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SHIHABUDDIN SHAH, PIR

Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

He was born most probably in 1268/1851 in Baghdad. He is also called Khalilullah and Shah Badin Shah. Imam Aga Ali Shah had married to Marium Sultan in Iraq, who bore two sons, Pir Shihabuddin Shah and Aga Nur Shah. These two sons were brought up in Hasanabad, Bombay. Aga Nur Shah was a good sportsman and fell down from his horse while riding and sustained serious injuries, which proved fatal and died at the age of 30 years. The second wife of Imam Aga Ali Shah was Lady Aly Shah, whose maiden name was Nawab-alia-Shamsul Mulk, the daughter of Mirza Ali Muhammad Nizam ad-Dawla, the Prime Minister of emperor Fateh Ali Shah (d. 1250/1834) of Iran. Her marriage with Imam Aga Ali Shah was performed in Kirman in 1867 and she gave birth of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah in 1877 when Pir Shihabuddin Shah was nearly 16 years old.

Pir Shihabuddin Shah was a learned scholar and a philosopher of high calibre. He was also best known for his piety. He led a simple life mostly in Poona and Bombay. He imparted the Ismailis the interpretations of the Koran. He was also well grounded in the Islamic and Ismaili history. He used to deliver long sermons in the Jamatkhana in Bombay and Poona, the content of which are recorded in the manuscripts. It is said that Imam Aga Ali Shah had deputed him in Afghanistan, but it cannot be verified from the sources.

Imam Aga Ali Shah appointed Pir Shihabuddin Shah as a Pir on 1299/1882 at the age of 30 years. In 1300/1882, the Imam consigned him to revise the old prayer of the Ismailis. This leaves us to believe that he had a good command on the Indian languages. He was also talented in Persian and Arabic studies. He was also a best reciter of the Koran and a keen reader of the works of Rumi and Hafiz. He devoted most of his day times in the community affairs and the nights in writing his works.

Pir Shihabuddin Shah married to a Persian lady, Bibi Arus Khanum, who expired probably in the first or second decade of the 20th century in Arabia. She gave a birth of a son, Abul Hasan Shah and six daughters, namely Talah, Nushi, Turan Malek, Khadija, Tuman Malik and Zarin Taj.

Pir Shihabuddin Shah died at the age of 33 years due to chest disease at Poona on December 15, 1884, about eight months before the death of Imam Aga Ali Shah. His body was embalmed and brought to Bombay, and was kept in Hasanabad for forty days, then sent to Najaf for interment in January, 1885.

The thing, which made Pir Shihabuddin Shah famous in the history, was his treatise, Risala Dar Haqiqat-i Din (The True Meaning of Religion). It was projected originally into two parts, but as far as is possible to ascertain, only the first part was published, which was translated in many languages. The autograph copy of this book is preserved in the library of Haji Musa Khan, one of the attendants of Pir Shihabuddin Shah. It is an oblong note-book, the type which the Persians call bayad, comprising about 200 pages of yellow machine made paper, of which only 75 pages are occupied with the treatise, the rest are blank sheets. It size is eight by four and a quarter outside and six and quarter by two and three quarters of an inch for the space occupied for the next. The text of the work with an English translation was published by the Russian scholar, W. Ivanow in the series of Islamic Research Association, Bombay in 1933. It evoked considerable interest in Ismaili circle. Its Arabic translation was attempted in 1935 in Lattaquie, Syria by Shaikh Ahmad bin Muhammad. Later, its Gujrati translation by Mr.Gwadarwala was published in parts in the weekly Ismaili magazine. Its next Gujrati version and Khojki was published in the Nizari. Its entire translation was effectively reprinted in another Ismaili magazine, Al-Islah in August 10, 1946 in the African Diamond Jubilee Memorial issue. It was once again translated by V.N. Hooda in 1947 from Ismaili Society (series no. 1), reprinted by the Ismailia Association too. It was also translated into Urdu and Sindhi. The book was always in demand, therefore, its publication continued in India, Pakistan and Africa. The importance of Risala Dar Haqiqat-i Din can be judged from the guidance of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah, who had recommended the Mission Students of Bombay to refer it. It does not highlight Ismaili imprint explicitly, but it is intended for the general readers.

The other work of Pir Shihabuddin Shah is Khitabat-i Aliyya or Khitabat al-Aliyya


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