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Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

It is the collection of the different farmans of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah in Gujrati published by the Ismailia Association for India. It is divided into two volumes, the first was published in 1953, entitled Kalam-i Imam-i Moobin (388 pages), containing the farmans of September 1, 1885 to February 20, 1910. It covered almost 160 visits of the Imam in India and East African countries. Its second volume was published in 1960, entitled Kalam-i Imam-i Moobin (Part II) or Rahebari-i Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah, with the farman of January 4, 1911 to January 15, 1951 in about 494 pages.

There existed no proper arrangement to collect different farmans in India during the Aga Khans period. Most of the bhagats wrote in their personal books, which was individual efforts.

During the Aga Khans period, the following four classes of the Ismailis existed in and around India:-

1. The Ismailis who professed faith of their ancestors since early conversion.

2. The gupti Ismailis in Gujrat and Punjab living in the Hindu society.

3. The new Ismailis converted in the Aga Khans period.

4. The remote jamat practicing the tradition of Nasir Khusaro.

Each class of the Ismailis travelled towards Bombay from time to time for Imam's didar. The Imam made his farmans to them in accordance with their understanding in Ismailism. Some times the Imam made farmans before more than one group, thus the Imam retained the notion of their understanding in his guidance. Sometimes a special farman made for one class did not belong to the others, and vice versa. The farmans on the whole were copied however in an equal vein. When it were reduced to printing, it seems that the farmans were not properly categorized.

Master Hashim Bogha (1863-1912), a prolific and trenchant writer was the first to publish the farmans of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah in 1906 into Khojki script, entitled Bahr-i Rehmat, containing the farmans from 1903 to 1905, and updated in 1911. It was published under The Shi'a Imami Ismaili Dharam Vardhak Gujrati Book Agency, Bombay. Later, Mukhi Laljibhai Devraj (1842-1930) continued to publish the farmans of different visits of the Imam till 1922. Then, the different institutions published the farmans between 1923 and 1951.

With the cooperation of the President Varas Ghulam Hussain Thavar Pir Muhammad (1907-1963), Wazir A.C. Rahimtullah (1902-1963), the Hon. Secretary of the Ismailia Association for India ventured to bring forth an authorized text of the farmans of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah. The experts were consigned to collect published and unpublished copies. It was an effort of a team-work that the two volumes of the farmans into Gujrati, entitled Kalam-e Imam-e-Moobin were published. One can observe from its critical study that less attention was given to purge the discrepancies stated above.

The above discussion does not mean to challenge the authenticity of the Kalam-e Imam-e-Moobin, but we failed to understand which criteria was followed before its publication. The scrutiny of these two volumes reveals at first glance that the farmans of some majalis and general gatherings have been mixed up and produced in general strain. Comparing the published farmans with the extant manuscripts, it however reveals that the notion of the Imam's guidance is intact. These volumes represent ocean of knowledge. The then Ismailia Associations of other countries also published its selected parts into Gujrati, Urdu and English.

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