The Case Against Aga Khan
by Akbar Khoja
Over the past many years of writing on the Inside Ismailism blog, I have received a number of acknowledgments from ex-Ismaili Muslims the course of whose lives were changed by the Inside Ismailism blog, and they left Ismailism to embrace the light of Islam. There were Muslims too, who read about the practices of Ismailism on the Inside Ismalism blog, and were immensely surprised that the practices of Ismailism were so much disconnected from mainstream Islam that they would never have known unless for the Inside Ismailism blog. Such was the case of a Muslim boy who wanted to marry into a Ismaili family, and then of a Muslim girl who wanted to marry into a Ismaili family - by the grace of Allah both of them saw the true path and changed their decisions. These decisions did not impact just four lives, but they will impact generations. These are just a few of the ways in which the Inside Ismailism blog has touched the lives of many.
Then there are some Muslims, many of who are friends, who advocate a more subtle way of preaching to Ismailis, oft quoting that invitation to Islam should be made with "wisdom" - this is, softly. The oft-quoted verse in favor of this behavior is the following:
ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ
Invite ˹all˺ to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and kind advice, and only debate with them in the best manner. Surely your Lord ˹alone˺ knows best who has strayed from His Way and who is ˹rightly˺ guided.
Method of understanding religious commands
Before going any further, we must understand that deen cannot be understood by just taking one or two verses out of the Quran and amplifying them over the entire seerah of the Prophet and the rest of the 6,000+ verses of the Quran. Any subject must be analyzed by looking at all the evidences in Quran and Sunnah, and how the Companions understood and implemented what they learned from the Prophet (ﷺ). After all, the Prophet (ﷺ) was the best example of how Islam should be practiced, preached and implemented over the society and in our daily lives. The basic example is that of the prayer, fasting, zakat and hajj. One cannot perform these basic commandments prescribed in the Quran unless the life of the Prophet (ﷺ) is referred to and seen how these commandments were implemented. Picking up a Quranic commandment and applying one's own whims and desires in the method of understanding and applying is akin to saying that we, today in the twenty-first century have a better understanding than how the Prophet (ﷺ) understood and implemented the Quran.
What is Aga Khan's claim?
Aga Khan claims to be no less than God. Sultan Mohamed Shah, Aga Khan III, himself claimed that "Ismailis worship me" (Ali, Kassim. The Ever Living Guide. Page 2. Karachi: Ismailia Association Pakistan). This claim of Aga Khan is also manifested today, and thrice-a-day every day, in the Ismaili prayer, recited in Ismaili Jamatkhanas when Ismailis ask Aga Khan to forgive their sins, and for health, wealth and happiness, beliving that Aga Khan is omnipresent and omniscient, and is listening to each and every Ismaili in the world at all times. The Aga Khan prescribes three daily prayers (one in the morning and two combined in the evening) - these prayers have no resemblance to the Islamic salat, and can be prayed facing any direction and not the direction of K'aba which Muslims face. The Imam of Ismailis has abolished Ramadhan fasting for Ismailis, replacing it with Shukrvari Beej fasting which is fasting only 3-4 days a year. He asks Ismailis to pay to him directly 12.5% dasond on each Ismaili's monthly income rather than the yearly 2.5% zakat on excess wealth, and has replaced the Hajj with his deedar.
Inside cover of "The Ever Living Guide" published by Ismailia Assoc