Problems with Fiqh- Jurisprudence among the Ismailis

SHARE

SHAFAQNA-

By: Ali Azhar Arastu
Following the right chain is very important otherwise the followers of the wrong imam are bound to go astray. It will have an effect on their deeds.
The Ismailis, mostly Bohras follow the book of Da’aimul Islam written by Qadi al-Nu’man, and use it as their guide for jurisprudence. Qadi al- Nu’man served four of the Ismaili/Fatimid Imams and was in their service for 50 years yet this book has no sayings of the Ismaili/Fatimid Imams. Why? The divine Imams are supposed to be full of knowledge and wisdom then how come Qadi al-Nu’man did not record any of the sayings of the Ismaili/Fatimid Imams in his famous book Da’aimul Islam? It took Qadi al Nu’man thirty years to complete this book yet in these thirty years he found nothing worth recording about the Ismaili/Fatimid Imams in this book? Moreover, the book has traditions of the Holy Prophet (sawa) and the Imams up to Imam al-Sadiq (as), but has no chain of narrators, and the chain of narrators is very important in determining if the tradition is authentic or not, especially when the content of the tradition is unusual and does not match the norm.
Like mentioned earlier, following the right chain is very important otherwise the followers of the wrong imam are going to perform the deeds that are not accurate and questionable. As an example, I’d like to examine the Bohra Calendar. The Bohras take pride that they follow a fixed calendar; therefore, they know the exact date when a new lunar month would start and when it finishes. On the other hand, the majority of the Muslim world relies on moonsighting to determine the start and end of a month. As per the Holy Qur’an and traditions of the Holy Prophet (sawa), Imam al-Baqir (as) and Imam al-Sadiq (as), the Muslims are instructed to sight the new moon to determine the start and end of a month.
I would like to shed some light on the Bohra calendar and prove that the Bohra Calendar is not accurate.

The Bohra Calendar & Moon sighting
Quran tells us to follow the lunar calendar; however, it does not specify the exact number of days in a given month. For instance, Quran does not tell the Muslims that Muharram is always going to be 30 days, nor does it say that the Holy Ramadhan is always going to be 30 days.
The Holy Quran, Surah Baqarah verse 189 says: They question you concerning the new moons. Say, “They are timekeeping signs for the people and [for the sake of] hajj.1

اَيَّامًا مَّعْدُوْدٰتٍ
(Fasting) a certain number of days…2
And in Surah Baqarah verse 185: The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction Therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein And whoever is sick or upon a journey, then [he shall fast] a [like] number of other days Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty, and [He desires] that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the Greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks.3
As per the ayahs above, we are supposed to follow the lunar calendar but nowhere does Quran specify fixed number of days for any months.
The ahadith of the Ahlul Bayt (as) specifically tell us to start fasting when the moon of the Holy month of Ramadan is sighted and then stop fasting when the moon of Shawwal is sighted.
Here is a tradition of the Holy Prophet (sawa) that is in the famous book of Qadhi Numan that the Ismailis, especially the Bohras follow.
The Holy Prophet (sawa) said: ‘When in the day time, you sight the crescent or two just (‘Adil) persons sight it do not break your fast until the sun sets, this is whether (it is sighted) in the beginning of the day or the latter part of the day. And he (sawa) said: Do not stop fasting unless & until all thirty days are complete starting with sighting of the crescent (for the beginning of Ramadhan) or with the witnessing of two witnesses who sighted it (crescent of Shawwal).’ 4
(Meaning: if the witnesses sighted the crescent of Shawwal earlier then you must stop fasting even if 30 days are not complete).
This is what could be understood from this hadith of the Holy Prophet (sawa): Suppose it is the 29th day of Ramadhan and two just (‘Adil) people inform the one who is fasting that they saw the crescent in the daytime, then this person should not break the fast. Now suppose one fasts for 30 days and still the moon was not sighted then he should not fast more than 30 days. Suppose the moon was sighted on the 29th day and the two just (‘Adil) people reported it, then he should not fast the 30th day.
In other words, this hadith of the Holy Prophet (sawa) that is found in Da’aimul Islam, clearly says that the starting and the ending of the month should be based on sighting of the crescent. We also learn from this hadith that Ramadhan could be less than 30 days.
The following are couple of ahadith of Imam al-Baqir (as) and Imam al-Sadiq (as): Imam al-Sadiq (as) (when) he was asked about the crescents, so he said: The crescents are for (distinguishing) the months, so when you sight the crescent, fast and when you sight it (at the beginning of the next month) stop fasting.5
Imam al-Baqir (as) said: fast when you sight the crescent and stop fasting when you see it and not with opinion nor with guessing but with actually seeing it happen.6
The Ismailis and the Ithna Asharis both believe in Imam al-Baqir and Imam al-Sadiq (as). These traditions are clearly saying that we should fast when we see the crescent and stop fasting when we see the crescent of the next month and guesstimating is not allowed. The crescent is visible after about seventeen hours7 of conjunction (new born moon), so when the Holy Prophet (sawa) and the Imams (as) asked the Muslims to sight the crescent this means that moon will be about seventeen hours old.
We Muslims follow the Holy Quran and Quran does not give all the details, for example it tells us to pray but as for how to pray and how many units are in each prayer, we have to get these details from the Holy Prophet (sawa) and his Holy Progeny (as). Similarly, Quran tells us that the new moons are timekeeping signs for the people. The Holy Prophet (sawa) and the Imams (as) clarified how to determine when the month starts; that is by sighting the crescent.
It would be great to have an accurate calendar but unfortunately there is no such calendar. It is impossible to come up with an accurate universal calendar as the time when the moon can be sighted differs from region to region. Since the traditions we have from the Holy Prophet (sawa) and the Imams (as) tell us specifically to sight the crescent to determine the start of the month, we have no choice but to submit. So, on the Day of Judgment if we are asked then we can present this strong argument that we followed the rulings of the Holy Prophet (sawa).
The Bohras which is a sect of Ismailis have their own lunar calendar and all the Bohras around the world start and end the month on the same date, they do not consider the regional variations at all. If the Bohras would consider these regional variations they would see that it is impossible for the whole world to sight the crescent at the same time; this is due in part to the rising and setting of the moon in a perceived arc fashion much like the sun. In the same way that every point on the Earth does not see the sun in the same place at the same time to the extent that some areas are not able to see the sun at all for prolonged periods, different point on the Earth will not see the moon at the same place at the time. The clearest example of how a person’s location affects what they can and can’t see, astronomically speaking, is the fact that while it is winter in the northern hemisphere with very short days to the extent that in the arctic circle it can be night for months on end while at that same time it is summer in the southern hemisphere so there would be long days to the extent in the Antarctic it is day for months on end. At that time, in the south you can clearly see the sun but in the north especially far north you will not see the sun at all. The same can be said for the moon that there are times when one area will clearly see the moon while another will be totally devoid of its presence. So, it is impossible to have one standard lunar calendar for the whole world. The Bohras neglect with respect to this fact seems to show that sighting of the moon for them is not a criteria when constructing their calendar clearly contradicting the tradition of the Holy Prophet (sawa). They do not pay heed to the tradition from the Holy Prophet (sawa) found in their books (that has been quoted above from their book Da’aimul Islam by Qadhi Numan) where the Holy Prophet (sawa) clearly specifies the significance of sighting the crescent. Now this heedlessness could be argued (all be it wrongly) if their calendar was accurate but as we will see it is not accurate at all.

Bohra Islamic Calendar
The Bohra/Ismaili calendar has fixed days for each month every year except for the month of Dhul-Hijjah which alternates between 29 or 30 days. Below is a four year reading of a Bohra calendar.
1429 Hijri/2008 AD
Muharram 30 days, Safar 29 days, Rabi ul-Awwal 30 days, Rabi uth- Thani 29 days, Jamadi ul-Awwal 30 days, Jamadi uth-Thani 29 days, Rajab 30 days, Shaban 29 days, Ramadhan 30 days, Shawwal 29 days, Dhul-Qa’dah 30 days and Dhul-Hijjah 30 days.
1430 Hijri/2009 AD
Muharram 30 days, Safar 29 days, Rabi ul-Awwal 30 days, Rabi uth- Thani 29 days, Jamadi ul-Awwal 30 days, Jamadi uth-Thani 29 days, Rajab 30 days, Shaban 29 days, Ramadhan 30 days, Shawwal 29 days, Dhul-Qa’dah 30 days and Dhul-Hijjah 29 days.
1431 Hijri/2010 AD
Muharram 30 days, Safar 29 days, Rabi ul-Awwal 30 days, Rabi uth- Thani 29 days, Jamadi ul-Awwal 30 days, Jamadi uth-Thani 29 days, Rajab 30 days, Shaban 29 days, Ramadhan 30 days, Shawwal 29 days, Dhul-Qa’dah 30 days and Dhul-Hijjah 30 days.
1432 Hijri/2011 AD
Muharram 30 days, Safar 29 days, Rabi ul-Awwal 30 days, Rabi uth- Thani 29 days, Jamadi ul-Awwal 30 days, Jamadi uth-Thani 29 days, Rajab 30 days, Shaban 29 days, Ramadhan 30 days, Shawwal 29 days, Dhul-Qa’dah 30 days and Dhul-Hijjah 29 days.
As per the Bohra calendar, all the odd number months are 30 days and all the even number months are 29 days except the last month (Dhul-Hijjah) is 29 or 30 days. There can be no such pattern as far as phases of the moon go. If it would have been that simple the Holy Prophet (sawa) would have specified it, but he did not. Moreover, the science today also says that there is no given pattern.
Some questions regarding the number of days in a lunar month were posed to ‘http://www.Moonsighting.com’, which specializes in the moon sighting issue; one of their answers is listed below:
Question: Is there a pattern of sequence of 29 and 30 days month? Some people say that after 19 years moon phases repeat. Some others say that after 30 years moon cycle repeats.
Answer: After careful scrutiny of long term calculations of moon cycles we found that, in fact, there is no pattern. We have checked 4000 years of calculations i.e. 48000 months and found no pattern. The 19 year cycle of Gregorian year (equal to 228 months in Gregorian Calendar), is a cycle after which the moon phases roughly repeat. Remember the word roughly, not exactly; and hence 228 Gregorian months (or 6940 days) are approximately equal to 235 lunar months (19 years and 7 month in Lunar Calendar). Similarly 30 lunar years (10631 days) are approximately equal to 29 years and 1 month of solar calendar, but again this is also approximate. Long term calculations based on this rule sometimes gives results that are wrong by one day. Some others have pointed a cycle of 210 lunar years, and it has the same flaw as 30 year cycle. In short, there is no pattern that can be quoted exactly repeating.8
Where do the Bohras get this calendar from?
The Tabular Islamic calendar (an example is the Fatimid or Misri calendar) is a rule-based variation of the Islamic calendar It has the same numbering of years and months, but the months are determined by arithmetic rules rather than by observation or astronomical calculations. It was developed by early Muslim astronomers of the second hijra century (the 8th century of the Common Era) to provide a predictable time base for calculating the positions of the moon, sun, and planets. It is used by some Muslims in everyday life, particularly in the Bohra Ismaili community. It is their firm belief, that all Fatimid Imams and their Da’is9 have followed this tradition.
Each year has 12 months. The odd numbered months have 30 days and the even numbered months have 29 days, except in a leap year when the 12th and final month has 30 days.
There are 11 leap years in a 30 year cycle. Noting that the average year has 354 11/30 days and a common year has 354 days, at the end of the first year of the 30-year cycle the remainder is 11/30 day. Whenever the remainder exceeds a half day (15/30 day), then a leap day is added to that year, reducing the remainder by one day. Thus at the end of the second year the remainder would be 22/30 day which is reduced to −8/30 day by a leap day.
Using this rule the leap years are 2, 5, 7, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21, 24, 26 and 29 of the 30-year cycle. If leap days are added whenever the remainder equals or exceeds a half day, then all leap years are the same except 15 replaces 16.
The Ismaili Tayyebi (Bohra) community uses the following order of leap years in their 30-year cycle:
2, 5, 8, 10, 13, 16, 19, 21, 24, 27 and 29
Apart from these, there are two more orders for the leap years which are as follows:
2, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15, 18, 21, 24, 26 and 29
2, 5, 8, 11, 13, 16, 19, 21, 24, 27 and 30
The mean month is 29 191/360 days = 29.5305555… days. This is slightly too short and so will be a day out in about 2500 years.10 The Tabular Islamic calendar also deviates from the observation based calendar in the short term for various reasons.11
The Bohra calendar has an average month of 29.53055512 and the long-term average duration of the lunar month is 29.530589 as we can see the average month in the Bohra calendar is slightly shorter than the actual average meaning that in around 2500 years13 the Bohra calendar will be a whole day further behind14 the scientifically calculated birth of the moon couple this with the current differences and we can conclude in around 1000 years (as currently we are in 1432) the Bohra calendar will have little to do with the lunar phases or lunar calendar.
Another important reason why the Bohra calendar is inaccurate is when I looked into the moon sighting reports for couple of months (Holy Ramadhan and Shawwal) and compared it with the Bohra Calendar, I found that the Bohras calendar is definitely off and in one of the years (1431 AH) the Bohras started fasting when the moon was barely born! Actually, the Bohras in India started Ramadhan fast before the moon was born in 1431 AH.
Following is a four year study based upon the data found in http://moonsighting.com andhttp://crescentmoonwatch.org:
Moon sighting for Ramadan 1429 Hijri (2008)
The astronomical New moon is on Saturday, August 30th, 2008 at 19:57 UT: No sighting reports are expected on August 30. However, Nigeria has claimed to see the moon on Saturday.15
This means that the moon was barely born on August 30th. It was seen on probably on 31st of August or 1st of September. Then the first of the Holy month of Ramadhan should have been the 1st of Sept or max 2nd of September, but as per the Bohra/Ismaili calendar the 1st of Ramadan was August 31st, 2008. It was impossible to see the crescent on August 30th, then how come the Bohras started fasting on the 31st of August?
India is 5 ½ hours ahead of Universal Time (UT or GMT), so the moon was born at 1:27 AM on Aug 31st (Indian Standard Time) and the Bohras started fasting the same day in India!!!

Moon sighting report for Shawwal 1429 Hijri (2008)
The Astronomical New Moon is on Monday, September 29, 2008 at 8:12 GMT, 4:12 am EDT, 1:12 am PDT). It will not be visible16 on September 29 except small possibility in Polynesian Islands. On Tuesday, September 30, it will be visible in New Zealand Australia, Indonesia, South Asia, Africa and Americas. In North America on September 30, it can be seen in Southern belt states.17
This means that the moon of Shawwal could be sighted only on the 30th of September or 1st of Oct 2008, so Eid ul Fitr should have been on 1st or 2nd of October 2008, but as per the Bohra/Ismailis calendar Eid ul Fitr was on Sept 30th, 2008. It was impossible to see the crescent on the 29th of September, then how come they celebrated the Eid on the 30th? If one does not fast intentionally on a day that fasting is wajib then as per Shariah he should makeup that fast and give kaffarah (Penalty). The Bohras need to be careful and look into this matter seriously.

Moonsighting for Ramadan 1430 Hijri (2009)
The Astronomical New Moon is on August 20, 2009 (Thursday) at 10:01 UT. This moon cannot be seen in any continent. There is a small chance to see only in Polynesian Islands on August 20. On August 21, it is very difficult to see in Europe and Canada. It can be seen with difficulty in India, Pakistan, Middle East, and Northern Africa. On August 21, it can be easily seen in New Zealand, Australia, most of Africa, and Americas.18
This means that the crescent of the Holy month of Ramadhan could be sighted only on the 21st or 22nd of August depending on the horizon, so the 1st of Ramadan should have been 22nd or 23rd of August, 2009, but as per the Bohra/Ismaili calendar the 1st of Ramadan was on 21st of August. It was impossible to sight the crescent on August 20th but still Bohras went ahead and started fasting on 21st of August?

Moon sighting for Shawwal 1430 Hijri (2009)
The Astronomical New Moon is on September 18, 2009 (Friday) at 18:44 UT. This moon is not visible anywhere on September 18. On September 19, it will still not be visible in Asia, Europe and Canada. It can easily be seen in South Africa and South America on Sep 19. On the same day, with difficulty, it is possible to be seen in Western Australia, Central Africa, Caribbean Islands, Central America and very Southern areas of USA. In USA, on Sep. 19, the moon is going to be very low on the horizon at sunset, so try to see before Maghrib. Binocluars will help.19
This means that the moon for Shawwal could be sighted on September 20th or 21st depending on the zone, so Eid ul fitr should have been on 21st or 22nd of September, 2009, but as per the Bohra/Ismaili calendar Eid ul Fitr was on 20th of September, 2009. The crescent was not at all visible on the 18th and on the 19th it was not at all visible in Asia, Europe and Canada but the Bohras in Asia, Europe and Canada celebrated their Eid on September 20th?

Moon sighting for Ramadan 1431 Hijri (2010)
The Astronomical New Moon is on August 10, 2010 (Tuesday) at 3:08 UT. On this day, this moon may not be seen in any continent. With difficulty it may be visible in South America. Only in Polynesian Islands on August 10, it will be easily visible. On August 11, it will be easy to see in New Zealand, Australia, South-East Asia, Africa and Americas, while it will be difficult to see in Northern Asia, Europe, and Canada.20
According to the data above the moon for the Holy month of Ramadhan was barely born on August 10th, 2010 and it was not visible at all on the 10th of August. Hence it could have been sighted on 11th of August or 12th of August; this means the 1st of Holy Ramadhan should have been 12th of August or 13th of August. As per the Bohra/Ismaili calendar the first of Ramadhan was on the 10th of August, which means they fasted on the day that moon was barely born.
As a matter of fact India is 5 ½ hours ahead of Universal Time (UT or GMT), the new moon was born at 3:08 UT on the 10th of August which is equivalent to 8:38 AM Indian Standard Time, this means that Bohras who started fasting in India on the 10th would have started fasting before the new moon was actually born!!! This is an obvious error.

Moon sighting for Shawwal 1431 (2010)
The Astronomical New Moon is on September 8, 2010 (Wednesday) at 10:30 UT. This moon may not be visible anywhere on September 8 except some Polynesian Islands. On September 9, it will still not be visible in Northern Asia, Europe and Canada. It can easily be seen in New Zealand, Australia, South-East Asia, Africa and Americas on Sep 9th.21
The data above shows that the moon for Shawwal was born on 8th of September, 2010 and hence it was probably visible on September 9th, 2010. Hence, Eid ul Fitr should have been on 10th of September, but as per the Bohra/Ismail calendar Eid ul Fitr was on 9th of September. The scientific data clearly says that crescent will not be visible at all except in Polynesian islands and as per http://crescentmoonwatch.org, with the help of optical aid in South Africa and nowhere else but the Bohras celebrated Eid on 9th of September?

Moonsighting for Ramadan 1432 (2011)
The Astronomical New Moon is on July 30, 2011 (Saturday) at 18:40 UT. On July 30, it cannot be seen anywhere in the world. On Sunday, July 31, 2011, it can be easily seen in Southern Africa and South America, but with difficulty in Central Africa. On August 1, it can be easily seen everywhere except Northern Europe.22
As per the information above, the moon was born on July 30th, 2011 and it cannot be seen anywhere. Hence it was probably visible on July 31st or August 1st, 2011, which means that the Holy Ramadhan should have started on 1st of August or 2nd of August, 2011. As per the Bohra/Ismaili calendar the 1st of Holy Ramadhan was on 31st July, 2011.

Moon sighting report for Shawwal 1432 (2011)
The Astronomical New Moon is on August 29, 2011 (Monday) at 3:04 UT. On August 29, by naked eye it can be seen in Southern part of South America and Polynesian Islands. With binoculars it may be seen in Cape Town South Africa, Northern part of South America, and in Hawaii. On Tuesday, August 30, 2011, it can be easily seen everywhere except Northern Asia and Northern Europe.23
As per the data above the moon for Shawwal was born on 29th of August, 2011 and it was probably visible on August 29th, 2011 in very few places like Southern part of South America and Polynesian Islands, but it was definitely not visible in India, UK, North America etc. It was easily visible everywhere on August 30th. Hence Eid ul Fitr should have been on 31st of August, but as per the Bohra/Ismail calendar Eid ul Fitr was on 30th of August, 2011 and all the Bohras throughout the world celebrated Eid on 30th of August.
As per the data presented above, it is clear that the Bohra calendar is not accurate at all. The data above shows that most of the time the Bohras started the month before the crescent was visible and sometimes even before the crescent was born24 in their region, which is against the rulings of Islam. The Bohra Calendar does sound very good as the dates are fixed, but it is not accurate and it is against the rulings of Islam. It is interesting that Bohras follow the book Da’aimul Islam and there is a tradition of the Holy Prophet (sawa) regarding sighting the crescent, but the Bohras insist on following a calendar. It seems that this calendar was made by the Fatimid for the sake of convenience only. Like I said earlier, that it would be great to have an accurate calendar, but unfortunately the Bohra Calendar is not accurate.

Some frequently asked questions about moonsighting
Following are some very frequently asked questions that were posed tohttp://www.Moonsighting.com:
Question: What is the process one must use to correctly sight the moon?
Answer of http://www.Moonsighting.com: Go after about 15 minutes after sunset. Look in the direction of the setting sun, just above it, also look to the right or left of it up to 30° in either direction of the setting sun. Keep looking until the time of moonset that you can obtain from local newspapers. Binocular helps. Have one or more persons with you, if possible. If you do this for a few months, you will know yourself about improving your procedure. What evening you should go to look, can be found from my web site, or if you know when the moon was sighted in your area for the previous month, then count 29 days from it.
Question: If the moon is big, does it mean it is a second day moon?
Answer of http://www.Moonsighting.com: As most of us know, the moon goes through several phases. The months of the Islamic Calendar are based on sighting of the new moon every month. In Astronomy, a new moon means “when the moon of the previous month disappears (i.e. the moon goes from a slightly visible crescent to a completely black sphere that is impossible to be seen).” Remember, new moon is dark and invisible. About 17-23 hours after the new moon, a thin crescent becomes visible on earth; this is visible new moon. As we were taught by Allah (Qur’an 2:189) and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it is the sighting of this crescent that marks the start of a new month. Therefore, even though a moon may be born on one day, it may not been seen until the next day. Furthermore, if a new moon is born less than 15 hours before sunset on day 1; it will not been seen until sunset of day 2; and when it is finally seen it is 15+24=39 hours old and will look very thick. This does NOT mean that this is a second day moon. A first day crescent-moon can be very thin in some locations and it can also be thick in other locations because of time difference. As Muslims, we should always remember that our first priority is to follow the teachings of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) who told us to start the month when we see the crescent, not when the moon is “born.” If we do that, Insha-Allah we will start the month at the “right” time (the time that Allah intends for the month to start for a specific location).
For more questions regarding moonsighting, please visit their website.

Conclusive Points
In the discussion so far a few examples and some extracts from the lives of the Ismaili Imams and some of the Ithna Ashari Imams were discussed. When we look at the history of Ismaili Imams, it is apparent that they were not divinely appointed. They sinned and oppressed, like in the case of al-Hakim. How can we follow someone who sins? The Fatimid/Ismaili Imams had no traits in their lifestyles to show that they were spiritual Imams. They have no noble sayings and their life history has nothing in it that one can say, by looking and following their lifestyle, one could get closer to Allah (swt). The goal of the Prophets and the Imams was to lead mankind closer to Allah (swt), but the Fatimid/Ismaili Imams had no traits that would lead someone closer to the Almighty.
On the other hand, the Imams of the Ithna Ashari Shias were full of knowledge, had impeccable characters, their sayings, their lifestyles and supplications, all lead towards seeking closeness to Allah (swt).
Yes, the Fatimid period was a golden period. Egypt was flourishing; nice mosques and university like al-Azhar were built, I agree that this was a great achievement but this does not mean that the Fatimid were the rightful Imams. Right now, when we go to Saudi Arabia, the Masjid ul-Nabi and the Masjid ul-Haraam are very nicely built. The Saudi’s are working very actively in propagating their opinion of Islam. This does not mean that they are on the right path. Let us go a step further, right now the western countries are flourishing and they have very good universities, and they are highly developed nations but this does not mean that they are on the right path.
Bohras are very organized, so this is one of the arguments that Ismaili Bohras give to prove the authenticity of their beliefs. Being organized does not mean that they are on the right path! There are other religions that prevail in the Gujarat region of India and those people are very organized too; does it mean that they are on the right path? Even the Aga Khani Khojas are very organized; does it mean that they are on the right path? Moreover, if the Bohras are on the right path then how come we do not see people accepting their religion? How come the Bohras do not propagate their religion? Dai is supposed to invite people towards the religion, is he doing his job?
When the youth question the Bohra Mullas about the inconsistencies, they are told to follow just like their fathers. There are ayahs in the Quran that condemn following the religion of your forefathers blindly, for example; “When they are told ‘Follow what Allah has sent down,’ they say, ‘We will rather follow what we have found our fathers following,’ “what even if their fathers neither applied reason nor were guided?!” 25 This Ayah tells us not to follow blindly what our fathers and forefathers followed. Also tells us, that our fathers and forefathers could have been following the wrong path.
I was told, ‘What is the big deal, if one follows 12 Imams or 21 Imams?’ They further added by saying ‘we follow Imamate too, like we are supposed to. So, what is the big deal?’ Well, it is a big deal. Allah (swt) orders us to follow His Prophet (sawa) and the ones vested with authority. If we follow the ones not vested with authority by Allah (swt), then we will go astray. For example: I buy very sophisticated equipment. It comes with an instruction booklet that asks me to call an authorized agent for a demonstration. If I just follow the instruction booklet and not call the authorized agent, then I am not following the instructions of the manufacturer. The manufacturer knows its product and knows that just following the instruction booklet is not enough. Along with the instruction booklet, an authorized agent is necessary. Mind you, it must be an authorized agent, not any leader. In the same way, Allah (swt) knows us. Along with the book, He sent the Messenger (sawa) and the Imams (as). We must follow them all. We must follow the ones He gave the authority to.
It is very important to follow the chain. Yes! It is a big deal. Please take this issue very seriously and do some research. This world as we know is temporary. We are being tested. The real life is the hereafter. I know that work keeps us busy. We need to have a balance. We need to take out time for Allah (swt). We need to seek closeness to Allah (swt). In order to seek closeness to Him, we need to believe in all the Messengers and follow our Prophet (sawa) and all the Imams (as). As we know, Risalat 26 and Imamat are both important, because they both are part of the principles of religion.
As per our belief, on the Day of Judgment, we will be called with our Imams; if in this world, we believed in the rightful Imams, the ones that the Holy Prophet (sawa) declared by the order of Allah, then we shall be called with them. Otherwise, God forbid, if we had followed the wrong imams, then we will be in their group. So we definitely do need to do some serious research and use our intellect and decide.
We should research without any bias and we should be careful when we encounter the truth because people react to the truth in different ways. Some know the truth, but due to social pressures, they do not accept the truth. To them, society is more important than the word of the Almighty. They think that they will live in this world forever and look at the worldly things and cling to the earth.
Some say these things do not matter as long as we pray and fast and go to Hajj etc. This is a wrong belief! I repeat that Satan worshipped Allah (swt) like no one else. The only wrong thing he did was to disobey one command of Allah (swt), when he refused to do Sajda 27 to Adam (as). Satan refused to obey only one command of Allah (swt), and all the years of his worship were nullified and he was thrown out of the kingdom of mercy. Allah (swt) wants us to worship Him the way he wants to be worshipped. We should really ponder on this. The problem with us, Muslims, is that we pick and choose. The things that are easy to do or are socially acceptable, or are profitable, we accept them; the ones that we do not want to do for some reason, we reject or justify. The problem with us Muslims is that we do not submit to His laws.
Some say that it does not matter what we believe as long as we do righteous deeds. If one does righteous deeds without belief, is that sufficient? What are the righteous deeds?
In the Holy Quran, whenever we see the mention of righteous deeds, it is accompanied by belief in almost all the ayahs.
For example in Suratul Bayyinat verse 7: Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, – they are the best of creatures.28
Another example, Suratul Baqarah verse 82: And those who have faith and do righteous deeds, they shall be the inhabitants of paradise; they shall remain in it (forever).29
And there are many other places where faith and righteous deeds come together. Bottom line: righteous deeds are almost always with faith (Imaan) in Quran.
If one does righteous deeds only, without having faith (Imaan), then it is not enough; these deeds which are apparently good deeds will not help this person in the hereafter.
The Holy Quran, Surah Nur verse 39, says: As for the faithless, their works are like a mirage in a plain, which the thirsty man supposes to be water. When he comes to it, he finds it to be nothing; but there he finds Allah, who will pay him his full account, and Allah is swift at reckoning.30
What is imaan? If one says the Shahadatain (I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah), is that enough? Does it mean that this person has faith?
The answer is no! As per Quran Suratul Hujurat verse 14: The Bedouins say, “We have faith.” Say, “You do not have faith yet; rather say, “We have embraced Islam,” for faith has not yet entered into your hearts. Yet if you obey Allah and His Apostle, He will not stint anything of (the reward of) your works. Indeed Allah is all-forgiving, all-merciful.”31
This ayah is clearly saying that if one embraces Islam, it does not mean that this person has faith. This tells us that more is needed to say that we have faith! One cannot just say that he has faith when he embraces Islam.
Then, what is faith? When can one say that he has faith? Imam Ali (as) in Nahjul Balagha says: He was asked about faith so he said; faith is to know with one’s heart and affirm with one’s tongue and to act with one’s limbs.32
He (as) is saying that: Imaan is made up of three elements (Rukn), Tongue (Say), Heart (Belief) and Amal (Practice).
Let us ponder on this hadith: If one says the Shahadatain using his tongue but does not believe in it and nor practices it, then what good is it? If one says it and believes in it but does not practice, then what good is it? If one says it, practices it and does not believe in it, he is a hypocrite. Therefore, what Imam Ali (as) had rightly said in order for one to have Imaan, he should say it and believe in it from the bottom of his heart and practice.
What are the righteous deeds? The righteous deeds are those that are required by the divine law. Once a person has Imaan in the true sense (say it, believe in it and practice it), then he will do righteous deeds.
In order to practice and do righteous deeds, then it is important to follow the rightful divine leaders. Otherwise, if we follow the ones who are not divine then we will end up doing deeds that we are assuming are righteous but are like mirages, just like what the ayah of Surah Nur that I quoted above, says.
Following the ones who are not divinely appointed will end up in deeds that are null and void.9 Some people say that intention counts, if the intention is good then that is all that matters. A good deed, in order to be accepted, must be done right. Otherwise, it will not be accepted, whether the intention was pure or not. I will give a worldly example: Let us take computers for instance; when we are supposed to hit ‘enter’ and we hit ‘back space’ instead, the computer will not accept the command. We will go no place, no matter how good our intention is. From this worldly example, we see the results of worldly things right in this world. But we believe in Allah (swt), who is Unseen. We believe in the heaven and hell, which are unseen. We believe in the hereafter, which is unseen, and the rewards or punishment that we accumulate for the deeds we do for the hereafter are unseen. So we do need to be careful and perform the deeds as per the requirement of our Lord the Almighty. We can do that only when we follow the rightful divine representatives sent or appointed by Allah (swt). If we follow any Tom Dick and Harry, we will err.
Enough information was provided in this little booklet for one to seriously ponder about and use the intellect and scrutinize without any bias, in order to seek closeness to the Almighty Allah (swt).
I myself was a Bohra once, I had many questions and after I got my answers I converted to Ithna Ashari Shia sect, and I wanted to share my findings with others. If anyone has any arguments against what I wrote or my beliefs, I am willing to listen. I believe that we should never be biased and we should always leave the lid of our heart open, so that the guidance could seep in.
I would like to conclude with the saying of Nabi Shoayb (as) to his people which is in Qur’an In Suratul Hud verse 88: He said, “O my people! Have you considered, should I stand on a manifest proof from my Lord, who has provided me a good provision from Himself? I do not wish to oppose you by what I forbid you. I only desire to put things in order, as far as I can, and my success lies only with Allah: in Him I have put my trust, and to Him I turn penitently.”33
25. Surah Baqarah (2), Ayah 189; Translation of Sayyid Ali Quli Qarai
26. Surah Baqarah (2), Ayah 184
27. Surah Baqarah 185; Translation of M H Shakir
28. Qadhi Numan (Numan ibn Muhammed), Da’aimul Islam 1st vol., p. 280
29. Wasa’il ash-Shia, vol. 10, p. 252
30. Wasa’il ash-Shia, vol. 10, p. 252
31. http://www.Moonsighting.com under ‘FAQ’s Youngest moon & Sighting Criteria’ Answer to Questions # 2.1 & 10.6
32. http://www.Moonsighting.com
33. Representatives of the Imam
10. Detailed explanation to follow
11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabular_Islamic_calendar
12. We obtain this by taking the common Bohra calendar year, 6 months 29 day and 6 months 30 day, then multiplying that by 30 years (as that is the cycle) and adding on the 11 leap days. Finally we divide that by 30 to get the average year and by 12 to get the average month.
13. We obtain this value by subtracting the Bohra calendar average month from the lunar calendar average month, then we divide 1 by this number (as we are trying to see when the calendars will differ by a day) and finally divide the obtained number by 12 to get the value in years and we get the value 2491.65 years (approximately 2500 years)
14. What this means is that the Bohras after about 1000 years will be starting the month about a day or day and a half before the new moon is born!!! As it is they are sometimes starting the month even before the moon is born. Please see below where Ramadhan of 1431 Hijri (2010) is discussed.
15. Moonsighting.com. Note as per Crescentmoonwatch.org the new moon was born at 19:58UT and it was not visible at all on Aug 30th, 2008. In order to access the data onhttp://www.crescentmoonwatch.org go on the site and click on ‘next new moon’ and scroll down and until you see the ‘Global Visibility Maps for previous months’. Also note that is a non-Muslim site. The site address is http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org/
16. Note: When they say not visible, they mean the crescent will not be visible even in the best weather conditions.
17. http://www.Moonsighting.com; and as per http://www.Crescentmoonwatch.org the crescent was not visible on the 29th except probably with optical aid in South Africa.
18. Moonsighting.com; Note as per http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org the new moon was born at 10:02 UT and it was not visible at all on August 20th.
19. http://www.Moonsighting.com; and as per http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org the moon was not visible at all on September 18th at all.
20. http://www.Moonsighting.com; and as per http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org the crescent will be easily visible only in a very small part of South Africa and nowhere else on August 10th.
21. http://www.Moonsighting.com; and as per http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org the crescent was not visible at all except with the aid of optical aid in South Africa only on September 8th.
22. http://www.Moonsighting.com; and as per http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org the crescent was not visible at all on July 30th
23. http://www.Moonsighting.com; and as per http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org the crescent was only visible in South Africa on the 29th of August.
24. In Ramadhan 1431 H (2010), we discussed above.

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here