The Imams of the Shia Ismaili Muslims are direct descendants of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). 

They trace their lineage through an unbroken line of hereditary male descent from the Prophet’s daughter, Bibi Fatima (peace be upon her), and her husband, who was also the Prophet’s first cousin, Hazrat Ali (peace be upon him).

In the Shia interpretation of Islam, Allah commanded Prophet Muhammad to appoint Hazrat Ali as his successor. Hazrat Ali and the Imams that follow are responsible for continuing the teaching and interpretation of the faith which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad and recorded in the Holy Qur’an.

The Ismaili Imams descend from the line of Imam Husayn (peace be upon him). He was the younger son of Hazrat Ali and Bibi Fatima, the beloved grandson of the Prophet, and the second Ismaili Imam. The present Imam, Shah Karim al-Husayni, and several previous Imams, have used the surname al-Husayni to refer to their descent from Imam Husayn.  

In a letter to the international Islamic conference held in Jordan in 2005, known as the Amman Message, His Highness the Aga Khan, the present Ismaili Imam, wrote:

…I am the 49th hereditary Imam in direct lineal descent from the first Shia Imam, Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib through his marriage to Bibi Fatimat-az-Zahra, our beloved Prophet's daughter.”


Learn More 

  1. Article: The Ismaili Imamat by the Institute of Ismaili Studies

  2. Article: What is Shi’a Islam? by Farhad Daftary and Azim Nanji

  3. Video: A Guiding Light: The Imamat of the Shia Ismaili Muslims from The Ismaili TV

  4. Book: The Ismaili Imams: A Biographical History by Farhad Daftary

  5. Video: Interview with Dr Farhad Daftary on The Ismaili Imams: A Biographical History