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Satpanth is a subgroup of Nizari Ismailism and Ismaili Sufism formed by conversions from Hinduism 700 years ago by Pir Sadruddin (1290-1367) and 600 years ago in the 15th century by his grandson Pir Imam Shah (1430-1520), they differ slightly from the Nizari Khojas in that they reject the Aga Khan as their leader and are known more commonly as Imam-Shahi. There are villages in Gujarat which are totally 'Satpanthi' such as Pirana near Ahmedabad where Imam Shah is buried.
It is also the older form of Nizari Ismaili practice originating from the Kutch community of Gujarat. Pir Sadardin gave the first converts to Ismailism the name 'Satpanth' because they were the followers of the 'True Path.' They were then given the title of Khoja to replace their title of Thakkar. Here Khoja is totally distinguished from those of other castes.
It is important to note that Satpanth can be described as a synthesis of Hindu and Ismailism as most followers claim they are Hindus and retain their Hindu names, mainly under the fear of being ex-communicated (make out caste) by their majority Hindu brethren from the same community. Satpanth is riddled with Hindu symbolism and use of Sanskrit words and also stories of various Avatars, outwardly. While the central message of Satpanth has always been of Islam. It is a vehicle of converting Hindus to Islam, designed intelligently in such a way that a convert slowly adopts Islamic values as he sheds Hindu religious symbols. For quick reference see "Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency -Vol IX -Part II -Year 1899" http://realpatidar.com/a/series43 (download the attachment from the web page) for this point. Critics claim this is used to hide their true "Islamic" agenda of converting Hindus into Islam by using the doctrine of Taqiyaa, to confuse, divide, conceal and to fool people to make them believe that Satpanth is a Hindu sect. Satpanth also advocates paying tithe (“Dasond”), (10% of annual income) to its religious heads. Nobody has right to question the use of this money. Naturally more the number of followers, the greater would be the share of money received each year, by its leaders/preachers.
Recently, in order to remove confusion caused by some of the preachers of Satpanth, who started propagating Satpanth to be part of Hindu religion, the highest authority in Hindu religion the main and true all 4 (four) Shankaracharya Maths established by his holi highness Adi Shankaracharya, have certified in writing that Satpanth is not a Hindu religion. See http://www.realpatidar.com/a/series52 for the copies of certificates.
The people of the Satpanth consist mostly of high-caste converts of Lohana origin. Others are from Rajput, merchant, and farming castes of Kadva Patel community belonging to Kutch Gujarat. Some are migrants from neighbouring Indian states—including Madhya Pradesh, the Punjab and Rajasthan—who now reside in Gujarat (mainly the Kutch and commercial areas) and Mumbai. Some communities are known to adhere strictly to the practice of taqiyya, hiding any and all Islamic content of their faith. Many from the northern Rabari community are also of this faith. Followers of Satpanth are also present in significant numbers in Jalgaon, Nandurbar and Dhule districts of Northern Maharashtra, which are part of Leva Patidar and Gujar communities. Notably, most of the followers of Satpanth are Hindus, making it a unique place where Islamism and Hinduism come together.
The current head of the mainstream Satpanth is Sri Nanakdasji Maharaj, disciple of his precedent Late Sri Karshandasji Maharaj, who transformed Satpanth and converted it into one of Gujarat's Muslim sect.
Beliefs about the leadership
Satpanth followers, called Mureeds, believe that the physical form of the Imam is merely a vessel for the spiritual Imam which is Noor or eternal light. They also believe that his farmans (proclamations), his shabd (word) and his formless being are the real Imam. These separate concepts of an esoteric Imam and an exoteric Imam are called "Baatini Imam"
Satpanth devotees believe in "Nurani Didar," which is the "vision of light" or enlightenment one achieves when one views the True Imam. This, again, has an esoteric and an exoteric meaning.
Pir Sadruddin and his grandson Pir Imam Shah are credited with the conversion of the Khojas from the Hindu caste of the Lohanas located in Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. He laid the foundation of the communal organization, built the first assembly and prayer halls and appointed the community leaders "Mukhis." Khojas live chiefly in lower Sind, Kutch, Gujarat, Bombay and in wide diaspora, particularly in East and South Africa, Arabia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Canada, the United Kingdom, Portugal, U.A.E. and the United States.
It is customary in each and every Jamaat-khana that a row of community leaders and title holders (male and female) should sit facing the rest of the congregation. There is a row of individuals, sitting with their backs to the side wall, in the male as well as the female section. Both these sections are kept side by side in one large hall. Hence, a row of males would face and prostrate before the females, and vice versa. Looking at individuals of the opposite gender across the hall, and even the passing of objects between genders, is highly discouraged if not forbidden. If an object must be passed such as a utensil, the person must get up and leave it in the middle or end of the hall, where it will eventually picked up by the intended recipient. The reading of Holy Dua is undertaken while sitting on the floor on one's knees, or while sitting cross-legged as with other sects, with a Misbaha (rosary) being picked up at intervals. Any individual of any age who is fully versed in the Holy Dua may lead the prayer. Satpanth basically worships Lord Nishkalanki Narayan, who is assumed, by the followers of Satpanth, to be Tenth and Final reincarnation of Lord Vishnu; and who has already taken birth in the name of Hazrat Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Mohammad Paigambar, the founder of Islam.
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (August 2008)|
- Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency -Vol IX -Part II -Year 1899 http://realpatidar.com/a/series43
- Momna of Kutch -Bombay Presidency Gazetter 1880 http://realpatidar.com/a/series44
- Ahmedabad District Gazetteer 1984 -Pirana Sect is a branch Shia Muslim and Imam Shah is Saiyyed http://realpatidar.com/a/series44
- Gazetteer of India -Gujarat State -1989 http://realpatidar.com/a/series44
- Dictionary Meaning of Satpanth http://realpatidar.com/a/series17a
- Contractor, Narayaji Ramji, Pirana Satpanthni Pol Ane Satyano Prakash -First book revealing the insides of Pirana Satpanth to the outer world. http://realpatidar.com/a/series7
- Esmail, Aziz. A Scent of Sandalwood: Indo-Ismaili Religious Lyrics, London: Curzon in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2002, pp. xi + 227. August 2002
- Khan, Dominique-Sila. Crossing the Threshold: Understanding Religious Identities in South Asia, London: I. B. Tauris in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2005, pp. 185. May 2005
- Kassam, Tazim R. Songs of Wisdom and Circles of Dance: Hymns of the Satpanth Isma'ili Muslim Saint, Pir Shams
- Kakasaheb Savji Ramji, Pirana Pooja Vidhi and Gyan, the chairman of Imam Shah Bawa Roza Santhan Committee Trust http://realpatidar.com/a/series5
- Wladimir Ivanow. Collectanea
- Dr Navinchandra A Acharya, Religious Sects of Gujarat, Gujarat State University
- Census of India, 1911 http://realpatidar.com/a/series20
- Method of Pir Sadruddin's Mission of Converting Hindus to Muslims. http://www.ismaili.net/histoire/history07/history712.html
- Speech of Narayanji Ramji Contractor on Das Avatar of Satpanth http://realpatidar.com/a/series25
- Khan, Dominique-Sila. Lived Islam in South Asia, Liminality and Legality: A Contemporary Debate among the Imamshahis of Gujarat, Social Science Press, 2004 pp209
- Certificates from the all main and true 4 Shankaracharyas, the highest religious authority in Hinduism, that Satpanth is not part of Hindu religion.