A Unique Moment in the Life of the Punjab Jamat

“I Wish I’d Been There”

by Ali Mohammad Rajput

Former Statistics lecturer, now 86, is devoting his life for service to the Jamat

I want to be taken back in time when my late father, missionary Inayat Ali, played a crucial role in the early conversion of the Punjab Ismaili jamat, in the second decade of the last century. This was when our forefathers left the gupti dharma (practicing the faith with restraint and in concealment), and recognized Imam Sultan Mohammad Shah, Aga Khan III, as their 48th Imam.

My father described to me in vivid terms how the Imam of the time had invited the leaders of the Punjab and North West Province Frontier (NWFP) gupti jamats to an audience with him at the Imam’s private residence in Mumbai. There were only a dozen or so of the murids who had been selected to go for this trip on behalf of the Jamat. My father was one of them. The time for the Mulaqat was set for midnight, and in total secrecy. The leaders were asked to wait in the garden of the campus in total darkness, and were separated and scattered in such a way that two delegates were not allowed to sit together. Complete silence was observed.

At the midnight hour, when the clock struck twelve, the delegates were summoned to rise and quietly proceed to the audience chamber of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah. The experience and feelings that my father described is similar in all respects to the experience of the first mulaqat of Nasir-Khusraw or Al-Muyyid fid-Din-Shirazi, who have left their account in the pages of history.

My father narrated to me that the delegates were briefed in advance about the etiquettes and manners they were supposed to observe. Our beloved 48th Imam welcomed the delegates, and spoke for nearly half an hour explaining the fundamentals and virtues of Islam. He explained how, for the past ten years, he had elaborated to the jamats of Panjab and NWFP about the truth and virtues of Islam, the sirat-ul-mustakim (straight path) and had allowed these jamats to observe taqiyya (practice the faith in concealment). He said there was no compulsion in matters of Din (religious matters). The period of probation was now over and that he would not be angry whatever path the murids chose to take and he had decided that he could now not allow the jamat to remain gupti (i.e. continue observing the taqiyya).

“You cannot have one leg in one boat and the second leg in another. Now what is your decision?”, the Imam asked.

All the delegates with one voice responded in the affirmative, and the Imam then accepted the Bayah (oath of allegiance) of the delegates. When the turn of my father came, Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah asked him:

“What is your name?”

“Khudavind, my name is Guran Ditta,” replied my father.

“From this day your name is Inayat Ali,” said our beloved 48th Imam.

This remarkable day in our history was narrated in vivid terms by my father as he was an eye witness. He was an active faithful who always spent three months in a year in Darkhana in Bombay. It was an emotional moment for me, when he recounted this incident for me and I Wish I’d Been There for this most auspicious day in my father’s life as well as the life of the Jamats in Punjab and NWPF.

© Simerg.com


About the writer: Dr Ali Mohammad Rajput was born on Navroz, 21st March, 1924,  in Kalianwala, a small village where his father had built the first Jamatkhana in 1910. After completing his early education in a local village school, he pursued his University education at Lahore where he qualified with a Masters in Math and Statistics.  In 1954, he had a unique opportunity to have a Mulaqat with Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah who asked him to go to the United Kingdom for further studies at the Imam’s expenses. During his journey to London he met the Imam once again at Yakimour which he says “left a vivid and lasting impression on my life.” He completed his PhD in 1957 in Mathematical Statistics and then another Masters degree in Islamics in 1985 . He  retired from his  university teaching career in Birmingham in 1983 and has devoted the rest of his life to a better understanding of his faith and service to the Ismaili community. In 1991, the current Imam asked him to visit his headquarters in Aiglemont, where Dr. Rajput was assigned to go on a mission to Tajikistan in March, 1991.

Ever since that time he has been in the service of the people of Badakhshan, where he works as a professor Emeritus  at the University of Khorog.


1. For a complete list of readings, and to contribute to this series, please click  » I Wish I’d Been There

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11 thoughts on “A Unique Moment in the Life of the Punjab Jamat

  1. Wow I am totally mesmerised by this wonderful unique account of Rajput’s father and his own immense contribution to our community. He and his father are two blessed murids. I myself have a narrative of my family in a small village in Kathiawad in India where my father said that his grandfather during the time of Imam Aga Alisha converted many Hindus into our faith not by compulsion but explanation and examples. What most touched me was to hear that Aga Alisha paid a surprised visit to my father’s ancestral home. I Wish was there but unfortunately, I cannot substantiate this narrative of my father as he is no more with us and myself in ignorance never took any detail account of the place or regrettably. Hence, I cannot validate it regrettably. Wish I had!

  2. A remarkable account indeed of such faithful murids with strong faith towards our Imam and Jamaat. Shukran…shukran..shukran… Inayat Ali (peace be upon him) is an examplary murid who deserves to be forever in our memories. The same with all who devote their life to the betterment of Jamaat worldwide, including Dr. Ali Mohamed Rajput!

  3. Everyone live in this world has a special task and duty but not everyone fullfils it.

    However, it is important to underline that there are persons in this world who have performed their human task and duty responsibly. Undoubtedly, we can place Dr. Ali Muhammad Rajput alongside them. He is one of the most influencial and greatest personalities within the Ismaili communy. He has done great job for the community of Badkhshan.

    The first crucial thing which he has done for our community (Badakhshan) was to build the first House of Prayer (Dor-ul-Hikmat). By attending Dor-ul-Hikmat, people have become increasingly aware about the history, philosophy, culture and other aspect of Islam, particulary about the Ismaili Tariqa. Mostly, these teachings have been covered by Dr. Ali Muhammad Rajput himself, despite his age. Since 1992 he has taught and taken care of our community.

    The other significant and magnanimous contribution by him is the opening of a public library. This has enhanced our religious, philosophical and historical knowlege.

    It is necessary to emphasize that Dr. Ali Muhammad Rajput is highly respected by the small Ismaili community living in YOGED villiage. We, as a representatives of this small community in Yoged, cannot thank him enough for his acts of generosity, and kindness which has brought us a lot of happiness. He is also a modest personality.

    We would like to wish him and his family a healthy life full of happiness and barakah.



  4. I was delighted to read Dr Rajput’s account of the conversion of the Punjabi Gupti Jamat to Ismailism. Reading his account makes me wish that I, too, would have been there. It will interest the readers of this website to know that Imam Sultan Mohamed Shah considers this episode to be one of the most memorable in his long and full public life. The Imam rejoiced that the lives of these Murids were saved from the ravages of the 1947 Partition by their conversion since the vast majority of the Gupti Jamat lived in what is now Pakistan. The Imam’s own words in his Memoirs read: [p. 4, last para, continued on p. 5];

    “As I look back, there is one memory, one piece of self-knowledge, which gives me the utmost satisfaction. I was myself personally responsible for the conversion to Islam of some 30,000 to 40,000 caste Hindus, many of them of the upper and professional classes. They had been a people without a faith, and they found a faith. Neither my father nor my grandfather had attempted a religious task of this magnitude. Its fulfilment has had one important and interesting effect: the great majority of these converts lived in what is now Pakistan: had they remained Hindu they would in all probability have been involved in, and have suffered by the mass displacement, and all the other terrible and horrible happenings that accompanied Partition in 1947.”

    • My dear Nisa

      It gives me a great pleasure to know that some members of the Badakhshan Jamat appreciate my services to the Tajik Jamats. The love and affection of these jamats have infact captivated me so much that I have devoted the remainder of my life to their sevice.

      Jamatkhanas are essential to the spiritual health of the community and I wish more of them are built. I would be very happy to participate.

      Ya Ali Madad

      Dr Ali Mohammad Rajput

  5. April 20, 2010.

    What a wonderful event you have related. This was the meeting of the Gupti Jamat, when Hazrat Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah opened the doors for the Punjabi Gupti Jamat to come out and freely practice the Shia Imami Ismaili Nizari Tariqa and be known by their Muslim names given to them by their Imam.

    Could you inform us about the prevailing circumstances at that time? What was the reaction of the community and people amongst whom you were living? Did our Gupti Jamat suffer any harassment?

    Dr. Rajput, your contribution through Simerg has allowed me to renew our acquaintances. My wife and I used to visit Birmingham on wa’z duties. Our first meeting was when we were on Wa’z tour of U.K. and Europe in 1974. Mukhisaheb then was our Dr. Kurwa. You are far away with Central Asia Jamats now again. Please inform us about the past and present of our Jamats there. We pray for your good health and that you may continue to serve our Imam, the Jamats, and our Tariqa! Ameen.You have a wealth of knowledge and we hope and pray that you share this with the readers – specially, things from the past. With respect and best wishes from Malek and myself.

  6. I am delighted to have read Dr. Rajput’s article in this series “I Wish I’d Been There.” Let me add something about Dr. Rajput. He is a great man and a Mentor of mine living in Birmingham, where I moved in 1971. He indeed started the first Jamatkhana here at his home with soft Middle Eastern carpets he always has from Afghanistan, South East Asia and other places! I visit him so often or he phones me when he reads a new book that he finishes just in a day or two! He is a wealth of knowledge and the photo you see in his article is an exact representation of him today. May he be blessed with a long life and good health to inspire and guide many of us who care to keep in touch with him. He cannot visit Jamatkhana as regularly – his devoted wife is not well right now and is undergoing series of surgeries. We all pray for her good health and recovery, Amen.

    I might also add that Dr Rajput goes to Khorog, Tajikistan, annually and is highly respected among the Ismaili Jamats in Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He speaks and knows several languages. Long live, Dr Rajput, may Allah give you strength, so that we may continue to be imparted with your ‘Ilm’ through channels like this wonderful Web site.

    I invite readers of simerg to visit my blog zarinaspeaks.wordpress.com.

  7. Masha’allah! Masha’allah! Masha’allah
    Shukran…Shukran…Shukran…Jiska Swami Mowla Jaisa Hove woh hai naseebdar….

  8. I have known Dr. Rajput since 1968 when we moved to Birmingham. He has remarkable memory and has given a very moving account of the conversion of Gupti to zaheri practicing Ismailis.

    Congratulations. May you continue to serve in Khorog and we pray the present upheaval does not harm any of the murids in Khorog.

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