His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan is a direct descendent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) and the 49th hereditary Imam, spiritual leader, of approximately 15 million Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims who are ethnically and culturally diverse peoples living in over 25 countries. The Ismailis are united in their allegiance to His Highness; for their social governance, His Highness has ordained the Ismaili Constitution which is binding upon all Ismailis.
His Highness ordained the current Constitution under his sign manual and seal on 11 July of 1998. An extract of the Preamble reads: “By virtue of his office and in accordance with the faith and belief of the Ismaili Muslims, the Imam [His Highness] enjoys full authority of governance over and in respect of all religious and Jamati matters of the Ismaili Muslims”.
To serve the needs and requirements of His Jamat, Community, His Highness has constituted different institutions whose leadership He personally appoints. The highest body which provides leadership to the Community is known as "His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Leaders' International Forum" or LIF which is "directly under the authority" of His Highness. The LIF has a constitutional function to translate His Highness' messages to the Community "only if specifically approved" by His Highness personally (p. 12, emphasis added). Below LIF, there are Councils and central institutions all over the world serving the Community in terms of education, health, social welfare, housing, economic welfare, cultural and women's activities, youth and sports development; Tariqah and Religious Education Boards (ITREB's); Grants and Review Board; Conciliation and Arbitration Boards, etc.
Under the heading of "Power & Authority of Mawlana Hazar Imam", Article 1.1 recites that His Highness "has inherent right and absolute and unfettered power and authority over and in respect of all religious and Jamati matters of the Ismailis" (p.7). Furthermore, His Highness has the sole authority to determine "all questions that may arise as regards the meaning and interpretation of any such constitution" (p.7).
Farmans & Talikas of His Highness
It stands to reason that the very act of printing, publishing and circulating His Highness' Farmans (religious addresses) and Talikas (written messages) or any other material which relates to "religious and Jamati matters of the Ismailis" directly falls within the sole prerogative of His Highness. It is His Highness' sole prerogative to authorize or not authorize readings of Farmans in any part of the world; to publish or not publish His Farmans. If His Highness chooses to publish - at his sole discretion and pleasure - all, any or some of his Farmans at any given time and in any part of the world, such a publication can only take birth in accordance with an established criteria and guidelines. To carry out this function, His Highness has created ITREBs which were previously known as The Ismailia Association. Article 8.1 & 8.4 (d) of the Constitution respectively read:
"There shall be a Tariqah and Religious Education Board for each of the territories...for which it is formed for the provision of religious education at all levels of the Jamat, for the training of religion teachers and waezeen, for research and publication, and for the performance of such functions in relation to the Ismaili Tariqah as Mawlana Hazar Imam may deem necessary." (p.14; emphasis added)
"Each Tariqah and Religious Education Board shall, under the direction and guidance of Mawlana Hazar Imam: ...(d) undertake publication of books and materials on relevant aspects of Islam and Ismaili Tariqah." (p.15; emphasis added)
Article 8.1 & 8.4 of the Constitution empowers ITREB to carry out the official mandate of publishing books and materials. The words "undertake publication of books and materials" on aspects related to "Ismaili Tariqah" obviously include publications of Farmans. But ITREB's constitutional mandate can only be carried-out under the explicit "direction and guidance" of His Highness thus accentuating the established criteria. Over the course of many years, ITREB, the Council and the LIF have provided sufficient clarity over this established criteria.
The Article 14. 1 (c) of the Constitution explicitly and in the strongest possible terms prohibits an "Ismaili" to engage in an act of printing, publishing and circulating "any" material purporting to be on behalf of His Highness in these words:
"Any Ismaili shall be liable to disciplinary action who: (c) without the permission in writing of the National Council obtained through the Regional Council within whose jurisdiction he resides, prints, publishes, or circulates any material or makes any statement or convenes a meeting or assembly purporting to be on behalf of or in the name of or relating to Mawlana Hazar Imam [His Highness], the Ismaili Tariqah, the Jamat, any Council or any other Ismaili institution" - p.22 (emphasis added).
If an Ismaili commits a breach of Article 14. 1 (c), the offender is subject to disciplinary action which has may lead to an expulsion from the Community. Article 14. 2 states: Proceedings for disciplinary action against any Ismaili shall be commenced upon the complaint lodged by:
(a) any member of a Council authorised in that behalf by the Council; or
(b) any Ismaili
Continue to Part 2 of 16
Attack on Imamats' Absolute Right
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