IV. OUTERDEFEAT-INNER VICTORY: HASSAN III's RE-APPROPRIATION OF ISLAM
The Qiyâma had been a declaration of independence, but it also marked an admission of the Nizâris' physical defeat in their plan to take over the Islamic world at large. (57) Out- siders almost certainly interpreted the Qiyâma as such a defeat, but also as proof that the Ismâ'ilis really were, as suspected, rabid heretics. It is unclear how complete the Nizâris' withdrawal had really been; they seem to have carried on their campaigns even during the Qiyâma. (58) According to Juvayni the Nizâris still raided and murdered their neighbors. (59) So, even those who had been declared spiritually dead in the Qiyâma, still remained physically alive, and had to be done away with. (60). Those partaking in the Qiyâma, though, were beyond physical existence and physical death. A tradition from Hasan II concerning the Qiyâma reads, "and we also killed Death, and made all alive again... we have taken the earth and skies of sharî'a off, and spread the earth and the skies of the Real Existence (haqîqa)." (61)
Elsewhere Kalâmi Pîr states that the sequence shari'a- Qiyâma cannot be altered, the sharia is Qiyâma's "veil." (62) Yet a third section informs:
As it is inevitable that every religion has to have a beginning, it also has to have an end. Such an end of the religion or sect is called its qiyûmat, or the Day of Judgemenl, and the final end of several religious is called qiyûmatu'l-qiydmal the Great Resurretion: the person through whom this is effecled is called the Qû'im of the Qiyûmat. (63)
Was the Qiyâma of 1164, then, a Great Resurrection in the strict sense? It may have been the end of the religion starting with Adam, culminating with Muhammad. In that case the "énd" is that of one religion, not several: the "Day of Judgement" was not equated with the end of the world. Hasan III's re-introduction of the shari'a seems to support such an interpretation. The new creation mentioned, above, by Kalâmi Pîr, appears to have been a temporary one; Death was killed, for a while, but "resurrected".
Suddenly back into a period of occultation and of dissimulation Of faith, the Ismailis were forced to reinterpret their views of history and of salvation. They came to see the Qiyâma as having been a test, a rehearsal for the Final Judgement to be expected at the end of the world. Hasan III was clearly an Imâm in his "Lord of slaves" aspect. Kalâmi Pîr says: that occultation periods are punishments for the heaviness of the believers' sins, (64) and, thus one can interpret the Qiyâma as a test that too many had failed, - hence the return of shari'a. Introducing the lowest possible sharr'a, the Sunni one, Hasan III, suitably called the "new Muslim", (65) demonstrated the severity of his actions. Hodgson comments, "It was as if one deliberately Chose the most false zahir available, once the truth was to be suppressed at all." (66)
Hasan III's reign was a new period of occultation, even if he, the Imâm himself, remained visible. This occultation- era prompted a different view of salvation than before. A comprehensive redemption of the faithful community as a whole could no longer be expected. Instead, one finds a novel, perhaps Sûfi-inspired, emphasis on individual salvation. Par- ticularly after the Mongol invasion, Ismâ'lism loses its character as a social-political liberation movement, attempting, instead, to provide a path to individual salvation. (67) Accordingly, the former, outward ranking system, symbolizing proximity to the Imâm, fades and gives way to a thesis of inner, individual stages of perfection. (68) Later, when the Imâm went into total hiding (after the Mongol take-over) , the hujja regained his importance as the gate to the Imâm. (69)
Except for the position of the hujja, the rest of the old, pre-Qiyâma ranks play no important part in the post-Qiyâma period. Instead, the hierarchy is internalized. (70)This transformation of the hierarchy, from externality, through total transcendence in the Imâm, and, finally, into the individual believer exemplifies, once more, the dexterity of the Ismâ'îlî religious logic. For instance, the timing of the daily prayers, namâz, are now understood as ascension-levels towards the upper realm. (71) ln the last spiritual prayer-stage the believer turns his back against the mihrâb, the niche giving the physical direction of prayer, in order to show that he has left physical rules behind. (72) These ideas are quite compatible with the Kalâmi Pir ta'wîl regarding the prayers. (73) With respect to sharî'a, zâhir and bâtin are again in force, but the Haqîqa level is no longer ostentatious, as in the Qiyâma, -it seems to be expressed internally only, by the individual believer.
The new conformity to shari'a must have made the Ismâ'îlîs look almost like mainline Sunnis, or, at least, like relatively harmless Sufîs. But underneath the surface remained, still, the Ismâ'îlî view of history, as an 'Alî-biography (74) oscillating between periods of occultation and openness of 'Alî, the eternal Imâm. Outwardly, the Hujja showed the way to the Imâm; inwardly, the mystically inclined individual sought to merge himself with the Imâm.
The "night of symbols", to use one of Corbin's favorite expressions, (75) comes again into effect. Direct access to the Imâm, unmediated by symbols, was possible in the Qiyâma, but now the road to salvation is cloaked in the moonphase, the night-reign of the Hujja. One must rely on him only, or, alternatively, on oneself, exercising towards losing that self.
The Ismâ'îlis seem to have come full circle, which, for them, does not mean any circulus vitiousus. Managing to interpret external defeat, and even the seemingly failed test of the true believers in the Qiyama, the Ismailis dive into hisory and externality in order to ultimately receive the still intact promise of salvation. This will come about in the future, when the Mahdi emerges to take over the last of all reigns.
The apparent circularity of the Ismâ'il intinterpretations of religious truth and duty demands interpretive models which will appropriately serve such a religious dialectic. Where can one find pertinent models?