Hello and thank you for joining me once again on Diary of a Common Man, my name is Salim Lalani.
This week we will begin the journey or exploration into the secret world of Aga Khan, who is globally known for many reasons. One of them is his multiple, mysterious and ambiguous identities. In public, he is a Shia Imam, and a descendant of the Prophet of Islam. Behind closed doors however, he is God. Not only the God of Islam, but Hindu Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. In this blog, we will begin by clearing some smoke around his identity as the Prophet of Islam.
Ismaili Constitution And origin of the Shia community
Ismaili Constitution is a public document. In it’s preamble, Aga Khan identifies himself as Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Husseini, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, in direct lineal descent from Holy Prophet through Maulana Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Bibi Fatima, is the 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.
In short, descendant of the Prophet via Shia Imam Ali. Ambiguity starts right here. To unravel it, first we'll need to understand the relationship between the Prophet, Imam Ali and his progeny. To do this will have to go to Arabia 1400 years ago.
After spreading the message of Islam for 19 years, the Prophet Muhammad, eventually passed away in 632 AD. He leaves behind, the Quran and his own tradition as his legacy. His absence, however, created a massive leadership vacuum. Who could possibly fill his shoes? After a few rounds of deliberations and negotiations, Muslim community in Makkah chose Abu Bakr Siddiqui as Prophet’s successor. He becomes the first rightly guided Caliph of Islam. Whilst Abu Bakr would be Prophet’s successor, he could not be the Prophet. Prophet had both secular and religious authority over Muslims. Caliph Abu Bakr’s authority was limited to guiding and administering the Islamic State. All msulims, would rely on the Quran and the tradition of the Prophet to be guided on the right path. All was well so far. But then a minority Muslims rejected Abu Bakr’s appointment as Caliph. They believed the prophet had actually nominated his cousin and son in law, Ali as his successor, both secular and religious!! Ali would be referred to as Imam, the Guide. These minority came to be known as Shia tun Ali, party of Ali. Today we know them as Shia muslims. Shia doctrine further asserted that Ali’s progeny would carry the same authority over time enjoyed by the Prophet and Imam Ali. They would be present physically to guide people on the straight path.
The majority of Muslims are known as Sunni muslims, who follow the Sunna (tradition) of the Prophet.
Let's quickly summarize.
Imam Ali is Prophet's cousin and son in law. Upon Prophet’s death the Muslim community splits between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Shia Muslims believe that an Imam is required to guide people according to the correct meaning of the Quran, both exoteric and esoteric. This divine authority is personified by Imam Ali and his progeny in the Ismaili constitution.
By ordaining the Constitution, Agakhan asserts his authority as a divine guide by virtue of being the descendant of the Prophet and Imam Ali. Imagine a chain with a pendant and 49 links. Pendant is the Prophet and each link is an Imam. Ismailies claim that this chain linking Imam Ali is and the current Aga Khan is unbroken.
However, recorded history does not agree. It suggests the chain of 49 Ismaili Imams does not exist. Only the first five Imams on Agakhan’s list are linked to the Prophet.
Let's substantiate this.
29 years after the Prophet passed away, Imam Ali was assassinated in Kufa. As per the Shia doctrine his eldest son Hassan became the Imam but he was soon poisoned to death. His younger brother Imam Hussain takes over as the next Imam but unfortunately he was killed under very tragic circumstances in Karbala, Iraq. Next in line, Imam Hussain's very young son, Zain becomes the 4th Imam, followed by his son Muhammad Bakir, followed by his son, Imam Jafar Sadiq. At this juncture, supposedly unbroken Ismaili chain breaks!!
Imam Jafar’s designated successor, his eldest son Ismail is missing!!
The year is 765 AD. Imam Jafar Sadiq is poisoned to death. His passing creates a few issues for Shia muslims. Firstly, the Shia community splits in two parts. Secondly, his designated successor, Ismail is missing.
So what is the problem if his designated successor is missing?
The problem is Shia doctrine, which asserts that an Imam is a divine guide who is always present physically in this world to guide people according to the Quran.
Some say Ismail was hiding due to Sunni persecution, others say Sunnis killed him way before Imam Jafar’s death. But the fact remains that Imam Ismail never appeared in public after his father’s death.
Shia muslims who believed Imam Ismail was alive and took over from his father as the next Shia Imam are known as Ismaili muslims, popularly known as Agakhanis.
But this belief was going nowhere!!
Aga Khan found Institute of Ismaili studies in 1977 to research Islam and ismailism. So far it has not been able to find one piece of evidence to put Imam Ismail on the scene!!
Recorded history nor Agakhan himself has been able to prove Imam Ismail’s Imamate. Hence, we will infer that Aga Khan could not be related to the Prophet of Islam.
My name is Salim Lalani and I will explore the truth about Aga Khan. Agha Khan is an amazing global personality. A humanitarian, spiritual leader, descendant of the Prophet of Islam, Shia Imam of 15 million Shia Muslims, horse breeder, royalty and business magnate. He is considered is to be one of the wealthiest in the world. They say he owns a yacht, a yacht club in Costa Esmeralda in Sardinia, a private island in Bahamas, several luxurious real estates around the world, a chain of Serena hotels, Meridiana airline, stables thoroughbreds, jewelry, private jets and so on. He is also decorated with numerous titles, doctorates, citizenships and awards.
That is how we all know Agakhan.
Question is, is all that glitters gold?
Is perception reality?
Is it possible that there is another side to the coin?
I'm Salim Lalani not asking my viewer to form an opinion or pass a judgement. I'm only asking if there is a possibility. If you're open to possibilities of life, hang in there, because we are about to enter the secret world of this most amazing, multifaceted personality.
But why do I need to take you inside somebody's secret world?
What is my problem?
Do I have an ulterior motive?
Agha Khan is happy. His disciples are happy. He seems to be doing good work for the betterment of humanity. So why put someone's dirty laundry out in the public?
Before we get into all that, it is important that I introduce myself. It will provide a background to the purpose of my work.
I was born an Agakhani in India, grew up to be a staunch murid, sang devotional songs declaring him to be God, prayed to him for almost everything. From good health to financial security to salvation. I was his representative in Sydney leading a secretive religious meeting. I served in his institutions, indoctrinating young children into believing he was God. I counted the cash that is sent to him as religious dues.
It was 2014 when at age 55 years I realized perception is not reality. I renounced the faith. I remember inviting my family and friends to have a discussion on what I had realized. But to my surprise, nobody turned up. They didn't want to talk. I buried the issue there and life went on.
But fate took yet another turn in October of the same year. I operate a small financial planning practice in Sydney. An Agakhani friend paid me a visit. He was in a deep financial crisis. It was a classic case of a modest income and few mouths to feed. There was despair, anger, hopelessness, resentment at home. There was even an odd incidence of domestic violence. Needless to say, this was having an immense psychological impact on the whole family, particularly children. And the main reason for this financial crisis was dasond, a mandatory 12 and a half percent of income payable to Aga Khan.
Every follower makes this commitment to Aga Khan by virtue of taking birth in the community. And if there was anyone who understood this, appreciated this, it was me. Because since childhood, we all were indoctrinated with the idea that 12 and a half percent of our income belongs to Agha Khan. If we were to pay this money, without fail, we would go to heaven. But if we were not to pay, or even miss a few payments, we will go to hell.
Anyway, I had a dilemma on my hands. What advice do I give my friend? How do I help him out of this difficulty?
Do I suggest he stop paying Agakhan and support his family?
Supporting the family was ok but to suggest discontinuing dasond would be an extremely absurd and offensive suggestion to any Agakhani murid.
If I suggest he keep the dasond for his family, he may or may not have gone to heaven upon death. But one thing was for sure, I would lose him as a friend.
On the other hand, if I was to suggest he keep paying Agakhan, his family would burn in real hell. Hell of fear, anger, resentment and insecurity.
Right here right now!!
That was the dilemma.
After a few moments of contemplation, I decided to help the family in favor of keeping him as a friend. Having made up my mind, I cautiously and politely asked him if paying Aga Khan was more important than saving the family.
Before I could say or do anything, he stood up, walked towards the door, turned around, looked me in the eye and said something. It is those words that would give purpose to my future work. Those words are still ringing in my ears after six years.
Salim, I will die, let my family die but not stop paying Agakhan!!
He walked out, shut the door behind himself. The thud of that door was a little louder than usual.
And I remember sinking into my chair!!
My mind boggling and my head spinning!!
How can a man be so irrational? How can a man cause so much pain to himself and his family for his beliefs? How can he give so much pain to his innocent family, particularly his children who he loves the most?
The Agha Khan whom we know as a humanitarian, a multi-billionaire, receives religious dues from the needy such as my friend, but has no system nor budget to help them.
How do I know?
On numerous occasions, I'm a witness to the fact that murids have bailed murids out of trouble.
Not Aga Khan nor his institutions!!
Yes, financial disasters such as what my friend experienced happen in Australia. A beautiful country like mine, a financially secure country like mine. Imagine what could be happening in the third world countries.
On that day in my office, I decided I will work towards creating awareness.
Whether I'm heard, whether I'm ignored, whether I'm silenced.
Thus began a learning journey.
I interacted with Aga Khan’s scholars and his institutions. I had many questions that begged a response.
They responded to all of them.
With deafening silence!!
Questions such as, on what basis does Aga Khan portray himself as the descendant of the Prophet?
What gives Aga Khan the right to personally own the religious dues when the Prophet did not have that right?
What gives Aga Khan the right to promote the devotional literature depicting him as God?
Questions on two adultery cases filed against him by his ex wives, Begum Salima and Begum Inara in French courts?
When such questions were asked, scholars did not have one word for me.
That silence confirmed what I had suspected.
Now I was determined to spread awareness.
To make people aware, one must not only be aware themselves but be able to convince the public of the truth.
Initially I found myself inadequate, but soon help arrived.
In the form a friend who was paradoxically formless.
It got me going by telling me a story.
Secret world of Aga Khan
A mind boggling world!!
The centerpiece of the secret world was a cult.
Not a destructive or a violent cult where you are indoctrinated into killing people and yourself but an extremely secretive, ambiguous and an impregnable system whose objective was to fool people into sharing their incomes with Aga Khan.
In following blogs and YouTube Videos, I will present this story the way time narrated it to me.
My viewers will then decide for themselves if Agakhan is a humanitarian or a cult leader!!