Posted: Tue Sep 21, 2021 3:10 pm Post subject: Teachings at Jamatkhana
How different are the teachings at the Ismaili jamatkhanas when the public is invited and when only Ismailis are invited and the general public is excluded? What is the significance of the teachings presented when the general public is excluded?
The general public is never invited during the observances of practices that are specific to our tariqah. However they are frequently invited for lectures conducted in the social halls about non-tariqah related subjects.
Sorry, I am not sure I really understand. Why should there be meetings at the jamatkhana/mosque where non-Ismailis are excluded? If it has to do with hiding the Ismaili identity, as someone pointed out, this problem does not exist now.
And regarding this concept of takiya: How did the Ismaili community maintain itself, its communal integrity and observances during the centuries before the first Aga Khan when they had to conceal their identities because of persecution?? How did the Ismailis maintain their observances and identity during that time when they had to pretend they were not Ismailis?
In Islam there are two kinds of spaces of worship. The first one is for all and it is called the Masjid and everyone is welcome to attend it. The second one is reserved for various branches or tariqahs. Only members who have undertaken formal procedures of enrollment can participate. For Ismaili tariqah only those who have taken the outh of allegiance - bayah, can attend.
In any esoteric tradition, there are matters only restricted to the members that have been initiated into the system to avoid misunderstanding and confusion. For example the notion of a human being having God-like qualities would not be a problem for initiates but to a person who has not been initiated, it can create problems and misunderstanding.
On the historic issue, the 48th Imam has explained in the chapter of his Memoirs which you have obviously not read. The following is the explanation from it.
Thenceforward the story of the Ismailis, of my ancestors and their followers, moves through all the complexities, the ebb and flow, of Islamic history through many centuries. Gibbon, it has been said, abandoned as hopeless the task of clearing up the obscurities of an Asiatic pedigree; there is, however, endless fascination in the study of the web of characters and of events, woven across the ages, which unites us in this present time with all these far-distant glories, tragedies and mysteries. Often persecuted and oppressed, the faith of my ancestors was never destroyed; at times it flourished as in the epoch of the Fatimite Khalifs, at times it was obscure and little understood.
After the loss of the Fatimite Khalifat in Egypt, my ancestors moved first to the highlands of Syria and the Lebanon, thence they journeyed eastward to the mountains of Iran. They established a stronghold on the craggy peak of Alamut in the Elburz Mountains, the range which separates from the rest of Persia the provinces lying immediately to the south of the Caspian. Legend and history intertwine here in the strange tale of the Old Man of the Mountains, and of those hereditary Grand Masters of the Order of the Assassins who held Alamut for nearly two hundred years. In this period the Ismaili faith was well known in Syria, in Iraq, in Arabia itself, and far up into Central Asia. Cities such as Samarkand and Bokhara were then great centres of Muslim learning and thought. A little later in the thirteenth century of the Christian era, Ismaili religious propaganda penetrated into what is Sinkiang and Chinese Turkestan. There was a time in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries when the Ismaili doctrine was the chief and most influential Shi'ite school of thought; but later with the triumph of the Saffevi Dynasty in Iran (particularly in its northwest province, Azerbaijan) the Asna Ashari, or Twelfth Imam, sect established its predominance. Remnants of the Ismaili faith remained firm and are still to be found in many parts of Asia, North Africa and Iran. The historical centres of Ismailism indeed are scattered widely over all the Islamic world. In the mountainous regions of Syria, for example, are to be found the Druzes, in their fastness in the Jebel Druze. They are really Ismailis who did not originally follow my family in their migration out of Egypt but remained with the memory of my ancestor, AI Hakem, the Fatimite Khalif of Egypt, but they established their doctrines on lines very similar to those of the Syrian Ismailis, who, in present times, are my followers. Similar Ismaili "islands" exist in southern Egypt, in the Yemen and of course in Iraq. In Iran the centres are around Mahalat, westward toward Hamadan and to the south of Tehran; others are in Khorassan to the north and east around about Yezd, around Kerman and southward along the coast of the Persian Gulf from Bandar Abbas to the borders of Pakistan and Sind, and into Baluchistan. Others are in Afghanistan, in Kabul itself; there are many in Russia and Central Asia, around Yarkand, Kashgar and in many villages and settlements in Sinkiang. In India certain Hindu tribes were converted by missionaries sent to them by my ancestor, Shah Islam Shah, and took the name of Khojas; a similar process of conversion occurred in Burma as recently as the nineteenth century.
But specifically, what about all the centuries of takiyya, when Ismailis had to hide their identity? How did they maintain their beliefs and teachings when they had to remain hidden for so many years?
And why did the Persian kingdom adopt Safavi Twelver Shi'ism?
According to what you wrote, the Druze are actually Ismaili although they have a belief in the divinity of Ali similar to the Alawites of Syria? And there are other Nusari Ismaili groups that are in secrecy but don't follow the Aga Khan? Does that include the Bohra?
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