The Arabic text edited by


Some fragments of the Kitbu'r-Rushid wa'l-Hidyat were found by my friend W. Ivanow 1 at the end of the Sullamu'n-najt, a work by the famous Ismaili d'i of the X-th c., Ab Ya'qb Ishq b. Ahmad as-Sijistn (or as Sijz, Sagz) who died soon after 360/971. In the colophon it is briefly stated: najaz kalm Mansuri'l-Yaman nadara'l-lh wajha-hu . From this we may see that whether rightly or wrongly the work is attributed to the authorship of the famous Ismaili d' in the Yaman, al-Husayn b. Hawshab b. Zdan al-Kf who was sent by one of the "hidden Imams" from Kufa to Southern Arabia in 266/879. 2 As is known, he settled at a place called 'Adan L' a, 3 carrying on his propaganda. Using his own energy and favourable conditions in the province, with its tribal discord and continuous unrest, he succeeded in rallying around him large numbers of followers and towards the end of the century, was de facto in control of the most of the Yamanite cities.

We must carefully note that there is no proof either of this treatise really being the work of Ibn Hawshab, or to the contrary. In any case there is no room for doubt as to this work being a product of great antiquity, of the period which preceded the rise of the Fatimid caliphate in 297/909, as may be seen from the internal evidence that the work contains. It is therefore valuable to the student as permitting him to have an idea of the doctrine which was preached by the Fatimids before they succeeded in their political aspirations. We may remember also that the movement which had actually brought them to the power was directly connected with that which developed in the Yaman. As is known, the talented organizer of the rising amongst the Berber tribes in North Africa, Ab 'Abdi'l-lah ash-Sh', originally was sent to the Yaman as one of the subordinates of Ibn Hawshab to help him in his work. Mansru'l-Yaman, however, found him un suitable, and sent him back to the headquarters. Ab' Abdi'1-lh, whose career seemed to be finished, and having nothing to lose, joined a few Katamite Berber pilgrims whom he met in Mekka on his way home. Thus he started his new adventurous career which brought him to the heighth of glory, and then to infamous death, leaving his name in history as that of one of the greatest organizers.

The fragments of the Kitbu'r-Rushd which are here edited reveal not much, and do not offer a complete picture of the doctrine, but they are sufficient to authenticate certain statements scattered in the works of various enemies of the movement, which are occasionally found in controversial literature. They also help us to see the differences between the earlier and later phases in the evolution of the doctrine, as it later on developed under the Fatimid caliphs. The fragments belong to two groups, forming the two main parts of the text.

The first part is chiefly devoted to eschatology, dealing with the question of the advent of the promised Mahd. Such beliefs do not differ much from the ideas which other schools of the Muslims hold on this subject. The author refers to the manifestation of the Mahdi at the end of the world, his advent at the time of the Resurrection of the dead. He shall be called Muhammad, and will be the Seventh Apostle of God, the Great Prophet, or Ntiq according to Ismaili terminology. With him God will close the series of the prophets who revealed His Will and Law to humanity. Thus there may be little doubt as to the discussions being the product of the period before the advent of the first Fatimid caliph who assumed the name of Mahdi, and whose real name was 'Ubaydu'l-lh. We can see that in the works composed under the Fatimids the term Mahd is no longer used, and the last Ntiq is invariably styled the Q'imu'l-qi'ymat, i.e. "the one who ariseth at the time of the Resurrection." This also continued during the period of the second satr, i.e. after the death of al-Amir, when the headquarters of the i>da'wat was transferred to the Yaman.

The second part of the text, or group of fragments, deals with the ta'wl, or allegorical interpretation of various suitable verses of the Holy Qur'n. As may be seen, this early ta'wl of the inner sense of the sacred book differs to some extent from the versions offered by later authors such as Qd Nu'mn, Hamdu'd-din al-Kirmn, al-Mu'ayyid f''d-dn ash-Shirz, and even the descendant of Ibn Hawshab, Ja'far b. Mansuri'l-Yaman, the author of several well-known books. This, however, is quite normal: there are no fixed equivalents in ta'wl. What it explains is the spirit, not the word of the text, although our author shows a certain tendency towards the latter way of dealing with it, which may be yet another archaic feature of the work.

In its terminology the work displays certain similarity with the Sufic terminology of later periods: the terms such naqb, abdl, etc., re-appear in various mystical speculations of the Sufis. It may be noted, however, that such terms even in Sufism itself vary in their implications. Those in the works attributed to al-Hallaj may differ from those in the works of Ibn 'Arabi. It is not clear what the author of the Kar-Rushd implies, e.g., by the term naqb, mentioning the four naqbs accompanying the Prophet, of whom one is his wasi and the greatest of all.

We have edited this text from two manuscript copies, one (denoted with alif) dated 1933, and the other, denoted with b, dated 1944. The latter belongs to Prof. A.A.A. Fyzee. Both copies are full of errors which not rarely render the text unintelligible.