Preparing for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Didar: Short Essential Readings (VII) – Imamat in Ismaili Ginanic Literature



In Celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visit to East Africa




His Highness the Aga Khan pictured in a traditional outfit during his visit to Pakistan in 1976. Photo credit: Ilm, Special Pakistan visit Supplement.

Introduction: What does Ismaili and related Shia literature reveal about the doctrine of Imamat? What are the pre-requisites in our daily lives to maximize the benefits from the didar (lit. glimpse) of the Imam of the Time? What should our attitudes be in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam? These are some of the themes which “Essential Readings” is covering through short excerpts. This is the seventh and final in the Didar Series series which began on June 25th. Links to other series posts are provided at the end of this post. We welcome personal reflections, narratives and poetry relevant to didar and the East African visit from all our readers. Please submit your pieces to with appropriate references.

A note to all readers: Website updates will resume on Monday August 1, 2011.





According to the ginans the Imam is the source of Guidance for mankind. He shows them the right path, saves the people from ignorance and acts as a Divine Light in the darkness. In Satveni Moti by Syed Nar Muhammad Shah, it is said:

Murshid diwa hai joog-ma, jo aan dikhave ser-re;
e baatt bahot rariyamani, jiya(n) chorasi nahi(n) fer-re.


In this world the Master is the Light who enlightens the Spiritual Path;
the Way is most wonderful on which there is no failure.

Pir Sadr al-Din emphasizes the same idea in the following verse:

Nish andhari Gur chand-roora huwa;
Jot ahe Gur deevo, ho jire bhai.


In the dark night of ignorance, the Master spreads the Light of Guidance like a moon;
Indeed, O brother! The Master is the Bright Lamp.

The parable of the Holy Tree (kachajaratin tayyibatin) set forth in the Qur’an is expressed in Syed Ahmed Shah’s Si Harfi as follows:

Ohang Nirinjan ek vraksh kita,
Inko dali do-al dita;
Ek Noor Muhammad Mustafa,
Duja Noor Ali Murtaza;
Mai Fatima unke bhere,
Hasan Husayn is Noor mahe khele.


God created a Tree
and gave it two branches:
one was the Light (Noor) of Muhammad the Chosen
and the other was Ali the Favourite;
Bibi Fatima was with the two
and Hasan and Husayn mingled in this Light.

* * *


The absolute necessity for the presence of the Imam on this earth is related by Pir Sadr al-Din in the Ginan Girbah Vali:

Purush shan matra pag dharani na dharante,
Sansaar, chandra, suraj na dhrashtante,
Kuchh na dhrashtante,
Bhom kar, megh, dharti na aakaash bhave.


If the Imam did not have his feet on this earth for even a moment,
then the world, moon, sun would vanish
and nothing would exist,
neither the heaven nor the earth.

This notion of the cosmic necessity of an Imam is also attributed to a famous tradition of the Prophet Muhammad. See readings I and III in this series, links below.

* * *


The Imam is referred as the Mazhar-e-Dhat-e-Allah,  and this is explained by Ismaili Pirs as follows:

Pir Sadr al-Din says:

Noor Khalifa is joog mahe(n) aviya,
Ta(n)ki amar Jot likhani-ji.


O brother! The Vicegerent of God has come in this world
and his Light has been made eternal.

And his son, Pir Hasan Kabirdin, notes:

Qudrat apni zahir kidhi,
Pragatiya deen ka Imam.


God revealed His nature
and with it manifested the Imam of the Faith.

Both these verses refer to the Imam as the Proof (hujjat) of God.

Since Imam is manifest in the world it is necessary that he should be sought out, and here Pir Hassan Shah declares:

Pir Hassan Shah Ginan sunaya,
Jene dhoondiya tene Shah paya.


Pir Hassan Shah says in the Ginan:
‘He who seeks will find the Imam.’

* * *


Being a Proof (hujjat) of God, everything (all knowledge) has been vouchsafed in the Imam of the Time. The Qur’anic declaration “And We have vested the Knowledge of everything in the Manifest Imam” (Holy Qur’an, 36:12) is reiterated in Pir Hasan Kabirdin’s monumental composition, Anant Akhado, where he says:

Aashaji, Patal tani je, soodhaj jane,
Sohi Dhani ya(n) aaya-ji;
Prathavi-na jene bandhaj bandhiya,
Sohi Nar avine betha.


He who knows what is hidden in the depth of the earth,
That (same) Master has come to you;
He who has the control of the world
has come amidst you.

* * *


The cardinal principle of obedience is laid down in the Qur’anic verse (4:59), as well as emphasised by Pir Sadr al-Din in the Buj Niranjan:

Eji karo jo Gur farmave,
Ta thi darshan Piya ka paave.


Do whatever the Master commands,
so that you could be blessed with the vision of your Beloved.

And by Syed Imam Shah in the following verse:

Eji Partak Patra-ne parkhi-ne,
Preme poojo ne pai,
Chaoud bhavan-no e dhani
Parghat chhe joog ma(n)he.


Recognise and obey him who is the Bearer of Divine Light.
Love and submit yourself to him
who is manifest on this earth
and who is the Sovereign of seven heavens and seven worlds.

It is because of the obedience to the Imam that one may achieve salvation. One who obeys devotedly succeeds in reaching the Divine, and the one who turns away from the Imam goes astray. Pir Sadr al-Din explains this in the following verse:

Hazar Jomo chhe jiwo no datar
Tene tamey sahi kari man jo nar ne naar;
E Nur dekhi bhulshe je;
Ghor andhari ma(n) pursey te


The Imam is the Giver of salvation to the souls
so have true faith in him, 0 men and women!
He who turns away from His Light knowingly,
will find himself in total darkness.

Date Essential Readings (VII) posted: July 16, 2011
Date updated: July 31, 2011



Excerpts [1] to [5] are from article Literary Reading: Imamat in Ismaili Ginanic Literature (published on this Website)


For other “Didar Series” posts please scroll down or click:
Short Essential Readings (I) (The Imam – Proof of God, Dazzled by the Light, Companionship on High, Unity of Imamat, Supplication)
Short Essential Readings (II) (The Didar: Life’s Ultimate Purpose, The Unveiling at Sijilmasa, the Soul, Our Spiritual Parents, Supplication)
Short Essential Readings (III) (Imam’s Essence, Ism’ul-Azam, Quhistani’s Example, The Imam – A Cosmic Necessity, Supplication)
Short Essential Readings (IV) (Aab-i Shifaa, The Good One, The Nur of Imamat, Obedience to the Imam, Supplication)
Short Essential Readings (V) (The Example of Ismail Gangji, Imam’s Beatific Vision, Fatima’s Progeny, Imams – Ships of Salvation, Supplication)
Short Essential Readings (VI) (The Merciful Glance, The Manifest Imam, Jawhar’s Devotion, Love for the Imam and True Faith)
Short Essential Readings (VII) (You are reading it; Imamat in Ginanic Literature – Divine Light, Cosmic Presence, Seek out the Mazhar, Knowledge of Everything, Obedience and Salvation)


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