"The death of this gifted and learned young man was sincerely deplored not only by the Ismaili community and Muslim society but also far outside those circles in which he commanded the high esteem and genuine respect of everyone." W. Ivanow.
Traditionally Pir Shahabu'd-din Shah, reported to have been the forty-seventh Pir of Nizari Ismailis, was probably born in 1268 A.H./1851 C.E. in Kirman (Iran). The name "Pir Khalilu'llah" seen in the old prayer book of Ismaili, evidently refers to him, but why the name "Khalilu'llah" was put instead of "Shahabu'ddin" is not confirmed. Most probably he was also known as Khalilu'llah, which is also seen in old manuscripts. Sometimes he has also been referred as Shah-Badin Shah.
Imam Aga Ali Shah, the 47th Imam of Ismaili, had married with Marium Sultan in Iraq who bore him two sons, Pir Shahabu'd-din Shah and Aga Noorshah. These two sons were brought up in a place known as Hasanabad in Mazagon (Bombay). The brother of Pir Shahabu'd-din Shah, Aga Noorshah aged 30 years, was a good sportsman, he fell down from his horse, while riding, and sustained serious injuries which proved fatal. The second wife of Imam Aga Ali Shah was Lady Aly Shah, whose maiden name was Nawabalia Shamsul-Muluk, the daughter of Mirza Ali Mohammed Khan Nizam ud-Daulah, the Prime Minister of Fateh Ali Shah, the famous Persian Monarch of Kajjar dynasty. The marriage of Nawab-alia Shamsul-Muluk was solemnized with Imam Aga Ali Shah at Kirman in 1867 C.E. She gave birth to His Highness Imam Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah; when Pir Shahabu'd-din was nearly 16 years old.
Pir Shahabu'd-din Shah was appointed as "Pir" by Imam Aga Ali Shah on 1299A.H./1882C.E. at the age of 30 years. In 1300 A.H./1882 C.E. Imam is reported to have assigned him to set and shorten the old daily prayers of Ismailis. This leaves us to believe that he also had good knowledge of Indian languages. He was competent and talented in Persian and Arabic studies. Not only was he a premier reciter of Holy Quran, but he was also a keen reader of the works of Rumi and Hafiz. He used to devote most of his daytime in the work of community assignment and the nights in writing his works.
The thing which made Pir Shahabu'd-din Shah famous in history was his renowned treatise entitled "Risala Dar Haqiqat-i-Din" i.e. "The True Meaning of Religion" (coming soon to the Ismaili Web!). His work was originally planned in two parts, but, as far as is possible to ascertain, only the first part was published which has been translated in many languages. The autographed copy of this book is preserved in the library of Haji Musa Khan, one of the attendants of Pir. It is an oblong note-book, the type, which the Persians call "Bayad", comprising about 200 pages of yellow machine made paper, of which only 75 are occupied with the treatise, the rest are blank sheets. The size is eight by four and a quarter outside and six and a quarter by two and three quarter of an inch for the space occupied for the text. The text of the work, with an English translation was published by W. Ivanow in the series of Islamic Research Association of Bombay in 1933. It evoked considerable interest in Ismaili circles, as can be seen from the fact that as Arabic translation was published in 1935 in Lattaquie, Syria by Sheikh Ahmad bin Muhammed, later on, a Gujrati version, by Mr. Gwadarwalla, was published in parts in Bombay 'Ismaili' monthly. In Gujrati and in Khojki in the 'Nizari'. The whole translation was effectively reprinted in an another Gujrati Ismaili magazine, 'AI-Islah' in August 10, 1946 in the African Diamond Jubilee Memorial issue. It was translated by V. N. Hooda in 1947 from 'Ismaili Society' series No.1 and reprinted and published by V. N. Hooda for the Ismailia Association at the Ismailia Printing Press, Bombay. Since then it has been translated into Urdu and Sindhi languages also. The book had always been in demand, so the translations had been reprinted in Africa, India and Pakistan. In the earlier issues, Ivanow had printed photocopies of the original text which is not available anymore. Again the importance of 'Risala Dar Haqiqat-i-Din' can be estimated from the fact that Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah had once advised the mission students of Bombay to study it. In this work, the Ismaili element is not treated explicitly. The work is apparently intended for the general reader rather than Ismaili students only. and therefore, deals with the subjects of ethics in a Sufi strain.
The other works of Pir Shahabu'd-din Shah are recorded by W. Ivanow in "Guide to Ismaili Literature"; and "Khitabat-i Aliyya" or "Al-Khitabat al-Aliyya ", a treatise in Persian on the principles of the Ismaili doctrine, and on ethics in general. It is divided into 64 chapters called Khitab in which 22 chapters are devoted to the basic points in the Ismaili doctrine further, the author touches on the esoteric matters, on Pir-ship, the Nuraniyyat of the Imams, tawil of the basic prescriptions of the Shariat, some religious observations, and then the question of Nass and the sequence of the Imams. The other treatise of Pir Shahabu'd-din is "Nasa'ih-i Sarkar-i Pir" which is a short sermon, six pages long, on the same ethical matters and in the same strain as his preceding two works.
Pir Shahabu'd-din Shah was a learned Scholar, a good philosopher and is known for his piety he led a very simple life. He passed his life mostly in Poona and Bombay. But even the outside world had good regards for his piety and knowledge. We understand that many Ismailis approached him to solve knotty meanings of Quranic Verses. It is also said that Imam Aga Ali Shah had sent him in Afghanistan amongst Ismailis but there is no historical record of it. Ismailis were always amazed by his broad knowledge of religion.
Pir Shahabu'd-din had married with a Persian Lady Bibi Arus Khanum who died probably in the first or second decade of the 20th century in Arabia where she spent the last days of her life. She gave birth to a son Abul Hasan Shah and six daughters namely Talah, Nushi, Turan, Malek, Khadija, Tuman Malik and Zarintaj. After the death of Pir Shahabu'd-din Shah, the Piratan was given to his son Abul Hasan Shah regarding to this there is a Firman recorded as follows.
On the day of the Ziarat of Pir Khalilu'llah (Pir Shahabu'd-din), Imam Shah Ali Shah called the jamats in Wadi (Aga Hall, Bombay), and said "I accept the son of Pir Khalilu'llah as Pir and give him the authority of Pir. Do all the Jamats like this or not?" So the Jamat said, "Khudawind! we like it". Hence Dhani Salamat Datar said, "Well! then go and please the wife of Pir Khalilu'llah. All the Jamats then approached the wife of Pir Khalilu'llah and kissed the hands of Pir Abul Hasan Shah and said to the wife of Late Pir: "He is now our Pir"-
The above firman is taken from a manuscript bearing the name of Sunder Kalyan Hooda Zamerwalla. With the firman is attached a note that: "this firman has been copied by Sunderji Kalyan on 4th Bhadarwa Vad 1958 Savannt from the book belonging to Khoja Hansraj Sunderji Bhoykawalla which was in the house of Sunderji".
In this way Pir Abul Hasan Shah, the son of Pir Shahabu'd-din, was appointed as forty-eighth Pir of Ismailis when he was about 2 to 3 months old, and could hardly hold this office for three to four months, and died in 1885 still in infancy at the age of about six months. His body is buried in Hasanabad at Bombay by the side of his great grand-father Imam Shah Hasan Ali. In the mausoleum, there are three graves- two large and one small. One of the large ones is that of Imam Shah Hasan Ali and other is built in the memory of Imam Aga Ali Shah whose body was kept for sometime in this Mausoleum before its transportation to Kerbala. The smaller one, on which are hung some wooden miniature cradles is that of Pir Abul Hasan Shah.
Pir Shahabu'd-din died at the age of 33 years due to chest disease at Poona. His body was embalmed and brought to Bombay, and was kept in Hasanabad for forty days, then sent to be buried at Kerballa in January, 1885. With the help of many firmans of Imam Aga Ali Shah, it can be seen that Pir Shahabu'ddin Shah died in the 2nd week of December 1884, about 8 months before the death of Imam Aga Ali Shah and not in 1885 May, as is generally mentioned in some books. The genealogical chart which was produced before the High Court of Bombay during the Aga Khan case of 1908 and the view of W. Ivanow also supports this opinion of mine that he died in 1884.
True Meaning of Religion - Risala dar Haqiqati Din by Shiabudin Shah
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