List of Ismaili imams
Ismailis share the following Imāms with the Twelver Shīʿah. However, there is dispute as to the numbering, as some[vague] branches refer to Ali as “first” while others refer to Hasan as the first. Further, some branches recognise Hasan as the successor to Ali, yet others Hussein and do not number Hasan. The Zaydi Shia branch broke from this chain after Ali ibn Husayn, following Zayd ibn Alirather than Muhammad al-Baqir.
- Ali (numbered as first by the Nizari, but not numbered by the Mustaali)
- Hasan ibn Ali (numbered by the Mustaali, not by the Nizari)
- Hussein ibn Ali (agreed to be the second Imam by both)
- “Zayn al-Abidin” (Ali ibn Husayn)
- Muhammad al-Baqir
- Ja’far al-Sadiq
Split with Twelvers
The Ismaili split with the Twelvers over the succession to Imām Jaʿfar as they considered his eldest son Ismāʿīl as his heir. Whereas the Twelvers believe in the succession of Ismāʿīl’s brother Imam Musa al-Kazim, the Seveners and the Ismāʿīlīs believe in the succession of Ismāʿīl and after him, his son Muhammad ibn Ismāʿīl.
6. Ismāʿīl (إسماعيل إبن جعفر), Jaʿfar’s son and designated heir, predeceased his father in 755 but accepted as Imām by the Seveners and the Ismāʿīlīs (but opposed by the Twelvers).
The group that believed Muhammad ibn Ismail to be the Mahdi who had withdrawn into occultation and would return again to earth some day, came to be known as the Seveners. This term is often incorrectly applied to the “Ismailis” who had separated from the Seveners and gone further on with the succession to the Imamat.
One group of the Seveners propagated their faith from their bases in Syria throughDāʿiyyūn (“Callers to Islām”). In 899, the fourth Da’i announced that he himself was the “Imam of the Time” being also the fourth direct descendant of Muhammad ibn Ismail in the very same dynasty. This caused a split between his Sevener followers accepting his claim and those Seveners disputing his claim and clinging to Muhammad ibn Ismail as the Imam in occultation. This Imam and Fourth Da’i, Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah, eventually became the First Fatimid Caliph. This separated group from the Seveners now became known as the Fatimids of the Maghreb and Egypt. This was the reason why the Qarmatians, the original Seveners, were the Fatimid’s most irreconcilable opponents.
In the Fatimid (and subsequently Ismaili) tradition, the Imamate was held by:
8. Aḥmad al-Wafī (born ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn Ismāʿīl (al-Wafī)), (Died 829), 1st Da’i of the Ismāʿīlī mission, according to Ismāʿīlī tradition, son ofMuḥammad ibn Ismāʿīl
12. Muhammad al-Qaim Bi-Amrillah, leader of the Ismailis, openly announced himself as Imam, 2nd Fatimid Caliph, died 946
13. Ismail al-Mansur, 3rd Fatimid Caliph, died 953
14. Maʿād al-Muʿizz li-Dīnillāh, 4th Fatimid Caliph, died 975
15. Abū Manṣūr Nizār al-ʿAzīz billāh, 5th Fatimid Caliph, died 996
16. Al-Ḥakīm bi-Amrillāh, 6th Fatimid Caliph, disappeared 1021.
- The Druze believe in the divinity of all Imams and split off after Hakim’s disappearance, believed by them to be the occultation of the Mahdi.
17. ʿAlī az-Zāhir li-Iʿzāz Dīnillāh, son of al-Hakim, 7th Fatimid Caliph, died 1036.
18. Abū Tamīm Ma’add al-Mustanṣir bi-llāh, son of Ali az-Zahir, 8th Fatimid Caliph, died 1094.
After his death, the succession was disputed. The regent Malik al-Afdal placed Mustansir’s younger son Al-Musta’li on the throne. This was contested by the elder son an-Nizar, who however was defeated and died in prison. This dispute resulted in the split into two branches, lasting to this day, the Nizari and the Mustaʿlī.
The Mustaali recognized Imams:
20. Al-Āmir bi-Aḥkāmillāh, son of al-Mustaʿlī, 10th Fatimid Caliph, died 1130.
Hafizi Muslims claim that Amir died without an heir and was succeeded as Caliph by his cousin Al-Hafiz. The Mustaʿlī split into the Hafizi, who accepted him and his successors as Imam, and the Tayyibi, who believed that Amir’s purported son At-Tayyib was the rightful Imam and had gone into occultation:
The Hafizi recognized Imams:
21. Al-Hafiz, 11th Fatimid Caliph, died 1149.
22. Al-Zafir, son of Al-Hafiz, 12th Fatimid Caliph, died 1154.
23. Al-Faiz, son of Al-Zafir, 13th Fatimid Caliph, died 1160.
24. Al-‘Āḍid, son of Al-Zafir, 14th Fatimid Caliph, died 1171.
The Tayyibi recognized Imams:
The Tayyibi branch continues to this day, headed by a Da’i al-Mutlaq as vice-regent in the imam’s occultation. The Tayibbi have broken into several branches over disputes as to which Da’i is the true vice-regent. The largest branch are the Dawoodi Bohra, and there are also the Sulaimani Bohraand Alavi Bohra.
The Nizari recognized Imams:
20. Al-Hādī ibn Nizār الهادي (hidden)
21. Al-Mutadī المهتدي (hidden)
22. Al-Qāhir القاهر (hidden)
24. Nūr-al-Dīn Muḥammad II نور الدين محمد or Aʻlā Muḥammad اعلى محمد (in Alamut, died 1210)
25. Jalālu-d-Dīn Ḥassan III جلال الدين حسن (in Alamut, died 1221)
26. ʻAlāʼ ad-Dīn Muḥammad III على الدين محمد (in Alamut, died 1255)
28. Shamsu-d-Dīn Muḥammad شمس الدين محمد (hidden, died 1310)
29. Qāsim Shāh قاسم شاه (hidden)
30. Islām Shāh اسلام شاه (hidden, established himself in Anjudan)
31. Muḥammad b. Islām Shāh محمد ابن اسلام شاه (hidden, died c.1463)
33. ʻAbdu-s-Salām Shāh عبد السلام شاه (in Anjudan)
34. Gharīb Mīrzā غريب ميرزا (in Anjudan)
35. Abū Dharr ʻAlī ابو ذر علي or Nūru-d-Dīn نور الدين (in Anjudan)
37. Dhū-l-Fiqār ʻAlī ذو الفقار علي or Khalīlullāh I خليل الله (in Anjudan, died 1634)
38. Nūru-d-Dīn ʻAlī نور الدين علي (in Anjudan, died 1671)
39. Khalīlullāh II ʻAlī خليل الله علي (last imam of Anjudan, died 1680)
40. Nizār نظار (established imamate in Kahak, died 1722)
41. As-Sayyid ʻAlī السيد علي (in Kahak)
43. Qāsim ʻAlī قاسم علي (in Kerman)
44. Abū-l-Ḥasan ʻAlī ibn Qāsim ʻAlī ابو الحسن علي (appointed provincial governor of Kerman, died 1792)
48. Sulṭān Muḥammad Shāh Āgā Khān III سلطان محمد شاه اغا خان (born 1877, died 1957; reigned 1885 to 1957)
49. The current Imām Shāh Karīmu-l-Ḥussaynī Āgā Khān IV شاه كريم الحسيني اغا خان (born 1936; reigning from 1957)
- Daftary, Farhad (1990). The Ismāʿīlīs: Their history and doctrines. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. pp. 551–553. ISBN 0-521-42974-9.
- Halm, Heinz (1988). Die Schia. Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. pp. 193–243. ISBN 3-534-03136-9.