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Related to Ismailis: Nizari Ismailis


(ĭsmäēl`ēz), Muslim Shiite sect that holds Ismail, the son of Jafar as-Sadiq, as its imamimam
[Arab.,=leader], in Islam, a recognized leader or a religious teacher. Among the Sunni the term refers to the leader in the Friday prayer at the mosque; any pious Muslim may function as imam.
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. On the death of the sixth imam of the Shiites, Jafar as-Sadiq (d. 765), the majority of ShiitesShiites
[Arab., shiat Ali,=the party of Ali], the second largest branch of Islam, Shiites currently account for 10%–15% of all Muslims. Shiite Islam originated as a political movement supporting Ali (cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam) as the
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 accepted Musa al-Kazim, the younger son of Jafar, as seventh imam. Those who remained faithful to Ismail, the eldest son, soon evolved the belief that Ismail was endowed with an infallible gift for interpreting the inner meaning of the revelation.

Ismailism developed an understanding of Islam and promoted it through an active missionary system. Although the early history remains obscure, Ismailism incorporated elements of GnosticismGnosticism
, dualistic religious and philosophical movement of the late Hellenistic and early Christian eras. The term designates a wide assortment of sects, numerous by the 2d cent. A.D.
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, NeoplatonismNeoplatonism
, ancient mystical philosophy based on the doctrines of Plato. Plotinus and the Nature of Neoplatonism

Considered the last of the great pagan philosophies, it was developed by Plotinus (3d cent. A.D.).
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, and Hindu thought to explain its concept of the imam. Over time it came to stress the importance of the esoteric aspects of the faith over the exoteric. The first success of the Ismaili movement was the establishment of the Qarmat state (see KarmathiansKarmathians
or Carmathians
, a Muslim sect of the 9th and 10th cent., similar to the Assassin sect. They were part of a movement for social reform that spread widely through Islam from the 9th to the 12th cent.
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) in E Arabia. Ismaili missionaries and its political organization also mobilized a network of N African tribes to support the Fatimid claim to the caliphate in Egypt and several regions of the Mediterranean. An offshoot, the AssassinsAssassin
, European name for the member of a secret order of the Ismaili sect of Islam. They are known as Nizaris after Nizar ibn al-Mustansir, whom they supported as caliph; the European term Assassin is derived from the Arabic for "users of hashish.
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, established a state in NE Iran, which survived until the 13th cent. In 1094 the Ismailis split into Nizaris and Mustalis. Today, though a minority community that is not politically active, the Ismailis are spread in small pockets in parts of the Middle East, central and S Asia, and increasingly North America and Europe. The family of the Aga KhanAga Khan
, the title of the religious leader and imam of the Ismaili Nizari sect of Islam, originally bestowed by the Persian shah Fath Ali on Hasan Ali Shah, 1800–1881, the 46th Ismaili imam, in 1818.
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, the Nizari imam, traces its descent from Ismail.


See S. M. Stern, Studies in Early Ismailism (1983); F. Daftary, The Ismailis (1990).

References in periodicals archive ?
Chairman Khan also pointed out that the Ismaili community made an important contribution to the development of Pakistan since its creation and has continued to play a vital role in its progress since then.
The prisoners were arrested after a meeting in 2000 with the then governor of Najran province, a royal disliked by Saudi Ismailis, to ask for the release of an Ismaili teacher, ended in clashes that left two civilians injured.
The Ismaili community is one of the branches of Shia Islam, headed by the hereditary Imam - the Aga Khan.
It was under such circumstances that the Crusaders made the Niziiri Ismailis famous in medieval Europe as the Assassins--a misnomer rooted in a derogatory name applied to the contemporary Niziiris by other Muslims and which has continued to be used by some modem scholars.
It said in a statement it had observed "a pattern of discrimination against the Ismailis in government employment, education, religious freedom and the justice system.
The book under review, written originally in German by one of the foremost contemporary authorities in the field,(1) is the fullest scholarly treatment of the religio-political history of the Ismailis during the late pre-Fatimid and early Fatimid periods, until the transference of the seat of the Fatimid state from Ifriqiya to Egypt in 362/973.
La Quietude de l'Intellect, a title taken from al-Kirmani's greatest work Rahat al- aql ("The Comfort of Mind"), is, however, despite its substantial size, not primarily a study of Ismaili doctrines.
The initiative is first of its kind in bringing together a network of established and aspiring Ismaili artists and intends to catalyse artistic interests' abilities and aspirations within the global Ismaili community.
The spiritual leader of the Ismaili community said that he had a strong bond with Chitral and was aware of the problems of the area.
The Ismaili community sees the diamond jubilee as an opportunity to provide hope for the future of populations that may be marginalised or vulnerable.
He said this while talking to a delegation of Ismaili Community led by Amin Lakhani which met with him in his office on Friday.
As for the Western media's relentless charge that the Aga Khan lives a 'lavish' or 'affluent life', the Ismaili Imam has answered and dismissed the veracity of these claims on multiple occasions.