Why I feel Ismailism is Important

December 19, 2007 at 5:41 am (personal interpretations)

Often I am asked why I am a firm supporter of the Ismailis and even consider myself a “friend of the imam?” when I am a professed Pure Land Buddhist. That is a good question and deserves a good response. I hope this text will make it clear my interest in the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim faith.

The proclamation of Qiyamat by Imam Hasan II on August 8th 1164 is probably the defining event of Ismailism that drew my interest in the faith. My first exposure to this event was through the writings of Peter Lamborn Wilson a.k.a. Hakim Bey. Ironically Wilson’s comments comparing the Qiyamat to Shinran Shonin’s (founder of Jodo Shinshu the largest sect of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan) idea of shinjin (certainty of enlightenment thru Other Power) led me to the Pure Land Faith. This occurred sometime in 1990. However, I was still attracted to the faith of Imam Hasan II and kept re-reading Wilson’s work over the years.

During the fall of 1997 I came into contact with some Ismailis on the Internet and I began to study the faith from an more orthodox Ismaili perspective. One warned me that it was easy to start studying Ismailism but it is not easy to stop. He could have not been more right! During the spring of 1998 I took a Masters level course in the History of Religions at a local university and I made the Ismailis the focus of my course work. During this process I discovered others, who like myself, were not Ismailis but interested in the faith after being exposed to it by Wilson. So I put up a Website[1], started a Internet mailing list[2] and a newsletter (Qiyamat: A Newsletter for Friends of the Imam) in order to bring information about Ismailism to those who were interested.

I view Ismailism and Pure Land Buddhism as basically similar. Ismailism is a religion centered on the Imam of the Time who possesses Allah’s Light (Noor). Thus it is centered on a being of divine light. Pure Land Buddhism is centered on Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life. Also, Buddhists scholars believe that the ideas of Pure Land Buddhism arose during the early centuries of this Common Era, when Buddhism first moved out of Northern India and into areas under Iranian influence. Thus Amida Buddha is the Buddhist expression for the “Man of Light” in Iranian Gnosticism. Thus another affirmation of the principle that on the level of gnosis, all faiths are One.

“He who counsels his own soul should investigate, during his life in this world, all doctrines concerning God. He should learn from whence each possessor of a doctrine affirms the validity of his doctrine. Once its validity has been affirmed for him in the specific mode in which it is correct for him who holds it, then he should support it in the case of him who believes it.”

                                                -Muhyi al-Din ibn al-Arabi-



  1. The Light of the Imam - Poem by Jim Davis « Ismaili Mail said,

    […] Davis is an author and poet. You may read more about him here at his blog or at his […]

  2. Week-in-Review — Jan 4, 2009 « Ismaili Mail said,

    […] excellent poem, The Light of the Imam, by author and poet, Jim Davis.  You may read more about him here at his blog or at his listserv.  We bring you photographs taken in 1969 when Prince Sadruddin Aga […]

  3. Farhad said,

    I am an Ismaili too but I attribute every power to Allah the almighty and give only Him the centre position.
    Imam is only a learned teacher, not a divine figure, who leads me to Allah.
    In my view this is true Ismailism.

  4. Nimisha Khimji said,

    Now if I said “Son of God” or ‘Anaal Haq’, which is worse? God is ‘zaheri, batuni and noorani’. The light of the Imam was, is, and, will always be

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