11. Pir Amir - Mysterious Name
While going through the traditional list of the Pirs contained in the old Dua, the name of Pir Amir Ahmad is documented as the 6th Pir. He is also called Amir, Amir Ahmad or Ahmad Ali. His period is controversial, not located conclusively, which provided most pregnant opportunity to the people to cultivate unreliable stories. Dr. Abualy A. Aziz in â€œBrief History of Ismailismâ€ (Dar-es-Salaam, 1974, p. 110) writes that, â€œPir Amir Ahmed, the sixth Ismaili Pir, was none other than Imam Jafar as-Sadiq.â€ The weakness of the later sources, indicating however a remote possibility, not strong one, that Pir Amir Ahmad was sent on special mission by Imam Muhammad al-Bakir or Imam Jafar Sadik. The oral disfigured tradition claims that he was that very person, known as Amir Pir in Jhimpir. The name of Pir Amir Ahmad in the traditional list comes next to Imam Zayn al-Abidin, which also does not mean that both were contemporary.
We pause for a while to have a look at the traditional list of the Pirs as under :-
1. Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him)
2. Hazrat Hasan
3. Kassim Shah
4. Jafar Shah
5. Zayn al-Abidin
6. Amir Ahmad
The above list ostensibly suggests at first glance that after assuming the Imamate in 61/680, Imam Zayn al-Abidin consigned the office of the Piratan to Amir Ahmad, but its historicity is inaccessible. Since the name Amir Ahmad is followed by Imam Zayn al-Abidin in the above list, it became convenient to the fabricators to make them contemporary.
It is however much nearer to reasonable possibility that Imam Wafi Ahmad (d. 212/828) had consigned the office of the Hujjat or Pir to his son, called Ahmad. He propagated Ismaili dawat in the villages of Syria and Iran. He was succeeded to his father and assumed the title of at-Taqi (God-fearing). In Indian Ismaili literature, he is called â€œPir Ahmadâ€ or â€œPir Amir Ahmadâ€ while denoting him the Pir. He is simultaneously called â€œTaqi Muhammadâ€ when referring him as an Imam. Hence, Pir Amir Ahmad was the name of Imam Taqi Muhammad, who flourished in the Dawrâ€™i Satr, and nothing to do with the period of Ibn al-Hanafia as is wrongly mentioned in the â€œSatveniâ€™ji Vel.â€
It is a trenchant point to keep in mind that Pir Amir Ahmad (Imam Taqi Muhammad) died in 225/840 long after the period of Imam Zayn al-Abidin, while Ibn al-Hanafia died in 81/700. How it is possible to consider both Pir Amir Ahmad and Ibn al-Hanafia as one and the same person when they were not even contemporary ?
Imam Zayn al-Abidin returned from Damascus to Medina, while Ibn Hanafia was in Mecca. Is it possible to believe that Imam had given him the Piratan with a mandate to wage war against the enemies of Imam Hussain? Was the Piratan given merely for this purpose? Soon after the event of Kerbala, the Imam changed the policy not to take part in the politics. It was Mukhtar who emerged in history to take revenge to exploit his political interest. He declared Ibn al-Hanafia as the Mahdi and carried on the mission in his name. It is unbelievable that Imam Zayn al-Abidin had approved the cult of Mukhtar and supported his mission by appointing Ibn al-Hanafia as the Pir? In fact, Ibn al-Hanafia and Pir Amir Ahmad were different historical characters in different periods, and moreso Amir Ahmad was not the name or title of Ibn al-Hanafia.
Notwithstanding, the coinage of the term â€œAmir Pirâ€ in Sind carries a different story without its least relation with â€œPir Amir Ahmadâ€ or â€œIbn al-Hanafiaâ€.
When Imam Hasan Ali Shah arrived in Sind, he held meeting with Sir Charles Napier (1782-1853), the then British political agent of Sind. This historical meeting made the Imam famous in Sind. The Muslims in lower Sind mostly of Shah Bandar and District Thatta revered the Imam as a Pir and called him the Khwajenâ€™jo Pir. The British posted the Imam in Jerruk for guarding the route between Hyderabad and Karachi. The Imam arrived in Jerruk on March 1, 1843. The Jokia, Numeri and Kalmati tribes gathered together and attacked on the Ismailis in Jerruk led by Mir Sher Muhammad Khan on March 23, 1843. In the encounter, the enemies plundered 23 lac rupees cash amount of the Imam. Mirza Kalichbeg writes in â€œHistory of Sindâ€ (Karachi, 1902, 2nd vol., p. 260) that Sir Charles Napier wrote letter to Mir Sher Muhammad Khan on April 7, 1843, which reads: â€œChief, if you will give back to Aga Khan the plunder you took from Jerruck, and come in and make Salaam to me, I will pardon, and be your friend, and your jageers shall be respected. C.J. Napier.â€ Later, the amount of the Imam was recovered.
The news of the great robbery rapidly spread in Hyderabad, District Thatta and Shah Bandar, inducing the Muslims to say : â€œOh! Pir (Imam Hasan Ali Shah) is a rich (Amir) person.â€ Gradually, the term â€œAmir Pirâ€ (the rich Pir) was designated for Imam Hasan Ali Shah. The fact of the designation can be verified from the old records of Registrar of District Thatta.
Consequently, the two correlative names (Amir Pir and Pir Amir Ahmad) cropped on the surface in lower Sind. In order to distinguish the two relevant names, the Ismailis denoted the term â€œAmir Pirâ€ for Imam Hasan Ali Shah, and â€œPir Amir Ahmadâ€ or â€œPir Amirâ€ was specified for the 6th Ismaili Pir. Since the fair began by the orders of Imam Hasan Ali Shah, it became known as â€œAmir Pir Melaâ€ after his name.
The â€œAmir Pir Melaâ€ became widespread in India, where the Ismailis of Kutchh, Kathiawar and Gujrat were unknown with the other side of the coin, and tried to correlate Ibn al-Hanafia with Pir Amir Ahmad, the 6th Pir; and constructed a layer of confusion in locating the personality of Pir Amir Ahmad. Besides, the story of Seth Mehr Aliâ€™s dream also prompted them to cultivate few other stories. This type of coining commenced in these areas, wherefrom this art was developed. Some irresponsible writers have even wrongly gone to the extent to equate the 6th Pir Amir Ahmad with the â€œcaveâ€ tradition of Amir Pir, vide â€œPir Padhariya Aapanâ€™e Duarâ€ (Bombay, 1986, pp. 99-106) by Abdul Hussain. Their literature has intricately injected wrong views into the minds of the people. Unless the modern writers know before writing the theories of disappearance in a cave, immortality of the Pir or Saint and the veneration of any location quite contrary to the Ismaili tariqah, they would have never correlated two persons. This curious formula was arbitrary, irrational and wholly impracticable and divorced from reality.