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The followers of Karim Aga Khan, the "Agakhani Ismailis," are spread out in various parts of the world. They constitute the vast majority, and comprise a controversial group, within the various sub-sects of Ismailis, who in turn form a small minority within the various groups and sects of the Islamic brotherhood. Thus, the Agakhani Ismailis represent a minute proportion, some 0.1 percent, of the Muslim world. However, their fame and profile far exceed their numbers, due primarily to the prominence of the Aga Khan and his family members through their international political, economic, and social status.

Of significance has been their long association with thoroughbred horse racing in Europe; Aga Khan III's weighing in gold, diamonds, and platinum as a gift from his followers; the marriage of Prince Aly Khan Karim Aga Khan's father to renowned actress Rita Hayworth and his role as a leader of Pakistan's delegation to the United Nations; the service of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan in the United Nations as High Commissioner for Refugees; and, most recently, Karim Aga Khan being named Commander of the French Legion of Honour for  eminent services to humanity.

 

Pillars of Islam according to the Aga Khans:

Unlike the 5 Pillars of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaah the Ismaili Shias atcually believe in 7 pillars. When asked in public they say that they believe in Shahadah (but due to their) Batini Aqeedah i.e. everything has an overt (obvious) as well as (covert) meaning their Shahadah is no way the same as the Shahadah of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaah. They admit 7 pillars but actually believe that the root (internal meaning) is more important; the tree is as follows:

Pillar 1 walāyah: The walāyah (sanctity, closeness, friendship) of the Prophets and Imāms refers to their spiritual status before God.  The souls of the Prophets and Imāms possess sanctity due to their proximity or closeness to the Divine.  In this context, walāyah refers to an exalted spiritual station – due to which the souls of the Prophets, Imāms and saints are pure and in turn reflect the radiance of the Divine Names and Attributes. “Walāya also denotes the essential nature of the figure of the imām, his ontological status.  Now, the imām/walī in the ultimate reality of his being, is the locus for the manifestation of God (mazhar, majla), the vehicle of the divine Names and Attributes. ‘By God’, Imam Ja‘far is said to have declared, ‘we (the imāms) are the Most Beautiful Names (of God).’  The imam reveals God, he provides access to what may be known of Him, the Deus Revelatus, the zahir of God.” - Mohammad Ali Amir Moezzi, (The Spirituality of Shi’i Islam, p. 249)  

Pillar 2: Taharah "Purity": The Ismā'īlī lay special emphasis on purity and its related practices, and the Nizari consider this in a more esoteric sense too and apply it to purity of mind, soul and action, the Musta'lis also apply it to ritual practices related to prayer and cleanliness.

Pillar 3 Salat "Prayer": Unlike Sunni and Twelver Muslims, Nizari Ismā'īliyya reason that it is up to the current imām to designate the style and form of prayer, and for this reason the current Nizari practices resemble dua and pray them three times a day.

Pillar 4 Zakah "Charity": with the exception of the Druze, all Ismā'īlī Madh'hab have practices resembling that of Sunni and Twelver Muslims with the addition of the characteristic Shia Khumus: payment of 1/8th of one's unspent money at the end of the year to the imām. In addition to khums, Ismā'īlīs pay 12.5% of their monthly gross income to the imām, which goes to the central accounts and then spent on welfare of the humankind like education and health projects. One of the major examples of these projects is the Aga Khan Development network, that is one of the biggest welfare networks of the world.

Pillar 5 Sawm “Fasting”: Nizari and Musta'lī believe in both a metaphorical and literal meaning of fasting. The literal meaning is that one must fast as an obligation, such as during the Ramadan and the metaphorical meaning being that one is in attainment of the Divine Truth and must strive to avoid worldy activities which may detract from this goal. In particular, Ismā'īlīs believe the real and esoteric meaning of fasting is avoiding devilish acts and doing the good deeds. Not eating during the month of Ramadan in conjunction with a metaphorical implementation of fasting.

Pillar 6 Hajj “Pilgrimage”: For Ismā'īlīs, visiting the imām or his representative is one of the most aspired pilgrimages. There are two pilgrimages: Hajj-i-Zahiri and Hajj-i-Batini the first is the visit to Mecca, the second, being in the presence of the Imam. The Musta'lī maintain also the practice of going to Mecca. The Druze interpret this completely metaphorically as "fleeing from devils and oppressors" and rarely go to Mecca.

Pillar 7 Jihad "Struggle": The definition of jihad is controversial as it has two meanings: "the Greater Struggle" and the "The Lesser Struggle", the latter of which means a confrontation with the enemies of the faith. The Nizari are pacifist and interpret "adversaries" of the faith as personal and social vices (i.e. wrath, intolerance, etc.) and those individuals who harm the peace of the faith and avoid provocation and use force only as a final resort only in self-defense. Basically the first pillar (i.e. the Imam) gets to interpret what the rest of the religion is.

 

The belief of the Aga Khans:

We (Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaat) believe that the words of Allah  and his prophet are final. There are others who may be given temporary authority e.g. Ulama, Mashaykh, Ameers (in Jihad or other administrative matters) but they are only obeyed as long as they obey Allah and his prophet. Where there is a disagreement then the final call is with Allah and his prophet. The Ismaili Shias (and the sub cult Aga Khanees) believe the Imam to have the absolute authority to define, abrogate, add, amend and change Shariah as it is clearly stated.

Number of prayers according to the Aga Khans:

We (Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaat) pray 5 times a day as per the saying of prophet Muhammad while Aga Khans pray three times a day.

Ismaili Shias (and the sub cult Aga Khanees) actually mock the Hadeeth of the Prophet and the incident of 50 Salah (reduced down to 5 due to Mercy of Allah) as a pure fabrication!

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