List of Isma'ili imams

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This is a list of the Imams as recognized by the different sub-sects of the Ismai'li sect of Shia Islam. Imams are considered members of the Bayt (Household) of Muhammad through his daughter Fatimah.

Early Imams[edit]

All Isma'ili sects roughly share the first four Imams with the Zaydi Shia, and the first six Imams with the Twelver Shia. The Nizari and Musta'li are collectively also known as Fatimid Isma'ili, in contrast to the Sevener Isma'ili.

After Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin, the Zaydis consider Zayd ibn Ali to be their next Imam rather than his older brother Muhammad al-Baqir who is considered the next Imam by the Isma'ili and Twelvers. After Ja'far al-Sadiq, the Twelvers consider Musa ibn Ja'far to be their next Imam, whereas Fatimid Isma'ilis consider his older brother Isma'il ibn Jafar to be their next Imam, followed next by his son Muhammad ibn Isma'il. The Sevener Isma'ilis consider either Isma'il ibn Jafar or his son Muhammad ibn Isma'il to be their final Imam and occulted Mahdi.

Sevener Fatimid
Waqifi Qarmatian Musta'li Nizari Personage Period
1 1 Asās 1 Ali (632–661)
2 2 1 Mustawda Hasan ibn Ali (661–669) Mustaali
3 3 2 2 Husayn ibn Ali (669–680) (Mustaali)
(661 - 680) (Nizari)
4 4 3 3 Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin (680–713)
5 5 4 4 Muhammad al-Baqir (713–733)
6 6 5 5 Ja'far al-Sadiq (733–765)
7 (Mahdi) 6 6 Isma'il ibn Jafar (765 - 775)
7 (Mahdi) 7 7 Muhammad ibn Isma'il (775-813)

The Seveners propagated their faith from their bases in Syria through Da'iyyun. In 899, Abdallah al-Mahdi Billah announced that he was the "Imam of the Time" being also the fourth direct descendant of Muhammad ibn Ismail in the very same dynasty, and proclaimed his previous three descendant Da'is to have been "hidden Imams". This caused a split between his Sevener followers accepting his claim and the Qarmatian who continued to dispute his claim and considered Muhammad ibn Ismail as the Imam in occultation. Abdallah al-Mahdi Billah eventually became the first Fatimid Caliph with his empire spanning Egypt and the eastern Maghreb. Sevener communities continued to exist in Eastern Arabia and Syria, and for a while in northern Iran but where it was gradually replaced by Fatimid Isma'ilis and other Shiʿi communities.

Fatimid[edit]

In the Fatimid and its successor Isma'ili traditions, the Imamate was held by the following. Each Imam listed is considered the son of the preceding Imam by mainstream accounts.

  1. Ahmad al-Wafi, died 829, Da'i and "hidden Imam", son of Muhammad ibn Isma'il according to Fatimid Isma'ili tradition
  2. Muhammad at-Taqi, died 840, Da'i and "hidden Imam"
  3. Abdullah ar-Radi (al-Zaki), died 881, Da'i and "hidden Iman"
  4. Abdullah al-Mahdi Billah, died 934, Da'i who openly declared himself as Imam, 1st Fatimid Caliph
  5. Al-Qa'im bi-Amr Allah, died 946, 2nd Fatimid Caliph
  6. Al-Mansur Billah, died 953, 3rd Fatimid Caliph
  7. Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah, died 975, 4th Fatimid Caliph
  8. Abu Mansur Nizar Al-Aziz Billah, died 996, 5th Fatimid Caliph
  9. Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, 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.
  10. Ali az-Zahir, died 1036, 7th Fatimid Caliph
  11. Al-Mustansir Billah, died 1094, 8th Fatimid Caliph.

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 was defeated and died in prison. This dispute resulted in the split into two branches, lasting to this day, the Nizari and the Musta'li.

Musta'li[edit]

The Musta'li recognized Imams:

  1. Ahmad al-Musta'li Billah, died 1101, 9th Fatimid Caliph, son of Al-Mustansir Billah
  2. Al-Amir bi-Ahkam Allah, died 1103, 10th Fatimid Caliph

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

Tayyibi[edit]

The Tayyibi recognized Imam:

  1. At-Tayyib Abu'l-Qasim, born 1130, disappeared in 1132, son of Al-Amir bi-Ahkam Allah

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.

Hafizi[edit]

The Hafizi recognized Imams:

  1. Al-Hafiz li-Din Allah, died 1149, 11th Fatimid Caliph, cousin of Al-Amir bi-Ahkam Allah
  2. Az-Zafir bi-Amr Allāh, died 1154, 12th Fatimid Caliph
  3. Al-Fa'iz bi-Nasr Allah, died 1160, 13th Fatimid Caliph
  4. Al-Adid li-Din Allah, died 1170, son of Al-Hafiz li-Din Allah, 14th Fatimid Caliph. The Fatimid Caliphate ended with Al-'Adid's death.
  5. Daud Al-Hamid-Lil-Lah, died 1207/8, son of Al-Adid li-Din Allah. Died in prison under the Ayyubid dynasty, Al-Kamil.
  6. Sulayman Badruddin, died 1248, son of Daud Al-Hamid Lillah. Died in prison under the Ayyubid dynasty. The last Hafizi Imam.

The Hafizi sect lived on until the 14th century in Egypt and Syria, but died out by the end of the 14th century.

Nizari[edit]

Nizari Imams Period
Mu'mini Qasimi Qasimi Mu'mini Qasimi Mu'mini
19 19 Nizar al-Mustafa li-Din Allah Ibn Al-Mustansir Billah 1095–1097
20 20 Ali Al-Hadi ibn Nizar ("hidden") 1097–1136
21 21 Muhammad Al-Muhtadi ("hidden") Muhammad Al-Muhtadi (Rashid ad-Din Sinan)

Ibn Ali Al-Hadi ("hidden")

1136–1158 1136–1193
22 Hassan Al-Qahir ("hidden") 1158–1162
23 Hassan 'Ala Zikhri Salam 1162–1166
24 Nur al-Din Muhammad 1166–1210
22 25 Jalal al-Din Hassan Jalal al-Din Hassan Ibn Muhammad Al-Muhtadi 1210–1221 1193–1221
23 26 'Ala al-Din Muhammad Ibn Jalal al-Din Hassan 1221–1255
24 27 Rukn al-Din Khurshah Ibn 'Ala al-Din Muhammad 1255–1256
25 28 Shams al-Din Muhammad Ibn Rukn al-Din Khurshah 1257–1310

Following the death of Shams al-Din Muhammad, the Nizari Isma'ili split into two groups: the Mu'mini Nizari (or, Muhammad-Shahi Nizari) who considered his elder son 'Ala' ad-Din Mumin Shah to be the next Imam followed by his son Muhammad Shah, and the Qasimi Nizari (or, Qasim-Shahi Nizari) who consider his younger son Qasim Shah to be the next Imam

Mu'mini[edit]

  1. 'Ala' ad-Din Mumin Shah bin Shamsu-d-Din Muhammad, died 1310; the elder son of Shams al-Din Muhammad.
  2. Muhammad Shah bin Mu'min Shah, died 1404.
  3. Radi al-Din bin Muhammad Shah, died 15th century.
  4. Tahir bin Radi al-Din, died 15th century.
  5. Radi al-Din II bin Tahir, died 1509.
  6. Shah Tahir bin Radi al-Din II al-Husayni ad-Dakkani, died 1549. The most famous Imam from this line.
  7. Haydar bin Shah Tahir, died 1586.
  8. Sadr al-Din Muhammad bin Haydar, died 1622.
  9. Mu'in al-Din bin Sadr al-Din, died 1644.
  10. Atiyyat Allah bin Muin al-Din (Khudaybaksh), died 1663.
  11. Aziz Shah bin Atiyyat Allah, died 1691.
  12. Mu'in al-Din II bin 'Aziz Shah, died 1715.
  13. Amir Muhammad bin Mu'in al-Din II al-Musharraf, died 1764.
  14. Haydar bin Muhammad al-Mutahhar, died 1786
  15. Amir Muhammad bin Haydar al-Baqir, the final imam of this line, disappeared in 1796.

Qasimi[edit]

  1. Qasim Shah (hidden), younger son of Shamsu-d-Din Muhammad. 1310-1368
  2. Islam Shah (hidden) established himself in Anjudan. 1368-1424
  3. Muhammad b. Islam Shah (hidden) 1424-1464
  4. Al-Mustansir billah II Ali Shah (Shah Qalandar), established public Imamate -under the practice of Sufi taqiyya- in Anjudan, 1464-1480
  5. Abdu-s-Salam Shah, in Anjudan, 1480-1494.
  6. 'Abbas Shah Gharib Mirza Mustansir bi'llah III, in Anjudan, 1494-1498.
  7. Abu Dharr Ali (Nur Shah) or Nuru-d-Din, in Anjudan, 1498-1509.
  8. Murad Mirza, 1509-1574, executed in 1574 by Shah Tahmasp I of Iran.
  9. Dhu-l-Fiqar Ali, or Khalilullah I, in Anjudan, 1574-1634.
  10. Nur al-Dahr or Nuru-d-Din Ali, in Anjudan, 1634-1671.
  11. Khalilullah II Ali, last imam of Anjudan, 1671-1680.
  12. Nizar II, established imamate in Kahak, 1680-1722.
  13. As-Sayyid Ali, in Kahak, 1722-1736.
  14. Sayyid Hasan 'Ali Beg, established imamate in Shahr-e Babak, Kerman, first Imam who abandoned the practice of taqiyya, 1736-1747.
  15. Qasim Ali (Sayyid Ja'far), in Kerman, 1747-1756.
  16. Sayyid Abu'l-Hasan 'Ali (Baqir Shah), 1756-1792.
  17. Shah Khalilullah III, in Kahak, then since 1815 in Yazd, 1792-1817, murdered in 1817.
  18. Hassan Ali Shah Aga Khan I or Shah Hassan Ali (lived 1804-1881; reigned 1817-1881)
  19. Aqa Ali Shah Aga Khan II or Shah Ali Shah (lived 1830-1885; reigned 1881-1885)
  20. Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III (lived 1877-1957; reigned 1885-1957)
  21. Shah Karimu-l-Hussayni Aga Khan IV (born 1936; reigned since 1957)

Genealogy[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Daftary, Farhad (1990). The Isma'ilis: 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.