Historical Dictionary of the Ismailis (Historical Dictionaries Of Peoples And Cultures) [Hardcover]
Farhad Daftary (Author)
Publication Date: December 30, 2011 | ISBN-10: 081086164X | ISBN-13: 978-0810861640
The Ismaili Muslims, who belong to the Shia branch of Islam, live in over 25 different countries around the world, mainly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Their history has typically been linked to the history of the various countries in which they live, but the worldwide community is united under Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader and 49th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims. Few fields of Islamic studies have witnessed as drastic a change as Ismaili studies, due in part to the recent discovery of numerous historical texts, and author Farhad Daftary makes extensive use of these new sources in the Historical Dictionary of the Ismailis.
This comprehensive new reference work is the first of its kind on the Ismailis and presents a summary of the findings of modern scholarship on the Ismaili Shia Muslims and different facets of their heritage. The dictionary covers all phases of Ismaili history as well as the main doctrines of the community. It includes an introductory chapter, which provides a broad historical survey of the Ismailis, followed by alphabetical entries on all major aspects of the community, such as key figures, institutions, traditions, and doctrines. It also contains a chronology, genealogical tables, a glossary, and a substantial bibliography. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about the Ismailis.
Sufi Master and Qur'an Scholar, Abu'l-Qasim al-Qushayri and the Lata'if al-Isharat
Professor Martin Nguyen
Oxford University Press in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2012.
ISBN (Hardback): 978-0-19-726513-0
Download the Index of Qur'anic Citations
This book is the first extensive examination of the medieval Qur’anic commentary known as the Lata’if al-isharat (The Subtleties of the Signs), and the first critical biography of its author, the famous spiritual master Abu’l-Qasim al-Qushayri. Written in 11th century Nishapur, an intellectual and cultural crossroads of the Muslim world, the Lata’if al isharat commentary exhibits an important confluence of different traditions that are interwoven into Qushayri’s overarching mystical exegesis.
Martin Nguyen investigates these various traditions of exegesis, together with Qushayri’s life and historical horizon, and the hermeneutics of the commentary. The resulting study demonstrates how we can better appreciate Qushayri and his work within a wider historical heritage, in addition to the developing Sufi tradition.
I. B. Tauris Publishers in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2012
ISBN (Hardback): 978-1-78076-268-5
Publication page on Google Books
This publication, edited and translated by Hamid Haji, brings together a new critical edition of the Arabic text, an introduction and a fully annotated English translation of the Sirat al-Ustadh Jawdhar. It contains oral statements, correspondence and other archival material from a period spanning over sixty years of Fatimid rule, providing a biographical account of one of the most prominent statesmen of the early Fatimid period, Ustadh Jawdhar.
Jawdhar was a confidante of the first four Fatimid Imam-Caliphs who ruled in North Africa (910 - 973 CE). The author of the work, Abu ‘Ali Mansur al-‘Azizi al-Jawdhari, was a private secretary of Jawdhar. Mansur had access to archives held by Jawdhar, including letters he received from the imams, and was also a trusted associate. After Jawdhar’s death in 973 CE, the Fatimid Imam-Caliph al-Mu‘izz appointed al-Mansur to succeed him. The author cherished the memory of his mentor and wished to commemorate him. With this end in view, he compiled the Sirat al-Ustadh Jawdhar during the time of Imam-Caliph al-Mu‘izz’s successor, Imam-Caliph al-‘Aziz billah (r. 975–996 CE).
The original Arabic text is divided into two parts. The first part contains an account of the life of Jawdhar from entering the service of the Fatimids under Imam-Caliph al-Mahdi until his installation at the new Fatimid capital, al-Mansuriyya, during the reign of Imam-Caliph al-Mu‘izz. Documents in the first part include sermons of the Fatimid Imam-Caliphs and their letters to Jawdhar on different subjects. The author introduces each item with a brief explanatory note.
Documents quoted in the work, including the preamble which accompanies them, are of variable length. The longest are the sermons. The second part contains replies of Imam-Caliph al-Mu‘izz to letters of Jawdhar or his replies to letters transmitted to him by Jawdhar on behalf of others.
The publication also includes maps of North Africa and Sicily, genealogical charts of the Fatimids of Ifriqiya and the Banu Abi al-Husayn al-Kalbi of Sicily, a bibliography, indices in English and Arabic and a chronology summarising relevant events.
This publication provides a unique insight into the private world and political ethos of one of the major Muslim dynasties of the medieval era, and will be of interest to academics and students alike.
A Code of Conduct: A Treatise on the Etiquette of the Fatimid Ismaili Mission
I. B. Tauris Publishers in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2011.
ISBN (Hardback): 978-1-78076-126-8
Publication page on Google Books
The Risala al-mujaza al-kafiya fi adab al-du‘at (A Brief and Concise Treatise on the Code of Conduct for the Da‘is) constitutes the only extant work in Ismaili literature that deals with specific practical aspects of the Ismaili da‘wa, an appeal and encouragement to the faith.
Written by the Fatimid author Ahmad b. Ibrahim al-Naysaburi (11th century CE), it represents a normative guide for the Ismaili da‘is, who functioned as the religious agents and ‘summoners’ responsible for the leadership, instruction and spiritual and social welfare of the Ismaili community.
Al-Naysaburi’s enumeration of the da‘is’ ideal traits and attributes in the Risala al-mujaza belongs to the wider genre of ‘professional adab’ literature that exclusively addresses groups belonging to certain occupations and instructs them in specific ethical principles and codes of conduct, and which is prevalent in classical Muslim culture. It may also be located in the even older tradition of the Mirror of Princes literature, which dates back to pre-Islamic Persia, and which promoted the ideal practice of rulership.
Indeed, many of the characteristics of the da‘i listed in the Risala are consistent with the topoi in the Mirror of Princes literature as it relates to the ruler, namely the virtues of piety, chastity, uprightness, mercy, forgiveness, humility and generosity. In this regard, the communal functions of a da‘i also mirror the duties traditionally ascribed to a responsible ruler — that he has to maintain the community, protect the weak, and fight and punish crime, corruption and social disintegration — but with the one key distinction that they are, in this instance, always elaborated within the context of the Ismaili da‘wa.
The present work constitutes a critical edition and translation of the Risala al-mujaza al-kafiya fi adab al-du‘at. Al-Naysaburi’s treatise is a fascinating testimony to the wide network of a class of individuals charged with proclaiming the da‘wat al-haqq (‘call to truth’) over various frames of time and space. It is thus a valuable resource for students and scholars interested in medieval Islamic literature more generally and the structure and workings of the Fatimid da‘wa in particular.
IIS Publishes The Spirit of Tolerance in Islam
The IIS is pleased to announce the publication of The Spirit of Tolerance in Islam by Reza Shah-Kazemi. In the book, the author demonstrates, using predominantly western historical sources, that religious tolerance was in fact the historical norm which characterised the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, and that intolerance was a clear deviation from this norm.
He further argues that it was this Muslim norm of religious tolerance that significantly contributed to the process by which western Christendom shed its own history of religious intolerance, and came to enshrine the principle of religious tolerance at the heart of liberal political discourse.
In the contemporary age, it would seem the prevalent perception of Islam in the West, both in academia and among the public at large, is determined much more by media stereotypes than by scholarly objectivity. Thus, the Islamic faith is often regarded as fanatical, dogmatic and exclusivist by nature, and Muslims are regarded as having been correspondingly intolerant throughout their history. Reza Shah-Kazemi marshalls an impressive array of historical evidence, in a concise and accessible style, showing how the principle of tolerance was manifested in such diverse dynasties as the Turkish Ottomans and the Ismaili Fatimids, the Umayyads of Spain, and the Mughals of India. He then shows how this tolerant praxis is rooted morally, legally, theologically and spiritually in the message of the Qur’an and the conduct of Prophet Muhammad.
Dr Shah-Kazemi’s purpose in highlighting the centrality of tolerance in Muslim thought is to reveal the extent to which contemporary manifestations of Muslim intolerance and fanaticism subvert the rich tradition of inclusivism, pluralism and tolerance amongst Muslims. He also argues that contemporary Muslims keen to revive their spiritual legacy need not be bound by the political and legal institutions which historically gave expression to the principle of tolerance; rather, it is the essential and universal trajectories of the Qur’an and the prophetic paradigm that should be followed if one wishes to effectively revive and creatively transmit the rich legacy of Muslim ethics and spirituality.
This is an edited version of an article that was originally published in The Encyclopaedia of Islam (Third Edition), 2009, Brill Online, ed. Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson. (E.J. Brill).
Download PDF version of this article
‘Ayn al-Qudat Al-Hamadani, Abu ’l-Ma‘ali ‘Abdallah [or Muhammad] b. Abi Bakr Muhammad b. [Abi ’l-Hasan] ‘Ali b. al-Hasan b. ‘Ali al-Mayanaji [or al-Miyanaji] was an influential Sufi and important author of original works on mystical theology and spiritual practice in both Arabic and Persian; famous as a Sufi martyr. He was publicly executed (crucified or hanged - more cruel details as depicted in some sources probably belong to the imagination of a later age) by order of the Saljuq Sultan Mahmud b. Muhammad b. Malikshah at Hamadan, on 6-7 Jumada II 525 AH / 6-7 May 1131 CE. Until recently, it has been commonly assumed that he was born in 492/1099, so that he would have reached the age of thirty-three lunar years only. This, however, is inconsistent with a number of other data, as was convincingly shown by ‘A. N. Munzawi, ed., Namaha-yi ‘Aynulqudat-i Hamadani III, Tehran 1377 Sh./1998, intro, 25 and passim. As Munzawi also points out, ‘Ayn al-Qudat’s year of birth as given by Ibn al-Fuwati (d. 723/1323), the only historical source to mention it explicitly, is in fact 490/1097, not 492/1099 (Talkhis majma‘ al-adab fi mu‘jam al-alqab, ed. M. Jawad, Damascus 1963, IV, 2, 1131). Ibn al-Fuwati also mentions (ibid., 1132) that he himself paid a visit to ‘Ayn al-Qudat’s tomb at Hamadan, which was then a frequently visited sanctuary; it was demolished only in Safawid times.
PLURALISM in our times is framed exclusively as a political question. The central question for political theorists, such as James Madison, particularly in the liberal tradition, was how to reconcile the different interests, convictions and religious groups. Tied into this was the question of power — theorists with an emphasis on pluralism were always concerned about the centralisation and monopolisation of power by any one particular branch of the State.
Apart from political theory, the question of pluralism is frequently raised when discussing the question of multiculturalism in Germany or the state of religious tolerance in Pakistan. Needless to say, pluralism has become a buzzword in our post 9/11 social context, one that is frequently associated with discussion on Islam and Muslims.
Thus, Diversity and Pluralism In Islam edited by Zulfikar Hirji, in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, is a refreshing read, but it certainly represents a very heavy read. However, one of the strengths of the book is that it is divided into multiple sections which reflect its scope and nature, covering everything from Islamic art to contemporary American Muslim identity, and theological and legal discussions of pluralism. Needless to say, a simple book review cannot do justice to the coverage of the book.
In one aspect, however, the book should be seen as a nuanced and contextualised reading of the Muslim response to the question of difference in various fields. At times it reads more like an intellectual history of Islamic traditions, and is markedly different from other books on the topic which generally focus on the theological dimension of pluralism. The historical narrative of the book aims to rise above the polemic of contemporary discussion by seeking a descriptive rather than a prescriptive account of pluralism in the Islamic world. It refuses to whitewash history dealing with uncomfortable questions of sectarian violence but it also points to positive developments by citing contemporary experiences in the United States and France.
One chapter, that of anthropologist John Bowen, is particularly brilliant. In his essay, “Justifying Islamic Pluralism: Reflection from Indonesia and France”, Bowen covers a tremendous amount of ground, citing the progressive tradition of Indonesian Islamic jurisprudence by discussing the works of Professor Hazairin, while also analysing the juristic arguments of Tariq Ramadan and Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It is this level of quality that is sustained relentlessly throughout the book, painting a deeply complex picture of the versatility of Islamic thinking — not only of the past, but also of the present.
Another chapter, “Being One and Many Among Others” focuses on the evolution of different Islamic communities in the South Asian context, trying to challenge the notion that terms such as ‘Islam’ and ‘Hinduism’ are fixed social categories that are often put into inevitable collision and conflict. The subcontinent has often produced religious movements and ideas that do not fit easily into neat homogenous religious denomination, given the cross-religious and cross-cultural contact and interaction between different communities. One such example given in the book is Inayat Khan’s Sufi-inspired movement that began in 1910; initially it started out with a deep philosophical attachment to Sufism, which manifested itself in popular devotional Islam that has come to characterise religious practice in the subcontinent.
However, later on Khan’s movement became more distinct, drifting away from orthodox and traditionalist conceptions and constructions of Islamic belief into a totally distinct movement known as “Universal Sufism”, which ultimately came to transcend Islam. In addition to the spiritual fluidity of such movements that bring traditional orthodoxy into disrepute, the political question of uniformity amongst Indian Muslims is also discussed. The author describes how intra-religious conflicts within Indian Muslims are often downplayed to present an image of unity, to portray a sense of religious sense and solidarity against an imagined and monolithic construction of Hinduism. Juxtaposed to this is some insightful commentary on Gandhi’s own religious pluralism with emphasis on a seldom discussed chapter of his early life. This chapter of Gandhi’s life focuses on his involvement with the Pranami sect that espoused the ideas of tolerance and passive resistance that Gandhi later energised into political struggle. What is interesting is that the author mentions that the Pranami sect’s own holy book describes the religious affiliation of the movement not as Hindu or even Pranami (which is the label used today) but rather as Islamic. Such are the movements that confront us to examine the “limits of labels such as ‘Islam’ and ‘Hinduism’.”
The Orientalist caricature of Muslims reclining in slumber, allergic to internal discussion within the religious community is thoroughly shattered. In many essays, it is clear that Muslims actively discussed, developed strategies and methods of not only defining “difference” but also of managing it. Defining the boundaries between different schools of legal thought or expressing “difference” through art, poetry or spirituality are just a few examples of this discussion.
But more than theological or political discussion this book is primarily a work of anthropology. And in this vein, it consciously recognises the recent works of Ernest Geller, Talal Asad, Akbar Ahmed and Daniel Varisco, and with the introduction provides a succinct but astute critique and description of these different conceptual approaches used to study Muslim societies.
There are essays in the book that are perhaps too academic for a lay reader. But the essays that offer us commentary on contemporary Muslim discussions in countries like France are invaluable, providing a scholarly alternative to the poor superficial analyses that one sees in a deeply partisan and ideologically polarised media.
Having said that, one has to appreciate this book as a much needed corrective to the imagined totalitarian unity of the Ummah that zealots and Islamophobes are only too happy to peddle in service of their own ideological agenda.
Diversity and Pluralism In Islam: Historical and Contemporary Discourses Amongst Muslims
Edited by Zulfikar Hirji
I. B. Tauris, London
IIS Publishes A Code of Conduct: A Treatise on the Etiquette of the Fatimid Ismaili Mission
The IIS is pleased to announce the publication of A Code of Conduct: A Treatise on the Etiquette of the Fatimid Ismaili Mission. Fifteenth in the Institute’s Ismaili Texts and Translations Series, it is a critical edition and translation of the Fatimid author Ahmad b. Ibrahim al-Naysaburi’s Risala al-mujaza al-kafiya fi adab al-duʿat (A Brief and Concise Treatise on the Code of Conduct for the Daʿis).
A complex and crucial aspect of Ismaili studies, the daʿwa historically constitutes the calling and religious instruction that accompanied the Ismaili mission. Comprising numerous sub-groups that developed out of the Shiʿi milieu in 8th-century Iraq, the daʿwa was the central vehicle for Ismaili expansion and success. The strategy of the daʿwa proved to be effective, and led ultimately to the apogee of Ismaili political power: the Fatimid state, which was established as a caliphate in the year 909 CE. For three centuries, this unprecedented triumph over the Abbasid caliphate split the political and religious realm of the Muslim world into a Sunni and a Shiʿi-Ismaili sphere.
Edited by Verena Klemm, Professor at the Institute of Arabic Studies at the University of Leipzig, and Professor Paul E. Walker, Deputy Director for Academic Programmes at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Chicago, A Code of Conduct is not only a fascinating testimony to the wide network of a group of individuals charged with proclaiming the daʿwat al-haqq (‘call to truth’) over various frames of time and space, but also a valuable resource for students and scholars interested in medieval Muslim literature generally, and the structure and workings of the Fatimid daʿwa in particular.
Related Pages on the IIS Website:
•IIS Lectures: Fatimid Feasts and Festivals by Paul Walker
•Academic Papers: The Ismaili daʿwa Outside the Fatimid dawla by Dr Farhad Daftary
•Academic Article: Governing Diverse Communities: A Medieval Muslim Illustration by Dr Shainool Jiwa
Between Reason and Revelation: Twin Wisdoms Reconciled
Professor Eric L Ormsby
I. B. Tauris Publishers in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2012.
ISBN (Hardback): 978-1780761329
View Publication page on Google Books
This is the first English translation of the last known philosophical work of the great eleventh-century Ismaili thinker, poet, and Fatimid emissary,Nasir-i Khusraw. Appointed from Cairo by command of the Fatimid Imam-caliph al-Mustansir to serve first as a daʿi, and then as the hujjat, for the entire region of Khurasan, he maintained his allegiance to both his mission and his Imam for the rest of his life, even when threatened and driven into exile.
Written during his exile in Badakhshan in the year 1070 CE, Nasir-i Khusraw here develops a powerful presentation of both Aristotelian philosophy and Ismaili exegesis, or taʾwil, and strives to show that they are ultimately in harmony. The work is presented as a learned commentary on a long philosophical poem, written in the previous century and sent to Nasir by the amir of Badakhshan, ʿAli b. Asad, who copied the poem out in his own hand from memory and asked the poet-philosopher to explicate it.
In doing so, Nasir ranges over a huge span of topics from logic and language to the nature of the physical world, from the spheres of the highest heavens to the plants and animals of the earthly realm, and, most importantly, hidden spiritual realities: the esoteric (batin) as well as the exoteric (zahir) realms. He thus discusses the nature of God, the creation of human beings, and the mysteries concealed in the physical world, itself a reflection of a higher, transcendent realm.
Between Reason and Revelation: Twin Wisdoms Reconciled is an annotated translation of the Persian text prepared by Henry Corbin and Mohammed Muʿin based on the single surviving manuscript of the work, now in the Süleymaniye Mosque Library in Istanbul. It is a work of great philosophical and spiritual insight, which is also a pioneering attempt to tackle difficult intellectual problems in the Persian language; it is at once lucid and lyrical, precise and speculative. Nasir’s influence has been immense as both a poet and a thinker, and the Kitab-i Jamiʿ al-Hikmatayn is his crowning work.
Publication of New Critical Edition and Translation of Risalat Tuhfat al-qulub
The Institute of Ismaili Studies is pleased to announce the publication of a critical edition and summary English translation of the Yamani third da‘i al-mutlaq, Hatim b. Ibrahim al-Hamidi’s Tuhfat al-qulub wa-furjat al-makrub. This book, edited by Professor Abbas Hamdani, has been published under the title, The Precious Gift of the Hearts and Good Cheer for Those in Distress: On the Organisation and History of the Yamani Fatimid Da‘wa. This book is the nineteenth in the Institute’s Ismaili Texts and Translations Series.
Abbas Hamdani, Professor Emeritus from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has a long-standing relationship with the IIS during which he has donated around 300 manuscripts, inherited through seven generations of his family, to the Institute’s Library. His scholarly expertise covers a wide range, including medieval Islamic philosophical thought and heresiographical literature, especially with regard to the twelfth-century text, the Tuhfat al-qulub (The Precious Gift of the Hearts).
The original work, Risalat Tuhfat al-qulub, was written at a time of great change. It followed the collapse of Fatimid rule in Egypt, Sulayhid rule in Yaman and the Ayyubid conquest of both territories, all of this in the context of the Crusades and the survival of the Tayyibi Ismaili community in the midst of a great upheaval in Middle Eastern politics.
The text of the Risalat Tuhfat al-qulub acts in the manner of a manifesto for the future conduct of the Tayyibi da‘wa providing a history of its beginning, its structure and doctrines and, perhaps most notably, highlighting the fact that its religion was of more importance than Yamani ethnicity.
This critical edition begins with looking at Sulayhid Yaman and the emergence of the Tayyibi da‘wa through the time of the da‘i Hatim b. Ibrahim al-Hamidi and then moves through the study of various phases in the formation of Shi‘i communities with the aid of genealogical tables.
This publication will appeal to all students of heresiographical literature and all those interested in the emergence of the Tayyibi da‘wa.
Pearls of Persia: The Philosophical Poetry of Nasir-i Khusraw
Dr Alice C Hunsberger
I. B. Tauris Publishers in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2012.
ISBN (Hardback): 978-1-78076-130-5
Nasir-i Khusraw was a major figure in medieval Persian culture. This Muslim philosopher, poet, traveller and Ismaili da’i, who lived a thousand years ago in the lands today known as Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan, is consistently ranked by Persian speakers as one of the finest poets in their language.
Yet, in the West, where he is known largely for his Safar-nama (travelogue), describing his seven-year journey from Khurasan, in the eastern Islamic lands, to Cairo, the city of the Fatimid caliph-imams, his poetry and ideas are less familiar. Even among those who know the poet’s work, few understand the concepts he expounds, as the genre of philosophical poetry in Persian remains mostly unexplored. As the first Western study of Persian philosophical poetry, this volume seeks to redress the balance.
Written by authorities on Nasir-i Khusraw and Persian literature, and originally presented as papers at a conference at SOAS, University of London, the chapters here cover topics ranging from metaphysics, cosmology and ontology, to prophecy, rhythm and structure, the analysis of individual poems and the matter of authorship.
Rigorous literary analysis of several complete major poems advances the field of Persian Studies beyond investigating what a poem means to how it is constructed and how poetic technique and philosophy can be combined to create masterpieces.
This volume therefore represents the initiation of important studies in the genre of Persian philosophical poetry.
Latest volume in the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity Series published
The Institute of Ismaili Studies is pleased to announce the publication of the next volume in the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity (Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’) Series, entitled On Arithmetic and Geometry: An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of Epistles 1 & 2, edited and translated by Dr Nader El-Bizri.
This is the sixth volume published in this series, which is a joint venture between the IIS and Oxford University Press (OUP). Epistles 1 and 2 mark the beginning of the corpus and, as such, represent the foundation of the Brethren’s teachings.
Dr El-Bizri, who edited and translated this volume, is also the general editor of the Epistles series. At present, he is Associate Professor in the Civilisation Sequence Programme at the American University of Beirut. His main areas of research include Islamic intellectual history, phenomenology, and architectural humanities.
The Ikhwan al-Safa’ series is a 17 volume project, composed of 52 epistles which offer synoptic accounts of the classical sciences and philosophies of the tenth century CE. The compendium is divided into four classificatory parts which treat themes in mathematics, logic, natural philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, and theology, as well as didactic fables.
Epistles 1 and 2 look at the technical and knowledge-based analysis of various mathematical concepts, in addition to their metaphysical underpinnings, investigating the properties of numbers and of geometric magnitudes. This is based mainly on the traditions of Nicomachus of Gerasa and of Euclid, with a strong Pythagorean influence. The content of this volume offers enlightening perspectives on the popularisation of the mathematical sciences within the greater Muslim intellectual milieu.
This book will appeal to all those interested in the history of mathematical concepts and, in particular, arithmetic and geometry, as well as to those who have a wider interest in medieval Muslim thought and the Ikhwan al-Safa’.
Related Pages on the IIS Website:
•News Archive, 2012: Latest Volume “On Magic” in Epistles of the Brethren of Purity Series Published
•Publication Series: Epistles of the Brethren of Purity Series
•News Archive 2008: IIS Publishes Introductory Volume on the Ikhwan al-Safa
The Early History of Ismaili Jurisprudence: Law Under the Fatimids
Professor Agostino Cilardo
I. B. Tauris Publishers in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2012.
ISBN (Hardback): 978-1-78076-129-9
Download the PDF of the Introduction
Ismaili law is a largely unexplored field of study. Al-Qadi Abu Hanifa al-Nu‘man is generally considered the founder and greatest exponent of Ismaili Jurisprudence. Many of his works have been lost, and information on some others is scattered; yet other works remain in manuscript form, and only a few have been published.
The present book is a critical edition and translation of al-Nu‘man’s Minhaj al-fara’id, based on its three known copies. It deals with the law of inheritance, one of the most complex in Islamic law. This book determines the time of the composition of the Minhaj al-fara’id, the development and the originality of Ismaili Jurisprudence, and its relation to other schools of law.
In comparing the Minhaj with two published works (the Da‘a’im al-Islam and Kitab al-iqtisar) as well as a manuscript (Mukhtasar al-athar) of al-Nu‘man, a significant doctrinal evolution clearly emerges, reflecting his early Maliki training and then his work under four Fatimid Imams.
IIS Publishes fourth volume of An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia
The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) is pleased to announce the publication of An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia, Vol. 4: From the School of Illumination to Philosophical Mysticism.
This book, edited by Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Dr Mehdi Aminrazavi, is the latest in this five-volume publication series and covers the rich but one of the least-known periods of philosophical life in Persia, from the eclipse of the school of Khurasan (7th/13th century) to the rise of the Safavids (10th/16th century).
Professor Nasr, a well known scholar of Islamic philosophy, is currently Professor of Islamic Studies at The George Washington University. Dr Aminrazavi is currently Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Mary Washington and Director of its Middle Eastern Studies programme. Translators of the selections include William Chittick, Parviz Morewedge, Omid Safi and Carl Ernst.
This series is the first of its kind and has an extensive scope. According to Dr Aminrazavi, the initial intention was to produce a two-volume work but ‘the richness of philosophical life in Persia necessitated additional volumes’.
This, the penultimate book in a five-volume series, continues to bring out the tradition of philosophical reflection and writing in Persia in a chronological fashion. This volume looks particularly at the Peripatetic School, the School of Illumination of Suhrawardi, and philosophical Sufism, most notably the school of Ibn ‘Arabi. In addition to the highlights of philosophical thinking in Persia during this period, this era also witnessed the important achievements of philosopher-scientists such as Nasir al-din Tusi and Qutb al-Din Shirazi.
In an interview, Dr Aminrazavi said, ‘this is a period about which there is hardly any information or texts known in the Western world. It is for the first time that scholarly translations of the masterpieces belonging to this period are being made available in the English language’.
Professor Nasr notes that this volume, and indeed the series as a whole, has ‘no precedence in the field of Iranian and Islamic studies’ and is, thus, an innovative study which will interest all students and scholars of Persian philosophy.
Related Pages on the IIS Website:
•News Story, 2013: New IIS publication explores the philosophical poetry of Nasir-i Khusraw
•News Archive, 2008: New IIS Publication on Philosophy in Persia
•Gallery: Wellsprings of Wisdom: Persian Contributions to Ismaili Thought
IIS publishes Chinese translation of A Short History of the Ismailis
The Institute of the Ismaili Studies (IIS) is pleased to announce the publication of the Chinese translation of Dr Daftary’s A Short History of the Ismailis: Traditions of a Muslim Community. This Chinese edition is translated by Amier Saidula, and published by Weber Publishing International LTD in Taipei, Taiwan.
Amier Saidula, a graduate of the Institute’s Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities, is currently a Research Associate at The Institute of Ismaili Studies. His areas of research interest include Islam in China with an emphasis on the Ismailis. His short introductory article about the Nizari Ismailis in Xinjiang was included in Dr Daftary’s A Modern History of the Ismailis: Continuity and Change in a Muslim Community.
This, first-ever Chinese language publication about the Ismaili community was supported by the IIS and assisted by scholars from the Social Science Academy of China (SSAC) in Beijing, Lanzhou University in Gansu, and Xinjiang Social Science Academy in Urumchi. The book underwent a rigorous peer review process, which included Dr Wang Xi of the World Religious Study Institute of SSAC, Professor Yang Wen Joing from Lanzhou University, and Professor Zhou Xie Fan, the former head of the World Religious Institute of SSAC.
A Short History of the Ismailis was originally published by the Institute in 1998 and is now available in twelve languages including Arabic, French, Gujarati and Russian.
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