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The Nizârî Ismâ`îlî sect

Published: 22/08/2011 07:06:00 PM GMT
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I would like to know about the Nizârî Ismâ`îlî sect. What is the proper Islamic position regarding their beliefs and what is the best way to give da`wah to their members?

Answered by

Sheikh `Alî al-Alma`î, professor at King Khâlid University, Abha

The adherents of the Nizârî Ismâ`îlî sect attribute themselves to Nizâr b. al-Mustansar al-Ismâ`îlî who died in the year 487 AH. He was succeeded by his two sons, Nizâr al-Akbar and al-Musta`lî and thus the “Nizâriyyah” and the “Musta`liyyah” both came about. The Mustalî faction met with success on the political front and took control of Egypt and Yemen and other places.

From the Nizâriyyah faction the formidable Hashîshî (Assassins) movement developed in places like Syria and Persia. One of their most important historical personages is a man of Persian extraction, al-Hasan b. al-Sabâh, who was affiliated with the Syrian Nizârîs who had at a time great political influence – if not to say their own state – and who still exist in Syria to this day.

The creed of the Nizârî Ismâ`îlî sect:

The most salient feature of their belief system is the doctrine of an infallible imam who is decreed to be from the descendants of Muhammad b. Ismâ`îl. They attribute to this imâm characteristics that raise him to the status of a deity. They claim that he possesses exclusive knowledge of hidden matters and pay to him a fifth of their income.

They do not perform prayers in the mosques of the general Muslim population. They direct their prayers to the hidden imâm. They see the Ka`bah as the symbolic representation of that hidden imâm. They declare forbidden things to be lawful. They claim that Allah created the Earth by way of the universal intellect that is the locus of all divine attributes. They claim that this universal intellect manifested itself in the hidden imam.

The position of Ahl al-Sunnah towards this sect:

The correct position regarding this and other Ismâ`îlî sects is quite clear and has been enumerated by our scholars. The beliefs of these sects, in their general precepts and in their details, are contrary to the teachings of Islam. The beliefs of these sects are tantamount to unbelief and mean the complete breakdown of Islam. On the surface, these sects appear to be devoted and loyal to the family of the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, this is only superficial and in reality their beliefs have nothing whatsoever to do with Islam.

The followers of this sect should be invited to Islam. The principles of Islam that all Muslims are required to believe in should be clearly explained to them. They should be presented with the evidence for these teachings that prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has left for us.

It is necessary for us to use all means at our disposal to disseminate the message of Islam, including modern means like the Internet. Those who wish to engage the Ismâ`îlîs on the Internet should be people of knowledge, expertise, and experience. They should be well aware of Ismâ`îlî teachings: I recommend the following books on the subject:

Al-Ismâ`îliyyah by Ihsân Ilâhî Zahîr
Fadâ’ih al-Bâtiniyyah by Abû Hâmid al-Ghazâlî
Al-Mu’âmarah `alâ al-Islâm by Anwar al-Jundî
Al-Harakât al-Bâtiniyyah fî al-`Alim al-Islâmî by Dr. Muhammad al-Khatîb

Source: Islam Today

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