Last Updated: 2018/10/22
Summary of question
Who are Ismailiyah (Bohra) sect and what are their beliefs?
Who are Ismailiyah (Bohra) sect and what are their beliefs?
Concise answer
Ismail, Imam Sadiq”s (PBUH) elder son, who undoubtedly has a high status, passed away during Imam Sadiq”s (PBUH) lifetime and was shrouded and buried by his command. Ismail”s grave is now in Baqi” cemetery in Medina.[1]
2-Imam Ja”far Sadiq (PBUH) introduced his son Musa (PBUH) as next Imam. However some of Imam Sadiq”s (PBUH) companions disagreed with this appointment and emphasized on Ismail”s imamat. A group of them even rejected the notion of Ismail”s death and considered his death as taqiya [disguising one”s beliefs at a time of eminent danger] to be secure from attacks by his enemies. These separatists then accepted Muhammad, Ismail”s son as next Imam. They separated from other Shiites by rejecting Imam Mousa Kazem (PBUH).[2]
After Muhammad”s demise, Ismailiyah would preach sporadically until after Fatemis in Egypt seized the power, this sect became considerably strong. They dispatched preachers to all over the Islamic world at the time.[3]
After al-Mustansir, the eighth Fatemi caliph and Ismaili Imam, died a dispute broke among Ismailis; since a group of them considered al-Mustansir”s son, Nazaar, as the leader of Ismailis and the other group accepted his younger son, Mustali.[4] This issue led to a severe quarrel between two brothers and caused Ismailis to separate; Nazaar”s followers formed forefathers of whom known as Agha Khanis today. Musta”li”s followers became known as Musta”lis whose remnants today are called "Bohra".[5]
The Most Important Beliefs of Bohras
Since Bohras are part of Ismailiya, naturally they have general Ismailiya beliefs. However, they are known to have specific beliefs as well, the most fundamental of which include:
1- There is only one God;
2- Quran is Bohra”s religious book and all these sects should make their best efforts to learn its concepts; although only Da’iyan and a few of religious authorities are aware of Quran”s esoteric meaning.
 3-Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) is God”s prophet and hazrat Ali (PBUH) is his deputy and partner and he is always regarded as Prophet Muhammad”s (PBUH) successor.
4-Imams are complementary to prophets; except that prophets are preachers of exoteric shari”a and Imams are preachers of esoteric shari”a.
5-Current generation of Shiites has descended from Imam Ali (PBUH) who is of highest sanctity and respect second only to Prophet (PBUH).
6-After Imam Ali (PBUH) who is of higher status than Imams and is called "Asas" [foundation], other Imams of Bohra are as follow: Imam Hassan (PBUH), Imam Hussein (PBUH), Imam Zayn al-Abedin (PBUH), Imam Muhammad Baqer (PBUH), Imam Ja”far Sadiq (PBUH), Ismail, Muhammad bin Ismail, Abdullah, Ahmad, Hussein (Mastoor), Mahdi Obaydollah, al-Qaem bi Amrillah, al-Mansoor Billah, al-Mo’ezz le Dinellah, al-Aziz Billah, al-Hakim bi Amrillah, al-Zaher le E’zaz Dinellah, al-Mostansar Billah, al-Mosta’la Billah, al-Amer bi Ahkamillah and Abol Qasem at-Tayyib.
Bohras accept Fatemi caliphs up to al-Amer bi Ahkamillah as Imam. However, they do not accept four succeeding caliphs namely al-Hafez le Dinellah, az-Zafer bi Amrellah, al-Fa’ez Billah and al-‘Azed le Dinellah as Imams. According to Bohras, their 21st Imam, Tayyib, has disappeared.
7-Ismail”s position is higher than other Imams; since the seventh Imam is of higher status than his six predecessors.
8-All prophets have sinned; because they have asked God a status they did not deserve, however, Imam Ali (PBUH) and Imams of his generation have never sinned, because they have never asked God something they did not deserve.
9-Iblis has died but one who defies his contemporary Imam is Iblis.
10-If an Imam commits indecencies and forbidden acts, he will remain in Imamat.
11- Imams have originated from Medina and during 1000 to 1200 A.C. this school has continued in Cairo (the source of Fatemi sect and culture).
12-All Imams after 21st Imam have been commanded to live in hiding far from society.
13-From 21st Imam on, Imams” representatives, who are called absolute da”ee [caller], have been appointed by Imams as leaders and guides for Islamic ummah. [6]

[1]  Sheikh Mufid, Muhammad bin Muhammad, al-Ershad fi Ma”refat Hojajollah alal-Ebad, vol.2, p.209, Qom, Sheikh Mufid Congress, first impression, 1992; Tabarsi, Fazl bin Hassan, A”lam ol-Wara bi A”lam al-oda, vol.1, p.546, Alul Bayt Institute, Qom, first impression, 1996
[2] See: al-Ershad fi Ma”refat-e Hojajollah alal Ebad, vol.2, p.210, Tabataba”ee, Seyyed Muhammad Husseion, Shiite in Islam, p.67-68, Qom, Daftar-e Nashr-e Eslam, 13th impression, 2001; Halabi, Ali Asgar, History of theology in Iran and in the World,p.139, Tehran, Asatir Publications, 2nd impression, 1998
[3]  See: History of Theology in Iran and in the World, p.140, Shiite in Islam, p.68
[4]  : History of Theology in Iran and in the World, p.141, Sobhani, Ja”far, Bohooth fel-Melal-e wan-Nehal, vol8, p.155, Qom, Nashre Eslami Institute, Imam Sadeq (PBUH) Institute
[5]  See: Bohooth fel-Melal-e wa-Nehal, vol.8, p.28; Qazi No”man, Ta”weel od-Da”avi,vol.2, p.10, Cairo, Darul-Marafet, first impression, Bita
 [6] See: Arab Ahmadi, Amir Bahram, An Introduction to Davoodi Bahra Shiites, Akhbare Shi”ayan magazine, April-May,issue no.42, p.52
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