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Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

The word mazhar is derived from zahr meaning to manifest or become apparent. Thus, the mazhar means epiphanic form, or more accurately theophany, that is to say a manifestation of God. In Ismaili tariqah, the Imam is the mazhar, who bears Divine Light in the terrestrial world. He is the most perfect expression of the divine hypostasis because in him the theomorphosis is fully realized and the Absolute becomes manifest to mortal eyes. It then becomes clear in what manner the Imam represents the macrocosmos, the microcosmos as well as axis (qutb) of the universe, without whom the world would not survive even for an instant. Nasiruddin Tusi writes in his Rawdatu't-Taslim (tr. W. Ivanow, 1950, p. 119) that, "The Highest Word, the First Aql, the Nafs-i Kulli, each has an embodiment or manifestation (mazhar) in this world. The manifestation of the Highest Word is the Imam, who is beyond human thought and imagination and above all definitions, positive or negative."

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