Posted: Sun Jan 29, 2006 7:05 pm Post subject: AN INTERVIEW WITH A NEW ISMAILI CONVERT WHO IS ALSO HAS Ph D
I am extremely distressed by the tone of this thread at the moment. It is my wish that we may change these hostile words into an actual discussion where we can all learn and maybe even form a respect for each other.
Firstly, I would like to note that much of what is written in this thread so far detracting Ismailis and the Institution of Ismaili Immamat has come from sources that are either anti-ismaili in nature or written from the point of view of an uninformed orientalist. Instead of pasting these sources that carry soo much information that, making it often hard to pick something to discuss in order to reach an understanding or justification, I propose this thread should change course; focus on answering individual questions or discussing distinct issues.
I am short on time at the moment or I myself would write a detailed followup regarding ismaili beliefs and practices. However I am attaching an interview that I have aquired that would serve as a starting point to answer some question any of you may have regarding Ismailiism. Please feel free to ask me specific questions regarding the ismaili tariqah or any other related issues. I will try to answer to the best of my ability as soon as I can. Before anything however, I must emphasise the fact that Ismailism is a Shiistic tradition and therefore many of you may not agree with the line of thinking presented. The debate then would become one of a Shia- Sunni nature. Therefore I believe all questions regarding Ismailism should be posed from a Shiite perspective lest we get side-tracked.
Interview with PHD Ismaili Convert
The following is a question/answer session between a Christian school teacher and an American professional (Ph.d) who renounced his Christian faith to embrace Sunni Islam
which he later renounced to embrace the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim sect about thirteen years ago. The session was done in three separate sittings as the Ismaili convert needed to refer to his source material to support his answers. Every session was audio taped and finally the third session became the end product.
1. Do average North Americans know anything about Ismaili Muslims and their activities?
2. Then who does?
Those who are. affached to the institutions of higher learning and national.
leaders of both industrialized and non-industrialized nations.
3. Can you tell us who Ismaili Muslims are?
Certainly! Ismaili Muslims are aShia sect of Islam headed. by their 49th imam, their spiritual leader, His Highness Prince Karim Agakhan who is, also, a direct and hereditary descendant of Prophet Muhammad. He is also a Harvard University graduate. 1400 years ago, upon receiving a divine injunction just a few months before his death, Prophet Muhammad designated Ali, who was his cousin and son-in-law, as his heir, and proclaimed him as his successor to an assembly of 140,000 pilgrims. Soon after the Prophets demise, there was a split. contrary to the Prophet's will and wishes, one faction decided to elect Abu-Bak air, one of the Prophet's companions as Khaliph (temporal ruler), and accept the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, for guidance, instead of the Prophet's designated successor, Ali, in spite of -the oath of allegiance they had already given him. This group called itself "Sunni."
The second group decided to abide by the will and wishes of the Prophet and stay loyal to his successor, Ali. They came to be known as "Shias."
The Shias accepted Ali and his hereditary descendants as the guides and heads of the faith. These hereditary guides are also known as Imams. The Imams were to guide their followers in religious and worldly matters.
This split in Islam is, more or less, like the one in Christianity - Catholics and Protestants.
4. Is there something wrong with just settling for the Holy Book and dispensing with the Imam, as the Sunnis did?
In my view it is. Let me explain by an example. Have you ever come across a school situation where students in a classroom have been told that there will be no teacher provided to teach them for a full year and instead the students will have to seek instruction, on their own, from the
text -book provided to them? No, you haven't! The students can do without the text book but not without a teacher. The text book is secondary to the teacher. The teacher can work around the text book. In poor countries, classroom instruction is carried out in the absence of classroom, supplies, textbooks, school libraries, computers, etc, and yet the 'students learn. This shows that a teacher is indispensable to the classroom but the text book is not. In this classroom example, the teacher is analogous to the Imam, an ever-living guide; the textbook is analogous to the Holy Book, the Quran. In short, you can do without the Quran but not without the Imam from the progeny of the Prophet and Imran.
Here is an example of my own personal experience to further validate my point::
My friend's family and mine were visiting New York for the first time. Once in New York, I rented a van and chose to go around with a tour guide. My friend refused to have a tour guide, and so he decided to rent a separate van and depend on the city map to guide him. At the end of our trip when we compared our experiences, all I heard from him was sour grumbling about their frustrations over some major and minor roads under repair, quite a few detours; hours wasted in poring over the map and its tiny, non-readable print; hours wasted in finding destinations; stopping at every gas station to chock if they were on track; often being told they took the wrong exit; and that they could not visit most of the places that they had planned for the tour. The verdict was that the whole trip was "lousy".
While in our case, we enjoyed our trip immensely. The tour guide sat behind the wheel of our van and took charge. Did we ever open the city map during the tour? Not once! We resigned ourselves to the tour guide. All we did was relax and enjoy the tour. He knew the city well so he was aware of all road closures and detours. My friend's city map had no updates on it.
The tour guide, here, can be compared to the Imam of the time, whose job it is to guide us according to the changing times, and make our journey to spiritual salvation easy and obstacle-free. Our path is straight and easy to travel because of his presence.
The city map can be compared to the Holy Book, the Quran. Just as the map alone could not prove itself of any significant help to my friend, so also, the Holy Book, the Quran alone cannot be of much help. On the contrary, the Holy Book, when used without, its. legitimate interpreter, can prove harmful, and at times, even dangerous. Haven't you heard of the killing of Muslim women in Algeria for violating a so-called Islamic dress code? Aren't you aware of the primitive Taliban government in Afghanistan in the recent past where the so-called Islamic laws were being rammed -down people's throats, the most recent being the destruction of Buddha's statutes though Buddha is accepted in Islam as one of Allah's prophets!
5. You make a lot of sense! Are Shia Ismailis the same as the Ithnashari Shias of Iran?
No! Historically, there was only one Shia faction at the beginning when the first split occurred at the time of the Prophet's death. Then, after every few generations, a minor or major split would occur in the Shia sect and thus there occurred quite a few Shia sub-sects with their own distinct schools of thought. One major split occurred over the succession of Imam Jaffer, the fifth Imam. Those who believed in his designated elder son Ismail came to be known as Ismailis, and those who believed in his younger son Mussa al-Kazim came to be known as Ithnasharis which means Twelvers.
6. Why were they called Twelvers?
Because the line of their Imams ended upon the death of the eleventh Imam who had no son to succeed him, so this sect then claimed that their - twelfth Imam was born but went into hiding and has lived unseen- ever since.
7. So, how is the Ismaili sect different from the other Shia sects?
The Ismaili sect is the only sect that has had a living hereditary successor from the progeny of the Prophet and Ali to guide the believers in the esoteric interpretation of the faith at all times. Not a single generation over the last 1400 years has been deprived of spiritual and worldly guidance. Our Imam is called "Imam-e-zaman" which means Imam of the time. Allah's Noor (Light) resides in the body of the current Imam as it did in all his predecessors. Allah did not stop talking to or guiding mankind after the Prophet's death. The Imam, for the Ismaili believers,- is a reflection of Divine Reality in this world.
In the absence of "Imam-e-zaman", all the other Shia sects relied and still rely on their Mullahs (priests) or Shaykhs (so called learned people) for the interpretation of the Holy Quran and spiritual guidance. Consequently, there are disagreements and differences in the understanding and interpretation of the faith of Islam with everyone feeling qualified to interpret the faith. While in the case of Shia Ismaili Muslims, the interpretation of the Holy Quran is the sole prerogative of the Imam of the time, who interprets the faith according to the changing times and adapts it wherever and whenever necessary without compromising its fundamental principles of religious practice.
8. You said that only you Ismailis have the Imam of the time. What about Imam Khomeini of ban?
The word Imam has more than one meaning. One who leads a prayer in
a mosque is also called Imam. One who preaches the faith (Khomeini for instance) is also an Imam (leader). We Ismailis use the word Imam to mean one who is a direct and hereditary descendant of Ali who was divinely appointed to succeed the Prophet and then designated as such by the Prophet. Seed after seed, as Abraham was promised, our Imams have come down in an unbroken line and have always been present amongst us. We can trace our Imam's ancestry back not only to Abraham but also to Adam and beyond.
As I explained earlier, the Shias of Iran were with us until the fifth Imam. Then they split and believed in the brother of the designated Imam. After a few generations, they claimed that their 12th Imam went into hiding and has lived all these 1300 years among us, unseen but seeing, and will appear when time is ripe. Since they had no hereditary Imam present amongst them, they had to settle, for those who wanted to assume the leadership of their faith, such as Khomeini, so Khomeini was an Imam in that sense.
9. So what's wrong with an Imam going into hiding? Isn't that possible?
No! Not according to the Ismaili school of thought! Anything that doesn't make sense is unlslamic and so unacceptable to us. Here, it's quite appropriate to quote M. D. Donalson, a renowned Christian historian who said:
"Islam is almost alone among the religions of the word in addressing itself to man's reason and demanding that he should accept religious belief only upon the grounds of convincing argument and not mere claim and -supposidon.
According to the Ismailis, the Imam of the time 'has to be present at all times to interpret the faith and guide the faithful. Since guiding the faithful on the right path is the Imam's major function, he cannot afford to go into hiding, particulary such a long-term hiding. His continued presence among his believers is paramount for their spiritual guidance and well-being. In the other Shia sects, when the legitimate Imam was not there, the clergy took over and as a result there was confusion and chaos. The US/Iran hostage crisis of the eighties and its prolonged aftermath is a good example of such a chaos.
10. Is there any evidence in your Holy Book to support this idea of the continued presence of a hereditary Imam?
Yes. Verse 3:33,34 of the Quran says:
"Allah (God) did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran above all people - a line of descendants, one succeeding the other, and Allah heareth and knoweth all things.
Our present 49th Imam, His Highness Karim Agakhan is the direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad. Our last Israeli prophet was Jesus (as.). Prophet Muhammad was from the progeny of Ishmael, the elder son of Abraham, while all the Israeli prophets were from the progeny of Isaac, the younger son of Abraham.
The Ismaili Imams have come down in an unbroken line in direct descent from Prophet Muhammad. Judge Russel upheld the direct descent claim of His Highness the Agakhan III in a British High Court and endorsed his claim as the 48th legitimate successor to the Prophet as authentic. By the way, the title of "His Highness" was conferred upon our. 48th and 49th Imam by the British government.
11. Is there any other supporting evidence that the Imam should be present at all times?
Yes. History records that the Prophet told an assembly of about 140,000 Muslims after his Farewell Pilgrimage to hold fast to the Quran and his designated successor, Ali, and his descendants. He told the gathering that they would remain on the right path and would never go astray provided they obeyed his instructions. He -said All and the. Quran would never separate. This is also mentioned in the Encyclopedia of Islam by Huston Smith.
12. Are there any other countries who know the- Ismaili Muslims and the Agakhan?
Yes. World leaders and community of nations have taken admirable notice of Prince Karim Agakhan's humanitarian contributions in the fields of education, architecture, health and economic development. It is ironic that this Shia Ismaili Muslim leader has been bestowed upon with honours by the community of nations which are predominantly non-Muslim. Let me list a few here:
Commandeur, Ordre du Merite Mauritanien (1960)
Grande Croix: Order of Prince Henry the Navigator, Portugal (1960)
L'Ordre National de la Cote d1voire (1965)
L'Ordre National de la Haute-Volta(1965)
L'Ordre Malagache (1966)
L'Ordre du Croissant Vert des Commores (1966)
Grand Cordon, Order, of the Taj, Iran (19 66)
Nishan-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan (1970)
Cavaliere di Gran Croce della Republica Italiana (1977)
Grand Officier, L'Ordre National Du Lion, Senegal (1982)
Grand Cordon, Ouissam-al Arch, Morocco (1986)
Gold Medal, Spain (1987)
Cavaliere del Lovaro, Italy (198
Doctor of Law (Honorary), Peshawar University,. Pakistan, (1967)
Doctor of Law (Honorary), Sindh University, Pakistan, (1970)
Doctor of Law (Honorary), McGill University, Canada, (1983)
Doctor of Law (Honorary),, McMaster University, Canada, (1987)
Commandeur Legion d'Honneur, France (1990)
Honour of being invited to deliver baccalaureate address to the Class
of 1996 at the Brown University, RI, U.S.
To enlighten you further, I am quoting the following, courtesy of ISLAMS QUIET REVOLUTIONARY by Akberally Thobhani:
"Nations and world leaders, Muslims and non-muslims, in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America,- by bestowing these honours, have, indeed, recognized the deep value of the positive and peaceful contributions made by Prince Karim and the Ismailis in the contemporary world.
King Juan Carlos of Spain, in awarding the country's first Gold Medal to a non-Spaniard, commended Prince Karim Agakhan for his contribution to the conservation and development of the profession of Architecture.
President Francois Mitterand of France, in awarding France's highest honour, established by Napoleon in 1802, stated that France was recognizing a long tradition of distinguished service to humanity. Italy, a seat of the Vatican, has awarded Prince Karim two of its highest honours -for his major contribution to that country's economy.
It must be pointed out that many of these national honours are usually awarded to heads of state only, and rarely to private individuals. In addition, Prince Karim has been honoured by the United Nations, the Smithonian Institute, and numerous other national and international, professional, and service-oriented organizations in Muslim and non-Muslim countries.
In the United states, Prince Karim was the first-time recipient of the prestigious Jefferson Foundation Medal ever given to a patron of architecture along with the American Institute of arts award."
I shall cut short by saying that the Agakhan has been well-received at the White House from the days of President Kennedy.
13. Is it true that his grandfather, His Highness the Agakhan III, your 48th Imam was a man of eminence, internationally, and also like a family member at the Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace?
- He was twice President of the League of Nations.
-He had a long-standing friendship which turned out to be life-long (over 34 years) with the Prince of Wales (later King George V) and Queen' Mary. He was the king's confidante and a frequent informal luncheon guest of the family at Bukingham Palace. The king, and his father before him, constantly associated with the Agakhan, then only a young man of nineteen, just to discuss and listen to his views on international affairs, and also to socialize with him.
-On one occasion, he was invited to an audience with Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, at Windsor Castle. The only person in the room during this first
audience was his old patron, the Duke of Connaught. The Queen knighted the Agakhan but observed that she would not expect him to kneel or receive the accolade since he was a prince himself and the descendant of many kings. A little later, he was bidden to stay the night at the Castle and dine with her Majesty. At dinner, he sat between the Queen and her daughter, Princess Beatrice. Other several high officers of State were, also, present. One among them, was Lord Chancellor, the Earl of Halsbury. After dinner, the Queen gave the Agakhan a jewelled portrait of herself, decorated with the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, and the harp of Ireland- and the harp was in emeralds.
-During this visit, the Agakhan made the acquaintance of various other members of the British Royal Family. First among them was the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VI. He took to the Agakhan at once, and had him made an honorary member of his own club, the Marlborough Club, and some months later, early in 1899, he himself nominated him for full membership. In those days membership of the Marlborough, thus conferred, had a special social and personal significance; one was stamped, as it were, as a personal friend of the Prince of Wales.
-The Agakhan presented three separate addresses at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria who was a very dear friend to him.
-When Edward VI, ascended the British throne, the Agakhan was -honoured with a personal invitation to his Coronation in 1902. On this occasion the king bestowed on him the title of G.C.I.E. This was an addition to the existing title of K.C.I.E.
-When back in India, the Agakhan was surprised with a letter from the Viceroy, Lord Curzon requesting him to become a member of his Legislative Council. The Agakhan thought it was a considerable honour for a young man in his twenties. He accepted.
-After his two year term, he was offered another term of two years, but he refused.
-When king George V ascended the British throne in 1912, the magnificent Durbar was held in Delhi. The King-Emperor personally bestowed on the
Agakhan the highest decoration which it was possible for any Indian subject of the Crown to receive, making him a Knight Grand Commander of the Star of India.
14. Is it true Queen Victoria had your 48th Imam Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah the honour to sit on the throne that she had designated for Jesus Christ at a royal banquet in the presence of scores of foreign ambassadors but the news of the incident was suppressed and given no publicity?
I have seen a clipping of Saint Gazette of 22nd July, 1898 in which this incident was reported.
15. Was His Highness the Agakhan III an Indian national?
Yes! He was of Persian extraction but born in Karachi which was part of the Indian sub-continent.
16. One day, while reading THE AGAKHAN AND HIS ANCESTORS by Naoroji Dumasia, I was amazed to discover that the Agakhan III had played a major and Vital role, from laying the groundwork for India's independence to, ultimately, bringing it to fruition. How is it that history has not depicted him as a major role-player?
As for the Agakhan remaining a silent worker and seeking no credit or recognition, I can only say that our Imams only focus on humanitarian work and never on recognition in any form. So are we also exhorted by them to do. They insist that when the Lord is pleased with someone, He presents him with opportunities to serve mankind.
17. Considering the close life-long ties he enjoyed with the British monarchy and the British Government since his teenage years, and also considering the manifold honours and marks of distinction conferred upon this widelyrespected Imam of the Ismailis, it would be but logical to conclude that the Agakhan must have exerted considerable influence on the British government and monarchy for India's independence. And yet how amazing that the Agakhan had never been linked with India's independence as he should have. Why was this so?
You have repeated, here, your question #13 In a slightly different way. I can only speculate the answer for you! Because he had to practise what he preached.
18. And, what's that?
Just focus on good work. Expect no rewards or recognition. That's what Lord Krishna preaches in the holy Geeta, and Allah preaches in the Quran. While you insist so much on worldly rewards and recognition which are but ephemeral, I'm aptly reminded, here of what our present Imam, the Agakhan IV, said during his television interview on MAN AUVE, when asked how he would like, to be remembered for his invaluable services to humankind. I'll paraphrase: He said he would not like to be remembered by face or by name. Instead, he would like his humanitarian work to be continued even after he -was long gone.
19. Noble, indeed! Was your 48th Imam. hold in such high esteem by other. nations, too?
Yes. The Sultan of Zanzibar bestowed on him the highest order in his gift, the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar. The German Emperor, Kaiser, awarded him the Royal Prussian Order of the Crown (First Class). He returned the insignia when Germany engaged in World War 1, (1914) against Britain and her Allies.
The Agakhan placed his own services and those of the Muslim world including those of the subjects of British India at the disposal of the British and her Allies against Germany.
His own son Prince Aly Khan took a commission in a British Yeomanry Regiment and with official approval had been attached to the French forces in Syria.
20. Is service to the United Nations a family tradition?
Yes, it is! Service to mankind is and has been the mission of our Imams
throughout our history. His son' :Prince Sadruddin Agakhan served the United Nations as a commissioner for Refugees for several years for a token salary of $1 a year. The present Agakhan's younger brother, Prince Aminmohammed also served the United Nations for several years. President Ronald Regan and the first lady stayed at the present Agakhan's villa in Geneva (1985) for several days while attending a historic meeting with Soviet leader Michail Gorbachev.
21. I am just flabbergasted upon finding out that a Shia Muslim Imam and their family are held in such high esteem, world-wide, while we in the Occident recoil from the very word "Shia." The word conjures up images of American hostages in Iran in the eighties. Why aren't the masses in the Occident ever made aware of the meritorious work of Shia Ismaili Muslims and their highly respected Imams?
Because the western media is so prejudiced against Islam that it misses
no available opportunity to use the volatility in a few middle eastern regions to brand the faith of Islam as violent. Strangely enough, never have the media ever confused the IRA activities and bombings in Ireland with the faith of Christianity, nor the bombings in Oklahoma City by those two Waco members. This is a double standard. Sensational reporting and not truthful reporting is their objective where Islam is- concerned. In short the West practises bad journalism'.
22. Would you enumerate some of the activities of the Ismaili community?
Certainly! Three major areas of Ismaili focus throughout history were: promoting learning and research; establishing health and social programs; promoting economic growth for self-sufficiency and improving the qualityof life for the have-nots around the world without consideration to race, creed, or color.
One of many examples, The Agakhan Foundation has a network of Primary Health Care projects in a predominantly Christian Keny, mostly in rural areas, with emphasis upon immunization, growth monitoring, community health-worker training, school health and clean water supply, nutrition of children under five years old and women of child-bearing age. Countless similar projects are undertaken in other third world countries, also:
-There are 230 Agakhan health centres in the third - world countries
-There are 5 Agakhan maternity homes
-There are 5 large Agakhan hospitals
-There is an Agakhan University hospital in Karachi affiliated with the Harvard University, Boston, U.S.; McGill, and McMaster Universities of Canada
-There are 300 Agakhan schools
-Numerous economic development-related projects are undertaken to improve the quality of life for the less fortunate in the under-developed countries
While on the subject of his service to humanity, it would be quite appropriate to quote from the address of our 49th Imam, His Highness the Agakhan, IV.
"There are those who enter the world in such poverty that they are deprived of both the means and the motivation to improve their lot Unless they can be touched with the spark which ignites the spirit of individual enterprise and determination, they will only sink into apathy, degradation and despair it is for us who are more fortunate to provide the spark. We will not let bigotry, communalism, or sectarianism make our lives inwardlooking and increasingly meaningless.
I can proudly say that a few of the lecturers and professors at the universities such as Harvard, Boston; McMaster, Hamilton; Alberta, Edmonton, are Ismaili Muslims and the product of the Agakhan Schools in Kenya.
I can, also, proudly say that one of the earliest universities, AI-Azhar, was built by the Ismaili Muslims in Egypt, 1000 years ago, at a time when Europe was still living in the "Dark Ages," It is still there. Alluding to this medieval period, Mr., Mulroney, ex-Prime Minister of Canada, paid the Agakhan and the Ismaili community a tribute for being in the vanguard of learning and education at the opening ceremony of the Ismaili centre in Burnaby, Vancouver, in 1,985.
In the context of this early period let me recall the words of Wallace K. Ferguson:
"In this Islamic empire, composed of many varied races held together by a common religion, there grew up in the following centuries a civilization higher and in many respects more enlightened than that of early medieval Europe, and one from which the peoples of the West learned much."
Another important historian, H.G. Wells, in a comprehensive survey of the world's history, states: "The light of Islamic universities shone far beyond the Muslim world and drew students from east and west. At Cordoba, in particular there were great numbers of Christian students, and the influence of Arab philosophy coming by way of Spain upon universities of Paris, Oxford, and North Italy, and upon western European thought was very considerable,-- indeed."
By the way, Science, Culture, Philosophy, Astronomy" Medicine, and other learning flourished during the 200 years of the Ismaili rule in Spain until the invasion of Fernidad and Isabella who destroyed all the Muslim works they could find in Spain. Robert R. Gullick writes:
"The most tragic event in History is that of the baffle of Poitiers, when the Science, the Art and the civilization of Arabia fell before the barbarism of Franks."
23. How does the Agakhan carry out his numerous philanthropic projects?
Through the Agakhan Foundation network. The highly respected
American Newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, in discussing the Agakhan's development-related work, the author, Edward Giradet, described his network as one of the most highly regarded non- governmental organizations in the developing world. The results of his development projects have been so impressive, successful, and economically effective that they could provide excellent models for replication elsewhere in the world. (The Christian Science Monitor, Dec.27, 198
The Agakhan and the Ismailis have always believed in the dignity of individual man or woman, and, to see that dignity upheld, they would much rather direct their efforts and resources to help the have-nots acquire economic independence. The aim is to teach the person how to catch a fish rather than provide him with one. The Agakhan Foundation has been applauded many times over for its stupendous success in achieving this goal in the third world countries. One underlying greatness of, the Foundation's work is its total commitment to humankind as one universal brotherhood where religious beliefs have no bearing or any role to play.
If you recall, when Christian missionaries such as Dr. Livingstone and others explored Africa, their humanitarian services went hand in hand with -converting the indigenous population to the Christian faith. The Agakhan Foundation sets no such conditions.
24. I still don't understand why a religious leader such as the Agakhan, who is truly a hereditary descendant of Prophet Muhammad, would get involved in worldly affairs such as international politics, business ventures, and investments? Shouldn't such a figure be divorced from the world and its material aspects?
You do believe in the Biblical King David, don't you? Wasn't he king and prophet, both at once?
You do believe in the Biblical King Solomon, don't you? Wasn't he king and prophet, both at once?
We are Muslims. Prophet Muhammad himself was a merchant, economically productive and a good example of self-dependency. Islam says be economically productive and share that which is surplus. Hoarding of wealth is forbidden.
25. Isn't it odd that such a glorious faith as Islam permits four wives, thus encouraging polygamy?
Islam is still shy of 96 wives to stand at par with Prophet David who had 100 wives. And yet, you and I both believe in Prophet David and have no quarrel with him. Your statement should be examined in the context of the society of preIslamic times. Arab tribes. constantly waged wars with one another. Men who were also husbands, fathers, breadwinners, and guardians would get killed and leave
behind hosts of their dependents unprovided for. All this would result in a formidable societal crisis. In the midst of such a chaos Muhammad was chosen as Allah's messenger to reform these people. He eradicated the tribal differences and made them all brothers. In order to provide for the womenfolk left widowed and children left fatherless, the Quran allowed men to marry four wives provided all wives were treated alike. This divine injunction permitting four wives totally eliminated any possibility of desolate widows resorting to prostitution to financially support themselves and their fatherless children. The Prophet also emphasized in the strongest terms adopting orphans to achieve spiritual salvation.
26. So, are you suggesting that the divine revelation for four wives was relevant to that period only?
Yes! Or, if any of the primitive past resurfaces now or in the future. For instance, after what happened in Bosnia and Kosovo, during the recent wars, a large number of womenfolk became widows and refugees. Their
menfolk were tortured and killed in large numbers by Serjevo leaders during their ethnic cleansing spree. Given the shortage of men, which would be a better solution for those women? To opt for prostitution or Islamic polygamy?
Besides, we must remember that this is a social and not religious problem. Any divine revelation of such nature can be adapted, repealed or enforced by the hereditary Imam who is always present to guide his followers in changing times. Would you say the times have not changed since the time of Prophet Muhammad?
27. Beautiful and rational! That's how Islam now looks to me! But, what would your Imam say to you if you wanted to marry four wives in Canada?
He would, I'm sure, raise his eyebrows and ask me to respect and abide by the laws of the land as he has always repeatedly told us.
28. So, there's no way you can indulge in polygamy?
29. Does the Ismaili faith believe that those who are not in its fold will go to hell?
Not at all! The Quran says:
"Those who have believed, and the Jews, the Christians and the Sabaeans, whosoever believe in God and the Last Day and act righteously, they shall have their requital from their Lord and shall neither fear nor grieve. " (2:62, 5:69) The words of this above revelation are echoed in the statement made by our 48th Imam, His Highness Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah in his MEMOIRS.
"And I further pray that all who truly and sincerely believe in God, be they Christian, Jew, Buddhist or Brahmin, who strive to do good and avoid evil, who are gentle and kind, will be joined in Heaven and be granted final pardon and peace."
The emphasis is on good actions. There is a reward for good deeds and consequence for bad ones, which all boils down to accountability.
Unreasonably, there's no accountability for our actions in Christianity since Jesus' blood is the
30. Do you Ismailis have any quarrel with Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc'?
Not at all! Our 48th Imam, His Highness the Agakhan III, wrote in his MEMOIRS:
"All Islamic schools of thought accept it as a fundamental principle that for centuries, before the advent of Muhammad, there arose from time to time, messengers illumined by divine grace, for and among those races of the earth which had sufficiently advanced intellectually to comprehend such a message, thus Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all the prophets of Israel are universally accepted by Islam. Muslims, indeed, know no limitation merely to the prophets of Israel, they are ready to admit that there were similar Divinely-inspired messengers in other countries- Gautama Buddha, Shri Krishna, and Shri Rama in India, Socrates in Greece, the wisemen of China, and many other sages and saints among peoples and civilizations of which we have now lost trace. Thus, man's soul has never been left without a specially inspired messenger from the Soul that sustains, -embraces, and is the Universe."
31. Then what need was there for a Divine revelation to Muhammad?
The answer is again found in the MEMOIRS of our 48th Imam, and I quote: "The answer of Islam is precise and clear. In spite of its great spiritual strength, Jewish monotheism has retained two characteristics which render it essentially different from Islamic monotheism, God has remained, in spite of all, a national and racial God for the children of Israel, and his personality is entirely separate from its supreme manifestation, the Universe.
In far distant countries such as India and China, the purity of the faith in the one God had been so vitiated by polytheism, by idolatry and even by a pantheism which was hardly distinguishable from atheism, that these popular and folk-lore religions bore but little resemblance to that which emanated from the true and pure God-head.
Christianity lost its strength and, meaning for Muslims in that it saw its great and glorious founder not as a man but as God incarnate in man, as God made in Flesh. Thus, there was an absolute need for the Divine Word's revelation, to Mohammed himself, a man like the others, of God's person and of his relations to the Universe which he had created.'"
32. Is Ismaili Islam only 1400 years old?
No! It is as old as the Creation itself. Excepting Satan, all the other angels that bowed to Adam practised Islam and were Muslims because they submitted to Allah's command. Islam has existed under different labels prior to the advent of Muhammad. What Muhammad preached was Ismaili Islam. What all his predecessors such as Jesus, Moses, David, Abraham, Noah, and Adam preached was Ismaili Islam. The Quran calls them all Muslims. Two of the many verses revealed to this effect were: "He (Allah) hath ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which He commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and be not divided therein. " (chapt 42 verse 13)
The Prophet is asked to tell the people:
"Say. We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which was given unto Moses and Jesus and the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims to Him" (111: 84)
8000 years ago, before the advent of our Biblical Adam, there existed and flourished a civilization on the soil of the Indian sub-continent. At this time in history, Ismaili Islam existed under the divinely inspired Buddha (not Gautama Buddha), and before him under Krishna, and before him under Rama. The Ismaili Islam traces itself further back to the time when there was nothing but aquatic life. There is a verse in the Quran which says: "in the beginning, Allah's throne was on water." (14:7) This further indicates how well Ismaili Islam and Science are in harmony with each other. Christianity claims the Creation is 6000 years old -as old as Adam- which is scientifically inaccurate. Ismaili Islam claims it is billions of years old and that there have been hundreds of Adams before the Biblical Adam, and this Ismaili theory is in agreement with the present scientific data. Adam in Arabic simply means anything made out of clay and water. We are all Adams of our time.
Ismaili Islam traces itself back to the Big Bang. And in every age there has been a living guide present to show the right path to those who wished to achieve spiritual salvation. In every age humanitarian work and not prayers have been emphasized as the principal requisite for spiritual salvation. Prayer without action becomes pride and bears no desired fruits. 1400 years ago, the Quran and the the sermons of Imam Ali told us of the Big Bang, describing how the universe came into existence while scientists have just recently confirmed the Big Bang to be the beginning of the universe.
33. But, how could Islam be as old as the Creation itself when we all know it was founded by Muhammad only 1400 years ago?
The Arabic word Islam, which means peace and submission to the will of God, may be 1400 years old, but that does not mean that the concept of Islam is only 1400 years old. Islam existed before the birth and arrival of Muhammad even during the period of all the prophets that preceded Muhammad as I proved to you from two Quranic verses. Islam was not unique to Muhammad. The word Islam is simply an Arabic term. Allah called Jesus, Moses, and Abraham Muslims in the Quran because they all practised Islam -peace and submission - to His Vill at all times. All those angels that prostrated before Adam practised Islam for they submitted to the will of God.
34. Do you mean to say all the afore-mentioned religions were true?
Yes, they were in their own time. There is only one God, with only one religion, one truth, and one message for mankind, but there have been innumerable messengers who brought this message and took it to various parts of the globe to those who needed it. The Quran testifies to that. Different religions sprang up because of different messengers though the messengers did not intend for this to happen. Every outgoing messenger foretold his successor, so it was not the messengers but only the self- seeking clergy and people who were responsible for different religions on this earth. Call it the politics of the faith, if you will.
35. You certainly make a lot of sense! How are all the numerous humanitarian projects undertaken by the Agakhan and the Ismailis supported, financially?
-by the generous donations by the Agakhan himself
-by the tithe (zakat) offered to the Imam by his Ismaili followers around
-by the grants given by CIDA of Canada and also European countries.
36. Is the tithe offered to the Imam for the purpose of running his humanitarian projects?
Not at all! Tithe is one of the fundamentals of Islam and the Ismaili faith and is offered unconditionally by the believer for spiritual salvation. Tithe is also found in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and other faiths. When an Ismaili follower offers tithe, he sincerely hopes the Imam would apply it to his personal use. But the Imam returns it manifold to initiate and support more and more humanitarian projects around the world. When divinely- authorized leadership lacks, such as in other faiths, a massive amount, of tithe money can be misappropriated by the recipients. The examples of such notoriety involving Christian TV evangelists such as Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Bakker are a few of many such scandals still so vivid and fresh in our mind. In the cases of these evangelists, monies sent to them by the gullible, caring masses were not for their personal use, they were only the trustees. In the Ismaili faith the Imam is not a trustee. He is the owner and legitimate recipient of the tithe, but of his own free will, he decides to utilise it for the welfare of the less fortunate on this globe.
37. Do you Ismailis turn your faces to Mecca when offering prayers?
No, we don't.
38. Why not?
Because the Quran doesn't require it! I'd much rather go straight to the Quran for guidance in this matter.
"To God belongs the East and West. Withersoever ye turn, there is the presence Of God. For God is all-pervading, All-Knowing (2. 115)
39. Do you mean to say there is absolutely no injunction to turn your face to Mecca?
There certainly is. But it has nothing to do with the three mandatory prayers (salats). Let me quote the verse and you judge for yourself!
"From whencesoever thou startest forth, turn thy face in the Direction of the Sacred Mosque. That is, indeed, the truth From thy Lord. And God is not unmindful of what you do" ( 2: 149)
The verse is not stipulated for prayer purposes. It doesn't have the word "salat," which means prayer, anywhere. There is an esoteric meaning to this verse. Let's first examine and demonstrate the literal meaning:
You are expected to turn your face to the Sacred Mosque in Mecca as soon as you start off to go some place. And if you try to observe this verse literally, you could place yourself in a dangerous situation. For example:
Lets say you are driving west to work in the morning. According to the verse, you are supposed to have your face turned to Mecca (east). If you are travelling west doing what the verse says, you will soon trigger multiple accidents and car pile ups; you were looking back while driving forward. You are a hazard to motorists. How impractical!
Another example of literal (exoteric) meaning:
Let's say you are a pedestrian abiding by this verse of the Quran. You are walking west while looking to the east. Is it practical? You are puffing your own life at risk. You could be easily run over! This kind of Islam is impractical and very hard to practise, while the Quran says Islam is very easy to practise.
The verses of the Quran have both exoteric and esoteric meanings and only those, divinely authorized, can interpret them for us. Now let's examine the esoteric meaning:
The Quran has exalted the Kaba in Mecca to a high position because the Sacred Mosque is located, there, and Kaba is exalted because Ali (AS), the first divinely appointed Imam and successor to the Prophet was born there, in the Mosque itself. It's a historical fact and accepted by all Muslims, alike. The Kaba is holy because of Ali. Every succeeding Ismaili Imam is Ali and the bearer of Allah's Noor (light). So, esoterically, the above verse wants us to have in our hearts the remembrance of Ali at all times and during whatever activities. we ate engaged in, eg. travelling, walking, driving, flying, etc. Doing this is practical and doesn't get us into trouble with the traffic-law or endanger our lives. Such an esoteric interpretation is possible only when the legitimate Imam of the time is present.
-Allah's Quran is valid for all times and for all places. Can a Muslim who goes to the moon, or any other planet ever turn his face to Mecca at prayer time? If not, will he then not say his prayer?
So, as I said, the Kaba implied here is Ali.
40. Do you mean to say that the Sacred Mosque owes its exalted position to Ali because he was born inside of it?
Yes! That certainly is our logical belief! History records that, one day, Ali's pregnant mother, Fatima Binte Asad was caught in an emergency child-birth situation just when she was by Kaba's Sacred Mosque. Her labour pains started and she didn't know what to do. Just then, she heard a voice inviting her to take shelter inside the Sacred Mosque. But, how could she go in? The door was locked! Just then, a wall miraculously split open to afford her entry. Once she was inside, the wall closed, and soon Ali was born. Not only was Ali born in the Sacred Mosque, but he also died a martyr decades later when struck with a poisoned sword while praying in a mosque. There is a Quranic verse which is called Hadi-se-Qudsi in which Allah told Muhammad.,
"Had it not been for thee, I would not have created the world! And, had it not been for Ali, I would not have created thee.
In other words, the Prophet owed his existence to that of Ali. If there was no Ali, there would be nq Muhammad, and if there was no Muhammad, there would be no universes. What more do we need to be convinced that the Kaba is holy because of Ali, though it's a general Muslim belief that the Kaba is holy because it was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael. If this be the case, its still OK with me, because Abraham, Ishmael, and Ali are one and the same to me. Allah says "make no distinctions among my prophets.
Now compare this miracle wifth the treatmeht*Jesus'moth . r.M re a.ygotwhen placed in a similar childbirth situation about 600 years before Ali was born. When pregnant with Jesus, virgin Mary was turned away by the townsfolk who falsely accused her of immoral conduct and considered her a bad oxample to their children. Forlorn and abandoned, Mary retired to a stable where she gave birth to Jesus. And yet, she was a woman who was "chosen above women of all nations" as per a Quranic verse. Such an honour even the Bible has not bestowed on Mary.
Just compare the treatment Allah gave to Ali's mother with that which He gave Jesus! mother! Ali's mother was invited inside Kaba's mosque, while Jesus' mother was left alone to solve her ownW-bblem. Ali was chosen to be born in the Kaba while Jesus in a stable. And yet, the Quran has called Jesus Allah's mighty messenger and has endorsed his miracles. Didn't Jesus, according to the Bible, invoke the name of Ali? : "Oh, Effi, why have you deserted me?" All was above all the prophets. The Kaba is exalted only because of Ali.
As an Ismaili Muslim I am shocked every time I hear the news of wars and bloodshed over the so called "holy lands," the inanimate earth and terrain, be it Mecca or Jerusalem. Holier than those lands, to my mind, are the human lives because the divine spark flickers inside human bodies and not in the grounds of those "holy lands." And yet, man senselessly destroys human lives to protect those so called "holy lands." Allah's message came for people; His messengers, also, came for people and not for the land on which those people lived, and yet the land is always mistakenly hallowed and given precedence over the people. The slogan is: KM the people, but protect the holy land. How much more distorted can man's thinking get!
Allah says in the Quran that He "speaks in parables" and, therefore, a divinely authorized interpreter is simply indispensable when clarification on a Quranic verse, such as the above one, is needed. With such an interpreter around, Islam is, indeed, very easy to practise.
41. Do Ismaili Muslims go to Mecca on pilgrimage? One pilgrimage in a lifetime is a must, isn't it?
I can only answer for myself. No, I don't. One of the Prophets authentic hadiths (sayings) says:
"if you provide a needy pupil with a pencil to write with, Allah will bless you with a reward as big as seventy pilgrimages can afford." Although we are a minority within a minority, we, Ismaili Muslims, have gone way beyond just providing pencils! I have explained before that we've been building universities, schools at all levels, and also awarding scholarships. So, I hope, my pilgrimage has been covered by His mercy.
Moreover, as Jamshid explains on his internet write-up, our Hajj (pilgrimage) is performed also by seeking the deedar (glimpse) of the Imam of the time. Since his Noor is present in every Jamatkhana (prayer house), going to Jamatkhana -everyday is equal to performing hajj. As explained earlier, the Kaba in Mecca is holy because Ali was born there. For us, the Noor of Ali is present in the Jamatkhana which to us is our Mecca.
42. Do you Ismailis offer five prayers a day?
The Quran has prescribed only three regular prayers and we offer them daily at the prescribed times. To support my statement for three prayers, I refer you to the following Quranic Ayats (verses):
(11: 114; 2: 233; 3:191; 17: 7
43. Do you Ismailis abandon work at your workplace at prayer time and spread out your mat to pray while your employer is paying you for that time?
We practise our faith, esoterically, so while at work, at prayer time, I would remember the Lord just for a split second, which certainly would not interfere with my work or employees time. In our school of thought a moment's remembrance of Allah is a prayer in itself. Later, when at home, I would sit down and offer my full formal prayer. The Quran assures us that Islam is a faith very easy to practise, and this is only possible when
a divinely appointed interpreter from the Prophets progeny is present.
44. Isn't it unlslamic for Ismaili women not to cover their faces when in public?
No! The Quran has not asked for it. The Quran asks the believer of each sex to "lower your gaze and guard your chastity."
45. We often hear that Islam is repressive where women's rights are concerned. What is your comment?
Nonsense! Let me quote some non-Muslim writers in this context:
R. Roberts, Ph.D.: "Muhammad gave women the right to inherit, possess and acquire property in a way which is not enjoyed even by many modem women"
Jiwanlal Kapur (Bat-et-Law), a Hindu writes. "in England it was only in 1871 or thereabout that women were granted rights of property, where as Islam gave them these tights thirteen centuries ago."
Or. Annie Besant writes. "I often think that woman is more free in Islam than in Christianity. Woman is more respected by Islam than the faith that preaches monogamy. In the Quran, the law about women is more just and liberal. It is only in the last twenty years that Christian England has recognized the fight of women to property while Islam has allowed this tight from all times. It is a slander to say that Islam preaches that women have no souls."
1400 years ago the Prophet said it was the duty of every Muslim man and woman to seek learning
Prophet Muhammad's wife, Bibi Khadija, was a successful business woman before and after marriage, and our present Imam Shah Karim Agakhan alludes to her in his speech to his Ismaili audience thus:
"in this effort of enhancement, do not forget the importance of women in our Jamat (community). It is very important that, more and more, they should be associated with the thinking and the decision-making that takes place in our institutions in Pakistan and everywhere else. And I am convinced that this is the way it should be. Do not forget, do not forget the lesson of history in the life of Bibi Khadija. Her example is an important example for the women of Islam, and I think it is important that we should keep that always uppermost in our minds.
Eighty years ago, our 48th Imam, Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah strongly advised the Ismaili parents in all developing countries to educate the daughter instead of the son if they had the means sufficient only to educate one child. He believed that educating a daughter was equivalent to educating the whole family.
-,About eighty years ago, in March 1926, addressing his Jamat in Mombasa, Kenya, our 48th Imam Sultan Mohamed Shah said:
"I do not want to see Ismaili women dependent on anyone,, be their parents, husbands or anyone except God Give them such an education that they can manage their own lives. All the knowledge that is available in the world, all of it must remain open for girls to acquire and learn-"
In India in Transition, 1918, our 48th Imam declares his faith in the Indian woman, and I quote:
"Indian women are by no means wanting in natural intelligence, and with the confidence that comes of long observation, I assert that the Indian woman who has property and education manages the one and can use the other certainly as well as any man."
Is there any indication here that true Islam is repressive and forces woman to play second fiddle to man?
46. Truly amazing! So what we constantly hear about the repressive customs of some Muslim nations is not part of the faith of Islam?
Not one bit!
47. Quite a few Muslims have whispered to me that you Ismailis are not true Muslims! How would you react?
With silence! When such an irresponsible statement is made, silence is truly golden, under the circumstances. But for your satisfaction, I'll answer it at length. Islam is divided into 73 sects. There is a Prophet's saying, widely accepted by both, Sunni and Shia Islam, that the Prophet had said that the faith of his brother Moses divided into 71 sects and only one stayed on the right path; that of his brother Jesus divided into 72 sects and only one stayed on the right path; and he predicted that his own faith would divide into 73 sects after his death and only one would remain on the right path. Now, which of the 73 sects can claim, with certainty, that it is the one on the right path?
Every one of the 73 sects believes that it is on the right path. That does not necessarily mean that it is! There are several sub-sects in the Sunni sect alone. According to the Prophet, there is only one sect that is on the right path. Under such circumstances, every sect should be generous and tolerant enough to respect the belief of those from different schools of thought. The least they can do is to refrain from judging those who are not
in their camp. The Quran has a verse to this effect: '"Everyone to his religion
48. Has your Imam himself ever claimed he is the interpreter of the Quran for the Shia Ismaili Muslim sect?
Yes, indeed! When Arun Puree of INDIA TODAY, interviewed the present
Agakhan, he asked him:
a. As Imam of your sect, you are also an interpreter of the Quran for your followers, but on the other hand you are a man with a modem education and background. Now do you reconcile these two aspects on subjects like women's lights, family planning and other related matters?
b. As Imam of the Ismaili sect, I am in a position to adapt the teachings of the Quran to the modem condition. On the question of modernity, the issue is essentially whether one is affecting the fundamental moral fabric of society or whether one is affecting the fundamentals of religious practice. As long as these two, aspects are safe-guarded, the rest can be subject to adjustment.
49. What prompted you to renounce the Christian faith in favour of Islam?
The Bible, itself.
My parents were devout Christians. There was a Sunday school for us and regular Bible reading. Right from childhood, the Bible made no sense to me. At that time -I wondered why according to the Gospel of Mathew, Jesus had 26 ancestors in his genealogy, whereas he had 41 ancestors according to the Gospel of Luke! I also wondered why Joseph was mentioned as Jesus father in the genealogy when he (Jesus) was born of immaculate conception. Was the Bible really a word of God?
As I grew up, I began to critically analyze the Bible and found there was hardly anything spiritually or morally uplifting. There were scores of other things apart from the inaccuracies in the scientific and historic data. I became convinced the Bible could not be the word of God. I concurred with George Bernard Shaw, fully, when he wrote:
"The most dangerous book (the Bible) on earth, keep it under lock and key. "
The Bible we have today is not what Jesus preached. The gospel that Jesus preached was the Bible which never got recorded during his life time. What we have is mere heresay. The Quran testifies to this fact in chap 2 verse 79:
"And woe to those who write the book with their own hands
And then they say.*
"This is from Allah."
Then there were all kinds of biblical versions; some with several chapters eliminated. In some copies, Isaac has been called the only son of Abraham. And, in other copies, he is called the elder and Ishmael the younger son. Then I read the Quran. I read through the book, expecting to find the same kind of errors as in the Bible, for it was alleged by hostile Christian writers in the West that Prophet Muhammad was the author of the Quran, and that he had copied most of the Quran from the Bible. I read and re-read, but as I read and reflected, I stayed amazed, for it contained none of the incorrect historic or scientific data of the Bible. What's more, our dear Mary, the mother of Jesus, is referred to as "a woman chosen above women of all nations." Like any person of average intelligence, I wondered why this Prophet of Islam would choose Mary, a Jewess, for such high honour!
There is a chapter in the Holy Quran, named Sura Maryam (Chapter Mary) (XIX) named in honour of Mary. Such an honour is not to be found given to Mary even in the Christian Bible. Out of the 66 books of the Protestants and 73 of the Roman Catholics, not one is named after Mary or her son, Jesus.
If Muhammad was the author of the Holy Quran, then he would not have omitted to include In it the name of his own mother Amina, his dear wife Khadija, and his beloved daughter, Fatima. It does not make any sense why, Muhammad who was a Muslim would set aside the names of his loved ones and instead include the name of Mary, a Jewish woman, in the Holy Book of Islam which he is alleged to have authored! But the truth is that the Quran is not his handiwork. It is divine revelation. He had no choice but to reveal the Quran to us as it was revealed to him, whether he liked it or not, and he also ensured that the revelations of the Quran got recorded as soon as they were brought to him by Angel Gabriel.
If there is any more authentic book of divine revelation left on this earth, it is only the Quran and not the Bible. The Bible has been the most tampered book, revised and re-revised. Once a word of God is revised by humans, its no longer a word of God, though in the case of the Bible it never was ever a word of God, and that's why the gospels are preceded with the words "according to", for example, "the Gospel according to Mathew", or "the Gospel according to Luke," eta
Bible scholars continue to find errors and discrepancies in the Bible. A Christian magazine called AWAKE (September 08, 1957) had an article called 50,000 errors in the Bible. Even the original unrevised four books of the Bible were an account of hearsay by Mark, John, Luke, and Mathew. Michael Hart in his publication RANKING OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN HISTORY chose Muhammad to lead the list and placed Jesus third on that list. He explained that it was Paul who founded the Christianity as we know it today, and that Jesus had very little to do with it. Paul wrote quite a few books while Jesus never wrote a single word.
As for the Quranic revelations, they got recorded as soon as the Prophet received them. In fact Christians owe an enormous debt to Islam for Mary's vindication.
50. What do you mean by that?
Well, when virgin Mary was the talk of the town and accused of immoral conduct, which holy book came forward to defend her honour? None!
There's no holy book of any faith in which either Mary or Jesus are mentioned except the Bible and the Quran. Can the Bible defend her, today? No, because the Bible has no credibility. For effective testimony, you need a credible witness. Just as any altered testimony or hearsay account is inadmissible in any court of law so also should it be with the Bible! The Bible is too weak to defend Mary's honour! In a recent ABC TV broadcast, Peter Jennings ran a documentary called THE SEARCH FOR JESUS in which it was claimed that a good number of present-day Bible scholars believe Jesus was illegitimate. Most Christian scholars, archbishops, and priests, themselves do not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, and yet, strangely enough, all the one billion Muslims at this hour implicitly believe, in the virgin birth and Jesus' miracles. Why? Because the Quran endorses them.
The Quran has been termed authentic by Western scholars and scientists, such as Maurice Bucaille, and it has credibility among the learned. According to a Quranic verse, it was Jesus himself, while still a babe in his cradle, that responded to the accusing townsfolk. Upon seeing a babe, speaking like an adult, the townsfolk could not but back off and, eventually, believe in Mary's honour. Even today and since its revelation, it is the authentic Quran and not the interpolated Bible that has been found credible and effective enough to vindicate Mary. For Christians, the Quran is a sanctuary from slanderous attacks against Mary when skeptics, both Christian and non-Christian are questioning, like their forebears did, the truth of the virgin birth and Jesus' miracles.
51. What was it that babe Jesus said to the accusing townsfolk as per the Quran?
Something quite amazing! He said:
1. 1 am the servant of God.
2. He gave me the Book and made me a Prophet. .3. He made me blessed wherever I might be.
4. He enjoined on me the Prayer and Almsgiving as long as I am alive. 5. He enjoined on me to be kind to my mother
6. Peace be on me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I will be raised up again..
And as for my converting to Islam, let me clarify that I am a better Christian now, more enriched than ever. I have not distanced myself from Christ by accepting Islam, but instead I have come closer to him. In the same way any Jew who accepts Christ, gets closer to Moses. But any Jew who accepts Muhammad gets closer to Christ and Moses, both, for all these prophets form a chain of the brotherhood of prophets in which each prophet is a link. Therefore, just remember:
Any Christian denying Muhammad his prophrthood is no different from any Jew denying Jesus his prophethood just as every Christian is a better Jew, so also every Muslim is a better Christian. To put it simply: Christianity is the extension of Judaism, and Islam is the extension of Christianity and Judaism, both.
52. Very well put, indeed!. Quite a few non-Muslim scholars such as Gandhi and Michael Hames have highly commended Islam for racial equality and international brotherhood. Can you support this with any example from the life of the Prophet or your Imam?
Certainly! The most striking example is about the Prophet's companion, Bilal, who was a black slave whose freedom the Prophet had bought off from his Jewish master. Once free, he always stayed by the Prophet's side, an unprecedented honour for any person. The Prophet conferred upon Bilal the honour to call worshippers to prayer by sounding the call (Azan) from the top of the mosque. Some racist Arabs resented this, so the Prophet delivered a sermon in which he said:
"All men are divided into two categories.
1. The pious and God-fearing who are estimable in Allah's eyes.
2. The transgressors and hard-hearted who are lowly and contemptible in the eyes of Allah.
3. All humanbeings are the progeny of Adam, and Allah has created Adam out of clay. Prejudice has no room at all in true Islam. You asked for only one example, but I have one more. This one from the guidance of our 48th Imam. In the early fifties, our Imam Sultan Mohamed Shah, who was also once President of the United Nations, advised his Ismaili followers in East A
Joined: 11 Nov 2006 Posts: 31 Location: Afghanistan
Posted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 1:28 am Post subject:
Ya Ali Maddad
There is not the American Phd Name, nor the name of the interviewer.
Please mail me the name of the renounced person, the name of interviewer, the date and place of the interview and also the E-mail address of the renounced person.
Thank you for your cooperation.
It may be true and it may be from a Phd. I am sure it is probably very interesting.
But as a matter of Principle, I never even bother reading whatever is written anonymously. People should have the courage of their opinion and those who circulate should circulate with the name of the author, not with an alias.
Credibility is important and to know the source gives credibility. For example if I see a sentence saying "I will make peace with Cuba and Iran" and it is signed President Obama, the name gives credibility to what has been written. If the signature says "a PhD in Political science or a PhD in agriculture", it would not be the same credibility.
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