A Message to Our Beloved Ismaili Brothers and Sisters in Syria: Our Hearts and Prayers are With You, You are Never Alone!

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Salamiyah and surrounding areas shaded in yellow. Map: Adapted from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please click for enlargement.

Salamiyah and surrounding areas shaded in yellow. Map: Adapted by Simerg from a map produced by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please click for enlargement.

LETTER FROM PUBLISHER

In a special post on January 30, 2013, we had mourned the death of numerous members of the Jamat who were brutally killed in Salamiyah, Syria, by suicide bombers. Simerg had paid tribute to these Jamati members with a thoughtful poem (republished below), and sincerely hoped and prayed that peace would return to Syria.

For those not familiar with Ismaili history, the groundwork for the establishment of Fatimid Caliphate over a thousand years ago was laid in Salamiyah — such is its importance and place in Ismaili history. The 11th Imam, al-Mahdi, set out from Salamiyah in the late  ninth century for the long 3,500km caravan journey to Sijilmasa in North Africa, as a first step in establishing the Caliphate. For over 1200 years, Salamiyah (pop. 187,123, by 2004 census) has been home to tens of thousands of Ismailis, who have lived peacefully, side by side, with Sunni and other Shia Muslims as well as the non-Muslim communities. Indeed, the Ismaili Imamat projects in Syria are designed for the well-being and progress of the entire Syrian nation.

The recent beheadings of Westerners, as well as deeply humiliating treatment, torture and beheadings of Shia and Sunni Muslims opposed to IS (Islamic State), including the burning of a Jordanian air pilot captured by ISIS militants, indicate that the ISIS acts of barbarism are not likely to cease.

Letter to ISIS from Muslim scholarsWe now report with utmost dismay, sadness and profound sorrow that during the last 2 weeks, Ismailis along with members of Sunni and other Shia communities have become victims of IS terror once again. The website of the US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, reports in a new release dated April 3, 2015, that “ISIL recently massacred over 40 people in Mabuja in Hama province – reportedly Ismailis and Alawites, including women and children”. [2]

The Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, in his statement issued on April 2, noted that “…the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] has demonstrated its contempt for the sanctity of human life through its March 31 attack on the Syrian town of Al Maboujeh, on the outskirts of Salamiyeh. Reports indicate that over 40 people, mostly civilians, were killed, and that dozens more were injured. An unknown number of civilians were also reportedly abducted by the terrorist group. As ISIL continues its campaign to seize territory in Syria, innocent people such as those in Salamiyeh are at risk. Al Maboujeh is largely populated by religious and ethnic minority communities, including Christians, Druze, Alawites, Sunni Bedouins, Shi’a Ismailis, among others, who have been systematically targeted and persecuted by ISIL terrorists.” [3]

A view of Salamiyah. Photo: Wikipedia.

A view of Salamiyah. Photo: Wikipedia.

The website SYRIA DEEPLY, which provides an overview of the latest news, says in a summary that “according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIS militants had killed Alawite, Ismaili and Sunni residents of Mabouja by ‘burning, beheading, and firing on them’.”

It further notes in its dispatch that “IS has been moving westward across Syria in a bid to eventually take Salamiyah, a town east of Hama city” (see map above). The report includes a statement by an anonymous IS militant to Reuters that the Hama campaign is aimed eventually to take Salamiyah. “The ultimate goal is to liberate Salamiyah and Hama but it will not happen before Islamic State is 100 percent ready.” [4]

This is very worrying for all residents of Salamiyah, and everyone around the world who have family members in and around Salamiyah and elsewhere in Syria.

As a united and a deeply loyal community under Mawlana Hazar Imam’s leadership, we deeply feel for our  Syrian brothers and sisters, especially when lives are lost in such senseless acts by IS. We reassure the Syrian Jamat of our concern for them, as well as our deep affection and love for them. Mawlana Hazar Imam himself has articulated that as Imam “his first concern is for the security of his followers.” [5]

We pray for the souls of all those individuals who have lost their lives, and assure the Syrian Jamat of our constant prayers for their strength of faith and courage at such a difficult time in their history. We sincerely offer prayers that peace returns to their homeland soon. This can only occur when political leaders who are opposed to each other come together for the greater welfare of people of Syria. Dialogue, which has failed in the past, is the only solution for peace and long-term stability in the country. Compromise is an essential component in this process towards stability and peace.

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YOUR FEEDBACK: We invite our readers to offer their solidarity with the Ismaili jamat in Syria and the people of Syria by expressing their sorrows and feelings by clicking on Leave a Comment or in the comment box below. If you encounter any difficulty in submitting your comment, please email your comment for publication to Simerg@aol.com, subject “Syria.”

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SALAMIYAH AND SYRIA
“Peace Will Be Again”

Dates in season - Salamiyya, Syria

BY ELIA BADRUDIN

Salaam , al Salaam, O salaam
to all of humanity, Peace

al Salamiyeh , KNOW that Peace will be again.
the heavens will smile on you again.
all humanity which speaks for Peace
has promised that
the planet has your place

al Salamiyeh, more than a thousand years before
prayers were seeds of this ground
a grassland lying on Syrian steppes
a fertile plain of hope
a soft quiet spawning the golden age
a diverse Ummah immersed with the Fatimids…
you’ve nurtured yourself for the heavens here
and it is not all gone today.
you are not lost to us; neither sand grain lost to the sky.
as hearts are the stronger carrying yours
as anguish is balanced with resolute prayer
transformed, you will return, al Salamiyeh
the world is not asleep.

we are an entire Ummah living together in al Salamiyeh
the world has not left you
nor any other facing terror —
“you may feel alone
but you are not alone”
does not your date tree stand strong in windstorm?
and your smile not nourish your child?
He is “Always with you, Always with you”
remember.
and the world will not sleep.

not dogma, not terror,
there’s no martyrdom in suicide!
whosoever taketh life of another..
brutal condemnation
the bestiality of his own cowardly nature
who will betray your homeland and ours
has fallen to the brainwashing of his idols
and their very own envy

not even an animal kills but of hunger
leave them to their desolate running.
only, the ends of the earth are round
and of the heavens, eternal.
where will they go?

and the world will not sleep
all day and all night
across our globe
Ismailis holding hands with every other faith
for all of Syria and for all your families.
“you are not alone, you are never alone”

our seven days, a satado,
are seven ages of pain vanquished
are hearts awry yet steadfast
and hope takes root in this action
then Time too will make space..

and these fools will not rule
fear not the evils, for though they have drained innocent blood,
their souls and hearts are for His Taking

Salaam , al Salaam, O salaam
to all of humanity, Peace.

Date posted: Sunday, April 5, 2015.
Last updated: April 5, 2015 (quote from a letter from Muslim scholars to ISIS).

Note: The poem by Elia Badrudin was originally published on January 30, 2013 following the deaths of several Ismailis from a suicide bomb attack in Salamiyah.

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We invite our readers to offer their solidarity with the Ismaili jamat in Syria and the people of Syria by expressing their sorrows and feelings by clicking on Leave a Comment or in the comment box below. If you encounter any difficulty in submitting your comment, please email your comment for publication to Simerg@aol.com, subject “Syria.”

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Quotation References:

[1] English text of complete letter to ISIS at http://www.lettertobaghdadi.com/14/english-v14.pdf.
[2] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/04/240326.htm
[3] http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=958439
[4] http://www.syriadeeply.org/articles/2015/04/7041/syria-executive-summary-41/
[5] Voices: “The Power of Wisdom” – His Highness the Aga Khan’s Interview with Politique Internationale

Related:

Great Moments in Ismaili History: The Establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate by Jehangir A. Merchant.

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Please note that Simerg is an independent initiative. It is not affiliated with any organizations or institutions, and thus the views expressed here are those of the authors.

A Brief Note on a Manuscript at the Library of Congress Dedicated to Fatimid Imam al-Hakim bi Amr-Allah

A view of the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Inset the Main Building. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

A view of the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Inset the Main Building. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

INTRODUCTION

In 1945, the US Library of Congress (LOC) purchased a collection of printed books and manuscripts form Shaykh Mahmud al-Iman al-Mansuri, professor of religion at the al-Azhar University, Cairo. Assembled by the Shaykh from sources in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, the collection deals with virtually every aspect of Qur’anic and Islamic studies and includes commentaries, biographies, dictionaries, and works on history, literature, and philosophy. Approximately 1,300 of the 5,000 volumes that comprise the collection are book manuscripts. The collection is known as the Mansuri Collection.

MANUSCRIPT DEDICATED TO IMAM AL-HAKIM

Among the thousands of items in the Mansuri Collection, is a work on astronomy dedicated to the 16th Ismaili Imam (or the 6th Fatimid Caliph), al-Hakim bi Amr-Allah (d. 411AH/1021 CE). The text is a popular exposition on the study of the order of events in time, and the order in which they occur, especially in those related to astronomical movements and the measurement of time.

A folio from a manuscript whose original work was dedicated to Ismaili Imam al-Hakim. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

A folio from a manuscript whose original work was dedicated to Ismaili Imam al-Hakim. Photo: Library of Congress, USA.

Note on fol. 2a says that the author, Ibn Jahhaf al-Ḥusayn ibn Zayd ibn ʻAli, was a famous astronomer during the reign of the 6th Fatimid Caliph al-Ḥakim bi-‘Amr Allah (996–1021). The manuscript is yellowed cream, with watermarks, and is in bad condition due to damage from humidity. Edges of some leaves have been repaired. There are dark stains on edges of paper and the last few leaves are missing. The title page is black and red ink; and the colour of the text is black, red, green and yellow. There are occasional diacritical marks, with notes on title page and marginal notes. There are catchwords on rectos.

SUMMARY

Personal Name
Ibn Jaḥhaf, al-Ḥusayn ibn Zayd ibn ʻAli.

Related names
Watari, Muḥammad ʻAli ibn Zahir, former owner.
Ibn al-ʻAttaar, Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad, active 1426. Kashf al-qina firasm al-arba.
Mansuri Collection (Library of Congress) DLC.

Uniform title
Yawaqit fi maʻrifat al-mawaqii

Main title
Kitab al-yawaqit fi maʻrifat al-mawaqit

Description
8 leaves (33 lines), bound : paper ; 20 x 15 cm.

Binding:
New cardboard covered with cloth; leather spine.

Acquisition source, purchase:
Mahmud al-Mansuri ; 1945.

Additional formats:
Also available in digital form on the Library of Congress website.

LC control no:
2008401930

Geographic area code:
n-us-dc

Type of material:
Rare Book or Manuscript

Date posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

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Please click on either of the following two Library of Congress links for additional images of the manuscript:

Three Reasons Why Ismailis Are An Exceptional Community in the Islamic Ummah by Mohammed Arkoun

“Coming from Algeria, which is my country, I can tell you that you represent in Muslim world, in Islamic Ummah a very exceptional community, exceptional community for three reasons.” — Professor Arkoun, please click to read article

“Heresiographic literature describes all the sects in Islam from one point of view, the Sunnite point of view, the Shiite point of view, telling that ‘we, we have the truth, and the others don’t have anything’. This is the heresiographic interpretation of Islam which is totally irrelevant for us today.” — Professor Arkoun, please click to read article

PLEASE CLICK: Three Reasons Why Ismailis Are An Exceptional Community in the Islamic Ummah

Please click on image for article.

Please click on image for article.

Varas Ismaili Gangji: The Turning Point by Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant

Editor’s note: While I constantly think of my mum, Alwaeza Maleksultan J. Merchant, as she continues her recovery at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, near Vancouver, from an open heart surgery some 5 weeks ago, I felt I should re-post her excellent piece on Varas Ismail Gangji that she contributed as part of Simerg’s highly acclaimed “I Wish I’d Been There” series. Her photo, left at image below, was taken by my brother, Alnoor, when he visited her at the RCH a few days ago. To read her inspiring piece, please click on the photo or on Varas Ismail Gangji: The Turning Point

Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant, 83, shown at left in image above seen recovering at the Royal Columbian Hospital following her triple bypass surgery. Please click on photo for her article on the great Ismaili hero Varas Ismail Gangji. Photo/image: Alnoor Merchant/Nurin Merchant.

Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant, 83, shown at left in this image, is seen recovering at the Royal Columbian Hospital following her triple bypass surgery. Please click on image for her article on the great Ismaili hero Varas Ismail Gangji. Photo/image: Alnoor Merchant/Nurin Merchant.

2014 Simerg Collection: Passings, Achievements and Historical Reminiscences

PLEASE CLICK: Ameer Kassam Janmohamed (1931-2014) or photo for tribute.

Ameer Kassam Janmohamed (1931-2014), lived his life to the fullest. Please click on photo for tribute.~~~~~~~

PLEASE CLICK: “Conversations on Three Continents”

Please click on image for book excerpt.~~~~~

PLEASE CLICK: Rediscovering a Lost Piece of Ismaili History — First Steps in the Migration of Tanzanian Ismailis to Canada

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, blessing Vazier Rajabali Meghji Visram during his visit to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania (then Tanganyika) in October 1957. Photo: Sadru Meghji Collection, Toronto.  Please click on photo for article.

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PLEASE CLICK: To the Memory of Roshan Thomas and Zeenab Kassam

The deaths of Roshan and Zeenab in Kabul at the hand of terrorists have touched the hearts of thousands around the world.

PLEASE CLICK: Roshan Thomas – Acting in the Path of God By Jalal Jaffer

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PLEASE CLICK: Simerg’s Exclusive Interview with Mirza Ali and his Sister Samina Baig Who Became the First Ismaili and Pakistani Woman to Reach the Summit of Mt. Everest

Samina Baig climbing Mt. Everest. Photo: Mirza Ali. Copyright.~~~~~~

PLEASE CLICK: A True Account of How Three Ismaili “Shaheeds” Lost Their Lives in a Tragic Accident in 1925 Near Kilosa, Tanganyika

Portraits of the three Shahids, Karmali Dahya, Lalji Ladha and Missionary Khudabaksh Talib (right), who died when their lorry slid into a ditch near Kilosa in 1925. The photo was displayed in the lobbies of jamatkhanas around East Africa at the instruction of the 48th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877-1957). Photo: Anverali Talib Family Collection, Montreal, PQ, Canada. ~~~~~~

PLEASE CLICK: Remembering Rai Hussein Khanmohammed of Burma

Rai Hussein Khanmohamed (1932 - 2013)

Date posted: December 31, 2014.

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Did Mawlana Hazar Imam Mention the Planet Venus At Any Time?

LETTER FROM PUBLISHER

Magellan spacecraft radar data enabled scientists to penetrate Venus' thick clouds and create simulated views of the surface. Venus is a dim world of intense heat and volcanic activity.  Similar in structure and size to Earth, Venus' thick, toxic atmosphere traps heat in a runaway 'greenhouse effect.' The scorched world has temperatures hot enough to melt lead. Glimpses below the clouds reveal volcanoes and deformed mountains. Venus spins slowly in the opposite direction of most planets. However, NASA scientists imagine sending astronauts to study Venus by floating them above the planet where the atmosphere is similar to that of Earth's. Credit for image and caption (NASA).

Magellan spacecraft radar data enabled scientists to penetrate Venus’ thick clouds and create simulated views of the surface. Venus is a dim world of intense heat and volcanic activity. Similar in structure and size to Earth, Venus’ thick, toxic atmosphere traps heat in a runaway ‘greenhouse effect.’ The scorched world has temperatures hot enough to melt lead. Glimpses below the clouds reveal volcanoes and deformed mountains. Venus spins slowly in the opposite direction of most planets. However, NASA scientists imagine sending astronauts to study Venus by floating them above the planet where the atmosphere is similar to that of Earth’s. Credit for image and caption (NASA).

By Abdulmalik J. Merchant 

As a young boy with a rudimentary understanding about the planets in our solar system, I was always interested in high-flying objects and space. I often wondered why Mawlana Hazar Imam would have made a reference to Venus during his address in Dar-es-Salaam in 1959, as in the following quote:

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: John Macdonald.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: John Macdonald.

“During your lifetime, you and probably more your children are going to face a revolution which will be somewhat like the Industrial Revolution in Britain, but it will be of a far greater consequence. For those in astronomy, geology, mechanics, radio, television, printing, this is such a thorough revolution that if you want to be able to comprehend it and yet to be able to keep for your children the values which you have in life, you have to have a source for these values which your children can live to. When you think that you will be able to leave this world, and spend the weekend on the moon or Venus or something like that, this is a fact which may be very far from you today, but I want you to understand this is not a thought which will be far from your children” — Mawlana Hazar Imam [1]

A reference to Mars might not have intrigued me, as it has always been the most-talked of all the planets that we earthlings might one day visit, but Venus, I said to myself, seemed to be out-of-place at 500 degrees Celcius, where its scorching heat can melt lead!

However, during the past week, media around the world — including the BBC, CNN and CBC — have carried a story about NASA’s possible future venture into Venus with significant importance. The following excerpt from Sputniknews is one of many reports on the subject, which was first released by the renowned professional scientific organization IEEE [2]:

“Much of the recent focus on interplanetary travel has been on manned missions to Mars. But Venus is much closer — and the upper atmosphere of that planet is remarkably like Earth’s. That’s why NASA scientists are proposing a mission to study our next-door neighbor in giant airships.”

Sputniknews then lightly adds:

“Are you looking to get out-of-town after the holiday season?…If you’re looking to really escape, you might want to consider a trip to Venus. At a mere 38 million kilometers (24 million miles), it’s the closest planet to Earth. But it’s not exactly a vacation destination. With an average temperature of about 860 degrees, you’d burn to a crisp before you had a chance to get your tan on. Still, if you’re really convinced Venus is the place to be, NASA has you covered.” [3]

Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, our beloved 48th Imam, had once said that when Imams open their mouths to speak, heaps of pearls (moti na dagla) flow. The Imam’s words often carry pointers to what might follow later. As my beloved father often told me, the Imam of the Time can see over a high wall — a distance away that we can never see.

On reading the story about Venus, I thought I might share with readers of this blog some of the images that NASA has put out to show how they intend to build a colony above Venus, which offers an earth-like environment and where one day, perhaps, our great-grandchildren may wander.

For me, at least, the reference to the moon and Venus by Mawlana Hazar Imam, is an affirmation of the Imam’s broader insight and vision, that his knowledge is all-encompassing, and that if we, as his murids, hold strong to the Rope of Imamat we shall always remain on Sirat -al-Mustaqeem (the straight path) regardless of the age and time we live in — the atomic age, the space age or something even beyond that.

With this thought, I wish all contributors, readers and subscribers of Simerg as well as its sister blog, Simergphotos, a Blessed and Happy New Year!

FIVE STEPS IN BUILDING A VENUS COLONY

Phase 1: Robotic exploration. Photo: NASA.

Phase 1: Robotic exploration. Photo: NASA Langley Research Center

Date posted: December 28, 2014.

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  1. Precious Gems, Volume 1, Published by His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismailia Association for Canada, pp 17-18.
  2. http://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/space-flight/nasa-study-proposes-airships-cloud-cities-for-venus-exploration (IEEE)
  3. http://us.sputniknews.com/us/20141225/1013381394.html

Please also see:

2014 Twelve Piece Collection from Simergphotos: Selected Photos Spanning the Reign of Two Ismaili Imams – Glimpses of 130 Years of Ismaili History

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Photo Essay: The Ismaili Centre – “Peace Through Prayer” and “A Splendid Reality”

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Photos and Videos: Simerg Captures the Spirit of the Jamat on the Opening Day of the Ismaili Centre in Toronto, Canada

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The message appeared in the Diamond Jubilee Yearbook published in Dar-es-Salaam on 10th August 1946. See cover of special issue following message transcript below.

Mawlana Murtaza Ali (a.s.) to Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Hazar Imam – The People of the House of the Prophet and His Progeny or Ahl al-Bayt

The excerpts shown below from the Holy Qur’an, the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) and speeches of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, are quite clear about who the term Ahl al-Bayt refers to. However, Farhad Husseinali Patni gives further light on the subject by providing examples and references from early Islamic History, going back to the life of the Prophet and Qur’anic revelation. Please read this important article by clicking on “Ahl al-Bayt” – An Understanding Based on the Holy Qur’an, Hadith and Historical Events or on the image below.

Please click on image for article

Please click on image for article

Special Photo Essay: A Collection of 48 (Plus One) Images from the Glorious Life of the 48th Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

PLEASE CLICK: A Collection of 48 (Plus 1) Memorable Images from the Life of the 48th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims, His Highness the Aga Khan III

Post Layout Aga Khan Special Collection 2Our beloved 48th Imam, Hazrat Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah (a.s.), His Highness the Aga Khan, was born in Karachi on November 2, 1877. He assumed the Imamat at the age of 7 in August 1885, and became the longest-serving Imam in Ismaili history. He passed away on July 11, 1957, at the age of 79, bequeathing the hereditary throne of Imamat to his grandson, Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Aga Khan, the current 49th Imam who has been on the throne for 57 years. In his tribute to his grandfather, Mawlana Hazar Imam said, “Through 72 years of Imamat, he guided his spiritual children to happiness and prosperity.”…..Photo Collection

A Collection of Readings on Imam Hussein and Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan – Two Ismaili Imams Who Lived 1250 Years Apart

IMAM SULTAN MAHOMED SHAH, HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN (1877 – 1957)

Aga Khan Post ImageOur beloved 48th Imam, Hazrat Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah (a.s.) was born in Karachi on November 2, 1877. He assumed the Imamat at the age of 7 in August 1885, and became the longest serving Imam in Ismaili history. He passed away on July 11, 1957, at the age of 79, bequeathing the hereditary throne of Imamat to his grandson, Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Aga Khan, the current 49th Imam who has been on the throne for 57 years. In his tribute to his grandfather, Mawlana Hazar Imam said, “Through 72 years of Imamat, he guided his spiritual children to happiness and prosperity.”…..Read More

IMAM HUSSEIN (626 – 680 CE)

Imam Hussein Post LinkOur beloved second Imam, Hazrat Hussein (a.s.) was born on January 8, 626 AC. He began his reign as the 2nd Ismaili Imam* on the death of his father, Hazrat Ali, on January 27, 661. Imam Hussein was martyred in the Battle of Karbala on the 10th day of the Muslim month of Muharram, or October 10, 680, at the age of 54. He was succeeded to the hereditary throne of Imamat by Imam Zainul Abideen. The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, and thus shorter than the 365 day solar calendar. This year (2014), the 10th day of the Muharram falls on or around November 3/4……Read more

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*Note: Although Shia Nizari Ismailis consider Imam Hussein (a.s.) as the second Imam, he is generally regarded as the 3rd Imam by other Shia Muslims, who treat his brother Hazrat Hassan (a.s.) as the second Imam.

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