The following elaboration on the Ismaelites and their prominent beliefs has been given in Al-Mawsu`ah al-Muyassarah fi al-Adyan wal Madhahib al-Mu`asirah:
“The Ismaelite sect took its name after Imam Isma`il ibn Ja`far As-Sadiq. This sect feigns loyalty and fidelity to the kinsfolk of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) but in reality their aim is to cast doubt on all tenets of Islam.
the sect gained popularity soon after it emerged and initiated many subdivisions that in turn spread across the globe and can be found in many regions.
-Its establishment and prominent members:
1- Qaramita Ismaelites: This group formed their base in Bahrain and the Levant after parting with their leader, Imam Isma`il, and looting all his property. This incident drove him to his escape overseas.
a- `Abdullah ibn Maymun Al-Qaddah, who made his presence known in the southern part of Persia in the year 260 A.H.
b- Al-Hasan ibn Bahram (Abu Sa`id Al-Janabi), who lead from Bahrain and is known as the founding father of the Qaramita state.
c- Ahmad ibn Al-Qasim known for his assaults on trade and pilgrim caravans.
2- Fatimid Ismaelites: This is the original sect that passed through different stages and is subdivided into Eastern Nazarites and Western Musta`liyah. The latter held control of Egypt, Hijaz and Yemen for a long period with the assistance of the Salihites.
3- Hashshashun Ismaelites: They are part of Nazarite group that occupied the Levant, Persia and the Orient. As for the name Hashshashun, it is an adjective derived from the word hashish as they used to smoke hashish.
4- The Levantine Ismaelites
5- Al-Bahrah Ismaelites: They are also part of the Nazarites who show full fidelity to their leader Imam Al-Musta`li. As for the word “Al-Baharah” it is Indian in origin, meaning the trader.
6- The Agha Khani Ismaelites: This group appeared in Iran in the early 19th century. It was founded by Hasan `Ali Shah Agha Khan I, who was used by the British colonial power to kindle the fire of revolution that paved way for them to invade the country. They later crowned Hasan with the title “Agha Khan”.
Dogmas and creed:
1- They believe that there should be an infallible Imam who must be from the descendants of Muhammad ibn Isma`eel. But this rule has been sidestepped many times.
2- They ascribe to their Imam many exaggerated attributes that almost deify him.
3- They tend to shroud their matters in complete secrecy and uncalled-for confidentiality especially when they find themselves in the midst of turbulence.
4- To them, their Imam (leader) is the pivot of the whole course of propagating their message.
5- They believe in the notion of cloning personalities, thus, they claim that their Imam is the sole heir to all Prophets sent by Allah.
6- They reject the Divine Attributes of Allah – or we can say that they take no clear stand on the Divine Attributes that give the sense of mortality.
among the Baharah’s dogmas are the following:
1- They never pray in public mosques.
2- On the surface they do what other true Muslims do, like prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, etc. But in reality they don’t do all these for the sake of Allah or direct them to Him but to their Imam as a sign of showing fidelity to him. They even consider the Sacred Ka`bah a symbol of their assumed Imam.”
Shedding more light on the issue of the infallible Imam which is one of the basic principles of the Ismaelites, here is the statement made by Dr Muhammad Ahmad Al-Musayyar, professor of Islamic creed and philosophy at Al-Azhar University:
“First of all, the notion of an infallible Imam (leader) goes against the dictates of the Qur’an and man’s reasoning. That notion raises the following questions: Who is that Infallible Imam? Where and when will he appear? How do we recognize him and what are the miracles he will perform?
Some people spread such ideas to confuse people and dissuade them from the Right Path. Besides, they have other ulterior motives behind this, such as:
-gaining material interests and commanding social influence.
-realizing certain religious, social as well as sectarian objectives.
that is why I see that Muslims are not in need of such baseless ideas. Allah has clarified to all of us what our religion is by revealing His Divine Book as well as sending His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) to guide mankind and convey His message, which is the seal of all heavenly revealed messages.
Muslims today need efficient scholars who are able to propagate Islam in the light of the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, to enlighten people about their religion and clarify things for them so as not to be enslaved by inclinations or become confused by those who are astray.
Besides, closing the door to baseless ideas such as the one in question will help preserve people’s mind against distortions and false slogans voiced by people whose aim is to exploit others and gain material interest.”
In conclusion, let’s take good example from the Prophet’s Companions who, after the demise of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) didn’t search for an infallible Imam to lead them. They all gave their pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) who never claimed any spiritual or autocratic power. This is reflected in his opening speech as caliph: “You appointed me as your ruler but this gives me no special privilege over you. If you see me maintaining right conduct, please lend me your hand (support me), and if you notice some sort of erring in my policy, try to correct me (give me advice on that).”
`Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) did likewise when he took command and set a good example of just leadership.
these golden eras of the Islamic Ummah gave birth to strong and righteous people who spread Islam throughout the world with the intention of pleasing Allah. And, thanks to Almighty Allah, the light of Islam reached many places steeped in darkness in such a short space of time to Central Asia in the east and the whole of North Africa in the west.
What’s more, this era witnessed the downfall of the then two giant superpowers – the Byzantine and Persian empires – and people began embracing Islam in large numbers. This event closed the pages of thousands of years of darkness and idol worshipping, bringing man to the light of Islam where no one has privilege over others save in terms of piety and righteousness, and man’s worship and devotion is solely for Almighty Allah.
All this happened in a period of less than twenty years without any need for Muslims to cry for an infallible Imam or use any shallow slogans or non-divine philosophy! May Allah guide us to the Straight Path.