The Delegation Decoded – Jali Screen Sections: The Summoners of Knowledge

4. Inner Glass Fibre Canopy: The Masters of Instruction

The Delegation Decoded

An Esoteric Exegesis of the Delegation of the Isma‘ili Imamat

A Personal Interpretation by Khalil Andani

5. Jali Screen Sections: The Summoners of Knowledge

“If you listen to the advice of a da‘i,
You will become the accepted one.
You will become alive
And your heart will be enlightened.”
Sayyedna Nizari Quhistani

Inside view of the Jali Screens at Delegation of Ismaili Imamat

Light shinning through the Jali Screens at Delegation of Ismaili Imamat

The light of the sun shines through the glass dome and the glass fibre canopy and illuminates the atrium as well as the jali screen.

When one contemplates the Delegation’s architecture from the perspective of moving downwards from the top in the context of the celestial and terrestrial hudud, the double layered jali screen reveals another esoteric meaning. The key to this meaning is in the way in which the jali screen has been divided into rows and columns.

Each wall of the jali screen is divided into sections consisting of three rows and fifteen columns. Therefore each wall of jali screen contains forty-five sections. There are four walls which comprise a total of one hundred eighty sections. The jali screen is double-layered which results in a total of three hundred sixty jali screen sections. This number is significant because it corresponds to the number of the three hundred sixty da‘is in the World of Faith.

One can observe in the atrium that the light which passes through the glass dome and the glass fibre canopy – which represent the Prophets/Imams and their hujjahs respectively – shines upon the jali screen, producing many beautiful patterns and forms.

Light shinning on the Jali Screens of the Delegation of Ismaili Imamat

Each of the twelve hujjahs transmits his knowledge and teaching to a group of thirty da‘is – just like each month of the Islamic calendar has about thirty days. The da‘is were not simply preachers or clerics but individuals of great wisdom and insight. In the classical and medieval periods of Isma‘ili period, it was the da‘i who served as the tangible link between the Imam and his murids. The da‘i was also responsible for the spiritual training and esoteric initiation of the murids under him. Isma‘ili texts even referred to the da‘i as the spiritual parent[1] of the disciples.

The Isma‘ili da‘i known as Nizari Quhistani describes the qualities and status of a da‘i in his poetry:

Listen to the advice of a da‘i,
Don’t be a follower of your analogy and opinion.
Every zahir you see cannot be without a batin.
Listen to the call of the da’wah from an authorized da‘i.
If you listen to the advice of a da‘i,
You will become the accepted one.
You will become alive and your heart will be enlightened.

– Sayyedna Nizari Quhistani,
(Nadia Eboo Jamal, Surviving the Mongols, pp. 106-107)

The term da‘i literally means ‘inviter’ or ‘summoner’. Throughout its history, the Isma‘ili Tariqah of Islam was known as the Da’wah (Summons) or al-Da’wah al-Hidayah (The Rightly Guided Summons). This was not a summons to a set of dogmatic principles nor was it a call towards blind following or imitation. The goal of the Isma‘ili Summons was to invite and summon humankind to the recognition and mystical knowledge of the unity (tawhid) of God. At the head of this Summons is the Isma‘ili Imam. It is in this light that the inscription on a Fatimid coin reads[2]:

The Imam Ma‘ad [al-Muizz] summons
to the absolute oneness of God, the Eternal.

Delegation of Ismaili Imamat

NEXT: 6. The Atrium Floor: The Seven Repeated Ones

DOWNLOAD Complete Publication.

The Delegation Decoded – Khalil Andani


[1]See Ja’far ibn Mansur al-Yemen, Kitab al-‘Alim wa’l-Ghulam, transl. James Morris as The Master and the Disciple, Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, 2001, p. 64[back]

[2]Shafique Virani, The Ismailis in the Middle Ages, p. 71[back]

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, its achievements and humanitarian works.

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