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Don’t Make The Same Mistakes Churches Throughout History Have Made. This Ebooklet Exposes The Tactics Of The Enemy Based On A Thorough Review Of Christian History But It Captures And Fascinates By Telling This Story Through The Devil’s Eyes.
How To Make A Church Fail By Satan, Prince Of Darkness.
The Editor-in-Chief of SOJOURNERS Magazine, the Evangelical Jim Wallis has released a new book, The Great Awakening, written with hope to wake up American institutionalized Christians to be a part of the rebirth and renewal to heal, mend and transform “the biblical scandal of poverty around the globe and here at home, the crisis of environmental degradation and climate change that pose a threat to God’s creation, and to the multiple assaults on human life and dignity that shame our world.” [Page 12, Feb. 2008, SOJOURNERS]
Jim’s seeking revival, but this non-institutional Christian of The Beatitudes, is calling for a revolution and it begins with common sense and goes retro; back to the voices of wisdom that founded this nation.
“Soon after I had published the pamphlet “Common Sense” [on Feb. 14, 1776] in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion… The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”-Tom Paine
Wallis proposes Seven Principals and Rules of Engagement for Christian political involvement in the world:
1. God hates injustice.
2. The kingdom of God is a new order.
3. The church is an alternative community
4. The kingdom of God transforms the world by addressing the specifics of injustice.
5. The church is the conscience of the state, holding it accountable for upholding justice and restraining its violence.
6. Take a global perspective.
7. Seek the common good.
All seven points are well and good and I wish Jim luck and pray he does indeed arouse the sleeping Christians for the western institutions have failed at its commission. Too many churches in the USA have become places to socialize and be entertained and to be patted on the back just for doing the minimum of what is required if one claims to be a Christian; and churches have become business’s that maintain the status quo and not so much about the social gospel.
The gospel-which means good news, that Jesus preached, was very political and a direct challenge to the politically powerful and the arrogant, self-satisfied, self-righteous teachers of the law.
Two thousand years ago the Cross had NO symbolic religious meaning and was not a piece of jewelry. When Jesus said: “Pick up your cross and follow me,” everyone back then understood he was issuing a POLITICAL statement, for the main roads in Jerusalem were lined with crucified agitators, rebels, dissidents and any others who disturbed the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces.
In the latter days of Nero’s reign [54-68 A.S.] through the domination of Domitian [ 81-96] Christians were persecuted for following the nonviolent, loving and forgiving Jesus. That Jesus was first left behind when Augustine penned the Just War Theory.
Before Emperor Constantine brought Christianity into the mainstream, all the early Church Fathers taught that Christians should not serve in the army but instead willingly suffer rather than inflict harm on any other. St. Augustine was the first Church Father to consider the concept of a Just War and within 100 years after Constantine, the Empire required that all soldiers in the army must be baptized Christians and thus, the decline of Christianity began in earnest.
With the justification of war and violence supplied by Augustine’s Just War Theory, wrong became right. Nothing much has changed in two millennia, for in today’s Orwellian world politicians claim the way to peace is through war and that nuclear weapons provide protection. American money claims ‘In God we Trust’ but the truth is America’s faith is in an out of control Military Industrial Complex that seeks domination, power and control over any who would defy and challenge the American status quo. Eisenhower warned America not to bind our economy to the Industrial Military Complex and like most prophets, he was ignored.
In 313 AD, Emperor Constantine legitimized Christianity and thus, those who had been considered rebels and outlaws began to enjoy political power and prestige. Jesus’ other name is The Prince of Peace, and with the marriage of church and state, his true teachings were reinterpreted. The justification of warfare and the use of state sponsored violence corrupted what Christ modeled and taught. Jesus was always on about WAKE UP! The Divine already indwells you and all others. Christ taught that to follow him requires that one must love ones enemies; one must forgive those who hate, curse and revile them, without even a thought of payback.
Christ lived a life that proved evil can be opposed without being mirrored, and that the cycle of a “tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye”, will never bring peace and justice. Before Emperor Constantine brought Christianity into the mainstream, all the early Church Fathers taught –and all Christians never served in the army but instead willingly suffered rather than inflict harm on any other.
The term Christianity was not coined until three decades after Christ walked the earth. Until the day of Paul, followers of Christ were called members of The Way; the way being what he taught!
Christ was never a Christian, but he was a social justice, radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up [intifada in Arabic] for he challenged the job security of the Temple authorities by teaching the people they did NOT need to pay the priests for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God; for God already LOVED them just as they were: sinners, poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under Roman Military Occupation.
What got Jesus crucified was disturbing the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces of his time, by teaching the subversive concept that Caesar only had power because God allowed it and that God preferred the humble sinner, the poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under Roman Occupation above the elite and arrogant!
Clement, Tertillian, Polycarp and every other early Church Father taught that violence was a contradiction of what Christ was all about. There have always been those Christians who spoke out against this corruption of scripture and they have been ignored, reviled, rejected, mocked, persecuted and maligned throughout time. There have always been Christians who have never abandoned the true teachings, such as the Quakers, Mennonites, some Catholics and Protestants who have been faithful witnesses to Christ by denouncing violence and caring for the poor. There have also always been Jews, Muslims, atheists, anarchists, secularists, rebels and revolutionaries have lived lives that embody the message of Christ; have in fact done what he actually said, which was most revolutionary.
Christ, you know it ain’t easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They’re gonna crucify me-John Lennon
The institutionalized Christians may crucify me for claiming that many who attend 21st century American churches have re-crucified and maligned Jesus, for they worship an institution and pages in the Bible. All institutions are man made and the Bible was not FAXED in from heaven, it was written down after centuries of the oral history being passed down. When ever stories are retold, they change, and we all know this if we ever played the childhood game of telephone. Scribes were imperfect human who made many mistakes as they recopied texts; many also added their own point of view and some even left out what they chose to.
The most decisive event in the history of Christendom occurred when Emperor Constantine accepted the Christian faith, for those who had once been persecuted were now protected by an earthly king. Both a patriarchal monarchical state and church were formed at the same time. Power struggles and debates were common among the early Christians. Individual churches determined which texts were read, and they all had their favorites. Constantine sought to unite his empire, and uniting the church was a savvy political move. He announced he would pay for fifty illuminated copies of scripture to be bound, and thus the biblical canon was established and sealed. There was fierce debate among the bishops about what should be included and what left out.
The proto-orthodox, who had now become the dominant voice, determined what was heretical for everyone. The proto-orthodox demanded much-loved scripture to be burned, usually because it did not fit their understanding of God. We know more today about how diverse Christianity had once been with the discovery of the Nag´ Hammâdi Library. [Refer to Part One is this series for more information]
I may get crucified for this, but I contend that there is a cult within The Body of Christ in the USA that worships the institution and pages in the Bible, and it is a cult of the dead. Just because the canon was sealed, does not mean that God stopped talking to his creation and we can all hear Him/She/? in the voice of our own conscience, as well as in the voices of open vessels such as poets, musicians, critics, dissidents and rebels throughout history.
Just because I no longer do church, I am still connected to the mystical Body of Christ and the most rigid of fundamentalists are my sisters and brothers. St. Paul, who never failed to express his freedom of speech, warned the followers of Christ, NOT to judge the unbeliever but to provoke the believer onto good works. My hope and prayer is to mend, heal and repair the flabby Body of Christ in the west by reconnecting it to its very roots in the land where Jesus walked and taught that it is the peacemakers who are the children of God; not those that starve, bomb, torture or occupy others.
The Christian EXODUS from the Holy land-which is in pieces; Bantustans, has rendered their numbers from 20% of the total to less than 1.3% since 1948, and it is NOT because of Islam, but because of a brutal, inhumane military occupation which denies them human rights and ignores international law aided and abetted by the American government and its citizens hard earned tax dollars.
Every individual Christian is but one cell in the cosmic Body of Christ. “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” -Romans 12:4
“Its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part [of The Body] suffers, every part suffers with it.”-1 Corinthians 12:25-26
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and all the prophets said, “You will recognize the believers in their having Mercy for one another, and in their Love for one another, and in their Kindness towards one another; like the body, when one member of it hurts, the entire body hurts.”
John Lennon penned The Wedding Ballad Of John & Yoko a few weeks after their 1969 marriage and then held a bed-in for peace to awaken the world via a media event to the abomination of the war in Vietnam. Using the global stage John said, “Yoko and I are quite willing to be the world’s clowns; if by doing it we do some good…And I’m saying peace…The struggle is in the mind. We must bury our own monsters and stop condemning people. We are all Christ and Hitler. We want Christ to win. We’re trying to make Christ’s message contemporary. What would he have done if he had advertisements, records, films, TV and newspapers! Christ made miracles to tell his message. Well, the miracle today is communications, so let’s use it.”
That battle rages on to make Christ contemporary and in this ongoing series I will be utilizing the World Wide Web.
The above was Part Four in the Series: “We have it in our power to begin the world again”-Tom Paine
Part 1 in this series: “We have it in our power to begin the world again”-Tom Paine
Part 2 in this series: The Stages of the Soul and How Religiosity/Fundamentalism is holding up Evolution
Part 3 in this series: Prophets, Doors, Walls: MLK, X, Lennon, Gaza and Thee
Obama leaves his Church
By Peter Menkin
Considered a man of faith, Barack Obama, the American running for nomination for President of the United States, has left his Church. For reasons of political controversy due to its pastor, The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Senator Obama left membership in Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC), Chicago, Illinois after 20 years. (The church website proclaims: “We are a congregation which is unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian…”)
Trinity United Church of Christ occupies a tan brick building on West 95th Street across railroad tracks from a public housing project, reports The Christian Science Monitor.
The Senator said about leaving, “Too much press harassment, people couldn’t’ worship in peace.” That wasn’t his reason for leaving, but a complaint on the news media attention. The reason were politically controversial remarks by Trinity’s pastor, Reverend Wright.
Wright’s comments contradicted one of Obama’s campaign’s central messages — that the candidate can transcend past divisions such as those involving race.
The impediment to the African-American’s campaign is highlighted by Wright’s widely reported sermon remark: “God Damn America” (for its racism}, and blaming the September 11 terrorist attacks on US foreign policy. He has also blamed the U.S. government for the spread of the AIDS virus. Mostly, Wright is seen as anti-white and a racist.
On Bill Moyers Journal, Wright says we are unashamedly Black. His philosophy embodies, “Use the culture of which we are a part.” He preaches there is hope, that life has meaning, and that God is still in control. “We can change. We can do better.” Black Liberation theology is Wright’s UCC message. It is a UCC message he offers, since he is a UCC minister who studied under Martin Marty. Martin E. Marty, distinguished Lutheran Pastor, teacher, and writer who has been on the University of Chicago faculty since 1963.
Grounded in the history of the African-American, Black theology is powerful stuff. He is little sorry about his comments, but in Bill Moyer’s interview, Reverend Wright does appear sorry he made the comment “God damn America” in the Pulpit—if only for a few moments. But it wasn’t one remark, but a string of them that caused the significant distancing between the candidate’s spiritual advisor and candidate.
The press in the United States spends a lot of time and space talking about Senator Obama’s faith, his church, and how he is a Christian—the Senator says he is Christian himself, and that is also news. Religion in the campaign makes news, despite separation of Church and State. Time magazine says more voters see Senator Obama as a strongly religious person than they do every major presidential hopeful but Mitt Romney, the Republican former governor of Massachusetts. Romney’s Mormonism drew extensive news coverage.
U.S. Senator Obama was married in Trinity church. His children were baptized in the church, and also like the wedding, Reverend Wright performed the solemnizations. The Senator said on leaving the church, “Trinity was where I found Jesus Christ, where we were married, where our children were baptized. We have many friends among the 8,000 members…” It is a church where he was moved many times. When Wright preached one Sunday about the sustaining power of hope in the face of poverty and despair, Obama says he found himself in tears.
He says in one speech:
“For one thing, I believed and still believe in the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change… Because of its past, the black church understands in an intimate way the Biblical call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and challenge powers and principalities. And in its historical struggles for freedom and the rights of man, I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world. As a source of hope.”
It is the claim of Reverend Jeremiah Wright that Trinity is a church of Black theology. The Reverend Doctor John Cone, the Harvard Professor and African-American theologian interviewed on American Public Broadcasting System (PBS) by commentator Bill Moyers says on the PBS website:
“As we examine what contemporary theologians are saying, we find that they are silent about the enslaved condition of black people. Evidently they see no relationship between black slavery and the Christian gospel. Consequently there has been no sharp confrontation of the gospel with white racism. There is, then, a desperate need for a black theology, a
theology whose sole purpose is to apply the freeing power of the gospel to black people under white oppression.”
The Cross is the same as the lynching tree for the Black American in a Harvard Speech. The Christian Reverend Cone wants to start a conversation on this subject. He offers that lynching was terrorism that “worked to a certain degree.” This includes spectacle lynchings where 5,000 would gather to watch.
Religion is one place where you have an imagination that no one can control.” Black Churches are a place of the spirit… (even though you are living under the shadow of the lynching tree).” … There were 246 years of slavery, and 100 years of segregation and lynching.
America does not see itself as “not innocent,” according to Cone. “No human being is innocent.”
Reverend Cone is ordained in the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago. which is one of the city’s largest black churches and not far from Obama’s home in the South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park.
Apparently the Democratic candidate for his party’s nomination is not turning his back on Black theology, per se, since Sunday, June 15, 2008 he spoke from the pulpit at that same mega-church in Chicago, which has 20,000 members and is also considered a Black American church.
It is the history of the African American church in the United States that it is a center of Black community life speaking to the needs of the church and larger community in social and political ways. But not in so partisan a manner as was recently ascribed to the theology and preaching of the Reverend Wright. So the perception became. But he still associates himself with the African American church in general.
Senator Obama spoke of the role of Black fathers and their responsibilities, perhaps more a campaign speech than sermon from a “religious” man whose campaign motto is “Change That Works for You.” After all, he is running for President of the United States—or its Democratic Party nomination more accurately. He gave his talk from the pulpit of the “20,000-member Apostolic Church of God…a short walk from the Obamas’ home. The church’s pastor, Byron Brazier, is an Obama supporter,” reports The New York Times.
It is from the Black Church that Senator Obama learned many things about hope. Can he really take himself out of the African-American church ethos, as he has known it? Perhaps the Reverend Wright thinks not, though he is not saying. His official press release remark on Senator Obama and his family’s leaving was, “…We are saddened by the news …”
(Appx. 1100 words)
Today in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the President of Republic of the South American country of Suriname, Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan, was received in an audience with Pope Benedict XVI and later met with Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The cordial talks resulted in a fruitful exchange of opinions on topics relevant to the current international and regional situations. Some issues were particularly addressed, such as the social policies initiated by Suriname’s Government, the preservation of the environment and the areas of collaboration between the Church and State.
Most discussions opposing the role of Christianity in the United States arise from an abyss of ignorance so deep as to be unfathomable. You can endlessly drop boulders into this chasm of intellectual darkness without ever hearing one hit bottom
Speaking with certitude, people insist our Constitution established a separation of church and state. Clueless, they don’t realize their claim, and their obvious self-satisfaction with stating it, simply proves they’ve never read the Constitution and lack any knowledge of what it says.
The media often report on this “fact” of separation-and call it professional journalism. The politically correct engage in long, earnest conversations based on this untruth. How can mature, at least chronologically, people hold so tightly to an opinion so obviously false?
Can you say “agenda?”
The writers of the Constitution clearly intended for Christianity to influence the governing of this nation. For one instance, the Constitution specifically provides for a Christian chaplain for each branch of Congress. The chaplains are paid to open every session with prayer and offer counsel to members of the body. Would the originators of the Constitution include a provision to perpetuate the great importance they attached to the Christian faith, a provision planned to endure throughout the life of this nation, then say religion could have no part in our governance?
A simple reading of the Constitution provides other examples as well. The Constitution isn’t so long that, even with sounding out the words, promoters of the separation canard couldn’t read it. And if they want to know about the First Amendment, from whence they claim to have reaped their separation notion, the Library of Congress has contemporaneous commentaries on the creation of the Bill of Rights, written by Gouverneur Morris, who was present throughout the process. You could look it up.
The “separation of church and state” phrase came from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Baptist Sunday School Association in Danbury Connecticut. However, the letter is not about keeping Christian influence out of government, but about the Federal Government not interfering in the free practice of religion. Jefferson typically didn’t comment on the Bill of Rights because he, in France at the time, didn’t participate in its creation.
To shed light on Thomas Jefferson’s real attitude toward Christianity, consider the three school systems he started in D.C. and Virginia. The required texts for each school system were the Bible, Watt’s book of hymns and a reading primer. Those books, he declared, are the basis of a good education.
So, there’s no separation of church and state, and Thomas Jefferson lived and supported the Christian faith. Oliver Stone not withstanding.
But there’s more! Not content with exposing their lack of Constitutional knowledge, drivers of the agenda loudly parade their ignorance of history. Stroking professorial beards, they pontificate on their delusion that the United States was never intended to be a Christian nation. They must put aside all our founding documents to pull this off, of course, but no matter.
Perhaps they should reconsider the safety of the platform from whence they hold forth since historical records profoundly prove the falsity of their claim.
According to the Congressional Record, the first session of the United States Congress started with several hours of Bible study and prayer. All members participated. The practice of starting each session with prayer and Bible study continued for years. You could look it up.
United States government buildings are chock-a-block full of Bible quotations, architectural detail and statuary. Check, for one instance, the Supreme Court building, finished in 1935, for its many references to the Ten Commandments.
Also, in the early days of the Republic, Christian church services were held in virtually every Federal building in D.C. While President, Thomas Jefferson attended services in the House of Representatives chamber. When he decided the music needed more energy, he ordered the Marine Band to play each Sunday.
And President Jefferson sent missionaries to the Indian tribes, and provided government money to build churches, so the Native Americans might enjoy more fullness of life. History says the missionaries were well received, and the arrangement suited everybody involved. You could look all of this up.
So, the Constitution doesn’t mention a separation of church and state. History proves the United States was founded as a Christian nation. And the real Thomas Jefferson doesn’t work out as a patron saint of those who seek to remove God from this nation’s daily life. Why do the lies continue?
Truth is on the side of angels, not agendas.
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There is and has always been a great abyss between the religious and the secular. Religious doctrine directs a believer’s behavior, and when a conflict arises between beliefs and the state, it seems that the logical course of action for the believer is to change the law. So it is with Prop 8.
Make no mistake; the quintessential issue underlying Prop 8 is the separation of church and state.
Separation of church and state is an American concept first proposed by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist that a “wall of separation” between government and religion was created in the first amendment. The first amendment begins “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
Ironically, the first Supreme Court reference to Jefferson’s idea is found in the 1878 case Reynolds v. United States. It’s ironic because Reynolds was a Mormon challenging the state’s right to prohibit bigamy and Prop 8’s biggest source of funding is the Mormon Church, according to by Dan Aiello of the Bay Area Reporter.
Reynolds was a Mormon who argued that it was his moral responsibility to marry often and that the government had no right to interfere with his constitutional right to practice his religious beliefs. The court rejected his argument.
Chief Justice Waite wrote a brilliant opinion. He first reminded the reader that prior to the adoption of our constitution the demos were frequently and unwillingly taxed to support religion, even if they were not members of the church, and were sometimes punished for failing to “attend public worship and for entertaining heretical opinions.” The court further said “Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices.” In other words, a person can believe anything he or she wants as long as exercising that belief does not break the law.
Prop 8 is an attempt to inject religious belief into our legal system. It is steeped in biblical writings dating back to circa 1200 BCE. There are numerous biblical references to homosexuality being an abomination in “God’s eyes.” The first is in Geneses 19:4-8 where Lot offers his virgin daughters to a mob of crazed homosexuals in an attempt to protect angels sent to warn Lot of Sodom’s looming destruction.
If religious doctrine dictates behavior, then the author of homophobia must be the Judean based religions. Perhaps the origin of western homophobia stems from the days of Jewish captivity in Mesopotamia and Egypt. During the time of and prior to Ramses II, the prisoners of war were enslaved and some were publically sodomized as both a symbol of dominance and obedience. It is likely that many of the Jews were publically sodomized as well as a disciplinary measure.
The Jews left Egypt after many generations of slavery and being force to watch. Once free, they enacted their own laws. If you doubt the imprint of slavery upon a people ask any African American what he thinks.
Whether or not this explains the origin of homophobia it does not address a blatant misrepresentation made by the proponents of Prop 8. On their website, protectmarriage.com, they claim that Prop 8 “…simply restores the meaning of marriage and protects it as an essential institution that has benefited mankind since the beginning of time.” If this means that same sex marriage has never been legal, they are sadly mistaken. In fact, the first laws prohibiting same sex marriage originated in Rome after Constantine declared Christianity to be the state religion. In 438 Theodosius II, Christian emperor of Rome in Constantinople, enacted the Theodosian Code which was the first law in modern history to prohibit same sex marriage, according to Ebsco Host. In virtually every other culture prior to this time same sex marriage was accepted.
The website also states that “Proposition 8 does not discriminate against gays.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It is inherently discriminatory. When your grandfather or grandmother was a child, it was illegal for a white woman to marry a black man or vice versa in most states. During World War II Japanese Americans were rounded up and isolated even though they were American citizens.
Professor Richard Peterson of Pepperdine University said in a TV ad that a Massachusetts Appellate decision would lead to same sex marriage being taught to school children in California. Massachusetts law is not binding on California law. Professor Peterson failed to return my phone call when asked to comment.
One television ad says that gay and lesbians have the same rights as straight people and Prop 8 does not change the law. Then why do we need Prop 8?
It is true that in 2000 Prop 22 which banned gay marriage passed by a large majority. Unlike Prop 8, Prop 22 was not a constitutional amendment. A constitutional amendment cannot be changed by the state legislature or a judge. Injecting religious beliefs into our state constitution violates the most fundamental principals which the founding fathers of this country used to frame our constitution.
The separation of church and state is what divides California from fanatical Muslim States in the Middle East. Prop 8 is a religiously backed issue, and worse, outsiders from other states are jumping into the fray in the mistaken belief that California’s business is their concern.
Religion has its place. It does not belong in politics. It does not belong in our constitution. Any religion that advocates discrimination does not belong in California.
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The word constitution is derived from the Latin constituere means an action of decreeing or ordaining. According to The Oxford English Dictionary (London, 1933, 2:876), “It is a decree, ordinance, law, regulation usually one made by a superior authority, civil or ecclesiastical.” In the broad sense, a Constitution is a body of rules governing the affairs of an organized group.
It is within the core of the Ismaili doctrine that the Imam guides his followers according to the developing conditions of time and society. This outlook is what made Ismailism fluid. Earlier, the traditional council, known as justi dealt the community affairs on good faith. Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah formed The First Ismailia Committee in 1900 in Karachi with a set of rules and abolished the working of the justi. The founder members of the Committee were Varas Ibrahim, Varas Basaria, Mukhi Muhammad Ali, Ali Ghulmani, Kamadia Rahmatullah Lutf Ali, Kamadia Talab, Mukhi Hashuani, Mukhi Ramzan, Ali Muhammad, Asani, Fakir Muhammad, Wali Muhammad and Mukhi Muhammad Ladha Sajan. Finally, the first Ismaili Council in Bombay, comprised of 20 members, came into existence on April 9, 1906 with Varas Ibrahim Muhammad Rawjee (1862-1911) as its first President and Alijah Ahmed Devji (1859-1925) as a Hon. Secretary. Varas Ibrahim Muhammad Rawjee ordained the Constitution of the Ismaili Council on March 4, 1910, whose draft was a splendid testimonial to his scholarly mind. Thus, the Constitutions for different areas of India with certain variations were prepared. It was confined to the workings of the Ismaili Councils in different areas, but was a milestone, which sought to lay the foundation of the progress of the community. The Ismaili Council was a peculiar mixture of a semi-judicial and semi-arbitration body. It was a judicial forum because its aim was to do justice. It was a arbitration board in the sense that it tried to give quick justice without stress of techanicalities and formalities.
In Africa, it would appears from a Civil Case no, 89 of 1894 in Zanzibar, vide Zanzibar Protectorate Law Reports (London, 1919, p. 46) by William Murison and S.S. Abrahams that adjudication of communual disputes rested in the hands of a traditional council (justi) of elders, who were considered authoritative as to the Ismaili customs. Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah was reported the need of the community rules during his first East African visit in 1899. On his second visit to East Africa, the Imam issued the first Ismaili Constitution on September 9, 1905 – a set of written rules and regulations, known as The Rules of the Shi’a Imamia Councils of the Continent of Africa. The Imam said, “I have framed rules and regulations for you, which are the token of my memory. If you follow it, you will acquire great benefit. I entrusted you these rules and regulations behind me as if my tongue, so follow it. If you violate the rules, it will mean you have cut my tongue” (Zanzibar, 17/9/1905). This Constitution foresaw a new administrative organization in the form of a hierarchy of councils; it also established rules for governing the personal relation in the community, especially with respect to marriage, divorce and inheritance. With the Constitution of 1905, the Ismaili community had proved itself capable of providing stability in the midst of an ever-changing and progressive community. Around the same time, the first Ismaili Council was founded in Zanzibar. This Constitution was not published in printed form until 1922 when it appeared in English and Gujrati, then in Germany. By the early 1920s, new centers of economic activity had appeared on mainland East Africa, where the Ismailis had gradually moved. Having lost its importance as the main commercial center of the region, Zanzibar had also ceased to be the seat of the Ismaili community. It was in recognition of these changes, the Imam revised the first Constitution in 1914, 1925 and 1937, instituting separate central councils in the three territories of Tanganyika, Kenya and Uganda. The original council in Zanzibar continued for some time to co-ordinate the activities of the Territorial Councils in matters of common interest. These central functions were later delegated to a Supreme Council, separate from the council in Zanzibar. During the final three decades of the Imam’s Imamate, the hierarchical system of councils, with its subsidiary bodies, was further developed on the basis of periodical revisions of the Constitution for the East African jamats; the revision occurring in 1937 with the formation of the Executive Council for Africa, Ismailia Supreme Council for Africa, Provincial and Local Councils. It was further revised in 1946 under the title of Constitution, Rules and Regulations of His Highness the Aga Khan Ismailia Councils for Africa. The Constitution was again revised in 1954 after the Imam had called a special conference of the East African councilors at Evian in July, 1952 for making necessary amendments in the existing Constitution of the councils. It however remained in force until 1962 when they all were revoked and replaced by The Constitution of the Shi’a Imami Ismailis in Africa. This Constitution was ordained on the 26th of June, 1962 and came into operation on the 11th of July of the same year. It remained operative for 25 years. Accordingly, the administrative hierarchy was headed, after the Imam, by a Supreme Council for Africa, an international body that directed, supervised and co-ordinated the activities of the three Territorial Councils. The Supreme Council, with its changing headquarters in Nairobi and other major cities of East Africa, was also empowered to act as judicial tribunal of the second degree, the highest judicial authority being the Imam himself. The 1962 Constitution also established an Executive Council for Africa with the main function of allocating funds to various organizations. It was once again amended in 1974 to meet the new demands in the society. The constitutional revision was more than anything else an attempt to coordinate local interests as the Ismaili society became more complex.
When India was partitioned in 1947, a separate but still similar Constitution and council system was developed for Pakistan. On March 21, 1961, the Ismailia Federal Council for Pakistan came into existence. Another Constitution was put into effect for the Ismailis of Pakistan on July 11, 1962.. On the basis of the Constitution of 1962 for Pakistan, each Supreme Council was responsible for supervising the activities of some of the 23 Divisional. District and Local Councils throughout the country.
In India, the Federal Council, located at Bombay directed the affairs of four Regional Council for Maharashtra, Gujrat, southern India and eastern India. At the bottom of the hierarchy, there were 28 Local Councils in India, for south Bombay, north Bombay, Jamnagar, Kutchh, Surat, Hyderabad, and so forth. On March 21, 1968, a third Constitution was promulgated in India. During his visit to India, the Imam said on February 23, 1969 in Bombay that, “Last year a new Constitution was introduced for my jamat of India. Many of you may not know that the earlier Constitution was dated 1946, that is for 22 years, our jamat implemented the same Constitution. It was my view, and it is my view, that circumstances have changed sufficiently so that a new Constitution should be introduced. If I have seen fit to introduce a new Constitution in 1968, this means that I may see fit to introduce a new Constitution in 1970, or 72, or 74. This means that no Constitution for our jamat is a firm, solid, immovable document. It is a document, which is created to assist the jamat to administer its affairs satisfactorily and in keeping with the times. Thus, I wish my spiritual children to understand that if through the implementation of this Constitution, it is found that certain matters could be better pharsed, could be amended, could be improved, the Constitution will be continuously amended. The Constitution of our jamat here in India, like in East Africa, like in Pakistan, is a living document and where it is not in keeping with the tradition of the jamat, or in keeping with what the times require, amendment will be introduced.”
The Constitutions of East Africa, Pakistan and India were alike in spirit, but differed in several points according to the different circumstances prevalent in these countries. This was explained by the Present Imam upon his sanctioning The Constitution of the Councils and Jamats of Shi’a Imami Ismaili Muslims of Pakistan that, “Look to the spirit and not the letter of the Constitution.”
On July 11, 1977, a Syrian delegation led by President al-Haek of the Syrian Council visited France. The Imam gave them a special message for the Syrian jamat, in which the Imam said, “On the occasion of Imamate Day, I will be introducing for formal application from now onwards, a new Constitution for my jamat in Syria. I believe this Constitution will assist in improving the administration of my jamat.”
The New Constitution of 1986
The Ismailis are spread in all over the world in different culture and society, and a need arose to ordain one universal Constitution applicable in common for all the Ismailis to improve the organizational structure of the institutions. In March, 1964, the Imam formed a Constitution Review Committee (CRC) under Wazir Anil Ishani (Convenor) with the members, Wazir Mohammad Jaffar, Wazir Ashiqali Hussain, Wazir Abdul Mohammad Furniturewala, Wazir Amirali Rahimtoola, Wazir Zaher Ahmed, Wazir Amir Bhatia, Wazir Zool Nimji and Huzur Mukhi Mahmood Ahmed. The CRC started its working in April, 1984 with a number of field visits in different countries. It submitted reports of its working regularly to the Imam after firs discussing them with the jamati leaders and group of the Imam’s secretariat at Aiglemont. CRC had ten meetings with the Imam, culminating on December 13, 1986, the 50th Salgirah of the Imam with the ordaining ceremony at Merimont, Imam’s secretariat in Geneva. The members of the Imam’s family, including Begum Salimah, Princess Tajudawla, Mata Salamat, Prince Amyn Muhammad and Princess Zahra were present in Geneva during this historical ceremony. The members of CRC and those members from the secretariat at Aiglemont also participated. At 11.00 a.m., the Imam ordained, signed and sealed The Constitution of the Shi’a Imami Ismaili Muslims.
Before the ceremony, the Imam sent his message to the jamat on December 10, 1986, and said, “On the 13th December, I will ordain a new Ismaili Constitution, which will be known as The Constitution of the Shi’a Imami Ismaili Muslims. The Ismaili Constitution will be applicable throughout the world, linking all members of my jamat wherever they are to the Imamate. Islam is a community of faith and throughout the 1400 years of our history, our jamat has lived by the rules and practice of our tariqah as a frontierless brotherhood of men and women. The permanent bond, linking the murid to the Imam and subsisting irrespective of the geographical location of the individual murid, has been and will continue to remain the cornerstone of our jamat’s identity. In our tariqah, the Imam of the Time has always concerned himself with the spiritual advancement as well as with the improvement of the quality of life of the jamat. In this century, in accordance with the needs of the time, my grandfather gave during his Imamate, and I have given in the past 30 years, Constitutions to the jamat in different areas of the world. The ordaining of this Constitution has been preceded by detailed examination of the existing separate Constitutions of the jamat, all of which will be superseded, when the Rules and Regulations applicable to the respective countries come into force. I have recognized that in view of the change in the demography of the jamat, it is necessary to establish new councils and for the same reason to discontinue others. This has been done. In providing the new Constitutional structure, I have also taken account of recent significant developments, such as the increasingly international dimension of the jamat’s settlement and especially my aspiration for the jamat to play an even more active part than in the past in the mainstream of life in the societies in which it lives.” The Imam also said, “It is my belief that the Ismaili Constitution will provide a strong institutional and organizational framework through which my jamat will be able to contribute to the harmonies development of the ummah and of the societies in which the jamat lives.” Besides, the Imam said, “The Ismaili Constitution recognizes and addresses many of the jamat’s present and future needs, but it is to be expected that some adjustment will need to be made in the practical application of the Constitution to meet local circumstances. These adjustment will be made on a case by case basis, in the rules and regulations which will be provided in respect of each country. I am confident that the Ismaili Constitution will give stronger integrated identity to my jamat worldwide, and that in abiding by it in letter and spirit, the jamat will achieve greater peace, unity, happiness, security and well-being.”
The New Constitution is a single unified paramount constitution, which applies to all Ismailis wherever domiciled or resident and superseded constitutions applicable to Ismailis in different countries. The jamat in individual countries, however, have their own rules and regulations by virtue of the Constitution, which makes detailed provisions for their governance and their institutions.
The Preamble to the new Constitution affirms all the fundamental Islamic beliefs and then clearly focuses on the doctrine of the Imamate. It sets out the essence of the Ismaili beliefs as Shi’a Imami Ismaili Muslims who affirm the Shahadah and that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) is the last and final Prophet of God, and that Islam, as revealed in the Koran, is the final message of God to mankind, and is universal and eternal. The Preamble states the authority of the Imam in the Ismaili tariqah and that allegiance to the Imam unites all Ismaili Muslims worldwide in their loyalty, devotion and obedience to the Imam within the Islamic concept of universal brotherhood. It further states that from the time of Ali bin Abu Talib, the Imams have given rules of conduct and constitutions in conformity with the Islamic concepts of unity, brotherhood, justice, tolerance and goodwill.
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