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So far as the Ismailis are concerned, their "Imam'' means "god" And god can do whatever he likes! The Sheriat of the Holy Prophet was perfected by Allah during the days of the Holy Prophet. See Sura Maida where it says : "...Today I made perfect your religion for you, and completed my Blessing upon you..." (Qur'an, 5:3) This Sheriat is upto Qiyamat and is not to be changed or cancelled. The Holy Prophet has said: "The 'Halal' of Muhammad is 'Halal' upto Qiyamat and 'Haram' of Muhammad is 'Haram' upto Qiyamat". The Imams elaborated it and made it clear, but they were not to change it. The Ismailis believe that the Sheriat was cancelled by one of the ancesors of H. H. Aga Khan, Hasan Ala Dhikrihissalam (the great grandson of Hassan bin Sabbah) who ruled in the Castle of Almut from 1162 A.D. to 1166 A.D. During this short reign in a month of Ramadhan (on 17th he went on 'Mimber' and declared that from then on the Sheriat was cancelled; ordered his followers to break their fast which they promptly did by eating, drinking and merry-making. One of their poets praises it in the following lines: برداشت غل شرع بتائید ایزدی از گردن زمانه علی ذکره السلام "Hasan Ala Dhikrihissalam removed the fetters of the Sheriat from the neck of the people by the grace of God". So that is their real tenet and belief for the last 8 centuries. Whenever they pose themselves as abiding to the rules of Sheriat as in Pakistan or India. (or very recently in East Africa), it is just for the sake of politics so that they may not be despised by the Muslim Community.
1. You say that this question was asked by the Ismailis. What right these people have to quote this Hadith of the Holy Prophet when their 48th Imam expressly told them to forget about Qur'an because it was 1300 years old and was in Arabic; they were ordered to follow, instead, the Ginan which was in an Indian language and only 500 years old? 2. There is a difference between the Qur'an (which can be found in every house) and the Imam (who naturally would be in a certain place). Thus even in normal conditions the Imam would not be available to everyone everywhere. 3. At least since the days of 6th Imam, the work of Tabligh was done through the authorised "Wakils" (agents). The system was perfected during the Imamat oflmam Musa Kazim (a.s.) and is still working. 4. Since the inception of that system, it was made clear to all the Shias that they were to approach those "Wakils". Our present Imam (a.s.) has clearly ordained in numerous letters to all the Shias before the start of the "Ghaibat" that, thenceforth, his Shias were to approach the scholars of religion, because "they are my representatives for you, and I am the Representative of Allah for them; anyone who rejects their words rejects my words, and whoever rejects my words rejects the words of Allah and whoever rejects the words of Allah would go into the Fire (of Jahannam)". 5. Of course, "Ghaibat" has made a difference. Previously, the representatives of Imam had a liberty to ask his guidance even on minor things, even If those things were already fully explained by previous Imams or the same Imam. Now that liberty is lost. Our present Imam (a.s.) still guides the scholars, BUT ONLY WHEN THE MATTER OR THE QUESTION IS SUCH WHICH WAS NOT CLEARED PREVIOUSLY. If any previous Imam or Alim has already thrown light on that question, the present Imam remains silent and lets the scholars find the answer by their own research. But if the question is a new one and the Alim is unable to solve it by himself Imam (a.s.) invariably always guides the Ulama in that respect. I could have given you many examples of which I am personally aware, but I am not at liberty to narrate them.So, you may rest assured that our 12th Imam (a.s.) personally guides the Shias through those who have achieved spiritual perfection and whom he guides whenever it is necessary.
Usually trade and agriculture.
Well, Arab means a resident of Arabia, or one whose mother language is Arabic. Our Imams were Arabs because they lived in Arabia. How can a man living in Africa or India become Arab? The Prophet (s.a.w.) was an Arab; but he was sent for the whole mankind. He declared, "I have been sent to all: red, black and yellow". And surely among his followers are people of every race and every country. Does your friend mean that the whole mankind should be squeezed into Arabia, to make them Arabs? You should remember what Allah has said in the Qur'an: "O people. We have created you of a male and female; and we have distributed you into groups and tribes so that you might know one another; verily the most honoured of you before Allah is the one who is the most pious of you". (Qur'an, 49:13). And the Holy Prophet of Islam has said: "There is no superiority for a Quraishite over a non-Quraishite, nor for an Arab over a non-Arab. All of you are from Adam and Adam was from dust". So, the Prophet and Imams (peace be on them all) had come to make us most pious and most God-fearing; they had not come to make us Arab. Our colour, origin or country was not their concern at all; they were interested in making us good believer and good Muslim.
Yes, according to many accepted traditions, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has said: "Imams after me will be twelve:'
They are as follows: 1.'Ali 2.Hasan 3.Husayn 4.'Ali Zaynul 'Abdeen 5.Muhammad Baqir 6.Ja'far Sadiq 7.Musa Kazim 8.'Ali Rida 9.Muhammad Taqi 10.'Ali Naqi 11.Hassan 'Askari 12.Muhammad Mahdi
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