Literary Reading: Imam Mustansir bi'llah on the Importance of Zaheri and Batini Aspects of Didar

Pandiyat-i- Jawanmardi or Counsels of Chivalry is a compilation of the guidance of the 32nd Ismaili Imam, Mustansir bi’llah, who lived in the 15th century.

This book contains exhortations to the faithful on the necessity of recognising and obeying the current Imam and on how to live a truly ethical life.

The circumstances that led to the compilation of the work are intriguing, and are alluded to in many of the manuscripts copies as follows:

When Pir Taj al-Din passed away, a number of people from the Sindhi Ismaili Community went to the Imam. Upon arrival they pleaded:

“Our Pir Taj al-Din has passed away. Now we are in need of a Pir.”

The Imam then had the Counsels of Chivalry compiled and gave it to them saying:

“This is your Pir.  Act according to its dictates.”

In one of the chapters, the Imam enumerates the importance of both the Zaheri and Batini aspects of the Imam’s Didar. He recognizes and acknowledges the sacrificing spirit of the Jamat, in serving him and in observing religious duties.

He says:

“They ( the Jamat) have given up their property, and even their lives. All of them have faithfully submitted their religious dues. Others have travelled long distances through arduous conditions by land and sea, braving storms and incurring great expense.

Some attend religious assemblies to increase their knowledge while others, without any worldly motive, perform acts of charity to benefit the poor.

Some have acted with noble actions in the cause of faith, including special devotions, worship and especially remembrance (Zikr), continually invoking the Lord throughout the night, never neglecting God for even a moment, and worshipping him out of passionate devotion.

All believers are urged to come into the presence of the Imam and to see him with their own eyes.

Thus, the esoteric (batini) vision, realized through pious works and the constant remembrance of God during the nightly vigil, as well as the exoteric (zaheri) vision, achieved by travelling to the Imam’s residence and beholding the gateway of God’s mercy, become the ultimate purpose of human life.

Piety should be for the purpose of recognizing and beholding God, which is achieved through the recognition and vision of the Imam of one’s time.”

__________________

Reading adapted from The Ismailis in the Middle Ages, by Shafique N. Virani, and Pandiyat-i Jawanmardi, translated by Professor Vladimir Ivanow

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