refused to acknowledge his death, claiming he was alive and would return one day as the Mahdi. The Aftahiya proclaimed Ja’far’s son Abdullah has his true successor. Abdullah b. Ja’far (“al-Aftah”) died seventy days after his father’s death and apparently did not leave behind any male issue. However, a faction of the Aftahiya fabricated the idea that Abdullah had a son by the name of Muhammad who is alive and shall return as the Mahdi. The Shumaitiya proclaimed that Ja’far’s son Muhammad was his true successor, and thereafter the Imamate was confined to his progeny. The rest of the Imamiya recognised Ja’far’s son Musa al-Kadim رحمه الله as the right Imam. The Waqifa from among them believed that Musa never died, and that he shall return as the Mahdi, while the Qat’iya from among them acknowledged Musa’s death and held to the continuation of the Imamate through his son Ali al-Rida رحمه الله.

Coming back to the Isma’iliya, they put forward a new theory that although Isma’il b. Ja’far had died within his father’s lifetime, because he had already been designated as his father’s successor, therefore, the Imamate persists among the progeny of Isma’il b. Ja’far. We have already discussed the Isma’iliya al-Khalisa who denied the death of Isma’il b. Ja’far, claiming that he shall return as the Mahdi. However, the rest of the Isma’iliya, known as the Mubarakiya, are united in accepting the death of Isma’il within his father’s lifetime, and the transferrance of the Imamate ot his son Muhammad b. Isma’il.

The death of Muhammad b. Isma’il created a rift among the Mubarakiya (hopefully the reader can by now perceive a recurring pattern here!). A faction from among them who came to be known as the infamous Qarâmita proclaimed that Muhammad b. Isma’il had not died, and that he would return as the Mahdi.

Mubarakiya Line


1. Ali b. Abi Talib

2. Hasan b. Ali

3. Hussain b. Ali

4. Ali b. Hussain

5. Muhammad b. Ali

6. Ja’far b. Muhammad

7. Isma’il b. Ja’far

8. Muhammad b. Isma’il


Opposing Line (Musawiya)


1. Ali b. Abi Talib

2. Hasan b. Ali

3. Hussain b. Ali

4. Ali b. Hussain

5. Muhammad b. Ali

6. Ja’far b. Muhammad

7. Musa b. Ja’far

As opposed to the Qaramita, the rest of the Mubarakiya recognised the continuation of the Imamate through Muhammad b. Isma’il’s son, Abdullah, a.k.a Ahmad al-Wafi:

1. Ali b. Abi Talib

2. Hasan b. Ali

3. Hussain b. Ali

4. Ali b. Hussain

5. Muhammad b. Ali

6. Ja’far b. Muhammad

7. Isma’il b. Ja’far

8. Muhammad b. Isma’il

9. Abdullah b. Muhammad (Ahmad al-Wafi)

10. Ahmad b. Abdullah (Muhammad al-Taqi)

11. Hussain b. Ahmad (Abdullah al-Radi)

Fatimid Rulers

12. Abdullah b. Hussain (al-Mahdî)

13. Muhammad b. Abdullah (al-Qâ’im)

14. Isma’il b. Muhammad (al-Mansûr)

15. Ma’ad b. Isma’il (al-Mu’izz)

16. Nizar b. Ma’ad (al-Azîz)

17. Mansur b. Nizar (al-Hâkim)

This al-Hakim (Mansur b. Nizar) is incidentally a central figure in the Druze religion.

18. Ali b. Mansur (al-Zâhir)

19. Ma’ad b. Ali (al-Mustansir)

The next great schism among the Isma’iliya was concerning the identity of the Imam after al-Mustansir (the eighth Fatimid ruler). The Musta’li branch regard al-Mustansir’s son, Ahmad b. Ma’ad (al-Musta’li) as the ninth Fatimid ruler and legitimate Imam, while the Nizari branch regard his brother, Nizar b. Ma’ad (al-Mustafa), as the true successor of al-Mustansir. Nizar revolted against the rule of his brother until he was killed in 490 H (1097 C.E).

Al-Musta’li was succeeded by his son Mansur b. Ahmad (al-Amir), the tenth Fatimid caliph and twentieth Musta’li Isma’ili Imam (*Note: remember the Musta’liya begin counting the Imams with Hasan b. Ali b. Abi Talib رضى الله عنهما).

After the killing of the tenth Fatimid caliph (al-Amir), yet another schism occurred, this time among the Musta’liya branch of Isma’ilis. Al-Amir was apparently succeeded by his cousin Abdul Majîd b. Muhammad b. al-Mustansir, known as al-Hâfiz, the eleventh Fatimid caliph. The Hâfizi subsect of Isma’ilis recognised the continuation of the Imamate through him and his progeny.

Hafiziya Line

1. Ali b. Abi Talib

2. Hasan b. Ali

3. Hussain b. Ali

4. Ali b. Hussain

5. Muhammad b. Ali

6. Ja’far b. Muhammad

7. Isma’il b. Ja’far

8. Muhammad b. Isma’il

9. Abdullah b. Muhammad (Ahmad al-Wafi)

10. Ahmad b. Abdullah (Muhammad al-Taqi)

11. Hussain b. Ahmad (Abdullah al-Radi)

12. Abdullah b. Hussain (al-Mahdî)

13. Muhammad b. Abdullah (al-Qâ’im)

14. Isma’il b. Muhammad (al-Mansûr)

15. Ma’ad b. Isma’il (al-Mu’izz)

16. Nizar b. Ma’ad (al-Azîz)

17. Mansur b. Nizar (al-Hâkim)

18. Ali b. Mansur (al-Zâhir)

19. Ma’ad b. Ali (al-Mustansir)

20. Ahmad b. Ma’ad (al-Musta’lî)

21. Mansur b. Ahmad (al-Âmir)

22. Abd-al-Majid b. Muhammad b. Ma’ad (al-Hâfiz)

23. Isma’il b. Abd-al-Majid (al-Zâfir)

24. Isa b. Isma’il (al-Fâ’iz)

25. Abdallah b. Yusuf b. Abd-al-Majid (al-‘Âdid)

The Fatimid caliphate came to an end, but the Hafiziya continued to recognise the Imamate among the progeny of al-‘Adid:

26. Dawud b. Abdallah (al-Hâmid)

27. Sulaiman b. Dawud


Sulaiman Badruddin was the last Hafizi Imam, after which the Hafizi sect vanished and was absorbed into the other branch of Musta’li known as the Tayyibiya. They hold that the successor of the tenth Fatimid caliph (al-Amir) was his son al-Tayyib

Tayyibiya Line

Ali b. Abi Talib

1. Hasan b. Ali

2. Hussain b. Ali

3. Ali b. Hussain

4. Muhammad b. Ali

5. Ja’far b. Muhammad

6. Isma’il b. Ja’far

7. Muhammad b. Isma’il

8. Abdullah b. Muhammad (Ahmad al-Wafi)

9. Ahmad b. Abdullah (Muhammad al-Taqi)

10. Hussain b. Ahmad (Abdullah al-Radi)

11. Abdullah b. Hussain (al-Mahdî)

12. Muhammad b. Abdullah (al-Qâ’im)

13. Isma’il b. Muhammad (al-Mansûr)

14. Ma’ad b. Isma’il (al-Mu’izz)

15. Nizar b. Ma’ad (al-Azîz)

16. Mansur b. Nizar (al-Hâkim)

17. Ali b. Mansur (al-Zâhir)

18. Ma’ad b. Ali (al-Mustansir)

19. Ahmad b. Ma’ad (al-Musta’lî)

20. Mansur b. Ahmad (al-Âmir)

21. Tayyib b. Mansur

According to the Tayyibis, their 21st Imam (Tayyib) went into occultation and hence the line of Imamate terminated with him. According to them he is represented by an agent known as the Dâ’î. Over time, the Tayyibis split into various branches and sects in dispute over identification of the true Da’i al-Mutlaq. However, this does not concern us here because it is not an issue of Imamate. Presently, there are various branches of Tayyibis, such as the Dawudi Bohras, Sulemani Bohras, Alawi Bohras, etc. The Dawudi branch is the largest and most well known. Recently in 2014, their Da’i al-Mutlaq, Burhanuddin, died and this created a succession dispute between his half-brother Khuzaima Qutbuddin and his son Mufaddal Saifuddin, resulting in yet another of numerous schisms in the history of the Isma’iliya.

Now that we have discussed the Musta’liya and their various divisions over the correct line of the Imamate, let us revisit the Musta’li-Nizari schism and discuss the Nizariya.

The Nizariya regard Nizar b. Ma’d as the true successor of al-Mustansir and the ninth Fatimid caliph. He was killed during his struggle with his brother al-Musta’li.

Nizariya Line

1. Ali b. Abi Talib

Hasan b. Ali (entrusted Imam)

2. Hussain b. Ali

3. Ali b. Hussain

4. Muhammad b. Ali

5. Ja’far b. Muhammad

6. Isma’il b. Ja’far

7. Muhammad b. Isma’il

8. Abdullah b. Muhammad (Ahmad al-Wafi)

9. Ahmad b. Abdullah (Muhammad al-Taqi)

10. Hussain b. Ahmad (Abdullah al-Radi)

11. Abdullah b. Hussain (al-Mahdî)

12. Muhammad b. Abdullah (al-Qâ’im)

13. Isma’il b. Muhammad (al-Mansûr)

14. Ma’ad b. Isma’il (al-Mu’izz)

15. Nizar b. Ma’ad (al-Azîz)

16. Mansur b. Nizar (al-Hâkim)

17. Ali b. Mansur (al-Zâhir)

18. Ma’ad b. Ali (al-Mustansir)

19. Nizar b. Ma’ad

20. Ali b. Nizar (al-Hâdî)

21. Muammad Al-Mutadī

22. Hassan I Al-Qāhir

23. assan II ʻAlā Dhikrihi-s-Salām

24. Nūr-al-Dīn Muammad II (Aʻlā Muammad)

25. Jalālu-d-Dīn assan III

26. ʻAlāʼ ad-Dīn Muammad III

27. Ruknu-d-Dīn Khurshāh

28.Shamsu-d-Dīn Muammad

It was at this juncture (the fourteenth century) that a schism occurred among the Nizariya regarding the succession to their twenty-eighth Imam, Shamsuddin Muhammad. The Mu’miniya branch regard Shamsuddin’s elder son, Mu’min Shah, as the true Imam, succeeded by his son, Muhammad Shah. Their line of Imamate continued until Amir Muhammad b. Haydar who vanished in 1796, thus discontinuing this sect and its Imamate.

The other branch of Nizaris recognised Shamsuddin’s younger son, Qasim Shah, as his legitimate successor and their 29th Imam, with the Imamate continuing among his progeny. They are known as the Qâsimiya and are a unique branch of Shi’ism who alone can boast that they have a living, present Imam (currently Aga Khan III, Karim – their 49th Imam).

This wraps up the summary of the Isma’iliya and their various branches and conflicting lines of Imamate. In the next entry we shall discuss the other major branch of the Imamiya Shi’a who recognised Musa al-Kadim رحمه الله as the seventh Imam (the Musawiya and their various branches) ان شاء الله

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