Beholding the Face of the Imam

Throughout history Ismaili pilgrims travelled far and wide to see the Imam of the Time.

During the reign of  Imam Gharib Mirza, one such Ismaili pilgrim tracked his way to Anjudan to see the Imam on behalf of the Jamats in Khurasan.

The identity of the pilgrim is not very clear due to the poor quality of the manuscript but the ode to the Imam reads as follows:

“Greetings! O Emperor of the Realm of Faith and World;

I come from Khurasan to behold your face.

All I have is a soul imperfect, sins and transgressions galore.

Despite such worthless goods, I long for your grace, hoping that through me you may forgive the trespasses of your servants-one and all.

As you are the sovereign and governor of all creation, this being testified to by the Quran itself, your proper name has been made manifest to all the faithful.

You are Shah Gharib and Mustansir, the inheritor of Shah Salam!”

Several generations earlier, in an entreaty to the Fatimid Imam al-Mustansir, al-Mu’ayyad Shirazi typifies the impatience to behold the face of the Imam of one’s time and the urgency of this beyond any possible worldly consideration. He wrote:

“I swear, were you to crown me, and were you to grant me dominion over

the world entire and say to me ‘Let our meeting be postponed but an hour’

I would reply:

O my Mawla, let us meet instead!  For your delay of but an hour has turned my hair gray’.”


Adapted from: The Ismailis in the Middle Ages – A History of Survival, A Search for Salvation, by Shafique N. Virani, Oxford University Press, 2007

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