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D. APPENDIX III: Shah and Pir - its Meaning

The two terms, mustaqar Imam and mustawda Imam, are in application in the Ismaili theories to denote the types of the Imam, which have come from the following Koranic verse:-

"It is He Who produced (ansha'a) you from one living soul, and then (there is) a lodging place (mustaqar), and then a repository (mustawda). Indeed, We made plain the signs for a people who understand" (6:98)

The famous commentator Baidawi (d. 1286) writes in his "Anwar al-tanzil wa-Asrar al-tawil" (1st vol., p. 303) that the word mustaqar in the above verse means the man's backbone (sulb, pl. aslab), believed to be the "lodging place" of the sperm, while the word mustawda means the repository of the sperm in the female, i.e., the womb (rahim). Abu Hayyan (d. 1344) also comments in his "al-Bahr al-Muhit" that, "Mustaqar and Mustawda are explained here as meaning the loins of the father and the womb of the mother, as standing for the male and the female."

Hence, the mustaqar is considered to be the male, whereas the mustawda is reckoned as the female. As the female receives the sperm from the male, the mustawda Imam receives knowledge from the mustaqar Imam. The latter is the lodging place of the divine knowledge. The God's knowledge settles (tastaqirru, a verb from which the noun of place mustaqar is derived) and dwells (tuqimu) in the person of the Imam. He thus becomes the mustaqar of God's knowledge, i.e., the place in which God's knowledge has settled. This mustaqar Imam is sometimes called muqam. This word is a noun of place from the verb aqama (to dwell). It means therefore, the place where God's knowledge dwells (tuqimu).

The mustaqar is the term, derived from the Holy Koran (vide 2:34, 6:66, 98 and 7:23), applied to the regular and permanent Imam, occupying his proper place in the chain of succession, as opposed to mustawda, i.e., temporarily entrusted.

The term mustawda is derived from the verb istawda, meaning the leaving in custody. This term is also seen in the tradition that, "Verily, Hussain bin Ali, leaving for Iraq, entrusted the book and his will (istawda al-kitab wa'l wasiyya) to Umm Salma, the widow of the Prophet, and when Imam Zayn al-Abidin returned to Medina, she handed these over to him." (al-Kafi, 1st vol., p. 149).

In sum, the office of the mustaqar Imam is a permanent and hereditary, while that of mustawda Imam is temporary and not hereditary. Contrary to the mustaqar Imam, the mustawda Imam does not possess pontifical authority, he cannot transfer his office to any one else, he retains his position only temporarily.

The former is also symbolized as the sun, father and day. The latter is symbolized as the moon, mother and night. In other words, the mustaqar Imam's nature is hot like a sun, father or day, while that of the mustawda Imam is cool like a moon, mother or night. That is why the terms jalali and jamali are also used for mustaqar and mustawda Imams respectively. The mustaqar Imam can hold both offices at one time.

Likewise, Ali bin Abu Talib held two offices, i.e., mustaqar and mustawda. His office of mustaqar remained with his son Hussain and his progeny for ever, while the office of mustawda was governed temporarily by his another son Hasan, who in no circumstances could transfer his office to his own posterity.

Historically, it must be known that Hasan was 37 years old when his father fell at the hands of the assassin at Kufa in 661. Qais bin Sa'd was the first to swear allegiance (bayt) to Hasan on the day when Ali bin Abu Talib died, and it was followed by 40,000 Kufans, acclaiming him as the fifth caliph. Tabari (2nd vol., p. 5) writes that the oath of allegiance takeb by those present stipulated that, "They should make war on those who were at war with Hasan, and should live in peace with those who were at peace with Hasan." It sharply suggests that the oath sworn by the Kufans was purely political, and nothing to do with the succession to the Imamate. It was absolutely a temporal pledge of allegiance (bayt) to raise Hasan on power against Muawiya, but due to the disloyalty of the Kufans, he made a peace treaty and abdicated the power in favour of Muawiya. Granted that it was a religious pledge relating to the Imamate which had brought Hasan on power, then it will definitely mean that Hasan also transfer it to Muawiya, which is quite impossible.

The extant sources specify the causes of Hasan's renunciation as love for peace, distaste for politics and its dissensions, and the desire to avoid widespread massacre among the Muslims.He relinquished the power in 661 after ruling for 6 months and 3 days and the year of his abdication became known as the "year of the community" (am al-jama'a). Tabari (2nd vol., p. 199) quotes a tradition attributed to the Prophet, who is reported as saying: "This son of mine is a Lord (sayed) and he will unite the two branches of the Muslims."

Hatim bin Imran bin Zahra (d. 1104) writes in his epistle, "al-Usul wa'l Ahkam" that, "After him (Ali bin Abu Talib), his son al-Hasan undertook the affairs (al-amr); he was the Trustee (mustawda) Imam, and lived 47 years. Then after him came his brother al-Husayn; he was the Permanent (mustaqar) Imam." It is stated as well by several other scholars, such as al-Khattab bin Hasan (d. 1138) in "Ghayat al-Mawalid" (p. 35) and Ali bin Muhammad bin al-Walid (d. 1215) in "Risalat al-Idah" (p. 139), and "Tuhfat al-Murtad" (p. 168). This is furhter echoed in the Ismaili poem, "ash-Shafiya" (pp. 146-49, 221) attributed to Abu Firas that, "And the Pure Foundation of Religion (Ali bin Abu Talib) passed away, conveying the affair (al-amr) to al-Husayn. He conveyed the outward knowledge and the religion to al-Hasan, who with trusteeship was endowed." According to "The Encyclopaedia of Islam" (Leiden, 1971, 3rd vol., p. 1167), "Deviations from the strictly linear descendance in the succession to the Imamate were often explained in terms of a depositary (mustawda) Imamate which had to be returned to the line of permanent (mustaqar) Imams. Thus al-Hasan was sometimes considered as a depositary Imam, since the Imamate was carried on among the descendants of al-Husayn, the mustaqar Imam." Shaykh Radi al-Yasin writes in his "Sulh al-Hasan" (Qum, 1998, pp. 31-2) that when Ali bin Abu Talib was about to die, he entrusted al-Hasan and said, "My son, you are the trustee of authority and of blood."

Hussain was thus mustaqar Imam, who sacrificed his life for the cause of Islam; and Hasan was mustawda Imam, who abdicated the temporal power for restoring peace for the cause of Islam.

The Indian Ismaili Pirs further equated the term shah for the mustaqar and pir or hujjat for mustawda. The Imam exists in every age to guide his followers and that Imam was and is necessarily the mustaqar in the progeny of Imam Hussain, and he can also command at one time the office of the mustawda or the pir. Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah said in a message of January 11, 1953 that, "……and at present there is no independent Pir. I myself holding this position."

Hence, Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah held both offices of Shah (Imam) and Pir. He died on July 11, 1957 at Geneva, and bequeathed the offices of Shah and Pir (i.e., the offices of mustaqar and mustawda) to his grandson, Karim as per his Will which reads:

"I appoint my grandson Karim, the son of my own son, Aly Salomone Khan to succeed to the title of Aga Khan and to the (offices of ) IMAM and PIR of all Shia Ismailian followers."

Accordingly, the present Hazar Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims holds the offices of Shah and Pir, and as we have discussed already, that the former position explicitly symbolizes the father and the latter as mother. That is why, Mawlana Hazar Imam generally blesses his followers with the terms: "Paternal (mustaqar) Maternal (mustawda) Loving Blessings."

The red colour is the very symbol of the office of shah (or the mustaqar), and in its contrast, the green colour stands as the office of the pir (or the mustawda). In the light of the theory of the terms mustaqar (shah) and mustawda (pir or hujjat), Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah sent his message to Dr. Pir Muhammad Hoodbhoy (1905-1956) in reply to his letter, asking an interpretation of red and green colours of the Ismaili flag. The Imam sent the following message, sounding the terminologies of Indian tradition of shah and pir for mustaqar and mustawda :-

16th October, 1954

My dear Hoodbhoy,

In reply to your letter of 8th October, the colours of our family are, as you know, red and green, the reason being that we represent both (offices of) the Shah and the Peer.

The Shah was Hussein, the Peer was Hasan. Hasan had the Peer's colour of green, but Hussein's martyrdom was so enormous in events and was so opposed to even the smallest laws of war that the colour of his Holy Blood, namely red, was accepted with the green of the Prophet's Flag as a souvenir and remembrance of that terrible day.

It infers from above discussion that the GREEN COLOUR symbolizes peace and RED COLOUR is an indicative of sacrifice, therefore, both peace and sacrifice of all means and materials in the world, are the very messages of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, broadcasting through the channel of their historical colours of the flag.


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