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01. Introduction

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The Ismailis in the province of Sind, Pakistan celebrate Amir Pir Mela (fair of Amir Pir) once a year in November. At the distance of 123 km from Karachi and 10 km from Jhimpir to the east on the bank of the Kalari Lake lies the location of Amir Pir. The historical background of Amir Pir is shrouded in mist and whirled round the grip of oral and fictitious traditions, based on illusive bits and shreds. Many stories and contrive superstitious tales tinged with miracles have been invented to give vent to credulous stories. In short, the story tellers circulated among the people a host of tales fabricated in exaggeration according to their genius. E.P Delhoste visited the location on February 10, 1839 and admitted that its story was involved in obscurity (vide “Memoirs on Sind,” Karachi, 1979, 1st vol., p. 252). Its source of information has been taken on its face value without verification of the truth thereof. But history, as distinct from fiction, proves otherwise. If one listens to what the common people say, he is at once in an enchanted world of the strangest legends. Reports based on mere folklore, can never be history.

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There is a famous oral tradition, largely mythological in character that a certain Seth Mehr Ali of Mulla Katiar, Sind had once dreamt and saw Amir Hamza ( a name found in the tradition for Muhammad Hanafia or Ibn al-Hanafia) visiting Sind through a cave near Jhimpir. He was also inspired in the dream that the cave was situated on the bank of Soneri Lake (now Kalari Lake by combining Soneri and Kinjar Lakes). He traveled in search of the hidden cave. He first came across a cave on Jam Tamachi Fort, which is now at a small distance of the north-east of the Amir Pir. He stayed there few days in veneration and concluded that it was not that very cave. He then roamed around the Soneri Lake and ultimately discovered the cave inside the rock lying at Amir Pir. Seth Mehr Ali through premonitions in his dream was directed to raise a dome (quba) over the cave, which he did. He fixed 14th Shaban the date of visiting the location.

Following questions emerged while scanning the above tradition :-

1. It indicates that there was only a cave, not the grave of Amir Pir. The “Gazetteer of the Province of Sind” (Bombay, 1927, p. 42) also admits that, “The saint is not, however, buried in the mausoleum of Amir Pir.”

2. The date of 14th Shaban (Shab-e Bharat) clearly suggests a non-Ismaili influence in the location.

3. After the event of Kerbala, many sub-sects in Shi’ite sprang in Arab, and most of them held belief in the disappearance of their masters. The Shia Ismaili Muslims never believed the doctrine of concealment. Ibn al-Hanafia’s concealment in the cave claimed in the above tradition denotes the belief of the Kaysania sect.

4. The above oral tradition is built merely on the edifice of a dream, which cannot be reckoned as historical evidence.

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