This volume is the first issue of the "Ismaili Society's" proposed non-periodical publication devoted to the study of Ismailism and cognate subjects. Its primary purpose is to offer students facilities for publishing shorter works dealing with the matter, and exchanging opinions on the results of their researches. It is hoped that this publication may gradually become a recognized centre for such exchange of ideas, and that it may also help to centralize papers on Ismaili subjects, preventing their dispersion in various learned periodicals which are not always easily accessible to students other than those working within easy reach of well equipped libraries.
Generally speaking, it may be conceded that the days of learned Oriental periodicals of that nineteenth century encyclopedic type have passed. The advance of our knowledge and the inevitable process of integration and specialization in research make the walls separating each specialty from others higher and higher. The modern reader of such encyclopedic learned periodicals often finds itself in the unenviable position of having nothing to read in them for a whole year. The change to more specialized journals or non-periodicals, such as the present one, on lines long since adopted by various branches of scientific studies, seems inevitable.
The object of this publication in promoting the study of Ismailism is not exclusive concentration on one single subject however large and complex it may be. That would amount to over-specialization. The Society, taking that subject in a very broad sense, also includes in its programme work in cognate fields such as sectarian movements generally in Islam, Shi'ism, popular forms of the Sufic movement and other matters which are not easy to specify in advance but which, nevertheless, may prove to be of value for the study of the evolution of Islamic civilization in its Shi' ite-Ismaili aspect.
With regard to the present volume in particular, its nucleus is formed by translations of a representative collection of specimens of the so far almost completely unknown literature of Satpanth, or Indian Ismailism. For many years I tried to induce my Ismaili friends to do something on such lines, but various attempts usually were abandoned very soon, never attaining fruition, until the task was undertaken by Mr. V. N. Hooda. Of earlier attempts only one was sufficiently complete to be published here, namely, the short work under the title of the "Holy Shikshapatri".
It was my duty to offer necessary comments and explanations to those papers. I also added an article on a fragment of an Ali-Ilahi book, not only because of its bearings on Ismailism, but also to demonstrate the Society's attitude towards the inclusion of papers on non- Ismaili subjects.
The edition of the Arabic text of the Kit‚bu'r-Rushd wa'l-Hid‚yat, or rather its fragments, was most kindly undertaken by Dr. M. Kamil Hussein, of the University of Cairo. The work is supposed to be one of the earliest in Ismaili literature, and therefore, although its contents can hardly be regarded as inspiring, it merits edition owing to its antiquity. I have given a complete translation, as far as it was possible, in my work "Studies in Early Persian Ismailism", and I intended to edit the text. This was out of the question, however, owing to complete lack of facilities in Bombay for printing in Arabic. Now that owing to a long series of strikes and riots in India printing generally has become next to impossible here, and we have, with the most obliging assistance of Dr. M. Kamil Hussein, arranged for the printing of this volume in Egypt, the situation has changed. In Cairo, of course, facilities for printing in Arabic are abundant, and it was extremely kind of Dr. Kamil Hussein to consent to take up the question of editing the text and seeing it through the press.
Bombay, June, 1947.