List of Ismaili imams

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This is a list of the Imams recognized by the Ismaili Shia and their sub-branches. Imams are considered members of the Ahl al-Bayt, the family of Muhammad.

Early Imams[edit]

Ismailis share the following Imāms with the Twelver Shīʿah. However, there is dispute as to the numbering, as some[vague] branches refer to Ali as "first" while others refer to Hasan as the first. Further, some branches recognise Hasan as the successor to Ali, yet others Hussein and do not number Hasan.[citation needed] The Zaydi Shia branch broke from this chain after Ali ibn Husayn, following Zayd ibn Ali rather than Muhammad al-Baqir.

Split with Twelvers[edit]

The Ismaili split with the Twelvers over the succession to Imām Jaʿfar, as they considered his eldest son Ismāʿīl as his heir. Whereas Twelvers believe in the succession of Ismāʿīl's brother Imam Musa al-Kazim, Ismāʿīlīs insist on the succession of Ismāʿīl and his son Muhammad ibn Ismāʿīl.

6. Ismāʿīl (إسماعيل إبن جعفر), Jaʿfar's son and designated heir, predeceased his father in 755 but accepted as Imām by the Ismāʿīlīs.

7. Muhammad (محمد إبن إسماعيل), Ismāʿīl's son, died under the reign of Harun al-Rashid (786-809)

Several Ismaili groups (known as Seveners, though this term is often applied to Ismailis at large) believed Muhammad ibn Ismaili to be the Mahdi, who had withdrawn into occultation and would return again.

One group propagated their faith from their bases in Syria through Dāʿiyyūn ("Callers to Islām"). In 899, the fourth Da'i announced that he himself was the Imam, starting another dynasty. This caused a split between his followers and those disputing his claim and clinging to Muhammad. The Fatimid's most notable Sevener opponents were the Qarmatians.


In the Fatimid (and subsequently Ismaili) tradition, the Imamate was held by:

8. Aḥmad al-Wafī (born ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn Ismāʿīl (al-Wafī)), (Died 829), 1st Da'i of the Ismāʿīlī mission, according to Ismāʿīlī tradition, son of Muḥammad ibn Ismāʿīl

9. Muḥammad at-Tāqī (born Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muḥammad (at-Tāqī)), (Died-840), son of ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muḥammad, 2nd Da'i of the Ismāʿīlī mission, according to Ismāʿīlī tradition;

10. ʿAbd Allāh ar-Raḍī/al-Zakī (born al-Ḥusayn ibn Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allāh (ar-Raḍī)), (Died-909), son of Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allāh, 3rd Da'i of the Ismāʿīlī mission, according to Ismāʿīlī tradition;

11. Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah, son of al-Ḥusayn ibn Aḥmad, 4th Da'i of the Ismāʿīlī mission, openly announced himself as Imām, 1st Fatimid Caliph, died 934

12. Muhammad al-Qaim Bi-Amrillah, leader of the Ismailis, openly announced himself as Imam, 2nd Fatimid Caliph, died 946

13. Ismail al-Mansur, 3rd Fatimid Caliph, died 953

14. Maʿād al-Muʿizz li-Dīnillāh, 4th Fatimid Caliph, died 975

15. Abū Manṣūr Nizār al-ʿAzīz billāh, 5th Fatimid Caliph, died 996

16. Al-Ḥakīm bi-Amrillāh, 6th Fatimid Caliph, disappeared 1021.

The Druze believe in the divinity of all Imams and split off after Hakim's disappearance, believed by them to be the occultation of the Mahdi.

17. ʿAlī az-Zāhir li-Iʿzāz Dīnillāh, son of al-Hakim, 7th Fatimid Caliph, died 1036.

18. Abū Tamīm Ma'add al-Mustanṣir bi-llāh, son of Ali az-Zahir, 8th Fatimid Caliph, died 1094.

After his death, the succession was disputed. The regent Malik al-Afdal placed Mustansir's younger son Al-Musta'li on the throne. This was contested by the elder son an-Nizar, who however was defeated and died in prison. This dispute resulted in the split into two branches, lasting to this day, the Nizari and the Mustaʿlī.


The Mustaali recognized as the rightful Imams:

19. Aḥmad al-Mustaʿlī, (son of Abū Tamīm Ma'add al-Mustanṣir bi-llāh), 9th Fatimid Caliph, died 1101.

20. Al-Āmir bi-Aḥkāmillāh, son of al-Mustaʿlī, 10th Fatimid Caliph, died 1130.

Hafizi Muslims claim that Amir died without an heir and was succeeded as Caliph by his cousin Al-Hafiz. The Mustaʿlī split into the Hafizi, who accepted him and his successors as Imam, and the Tayyibi, who believed that Amir's purported son At-Tayyib was the rightful Imam and had gone into occultation:


21. Al-Hafiz, 11th Fatimid Caliph, died 1149.

22. Al-Zafir, son of Al-Hafiz, 12th Fatimid Caliph, died 1154.

23. Al-Faiz, son of Al-Zafir, 13th Fatimid Caliph, died 1160.

24. Al-'Āḍid, son of Al-Zafir, 14th Fatimid Caliph, died 1171.

The Fatimid dynasty and the Hafizi branch ended with Al-'Āḍid's death.


21. Aṭ-Ṭayyib Abī-l-Qāsim

The Tayyibi branch continues to this day, headed by a Da'i al-Mutlaq as vice-regent in the imam's occultation. The Tayibbi have broken into several branches over disputes as to which Da'i is the true vice-regent. The largest branch are the Dawoodi Bohra, and there are also the Sulaimani Bohra and Alavi Bohra.


The Nizari recognized as the rightful Imams:

19. Nizār b. al-Mustanṣir billāh ابن المستنصر بالله نزار, (son of Abū Tamīm Ma'add al-Mustanṣir bi-llāh), died 1095.

20. Al-Hādī ibn Nizār الهادي (hidden)

21. Al-Mutadī المهتدي (hidden)

22. Al-Qāhir القاهر (hidden)

23. Ḥassan II ʻAlā Dhikrihi-s-Salām حسن على ذكره السلام (fourth Lord of Alamut, self-revealed as imam in 1164, died 1166)

24. Nūru-d-Dīn Muḥammad II نور الدين محمد or Aʻlā Muḥammad اعلى محمد (in Alamut, died 1210)

25. Jalālu-d-Dīn Ḥassan III جلال الدين حسن (in Alamut, died 1221)

26. ʻAlāʼ ad-Dīn Muḥammad III على الدين محمد (in Alamut, died 1255)

27. Ruknu-d-Dīn Khurshāh ركن الدين خرشاه (last Lord of Alamut, died 1257, killed by the Mongols)

28. Shamsu-d-Dīn Muḥammad شمس الدين محمد (hidden, died 1310)

29. Qāsim Shāh قاسم شاه (hidden)

30. Islām Shāh اسلام شاه (hidden, established himself in Anjudan)

31. Muḥammad b. Islām Shāh محمد ابن اسلام شاه (hidden, died c.1463)

32. Al-Mustanṣir billāh II (Shāh Qalandar) المستنصر بالله (established public imamate -under practice of taqiyya- in Anjudan, died 1498)

33. ʻAbdu-s-Salām Shāh عبد السلام شاه (in Anjudan)

34. Gharīb Mīrzā غريب ميرزا (in Anjudan)

35. Abū Dharr ʻAlī ابو ذر علي or Nūru-d-Dīn نور الدين (in Anjudan)

36. Murād Mīrzā مراد ميرزا (executed in 1574 by Shah Tahmasp of Iran)

37. Dhū-l-Fiqār ʻAlī ذو الفقار علي or Khalīlullāh I خليل الله (in Anjudan, died 1634)

38. Nūru-d-Dīn ʻAlī نور الدين علي (in Anjudan, died 1671)

39. Khalīlullāh II ʻAlī خليل الله علي (last imam of Anjudan, died 1680)

40. Nizār نظار (established imamate in Kahak, died 1722)

41. As-Sayyid ʻAlī السيد علي (in Kahak)

42. Ḥasan ʻAlī حسن علي (established imamate in Shahr-e Babak, Kerman, first imam who abandoned the practice of taqiyya)

43. Qāsim ʻAlī قاسم علي (in Kerman)

44. Abū-l-Ḥasan ʻAlī ibn Qāsim ʻAlī ابو الحسن علي (appointed provincial governor of Kerman, died 1792)

45. Shāh Khalīlullāh III شاه خليل الله (in Kahak, then since 1815 in Yazd, murdered in 1817)

46. Ḥassan ʻAlī Shāh Āgā Khān I حسن علي شاه اغا خان or Shāh Ḥassan ʻAlī شاه حسن علي (born 1804, died 1881; reigned 1817 to 1881)

47. Āqā ʻAlī Shāh Āgā Khān II اقا علي شاه اغا خان or Shāh ʻAlī Shāh شاه علي شاه (born 1830, died 1885; reigned 1881 to 1885)

48. Sulṭān Muḥammad Shāh Āgā Khān III سلطان محمد شاه اغا خان (born 1877, died 1957; reigned 1885 to 1957)

49. The current Imām Shāh Karīmu-l-Ḥussaynī Āgā Khān IV شاه كريم الحسيني اغا خان (born 1936; reigning from 1957)


  • Daftary, Farhad (1990). The Ismāʿīlīs: Their history and doctrines. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. pp. 551–553. ISBN 0-521-42974-9. 
  • Halm, Heinz (1988). Die Schia. Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. pp. 193–243. ISBN 3-534-03136-9.