Praise be to Allaah.
All of those who belong to Islam and bear witness that there is no god except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah recite the Qur’aan and affirm that salaah, fasting, zakaah and Hajj are obligatory. But they are divided into different groups, each of which has its own way as regards beliefs and acts of worship. The best of these groups is Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, who adhere to the Qur’aan and Sunnah both outwardly and inwardly, and who follow the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and the first Muslims, the Muhaajireen and Ansaar. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allaah, then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Qur’ششn and the Sunnah), Allaah will love you” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:31]
“And the foremost to embrace Islam of the Muhaajiroon and the Ansaar and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allaah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success” [al-Tawbah 9:100]
The worst of these groups are the hypocrites (munaafiqeen) who make an outward display of faith whilst concealing kufr (disbelief). They speak words which do not reflect what is in their hearts. They are the ones of whom Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And of mankind, there are some (hypocrites) who say: ‘We believe in Allaah and the Last Day,’ while in fact they believe not…
And when they meet those who believe, they say: ‘We believe,’ but when they are alone with their Shayaateen (devils — polytheists, hypocrites), they say: ‘Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking’” [al-Baqarah 2:8, 14]
Between these two groups are others which vary in their degree of closeness to good and evil. The Ismailis are an extreme Raafidi group who make an outward display of loyalty to Ameer al-Mu’mineen ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) whilst concealing disbelief in Allaah, His angels, His Books and His Messengers. Hence some of the scholars said concerning the Faatimis, who were same as the Ismailis, that they make an outward display of being Raafidis, but they conceal in their hearts pure kufr. They are also called Baatinis because they claim that the texts and laws have hidden (baatin) meanings other than those which are known to the Muslims. For example, they say that the five prayers refer to the knowledge of their secrets, the fast of Ramadaan is the concealment of their secrets, and Hajj is travelling to meet their shaykhs. But the baatini school of thought – which includes the Ismailis – is based on secrecy. Their real beliefs are secrets which are known only to their leaders, and these leaders are deluding the ordinary people, enslaving and exploiting them, demanding from them sums of money to be paid at certain times, expecting absolute obedience from them and scaring them by telling them that if they go against them they will be stricken with calamities. They command them to be different from the Sunnis with regard to fasting, ending the fast and Hajj, although they may show some tolerance and act friendly in order to deceive them. You are one of the ordinary Ismailis, and you do not know the secrets that the leaders have. They do not think that you are qualified to know them, because they know that if you and others like you were to discover these secrets, you would be disgusted and would have nothing more to do with them, and you would reject their beliefs. They want you to continue being a follower, enslaved to them, and they want to retain their leadership over you. Fear Allaah and free yourself from this enslavement to someone other than Allaah and following someone other than the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), because there is no one who should be followed apart from the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). May Allaah bless you with guidance to the Sunnah and keep you away from the path of bid’ah; may He open your eyes to the truth that He is Able to do all things.