The Nizari Isma'ili Imam and Plato's Philosopher King

Sami G. Hajjar,

Steven J. Brzezinski

This essay examines the doctrine of Imamate of the Nizari Ismaili sect, and offshoot of the batiniya (esoteric) movement of the Shi'ite wing of Islam. Specifically, we shall argue that the Ismaili concept of Imam bears such striking similarity to the Greek concept of ruleship, particularly Platonic arguments surrounding the Philosopher King in the Republic, that a direct link between the two is suggested. Evidence for such a link would be significant finding: though Ismaili writers clearly acknowledge Neoplatonism in the development of their concept of creation, there is no existing documentation to suggest that the Ismaili concept of Imam could be directly traced to Plato.(*1) This despite the fact that Plato's work and ideas were known in the philosophical literature of Islam even before the Nizari Ismaili sect was established in the 11th century A.D. (*2)

Given Neoplatonism's lack of a social or political philosophy, we may speculate that the Ismaili's do not cite Plato as a main source for their concept of Imam for one of two possible reason: (1) deliberate, since the centrality of the concept of Imam for Ismaili theology and beliefs would preclude attributing it to a pagan writer such as Plato.(*3) (2) accidental, since early Greek ideas and later Neoplatonist formulations were never clearly distinguished by Islamic writers. For example, Arabic references to al-shaykh al-yunani (the "Greek sage") could refer to either Plato, Aristotle, or even Plotinus.(*4) Additionally, various classical Greek works were attributed to authors other then their true creators: for instance, Proclus' Elements of Theology was mistakenly attributed to Aristotle under the name Liber de Causis.(*5) Though unfortunate, this omission is of no major consequence to the main thesis of the essay that Platonic thought, in addition to Neoplatonist works had a direct influence on the formulation of the Ismaili doctrine, particularly on the Isma'ili concept of Imam.

At the outset, it should be noted that the Nizari Isma'ili sect, also known as the Aga Khanite sect, is one of two Shiite sects which acknowledges to this day the existence of a 'genuine' Imam and which obeys his teachings. (The other sect is Zaidite Shi'ism).(*6) Currently the sect is led by Prince Imam Karim Aga Khan IV, the 49th Imam of the sect. He is a descendant of Nizar, the eldest son of the Fatimid Caliph-Imam al Mustansir Billah, who himself descends from al-Husayn, the son of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad. Like other Ismaili sects, such as al-Mustaliya, the Nizari Ismailis date back to the Fatimite state whose centre was Egypt, but whose domain also included North Africa, Syria, and Arabia between 909-1171 A.D. The Nizari sect founded the Nizari state of Assassins in Persia (1090-1256 A.D.) and a sister state in Syria (1140-1260 A.D.) (*7)

Within the general Islamic context, the term imam means "the person who leads the congregation in prayer. "Historically, in orthodox Islam (Sunni), the caliph, or political head of the community, was also the imam, the person who leads the congregation in prayer. As the Muslim community expanded beyond the city state of Medina after the death of the prophet Muhammad and the reign of the "Rightly Guided Caliphs" (the first four caliphs), each congregation selected its own imam, usually a learned man in religious matters, but unlike the caliph-imam, without a political role in the community.

For Shi'ite Islam, the term imam acquires an added meaning. Besides leading the congregation in prayer, the imam also has the sole prerogative of interpreting the doctrine to the believers. Reflecting this special function, not all learned individuals could hope to become imams, but only those males who are direct descendants of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. Acceptance of a particular lineage from 'Ali as the line of succession of Imams distinguishes one Shi'ite sect from another. In other words, Shi'ite sects necessarily differ in their perception of which individual at a particular moment in history is endowed with prerogative of interpreting the doctrine, that is, who is the genuine Imam?

Within Ismailism, the argument as to why the imam alone has the prerogative of interpreting the doctrine, or, more precisely, of conveying the esoteric meaning of Muslim revelation, flows as a logical derivative of their concept of creation. Here also lies a clue to the similarity of the imam with Plato's Philosopher King. Though the Isma'ili notion of creation is Neoplatonist in character, the imam occupies the same position in this schema as does the Philosopher King in the Republic, who alone is capable of conveying the nature of the World of Forms to the citizens of the polis. Within Ismailism, what the imam conveys to the believers is the nature of the One.

According to Isma'ili doctrine, creation is a process of emanation whose source is Divine Will. The Isma'ili Da'i (proselytizer) as -Sijistani (d.942 A.D.) calls Divine Will the first cause of creation, the cause of all causes.(*8) The will of God exists by virtue of God's existence. It is caused by God only in the sense that He is unaffected by it, for God is not actualized by the Will which He cause to come into existence. Stated in other words, God is pure actuality, an unmoved mover "who moves everything toward Him without Himself ever being moved". (*9) The result of God's command (amr), when he tells a thing to "Be and it is, (*10) is the First Intellect, which includes all existing being. (*11)

Emanation (inbi'ath) results essentially from the First Intellect's activity of contemplation. Contemplation bestows upon the First Intellect the characteristics of being both active an passive brings into existence the First Hyle (First Matter) from which the physical world springs.

The distinguishing feature of the Isma'ili doctrine begins to take shape in its special treatment of the problem of emanation. Emanating from the First and Second Intellects, the Third Intellect played a crucial role in the "drama of the universe" (le drame dans le ceil) as Professor Corbin called it. (*12) The Third Intellect questioned his origination from the First and Second Intellects and refused to recognize their precedence. As a result,"He fell into a state of stupor" which separated him from the rest of the intelligible world. (*13) By the time he had recovered from his stupor, he found that seven other intellects had already emanated and he had become the Tenth Intellect.

These ten intellects govern the physical world. Each intellect governs a specific sphere and in turn each inferior sphere, like each inferior intellect is subsumed by the sphere immediately preceding it and contains all spheres inferior to it. Graphically, this may be visualized as a series of concentric circles where the largest circle, the First Intellect, includes all other circles, and so on down the series. The ten intellects correspond with the following spheres: First, the sphere of spheres; Second, fixed stars; Third, Saturn; Fourth, Jupiter; Fifth, Mars; Sixth, Sun; Seventh, Venus; Eighty, Mercury; Ninth, Moon; and Tenth, the sub-lunary sphere, or the Earth. The Tenth Intellect, previously the Third, rules the sub-lunary world. What is interesting here is that the Isma'ili make an analogy between this intellect fallen from his superior position and Adam fallen from Paradise. The Isma'ilis regard the Tenth Intellect as the "spiritual Adam" contrasted with the terrestrial Adam of the Holy Books. (*14) The Tenth Intellect is, furthermore, the Imam.

The conclusion that the Tenth Intellect is also the Imam is predicted on the Isma'ili view of the world of religion. (*15) The world of religion is hierarchical with ten offices corresponding to each of the ten intellects. They are: the Proclaimer (an-natiq), who announces the revelation; the Foundation (al-asas), who interprets the revelation (he is 'Ali ibn Abi Talib) and is the basis (foundation) of the inward knowledge; and the imam who carries this inward knowledge and leads the community. As Professor Makarem points out, the imam within the Nizari sect is accorded higher rank than that given him by other imams. (*16) In other words, 'Ali and the other 48 imams are regarded by the Nizaris as higher in rank and functionally more important than the prophet Muhammad. This stems from the fact that the prophet's role is essentially passive in the world of religion. He utters the revelation as God dictates it to him and does only what God commands him to do. Whereas the asas and the imams have an active role to play in their interpretation of the true (esoteric) meaning of the revelation and in leadership of the community.

This logic forms a trinity whereby the revelation is the manifest Word of God; the esoteric meaning is the actual Word of God; and the message communicated by the imam is the Word of God made operative in the community of believers. This makes the imam the embodiment of God's Word, hence the necessity of his presence among the believers for the Nazari Isma'ilis. This is the meaning of "imam muqim" the present imam whose presence is proof of the presence of the Word of God.

Thus far we have summarized briefly the basic doctrines of the Isma'ili Nizari sect by showing that the imam within their system of beliefs is the visible presence of the Word of God or God Manifest. Now we must address the original question; can the idea of the Imam be traced back to early Greek ideas of ruleship, particulary Plato's discussion of the Philosopher King? To answer this question, we must first answer the following related questions:

1. How does the office of imamate compare with the office of Philosopher King? That is, what are the duties, functions and privileges of the imam compared with those of the Philosopher King?

2. How is the imam chosen; what prerequisites must a man fulfil in order to become an imam and how do these compare with the requirements for a Philosopher King? What are the consequences for the two communities when the imam of the Philosopher King is absent or cannot be located?

A comparison of the Offices of Imamate and Philosopher King

For Plato, the existence of the ideal polis would be unthinkable without the simultaneous existence of the Philosopher King. That is to say, the philosopher must become a king, he must occupy a position of rule if the polis is to be ideal. In the Allegory of the Cave, Plato even goes a step further by making it a duty for the philosopher to rule; (*17) as Ernest Barker puts it, to show society the 'way of life (*18) Otherwise the state soon will fall victim to the "cramping prescriptions of law" (*19) it is the existence of the Philosopher King which assures the existence of an ideal commonwealth that "brings happiness, a good and wise life."(*20)

In like fashion, the imamate ... is a religious necessity for the maintenance of the unity of faith and for making religion always possible. Without the lead of the imam, the unity of faith is not possible and the religion becomes a subject of metaphysical controversy for the theologians and the men of letters. This makes the religion beyond the understanding of a large number of men, who consequently become victims of superstitions which then are mistaken to be part of religious belief. Thus religion comes into conflict with reason and thus religion loses its hold over the intelligent (*21)

In Islamic terms, the unity of faith and the actualization of religion are the goals of the community of believers which would, in Platonic terms, bring happiness and a good and wise life. As Sayyed Hossein Nasr wrote, "unity is the alpha and omega of Islam". (*22)

In order to appreciate the strong similarity between Platonic and Isma'ili positions on the necessity of the office for the ultimate well-being of the community, we should note how Isma'ilis differ from other Shi'ite sects on this point. Though the Shite concept of imamate is a complex one, we can distinguish three main formulations of the concept. The first has the imam elected by the community or else seize power by force. Though the view does require the imam to be a descendant of 'Ali through his two sons Hasan and Husayn, it concedes the possibility that at any moment there may be more than one individual qualified for the position and that other times there might be periods when there was no imam at all. This is the view of the Zidite sect of Shi'ism.

The Twelvers (Ja'far), the largest of Shi'ite sects, hold a view some-where between the liberal view of the imamate held by the Zaidites and the more restrictive view of the Isma'ilis. For the Twelvers, Muhammad al-Hasan, the twelfth Imam disappeared in the year 879 A.D. at the age of six, His disappearance broke the chain of succession of true imams for the sect. Hence Muhammad al-Hasan is said to be concealed from his followers and at a future time will return as the Mahdi (the divinely guided one) to rule by his agents, or intermediary, known as mujtahids or imam mustawda' (Trustee imam), who themselves are not infallible. (*23)

The idea of an imam neither totally present nor totally hidden (he is believed to be spiritually in touch with his followers) suggests rather interesting implications regarding the office of imamate. According to this view, the community is made aware that its ideal existence is contingent upon the return of the imam from concealment, somewhat akin to the Hebrew concept of Messiah. It is also similar to Plato's concept of the Statesman who can be compared to the imam mustawda' and whose rule is preferred in the absence of the Philosopher King, or true imam. In a spiritual sense, the community of the Twelvers receives its cohesion from the knowledge that the imamate exists in potentiality, though not manifest in the present period. Politically, the imperfect state of man stems from the physical absence of the true imam. Like the Isma'ili, the Twelevers consider the office of imamate a necessity for the community, but unlike the Isma'ilis and like the Zaidites, the Twelvers admit that there will be periods when no true imam is present. For the Isma'ilis man and office can never be separated.(*24)

Plato's logic on this point is quite similar to that of the Isma'ilis and to a certain extent that of the Twelvers. The similarities lie in the cause-effect relationship which exists between the rule of a genuine philosopher -imam and the creation of an ideal polis-unity of faith. The Twelvers adhere to the same logic, since when the Hidden Imam returns, the community becomes divenely guided once more, hence ideal. Yet the similarities between Platonic and Isma'ili belief systems go further yet.

We may construe the functions, duties and privileges of Plato's Philosopher King as falling into two broad categories, educational and political. In terms of education, the ideal polis is the by product of the knowledge of the Truth possessed by the Philosopher King and imparted to his fellow citizens. In this sense, the Philosopher King is both prophet and interpreter of his own prophecy. Politics itself becomes a derivative of the educational system. This is how to interpret Plato's famous statement that:

Unless philosophers become kings in their countries or those who are now called kings come to be sufficiently inspired with a genuine desire for wisdom; unless, that is to say, political power and philosophy meet together, while the many natures who now go their several ways in the one or the other direction are forcibly debarred from doing so, there can be no rest from troubles, my dear Glaucon, for states, nor yet, as I believe, for all mankind; nor can this commonwealth which we have imagined ever till then see the light of day and grow to its full stature...... (*25)

Thus acquiring wisdom and applying it to the state is the first major function of the Philosopher King.

The second important function of the Philosopher King is to rule; since it is free from all human restraints, this rule is absolute. The absolutist nature of this rule has led certain interpreters of Plato like Crossman to assert that "Plato's philosophy is the most savage and profound attack upon liberal ideas which history can show.(*26)

Crossman is certainly correct that the right to rule absolutely is the main privilege enjoyed by the Philosopher King and eliminates the necessity of delineating his functions in any detail. In Karl Popper's Phraseology, his primary function will be to "arrest all political change" through a variety of methods: minutely dividing up the functions of the state among the classes; censorship of thought and behaviour which might jeopardize the stability of the polis; and by making the state self-sufficient and free from dependence on foreign trade,which diverts the rulers from their primary task of providing wisdom by occupying them with the accumulation of wealth.

Despite such assertion by Crossman, Popper, and others, Plato's grant of absolute power to the Philosopher King need not lead us to conclude that the Philosopher King is a tyrant. His "absolutism" is possible only within the given framework of the real polis whose character he has come to apprehend in the World of Forms. John Wild argues persuasively that this special variety of absolute rule in no way implies arbitrary or tyrannical rule; rather, the Philosopher Kings are "guardians of a law of nature, which they have in no sense decreed or determined but have discovered by rational dialectic.".(*28) Ernest Barker also defends Plato by arguing that the absolutism of the Philosopher King is not unqualified, but is restrained by the "fundamental articles of the constitution which are the basic principles of the ideal polis. (*29) These include moderate wealth and size; the maintenance of justice with each citizen performing his specific function; and protection of the educational system against possible innovation. In synopsis, the Philosopher King is a teacher, one who imparts knowledge of the ultimate reality. He is a manager of human affairs whose direction leads to an ideal condition for citizens of the polis.

The logic of the preceding analysis parallels the Isma'ili position regarding the role of the imam. Among Isma'ili, the imam stands at the top of the religious hierarchy as the final arbiter of the esoteric interpretation of the doctrine. Even more significantly, he is the only person capable of interpreting the doctrine without the possibility of error. This authority is quite similar to the Roman Catholic doctrine of Papal infallibility. Ex Cathedra papal utterances on faith and morals are infallible, just as the utterances of the imam are construed as infallible. On the other hand, a Catholic Bishop may arrive independently at the same conclusions reached by a Pope, but the Bishop's may arrive independently at the same conclusions reached by a Pope, but the Bishop's position remains only speculative until confirmed or denied by the Pope. Among Isma'ilis, only the imam is capable of fully comprehending the doctrine; in Platonic terms, the imam alone can "see" the World of Forms. Unlike individuals within the Catholic hierarchy, Isma'ili believers are unable to arrive independently at doctrinal knowledge without the lead of the imam.

Restricting interpretation of the doctrine and teaching to the imam avoids making "religion the subject of metaphysical controversy for the theologians and men of letters".(*31) The imam like the philosopher King, is capable of philosophical or true knowledge, which he passes on to this subjects; the Philosopher King in order to make them wise and happy, the imam in order to unify them in the faith. Education (the imparting of true knowledge) is the primary role of both imam and Philosopher King.

If the Isma'ili community were to achieve political independence as a nation state, the imam would rule that community. This is the meaning of the Isma'ili statement that Imamate is a basic necessity of Islam without which, they believe, they cannot achieve salvation, here or in hereafter, The word "here" in the sentence clearly refers to the temporal rule of the imam. Like the ideal polis, such a state would emanate from the knowledge of the imam (within Islam, politics and religion are inseparable.) The rule of the Imam, like his knowledge of the doctrine, would be absolute, limited only by the 'fundamental articles of belief'. Here we must admit that it is the imam who determines what are the 'fundamental articles of belief, which makes him more like Bodin's Sovereign than Plato's Philosopher King on this point, if we accept Barker's limitations on the power of the Philosopher King discussed above. The Imam's rule is indeed absolute, but not in Popper's sense of being tyrannical, since the absolutism of the imam is of divine origin.

A Comparison of prerequisites Demanded of Imam and Philosopher King.

Considering first the most obvious difference in the qualifications necessary for the imam and those of the Philosopher King, we must note that birth is a major prerequisite for the Isma'ilis, while lineage per se is not the decisive criterion for selection of the Philosopher King. All Shi'ite imams must be descendants of Ali ibn Talib and the essential differences between them stem from different formulas for determining such lineage. The imam must be the son of an imam (including the possibility of an adopted son), a requirement not demanded of the Philosopher King. In addition, through the Isma'ili imam must be a male, Plato's Philosopher King could be either male or female.

Close scrutiny of these difference show that the requirements for each office and their supporting justifications are none the less quite alike. The most fundamental prerequisite demanded of both imam and Philosopher King is a quality conferred on the individual by God. God places gold in the hands of the Philosopher King, signifying that he is born with an abundance of reason in the composition of his soul, which is the main prerequisite for becoming a Philosopher King, Among Isma'ili, it is believed that God places in the man the seed of imamate by transmitting it from father to son as stated by the Isma'ili Fatimid Imam Al-Mu'izz: "We pass in the pure backbones (aslab) and the sacrificed and chaste womb (God) shows in us power and knowledge and so forth... What God shows in the imam is the power to transmit the seed of imamate to his heir; the knowledge is the knowledge of the inner meaning of the revelation. This power possessed by a genuine imam is an ascribed rather than an achieved quality.

Though not the essence of the similarity, birth is an important prerequisite for both systems. The similarity lies in what is implied by the accident of birth. Only individuals so endowed, to the exclusion all others, are capable of climbing the educational ladder to its summit. Just as the imam alone can reach the pinnacle of religious knowledge, that of Unity or Oneness, only the Philosopher King can comprehend dialectics and arrive at the peak of philosophical knowledge, the Idea of the World of Forms (God). Indeed, "philosopher" for Plato means not a learned man capable of speculative knowledge, nor one who generates learned opinions, but a seer of Reality and a communicator of that Reality.

For Isma'ilis, the imam ranks third in the ten stages of knowledge after proclaimer (prophet) and the Foundation (asas) and represents the Third Intellect in their theory of cosmogony. As al-Kirmani points out, these top three stages of knowledge and functions are al-maratib al-kulliya (the stages of the whole), meaning they belong to a single whole (kull), and are in essence one. (*35) Hence the imam is the individual capable of inner knowledge of the Divine Message, since he alone has seen it in its entirety and can convey its meaning to the community.

Despite certain apparent differences surrounding the necessary qualifications for the two offices, from this discussion it is clear that both systems seem to share a common logic as to the essential prerequisites demanded of each office. We should point out that there does exist one fundamental difference between the two offices which must be recognized. For all practical purposes, the imam is deified within Isma'ilism as "God's nasut, or manifestation; or, in other words, he is God as He appears to mankind."(*36) On the other hand , Plato's Philosopher King remains very much a man, albeit a superior man.


We have in this essay suggested a direct link between Platonic arguments regarding the Philosopher King and Nizari Isma'ili arguments regarding the Imam. Given the present state of knowledge and research on Isma'ilism, evidence for this link must remain circumstantial at present.

Besides Profound similarities in the logic of both systems in establishing and justifying their conceptions of leadership, the primary focus of the paper, further indirect evidence at least can be suggested linking the Isma'ili imam with the Platonic Philosopher King. First, the shorter Encyclopedia of Islam points out that

the natural philosophy of Ismailism, with its ideas of the organic and inorganic world, psychology, biology, etc.,it to some extent based on Aristotle, and partly on Neo-Pythagorean and other early speculations. There are, however, no references to these original Greek works, and only vague mention of "Greek philosophers", al-hukama al-yunaniya, may be found, very rarely. (*37)

It is quite plausible that if Aristotle and other Greek thinkers had some influence on Isma'ilism, then Plato must have been known to them as well and his thought may well have affected their formulations.

Second, besides a long tradition of secrecy within Isma'ilism which has hindered publication of their documents, there is a real possibility that many of their valuable documents may have been destroyed. Aref Tamer points out that the Mongols under Hulagu attacked the Isma'ili hold out in Alamut (1256 A.D.) and destroyed the Isma'ili library there, with holding of one and one half million volumes.(*38) Though this claim as to the size of holdings contained in the Alamut library may be exaggerated, many important Isma'ili manuscripts which might have shown a direct link with Plato were certainly destroyed.

Third, the muwahhiduns, "unitarians", popularly known as the Druzes a small religious sect which broke away from Isma'ilism at the time of the Fatimid Imam al-Hakim bi Amr Allah (996-1021 A.D.) clearly acknowledge Plato and his influence on the development of their variant of gnosticism, though they also place an extreme emphasis on secrecy. (*39) Druzes even go so far as to refer to Plato as "Our Lord" and accord him the rank of prophet. Again it is quite plausible to assume that Isma'ilis, like their offshoot the Druzes, may have been influenced by Plato.

In conclusion, all the evidence presented here is circumstantial and does not provide definitive proof of a direct link between Plato and Isma'ilism. Yet the similarities between the conceptions of philosopher King and Imam remain too striking to be dismissed easily and do lead us to suspect that Isma'ilim was affected by Platonic formulations. In any case, having identified the possibility of a link, we hope as well to have identified an area of future research for intellectual historians.


1. For example, there is evidence that as-Sijistani, and important Isma'ili Da'i (Proselytizer) and writer, was familiar with Niskus, a work by the Neoplatonist philosopher Proclus. See Majid Fakhry, A History of Islamic Philosophy (New York; Columbia University press, 1970), P.40.

2. Ibid., Chapter 1.

3. Ibid ., pp, 8-9

4. Ibid.,p.33

5. Erwin I.J. Rosenthal, Political Thought in Medieval Islam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962;, p. 114.

6. Ared Tamer, al-imama ft al-Islam (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al'Arabi, n.d.), p.140.

7. It was not until quite recently that a limited number of scholarly works dealing with the history and doctrine of the Ismailis were published, finally shedding some light on the belief system of this previously unstudied Shiite sect. One important study is Henri Corbin's Historie de la philosophie islamique (Paris; Gallimard, 1964) published in Arabic (Beirut) in 1966 with introduction and notes by Imam Musa Sadr, Chairman of the Shi'ite Higher Council (Twelvers) and Aref Tamer, author of many important works on Isma'ilism. Even more significant was the recent publication of a number of manuscripts by leading Isma'ili writers once thought to be lost or destroyed, which clearly revealed the influence of Neoplatonism on the formulation of Isma'ili doctrine of cosmogony and eschatology. Yet none of these manuscripts makes any reference to the Platonic conception of the Philosopher King as a possible source of the Isma'ili imam. This point has been verified by Professor Sami Makarem in an interview with one of the authors of this paper (Hajjar).

Makarem's book, The Doctrine of the Isma'ilis (Beirut: The Arab Institute for Research and Publishing, 1972) contains an extensive bibliography of Isma'ili manuscripts recently published or else in the possession of private individuals who made them available to Professor Makarem.

8. Aref Tamer, (ed), Kams rase'l Ismailiyah (Beirut: Dar al- Insaf, 1956), pp.147-150.

9. Makarem, opcit., p.18

10. Qur'an 36:81 Pickthalls translation, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran.

11. Cf. Ahmad Hamid ad-Din al-kirmsni Rahat al-aql, edited by Moustapha Ghaleb (Beirut: Dar al-Andalus, 1967), p.1 p.158 It should be noted that since the doctrine of Neoplatonic emanation implies pantheism, a position unacceptable to Muslims, Isma'ili writers have wrestled with this problem at great length. See Sami Makarem, "The Philosophical Significance of the Imam in Ismailism," Studia Islamica, vol. 27(1967)< pp 43ff; and Paul Walker, "An Isma'ili Answer to the Problem of Worshipping the Unknowable Neoplatonic God."American Journal of Arabic Studies, vol. II (1974); and Max Horten, "The System of Islamic Philosophy," Islamic Studies, vol XII (December, 1973), pp. 246-7.

12. Corbin Historie die la philosophie islamique, pp.124ff. (pp. 145 in the Arabic translation).

13. Makarem, "The Philosophical Significance of the Imam in Isma'ilism." pp.46-47.

14. Ibid .,p.47

15. The reference is to all-Kirmani's ar-risala al-Wadiyya fi Ma'alim ad-Din and to as Sijistani's al-Yanabi' as quoted in Makarem, The doctrine of the ismailis, pp. 45 and 25 respectively.

16. Makarem.po. cit., p.48.

17. Republic (VII 514A-521B).

18. Ernest Barker, Greek Political Theory (London: Methuen & Co., 1961). p.235.

19. Ibid.

20 Republic (VII 521)

21 Document by the Isma'ili Association of Pakistan as quoted in Makarem, The Doctrine of the Isma'ilis, p.75.

22. Seyyed Houssien Nasr, Ideals and Realities (London: George Allen and Uniwin, 1966), p.311.

23 D.B Macdonald, article "al-Mahdi," in Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam (Lieden, 1961), p.311.

24. For additional detailed information see articles entitled "Imam", "al-Madhi", and Shi'a, in Ibid., pp. 165-66; 310-313, and 534-541 respectively.

25. Republic (v 473).

26 R.H.S. Crossman, "Plato and the Perfect State," in T. L. Thorson (ed.) Plato: Totalitarian or Democrat? (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1963), p.39.

27. Karl Popper, "Plato an Enemy of the Open Society," in Ibid., pp.41-2

28. John Wild, "Plato as an Enemy of Democracy: A Rejoinder," in Ibid., p.114.

29. Barker, Ibid., pp. 237-8.

30. This is indirect contrast with the Sunni (orthodox) practice, which endows every learned Muslim with the ability to interpret the doctrine. Only in legal matters is the "gate of interpretation" closed to believers. Yet even here Sunni scholars have recently argued that the "gate of interpretation" must be reopened to permit the Muslim community to respond to questions of the modern scientific age: a 'problem not faced by the Isma'ilis since their doctrine, legal and other wise is always subject to interpretation by the Imam.

31. Document by the Isma'ilis Association of Pakistan as quoted in Makarem, Ibid., p.75.

32. Ibid.

33. H.I. Hasan and T. A. Sharaf, Al-Mu'izz Li Din Allah (Cairo; Maktaba al-Nahada al-Misriya, 1947), p.308.

34. See Makarem, The doctrine of the Isma'ilis, pp. 29-31.

35. A.H. Al-Kirmani, Rahat al-'aql, p.252.

36. Makarem, "The Imam in Isma'ilism," op,cit., p.50.

37. W. Ivanow's article "Isma'iliya," op.cit., p.50.

38. Tamer, op.cit., p.195.

39. Hafix Abu Muslih al-Dawla al-Durziyyah (Beirut: Muhammad Al Naser ad-Din Publisher, 1967), pp. 21-26.