The Musta‘lī (Arabic: مستعلي‎) Ismā'īlī Muslims are so named because they accept Al-Musta'li as the nineteenth Fatimid caliph and legitimate successor to his father, al-Mustansir. In contrast, the Nizāriyya Muslims – presently headed by the Aga Khan – believe the rightful nineteenth caliph was Musta‘lī's elder brother, Nizār.

The Musta‘liyyah are also referred to as the Taiyabi or Ṭayyibī (Arabic: طيبي‎) after the last Imām they recognized, Ṭayyib Abī l-Qāṣim. Originally, there was a distinction between Ṭayyibiyyah and the Ḥāfiziyyah, who recognized the Fatimid rulers of Egypt between 1130–1169 as legitimate Imāms, not Ṭayyib Abī l-Qāṣim. The Hafizi view lost all support after the downfall of the Fatimid dynasty; current-day Musta‘liyya are all Ṭayyibiyyah.

The largest Mustaali group is the Bohra, of whom the Dawoodi Bohra, primarily found in India, are the largest. The name is a reinterpretation of a Gujarati word, vahaurau, meaning “to trade.” The Bohrās include, in addition to this Shīʿī majority, often of the merchant class, a Sunnī minority who are usually peasant farmers. The Mustaʿlī sect (see Ismāʿīlīte), which originated in Egypt and later moved its religious centre to Yemen, gained a foothold in India through missionaries of the 11th century.



According to Mustaʻlī tradition, after the death of Imām al-Amīr, his infant son, AtTaiyab abi-l-Qasim, about two years old, was protected by al-Malika al-Sayyida (Hurratul-Malika), wife of Fatimid Dai of Yemen. She had been promoted to the post of hujja long before by Imam al-Mustansir at the death of her husband and ran the dawat from Yemen in the name of Imaam Tayyib. She was instructed and prepared by Imām Mustansir and following Imāms for the second period of Satr[clarification needed]. It was due to her that Imām Tayyib would go into seclusion, and she instituted the office of Dāʻī al- Mutlaq. Zueb-bin-Musa was first to be instituted to this office and the line of Tayyib Dais that began in 1132 have passed from one Dai to another up to the present day.


In 1592, a leadership struggle caused the Ṭayyibī to split into Sulaymanīs (formerly Makramis) and Dawūdīs. The Sulaimani Bohra – named after their 27th Da‘ī l-Muṭlaq, Sulayman ibn Hassan – are mainly concentrated in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, while Dawoodi Bohras are strongest in Pakistan and India. There is also a community of Sunni Bohra in India.

There was a later split[when?] from the Dawoodis and a new subsect formed, the Alavi Bohra (not to be confused with Alawis or Alevis).

Tree of the Ismāʿīlī Shia Islam.

Mustaali Imams

According to Mustali belief, the line of Imams (descendents of Ali ibn Abi Talib and hereditary successors to Muhammad in his role of legitimate leader of the community of Muslim believers) is as follows:

  1. Hasan ibn Ali 625–670 (Imam- 660–670)
  2. Husayn ibn Ali 626–680 (imam-670-680 )
  3. Ali ibn Husayn (Zayn al-‘Ābidīn) 659–712 (imam-680-712)
  4. Muhammad al-Baqir ibn ali 676–743 (imam 712–743)
  5. Jafar al-Sadiq ibn mohd ul bakir 702–765 (imam- 743–765)
  6. Ismail bin Jafar 719/722-775 (imam 765–775)
  7. Muhammad ibn Ismail 740–813 (imam 775–813)
  8. Abdullah ibn Mohammad/Wafi Ahmad 766–829 (imam 813–829)
  9. Ahmed ibn Abdullah/Taqi Muhammad 790‐840 (imam 829‐840)
  10. Husain ibn Ahmed/Rabi Abdullah (Imam 840‐909)
  11. Abdullah Al Mehdi ibn Husain (909–934)
  12. Muhammad al-Qa'im Bi-Amrillah (934–946)
  13. Ismail al-Mansur ibn Mohammed al Qaim(946–953)
  14. Maad‐nil Muiz ibn Ismail Al Mansoor/al-Muizz Lideenillah(953–975)
  15. Nizare nil Aziz ibn Moad‐al Moiz/Abu Mansoor Nizar al-Aziz Billah(975–996)
  16. Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (996–1021)
  17. Ali az-Zahir ibn husain‐al Hakim (1021–1036)
  18. Ma'ad al Mustansir Billah ibn Ali ai Zahir(1036‐1094)
  19. Ahmed Al-Musta'li ibn Maadenil Mustansir (1094‐1101)
  20. Mansuril Amir ibn Ahmed Al mustaiAl-Amir(1101–1130)
  21. Tayyeb ibn AamirTaiyab abi al-Qasim

Imams one through five are well-known historical figures in the early history of Islam who are also revered by Twelver Shi'ites. The Imam (from 11 to 21) are the same imam which are narrated in the history of Fatimids.

Seventh imam from Mohammad ibn Ismail onward, the name of eigtth, ninth and tenth imam were hidden,[clarification needed] Dawoodi Bohra religious book declares their names as listed above.[1].

Followers of the Mustaali-Tayyebi imams also recite the names of these imams in Dua-e-Taqarrub[clarification needed] after the Fard Salah[clarification needed] ever yday. This tradition is reported to have come from the imams of the ahl ul bayt[clarification needed] according to Daim ul Islam. The Dua is as follows in english:

O Allah send blessings upon Muhammad and his progeny. O Allah I seek nearness to you not only with your help but also with the good wishes of Prophet Muhammad (saww), the chosen one, Ali al Murtadha, the source of Imamah and the successor of the prophet, and lady Fatimah az-Zahra, the daughter of the prophet, and Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain, the grandsons the Prophet and the masters of the youth of paradise, and the descendants Imam Hussain from Imam Ali Zayn al-Abidin To Imam At-Tayyib Abi l-Qasim.
O Allah indeed I seek nearness to you by my reference to all of them since I love them and keep away from their enemies. O Allah make me steadfast in following their examples and include me in their company on the day of judgement. Bestown honour upon me and success in this world and the hereafter since I am their follower.
I bear witness and sincerely believe that they will undoubtedly lead me unto you. May your blessings be upon them all.

The above Fatimid era are based on the direct descendants of the Prophet and to reconcile Islamic religion, based on divine revelation.

"The Fatimids claimed to be descendants of Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, and wife of Ali, the fourth caliph and first Shi'i imam. The Fatimid leader defined himself not only as caliph – leader of the Muslim world, but even as Mahdi, the promised leader of the Muslim world. According to old ideas of the caliph, the Fatimid caliphs considered themselves to be infallible and sinless, and divinely chosen perpetuators of the true form of Islam"
"The Fatimid Caliphate was an exception in that the ruling elite belonged to the Ismaili branch of

Shia Islam. The rulers were also Shia Ismaili Imams, hence, they had a religious significance to Ismaili Muslims. They are also part of the chain of holders of the office of Caliph, as recognized by most Muslims, the only period in which the Shia Imamate and the Caliphate were united to any degree after

the death of Ali."

The Mustaali also feel themselves on same line and consider their imam and Dais as infallible and sinless, and divinely chosen perpetuators of the true form of Islam. Their Dais are keeping the tradition which was instituted by al‐Malika al‐Sayyida, wife of the Fatimid Dai of Yemen, who was instructed and prepared by Imām Mustansir and following imāms for the second period of Satr.

"However, in the Mustaali branch, the Dai came to have a similar but more important task. The term Dāʻī al‐Mutlaq (Arabic: الداعي المطلق ) literally means "the absolute or unrestricted missionary". This dai was the only source of the Imām's knowledge after the occultation of al-Qasim in Mustaali thought."

Dais (earthly leaders)

According to Fatimid tradition, after the death of Imām Al-Amir, al-Malika al-Sayyida (Hurratul-Malika) instituted Dai-al-Mutlaq[clarification needed] to run the dawat[clarification needed] from Yemen in the name of Imaam Taiyab abi al-Qasim. The Dais are appointed one after other in the same philosophy of nass (nomination by predecessor) as done by earlier imams. It is believed that the god representative cannot die before appointing his true successor. This is being followed from the time of 3rd Imam Ali ibn Husain, the strong army of Yezid also could not think of killing him, although they did not spare even a child of six months Ali Asgar.

On the similar belief, the Mustaali think and their Dai claim, that one day their Imam Tayyab’s heir will again reappear as Imam(as happened with 11th imam ABDILLAH who appeared after period of 150 years since 6th imam Ismail).

Under 15th Imam Aziz (5th Fatimid Egypt calipha) religious tolerance was given lot of importance. As a small shia group ruling over major sunni population with Christian minority also. The fatemid caliph were careful to sentiments of people. One of the Vazir of Imam Aziz was Christian ,and high office were held by both shia and sunnis. Fatimid advancement in state offices was based more on merit than on heredity.[2]

Imam Aziz rebuild church of Mercurius near Fustat and encouraged public theological debate between Chief Qazi and Bishops in order that the ideas of their religions could merge. Hence the members of this Islamic sect were inclined to be tolerant.[2]

Profession of Faith('Kalema-tut-Shahadat')

As is the case with the majority of Shi'a muslims, the followers of the Fatimid school append Aliyun waliallah (Ali is the friend of Allah) to their Profession of Faith (kalema‐tut‐ sahadat). This modified phrase has been attested as far back as the Fatimid period.[citation needed]

Mustaalis recite the kalema as below, there is some exception, the last phrase about Ali is not common, the details are as follows:

“Ash-hadu -an-la-ilaha illal-laha, wa ash-hadu anna Mohammad-an Abdo-hu wa Rasulo-uhu wa ash-hadu anna moulana Ali-un –vasi-un wa vazir-ah.” Means: I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and I bear witness that Mohammad is Allahs servant and His Messenger and Ali is his successor ’vasi’ and minister ‘vazir’.

First part of this Kalema up to ‘--rasul-al-lah’ is common amongst all Muslims. The addition of last phrase’ Ali –un- Wali -ul –lah’ is tradition of shia/Fatemid/ismaili/bohra.

photo of qiblah of imam Mustansir in Fatemid masjid of Cairo showing Kalema-tut-shahadat 'la-ilaha-'
photo of kalema at Bab al-Nasr Fatimid Cairo

This is right from Fatemi Imam’s era.In one of the Qiblah of Imam Mustansir of Fatemi era masjid of Qahira (Mosque of Ahmed-ibn-tulun) engraved his name and “kalema‐tut‐sahadat"(photo as above) as ‘La ‐ilah‐ ilal‐lah, Mohamad‐un‐ rasul‐al‐lah Ali –un‐ vali ‐ ul –lah’. The same Kalema exist at Gate ' Bab-al-Nasr" built by minister Badr-al-Jamali at northern wall of Fatimid Cairo(Photo as above). Dawoodi bohra also have same tradition and read 'kalema' in same fashion.

Fundamental first phrase "La- ilaha-ill-al-lah” is foundation stone of Islaam the belief that “there is no god but Allah”. This is confession of “Tauhid”.

The second phrase "Mohammad-un –rasul-al-lah” fulfill the requirement that there should be some one to guide in the name of Allah, which tells ”Mohammad is Allah’s "Rasul", "Nabi", the Messenger ,Apostle”. This is acceptance of “Nabuvat” of Mohammad.

Nabi Mohammad declared Ali bin Abu Talib as his successor at a place called “Ghadir -al-Khumm” ( Ref: Hadith of the pond of Khumm), which was required for the continuation of His guidance, that’s why he told that "for whoever I am a 'Moula’ of them Ali is his ‘Moula’”. Hence, the kalma required further confession the third phrase “Ali-un- vali-ul-lah” ,means “Ali is his(Mohammad’s) “Wali" ,"vasi" , the real care taker, stressing the need that for continuation of faith there is requirement of “Wali” , which is one and only “Imam after Imam ” ,which are really taking care of Islam, hence this is also known as the confession of "Imamat".

Kalema –tut-Shahadat make three Islamic teaching "Tauhid", "Nabuwat" and "Imamate" together. In this devotion to god, his Nabi Mohammad and Imam are so linked together that these can not be viewed separately. One leads to other and finally to God the "Allah" almighty.

Shia/Fatimid/Ismaili/Dawoodi bohra's thinking is exactly on same line. Their further downward delegation system explained above from down the Dai fulfill 'Imamate' principle.


According to Fatimid/Ismaili/Dawoodi Bohra Ashhadu ana Moulana Aliyan waliullah ("I testify that Ali is the vicegerent of God ") is part of Azaan (but not of iqamah) and they recite it twice after third part of the Azaan. namely 'Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan-rasūlu llāh'

They also recite"Muhammadun -va- Ali-un khayr-ul- bashar va itrat-o- homa khayr-ul-itar " (Mohammad and Ali are the greatest of all men and their descendants are the greatest of all progenies ) twice after 7th part "Hayya 'ala-khayril-amal". This is continued from the time of the Aimmat Fatimiyyeen (In the Iqama(h)t they recite 'Qad qamatis Salat" in place of this). Also, Hayya ala khairil amal, which had been dropped from the Azaan since after Rasulullah, is prayed, loud and clear, according to Nabi's sunnat.

The complete Azaan they recite is as follows:

Recital Arabic Transliteration Translation[3]
4x الله اكبر Allahu Akbar God (Allah) is the Greatest
2x اشهد ان لا اله الا الله Ash-hadu allā ilāha illaha illa llāh I testify that there is no god but Allah
2x اشهد ان محمدا رسول الله Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan-rasūlu llāh I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God
2x اشهد ان مولانا عليا ولي الله Ash-hadu anna Aliya wali-ul-lah I testify that Ali is the viceregent of God
2x حي على الصلاة Hayya 'alas-salāt Make haste towards Salat- (the prayer)
2x حي على الفلاح Hayya 'alal-falāh Make haste towards victory
2x حي على خير العمل Hayya- al Khair al amal Make haste towards the greatest of all things
2x محمد و علي خير البشر و عطرة هما خير عطر Mohammadun -va- Ali-un khayr-ul- basar va itrat-o- homa khayr-ul-itar Mohammad and Ali are the greatest of all men and their descendants are the greatest of all progenies
2x الله اكبر Allah-u Akbar God is the greatest
2x لا اله الا الله Lā ilāha illallāh There is no god except for God


External links and references

Further reading

  • The Dawoodi Bohras: an anthropological perspective, by Shibani Roy. Published by B.R. Publishing, 1984.
  • Mullahs on the mainframe: Islam and modernity among the Daudi Bohras, by Jonah Blank. University of Chicago Press, 2001. ISBN 022605676.Excerpts
  • A Short History of the Ismailis, By Farhad Daftary
  • The Ismaili,their history & Doctrine, By Farhad Daftary
  • Medieval Islamic Civilisation,By Joseph W. Meri, Jere l.Bacharach
  • Sayyida Hurra: The Isma‘ili Sulayhid Queen of Yemen,By Dr Farhad Daftary
  • Cosmology and authority in medieval Ismailism,By Simonetta Calderini
  • Religion, learning, and science in the ʻAbbasid period,By M. J. L. Young, John Derek Latham, Robert Bertram Serjeant

See also


  2. ^ a b Mullahs on the mainframe: Islam and modernity among the Daudi Bohras, page-29, By Jonah Blank
  3. ^ Adapted from: Adhan and Iqamah

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ismaili — For the Egyptian city, see Ismaïlia .The Ismāʿīlī (Urdu: إسماعیلی Ismāʿīlī , Arabic: الإسماعيليون al Ismāʿīliyyūn ; Persian: إسماعیلیان Esmāʿiliyān ) branch of Islam is the second largest part of the Shī‘ah community, after the Twelvers (… …   Wikipedia

  • Dawoodi Bohra — Part of a series on Shī‘ah Islam …   Wikipedia

  • Islamic schools and branches — Overview of the major schools and branches of Islam …   Wikipedia

  • Muslim sects — Over the period of time after the death of the last Prophet of Islam, Muhammed, there have arisen many Muslim sects by means of schools of thought, traditions, and related faiths. [ [ So Many… …   Wikipedia

  • The Occultation — Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • Islam in Pakistan — Category History Islamic conquest · Arab settlement Islamic rule · …   Wikipedia

  • Taiyab abi al-Qasim — According to Taiyabi Mustaaali Ismaili Muslims, Taiyab abi al Qasim (or Tayyib, Arabic طيب) was the 21st and last Fatimid Imam (or hereditary leader of the Muslim community in the direct line of Ali ibn Abi Talib). He was the son of the 20th… …   Wikipedia

  • Taiyabi — A branch of Mustaali Ismailism that split with the Fatimid supporting Hafizi branch by believing Tayyab Abī l Qāsim was the rightful Imam. They are the surviving branch of the Mustaali and have split into Dawoodi Bohra, Sulaimani Bohra, and Alavi …   Wikipedia

  • Alavi Bohra — ( ar. علوی بوہرہ) are a subsect of Ismaili Mustaali. They are mostly concentrated in Pakistan and India. The Mustaˤlī (Arabic مستعلي) group of Ismaili Muslims are so named because they accepted the legitimacy of the Fatimid caliph Al Musta li,… …   Wikipedia

  • Seven Pillars of Islam (Ismaili) — The Shi a Ismāˤīlī the Nizari, Druze and Mustaali have Pillars beyond those of the Sunni. While most Ismāˤīlīs have eight, the Bohras and Druze have only seven.The Ismāˤīlī Pillars* Walayah “Guardianship” denotes love and devotion to God, the… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.