Examining the Ismaili Imams & the Bohras

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Table of Contents

Abstract               9

Preface                11

Shia – But Shia of which Imam (leader)?                13

Sects within Shi’as           14

The Ithna Ashari Shias (The Twelvers)    15

Zaidis     15

Alawis   16

The Ismailis         16

The Druze           16

The Nizaris          17

The Mustalis      17

Ismaili Imams     19

Ismail Ibn Jafar…………………………….20

Muhammad Ibn Ismail………………………23

Ubaydallah al-Mahdi…………………………28

Other Fatimid Caliphs after the death of Ubaydallah        31

Something to ponder about        40

Following the ‘Right’ Imam          47

        Importance of following the ‘Right’ chain      47

        After the Holy Prophet (sawa) what?             48

        Need to follow all the ‘Rightful Imams’          50

Who are the rightful Imams?      51

Who are the ‘Twelve Caliphs’?   53

Imam al-Mahdi (atfs) the twelfth Holy Imam of the Twelvers      55

Kind of lifestyle and characteristics expected from an Imam        59

Imam Musa al-Kadhim ibn Jafar (as) Martyred 183 AH/799 AD.   59

His life in a nutshell         60

The childhood of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as)       60

The designation (Nass)  62

What has been said about Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as)    66

Worship of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as)   67

Earning the daily bread  69

Some interesting anecdotes from his life              70

Sayings of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as)     74

Imam Ali Ibn Musa al-Ridha (as) Martyred 818 AD             75

His nicknames   75

What has been said about Imam al-Ridha (as)     76

His Nomination 83

His Debates        85

Problems with Fiqh/Jurisprudence          94

The Bohra Calendar & Moon sighting      95

Bohra Islamic Calendar  100

Where do the Bohras get this calendar from?     101

Some frequently asked questions about moonsighting  109

Conclusive Points             111

Final points to ponder about       118

Bibliography       120


This book has been divided into 5 segments which have been further divided into different parts.

The first segment defines the meaning of Shia and talks about the different sects within the Shias and further divides Ismailis and talks about the sects within them. Also discusses some of the Ismaili/Fatimid Imams, the Ismaili Imams after Imam al-Sadiq (as)[1] and it questions the authenticity of the Ismaili Imams and questions the fact if they were divinely appointed?

The second segment of the book deals with the importance of following the right chain and the need to follow the rightful Imams after the Holy Prophet (sawa) [2]. Also discusses the traditions of the Holy Prophet (sawa) regarding his successors (as) and his traditions regarding Imam al-Mahdi, the twelfth Holy Imam (May Allah hasten his reappearance). Also clarifies some doubts that one may have regarding the occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (as).

The third segment talks about an ideal Imam and the qualities we should expect from him and then talks about two of the Ithna Ashari Imams after Imam al-Sadiq (as). And also talks about their designation, what has been said about them by not only Shias rather by Ahle Sunna also, their worship, their knowledge etc.

The fourth segment deals with the effect of following the wrong chain, one of the effects is that it will have an effect on their deeds; one of the Bohra Jurisprudential issues (Bohra Calendar and the moon sighting) is scrutinized in detail.

The fifth segment is the conclusion; it discusses the importance of having faith in all the Prophets all the Holy books and all the Imams. It discusses as per the Holy Quran, about the end result of the deeds performed without having true faith.


All praise is due to Allah (swt),[3] Creator of the universe, and blessings and salutations upon the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and his Holy Progeny.

This book is about the beliefs of Ismailis. Two major sects within the Ismailis are the Agha Khanis who believe in 49 Imams and the Bohras who believe in 21 Imams. However both the Agha Khanis and the Bohras believe Ismail as an Imam, who was the son of Imam al-Sadiq (as) and they reject Musa al-Kadhim s/o Imam al-Sadiq (as). This book investigates the authenticity of the Ismaili/Fatimid Imams whether they were really divine?

Some of the important sources used for this book were: The Ismaili’s their history and doctrines, written by Dr Farhad Daftary. Dr Farhad Daftary is the Co-Director and the head of the Department of Academic Research and Publications at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. An authority on Ismaili studies, Dr Daftary has written more than 150 articles and written and edited several acclaimed books in this field. And other sources like Da’aimul Islam, Hamarey Ismaili Madhab Ki Haqeeqat aur Uska Nizam, Ismailiye az Guzashte ta Hala etc were also utilized.

Most of the translation of the verses used in this book is based upon Sayyid Ali Quli Qarai’s translation of the Holy Qur’an.

I thank Allah (swt) for giving me the ability to complete this book. I could not have handled this project alone and the contributions made by others have been invaluable. My sincere and deep thanks go to my teacher, Shaykh Kumail Rajani for his guidance and help; my cousin, Haneef Arastu for editing and insight; Shaykh Salim Yusufali, Shaykh Muhammed Hasnain, and Br Sher Ali Valji for their help, valuable suggestions and being there when needed; and my wife and my daughters for all their help, support, insight and suggestions.


[1]        (as) indicates Alaihis Salaam meaning peace be upon him.

[2]        (sawa) indicates Sallallahu Alaihi wa A’alihi meaning peace be upon him and his progeny

[3]        (swt) indicates Subhana Wa Ta’ala, meaning He is Glorified and Exalted