The Imam must direct Ismailis on the practice of their religion and constantly interpret the Qur’an for them according to our theology. On the spiritual plane, the Imam’s authority is absolute. Ismailis believe therefore that what the Imam says is the only true interpretation possible. This is fundamental to our religion — perhaps something similar is found in the case of the Pope in the Catholic religion.
Mawlana Hazar Imam (Translation)
L’Expansion Interview, Roger Priouret, ‘Face to Face with the Aga Khan’ (Paris, France), March 1975
The Imam’s word on the Faith is taken as an absolute rule. Every Ismaili is expected to accept it. The Community always follows very closely the personal way of thinking of the Imam. It’s one of the particularities of Ismailis. An Ismaili who did not obey my word in matters of Faith, would not be excommunicated, he would still be a Muslim. He simply would no longer be a member of the Jamat — the Community of Ismaili Muslims.
One has to make a very careful distinction here between worldly and religious matters. An Ismaili may ask my advice on a worldly problem, then not accept it. But if he were to ignore the Imam’s decision on matters of Faith, the Community pressures on him would be very strong.
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Image: Background, Mohib Ebrahim (With permission)
Image: Portrait, (Bill C-11, Section 29.21 http://bit.ly/1yRu6UZ)