ISMA'ILIYYA, a major branch of the Shi'a with numerous subdivisions. It branched off from
the Imamiyya [see ithna 'ashariyya] by tracing the imamate through Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq's son
Isma'il, after whom it is named.


Pre-Fatimid and Fatimid times.

After the death of Ja'far al-Sadiq in 148/765 a group of his followers held fast to the imamate of
his son Isma'il, who had been named by him as his successor but had predeceased him. Some of
them maintained that Isma'il had not died and would reappear as the qa'im or Mahdi. Others
recognized Isma'il's son Muhammad as their imam. Nothing is known about the history of the
Isma'ili movement developing out of this nucleus until after the middle of the 3rd/9th century,
when it appeared as a secret revolutionary organization carrying on intensive missionary efforts
in many regions of the Muslim world. In the area of al-Kufa its propaganda was spread from
about the year 264/877-8 by Hamdan qarmat [q.v.], who was later aided by his brother-in-law
'Abdan [q.v.]. Hamdan's followers were named after him qarmati, a name which came to be
applied derogatorily also to other sections of the movement. In the area of al-Rayy the mission
was started about the same time by Khalaf, whose followers became known as the Khalafiyya. In
Fars a brother of 'Abdan was active. In Khurasan Nishapur and later Marw al-Rudh became
centres of Isma'ili activity (see S. M. Stern, The early Isma'ili missionaries in North-West Persia and in
Khurasan and Transoxania, in BSOAS, xxiii (1960), 56-90). A convert of al-Nasafi [q.v.], one of the
da'is of Khurasan and Transoxania, was the first to carry the propaganda to Sidjistan, probably
in the early decades of the 4th/10th century. Presumably in the first half of the 4th/10th
century, the qufs tribe in Kirman was converted by da'is from Khurasan. In the Yemen two
missionaries, 'Ali b. al-Fadl and Ibn Hawshab, known as Mansur al-Yaman [q.v.], in 268/881
established themselves in the area of the Jabal Maswar and succeeded in gaining strong tribal
support. In 270/883 Ibn Hawshab sent his nephew al-Haytham as a missionary to Sind. Later he
sent Abu 'Abd Allah al-Shi'i [q.v.] to the Maghrib, where he arrived in 280/893 and won the
support of the Kutama Berber tribe in western Algeria, thus laying the foundation for Fatimid
rule. In 286/899 Abu Sa'id al-Jannabi [q.v.], a follower of Hamdan qarmat and 'Abdan, founded
a qarmati state in al-Bahrayn, from where he later conquered al-qatif, 'Uman and al-Yamama.
The whole movement was centrally directed, at first probably from al-Ahwaz and al-Basra and
later from Salamiyya in Syria. Muhammad b. Isma'il was acknowledged as the imam, who had
disappeared and was about to reappear as the qa'im and to rule the world. The leaders of the
movement in the absence of the imam claimed the rank of hudjdjas [q.v.].

In the year 286/899, after the succession of the future Fatimid Caliph 'Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi to
the leadership in Salamiyya, a schism split the movement, provoked by the claim of 'Ubayd
Allah to theqimamate for himself and his ancestors. Hamdan qarmat and 'Abdan, who may have
previously drifted slightly away from the doctrine propagated by the leadership, broke off their
support. 'Abdan consequently was murdered by a subordinate da'i, Zikrawayh b. Mihrawayh
[q.v.], who at first pretended to be loyal to the leadership. Zikrawayh and his sons organized the
'qarmati" revolts among Syrian bedouin tribes from the year 289/902 until his capture
and execution in 294/907. Doubts concerning Zikrawayh's loyalty, which soon turned out to be
justified, induced 'Ubayd Allah to leave Salamiyya for the journey which ended with his
establishment as caliph in Raqqada in 297/910.

Though information concerning the attitude of the various Isma'ili groups following the split of
the movement is scanty, the results can be summarized with some degree of probability as
follows: The community in the Yemen at first remained faithful to 'Ubayd Allah. 'Ali b. al-Fadl,
however, in 299/913 renounced his allegiance to him and made war on Ibn Hawshab, who
remained loyal. After 'Ali's death in 303/915 his party disintegrated rapidly. The da'is in the
Maghrib and probably in Sind, having been sent by Ibn Hawshab, also remained loyal. There
are indications that the da'wa in Khurasan generally maintained its allegiance to 'Ubayd Allah,
who was able to appoint some da'is there, but there were probably also counter-currents. The
communities in 'Iraq, al-Bahrayn, and western Persia refused to recognize the Fatimid claim to
the imamate. Among the qarmatis of 'Iraq 'Isa b. Musa, a nephew of 'Abdan, continued the
latter's work propagating the imamate of Muhammad b. Isma'il, who would return as the qa'im.
After 320/932 he was active in Baghdad. He and other da'is in 'Iraq ascribed their writings to
'Abdan, thus stressing the doctrinal continuity. The da'is of al-Rayy were in close contact with
those in 'Iraq and with the qarmatis of al-Bahrayn and like them were expecting the
reappearance of the Mahdi-imam for the year 316/928. At least in the twenties of the 4th
century (1030-9) they controlled the missions in Mosul and Baghdad. They worked successfully
among the Daylamis and won at least the temporary allegiance of Daylami leaders like Asfar,
Mardawidj and later of some rulers of the Musafirid dynasty. The qarmatis of al-Bahrayn, led by
Abu Tahir al-Jannabi, were predicting the appearance of the Mahdi-imam for the year
316/928. In 319/931 they accepted a Persian prisoner of war as the Expected One, and Abu
Tahir turned the rule over to him. The early disastrous end of the affair weakened the
ideological vigour of the qarmatis of al-Bahrayn and their influence among the da'is in 'Iraq and
Persia, but did not generally lead to an expansion of Fatimid influence. Soon afterwards the
great revolt of the Kharidji Abu Yazid [q.v.] under the Fatimid Caliphs al-qa'im and al-Mansur
stifled any Fatimid activity among the eastern Isma'ili communities. Only the fourth Fatimid,
al-Mu'izz (341/953-365/975), was in a position to lead an intensive campaign to regain the
allegiance of the schismatic Isma'ilis. His efforts were partially successful, but failed in regard to
the qarmatis of al-Bahrayn, whose hostility erupted, after the Fatimid conquest of Egypt in
358/969, in open warfare against the Fatimid armies. After concluding a peace with the Fatimid
al-'Aziz in 369/979-80 and a severe defeat by a bedouin tribe in 378/988, the qarmatis of
al-Bahrayn were reduced to a local power unable to exert any ideological influence beyond its
boundaries. The movement still supporting the doctrine of the return of Muhammadqb. Isma'il
rapidly disintegrated about the same time. The qarmati state in al-Bahrayn survived until
470/1077-8. (See M. J. de Goeje, Memoire sur les Carmathes du Bahraien2, Leiden 1886; idem, La
fin de l'empire des Carmathes, in JA 9th ser. v (1895), 5-30; W. Madelung, Fatimiden und
Bahrainqarmaten, in Isl. xxxiv (1959), 34-88; S. M. Stern, Isma'ilis and Qarmatians, in l'Elaboration de
l'Islam, Paris 1961, 99-108).

In the time of al-Mu'izz a Fatimid vassal state was established in Multan in Sind. The Isma'ili da'i
there succeeded before 348/959 in converting a local ruler. Multan became an Isma'ili
stronghold where the 多utba was read in the name of the Fatimid caliph. This success probably
strengthened the Fatimid cause also in the neighbouring regions, for in Mukran the 多utba was
also read for the Fatimids about the year 378/988. The da'i Abu Ya'qub al-Sidjistani [q.v.], who
supported the Fatimid doctrine at least from the time of al-Mu'izz on, probably was active in
Sidjistan before his death in the second half of the 4th/10th century. In Jiruft in Kirman a
Fatimid da'i was residing toward the end of the 4th/10th century. The Isma'ili state in Multan
lasted until 401/1010-1, when Mahmud of 鏌azna annexed the town, took its ruler prisoner and
massacred many Isma'ilis (see S. M. Stern, Isma'ili propaganda and Fatimid rule in Sind, in IC, xxiii
(1949), 298-307).

During the last years of the reign of al-Hakim (386/996-411/1021) extremist Isma'ilis in Cairo
began to proclaim the divinity of this Fatimid caliph. Their leadership soon passed to Hamza b.
'Ali [q.v.], who became the founder of the Druze religious doctrine. The official Fatimid da'wa
organization remained adamantly opposed to this movement, although al-Hakim at times
showed it favour. After al-Hakim's death it was persecuted by the Fatimid government and wiped
out in Cairo, but succeeded in solidifying its hold over the mountainous regions in Syria which,
with some modifications, became the permanent home of the Druze community. The Druze
religion [see duruz], though derived from Isma'ili doctrine, transformed its basic ideas to such a
degree as to be usually considered as falling outside the range of Isma'ilism.

In Ifriqiya the Isma'ili communities were practically exterminated by popular riots after the
accession of al-Mu'izz b. Badis, Zirid vassal of the Fatimids, in 407/1016. The missionary efforts
of the Fatimids during their residence in Ifriqiyya had achieved the conversion of only small
groups of the urban population, while the masses, led by the Maliki 'ulama', were solidly opposed
to Fatimid rule and Shi'ism. Large numbers of Kutama tribesmen, who traditionally furnished
the main body of the Fatimid army, left for Egypt with the Fatimid al-Mu'izz. Most of the leading
da'is also departed at that time. The Sanhadja tribe, which supported Zirid rule, only superficially
adhered to Isma'ilism. During the year 407/1016-7 the Isma'ilis in al-qayrawan, al-Mansuriyya,
al-Mahdiyya, Tunis, Tripoli, and other towns were attacked and massacred by the populace
with the countenance of the government. Sporadic massacres took place also during the
following years. The Isma'ili communities were thus extinguished long before al-Mu'izz in
440/1049 renounced his allegiance to the Fatimids and recognized 'Abbasid suzereignty (see H.
R. Idris, La Berberie orientale sous les Zirides, Paris 1962, 143-9).

During the reign of the Caliph al-Mustansir (427/1036-487/1094) the Isma'ili cause achieved
new successes in the Yemen and India. In the Yemen theqda'wa after the death of Ibn Hawshab
had suffered major setbacks and survived only precariously, though in the period
379/989-387/997 it had gained the allegiance and support of the Ya'furid amir 'Abd Allah b.
qahtan, ruler of San'a' and conqueror of Zabid from the Ziyadids. In 429/1038 'Ali b.
Muhammad al-Sulayhi, Fatimid da'i and founder of the Sulayhid dynasty, rose in Masar in the
Haraz region. Through the activity of the Sulayhids [q.v.] Fatimid sovereignty came to extend
over all of the Yemen and temporarily over other parts of Arabia like 'Uman and al-Bahrayn (see
H. F. al-Hamdani, al-Sulayhiyyun, Cairo 1955). The Sulayhids also furthered renewed efforts at
spreading Isma'ilism on the Indian subcontinent. Although parts of the Isma'ili community in
Sind evidently had survived the persecution under Mahmud of 鏌azna and Isma'ilism seems to
have been espoused by the Sumra dynasty of local Hindu origin (see A. H. al-Hamdani, The
Beginnings of the Isma'ili Da'wa in Northern India, Cairo 1956), contacts with the Fatimid da'wa faded.
The Isma'ilis in Sind may have drifted partially back to Hindu practices and beliefs. A new
Isma'ili community was now founded by Yemenite da'is in the area of Cambay, Gudjarat, which
had close commercial ties with the Yemen. According to the traditional account an Arab da'i,
'Abd Allah, arrived with two Indian assistants in Gudjarat in 460/1068, sent by the Yemenite
chief da'i Lamak b. Malik. Less than a decade later the existence of a flourishing Isma'ili
community is confirmed by official letters of the Fatimid chancery. This new Isma'ili community
remained closely tied to, and controlled by, the Yemenite da'wa and was the nucleus of the
modern Bohora [q.v.] community.

After the middle of the 5th/11th century the Persian poet and philosopher Nasir-i Khusraw [q.v.]
was active as a Fatimid da'i in Yumgan in the Upper Oxus area for over 15 years. Expelled from
Bal多 because of Isma'ili activity, he came to Yumgan before 453/1061 and remained there until
his death. Several of his extant philosophical and religious works were composed there. He
became the founder and patron-saint of the Isma'ili community of Bada多shan in the wider
sense, though it may have been changed in composition by later Isma'ili refugees (see W.
Ivanow, Problems in Nasir-i Khosraw's Biography, Bombay 1956; A. E. Bertel's, Nasir-i Khosrov i
Ismailizm, Moscow 1959).

In the last years of the reign of al-Mustansir the Isma'ili cause in Persia was reinvigorated by the
activity of Hasan-i Sabbah [q.v.]. After travelling widely and carrying on propaganda in various
regions of the country, he seized the fortress of Alamut [q.v.] in the mountains of Daylam in
483/1090, thus opening a new phase in the Isma'ili activity in Persia. The clandestine
missionary work to which the da'wa in Persia had mostly been restricted was replaced by a policy
of open revolt which, in the face of the overwhelming military strength of the Saldjuq
government, was based on the seizure of impregnable mountain fortresses and spectacular
political murder aimed at intimidating the enemy's leadership. In the following years other rock
fortresses were occupied in the Elburz range. In 484 or 485/1091-2 Hasan-i Sabbah sent the da'i
Husayn qa'ini to quhistan to raise the revolt there. In short order the Isma'ilis seized control of
several towns in eastern quhistan, Tabas, qa'in, Zuzan, Tun, and others. Another da'i, Abu
Hamza, captured two castles near Arradjan in the border region between Fars and Khuzistan.
After the death of al-Mus-qtansir in 487/1094, a major split occurred in the Isma'ili movement
concerning the succession to the imamate. Al-Mustansir had originally designated his eldest son,
Nizar [q.v.], as his heir. Later his youngest son, Ahmad, found the support of the vizier al-Afdal
[q.v.], who after the death of al-Mustansir placed him on the throne with the title al-Musta'li
[q.v.]. Nizar fled to Alexandria, where he rose in revolt, was defeated, seized and immured.
Hasan-i Sabbah and the Persian Isma'ilis upheld the right of Nizar to the succession and refused
to recognize al-Musta'li. In the absence of the imam, Hasan-i Sabbah became the supreme chief
claiming the rank of hudjdja. After his death the leadership continued with the rulers of Alamut.
Beginning with the fourth ruler, Hasan 'ala dhikrihi 'l-salam (557/1162-561/1166), they came to be
recognized as imams. Against numerous Saldjuq attacks the Nizaris were able to hold and
expand their territories in the Elburz mountains and quhistan. The fortress Shahdiz near
Isfahan, which they seized about the year 494/1100, was lost again in 500/1107. Some time
afterwards the Nizari fortresses near Arradjan were overcome. Among the Isma'ilis in Egypt and
Syria there were also partisans of Nizar. In Egypt they were gradually suppressed. In Syria,
which fell largely outside the Fatimid territory, they were soon organized by emissaries from
Alamut and and seriously rivalled the supporters of the Fatimid caliphate, especially in Damascus
and Aleppo. The Jabal al-Summaq and surrounding area north of Hamat soon became a
stronghold of the Nizaris. As in Persia they aimed at acquiring fortresses, but failed in their first
attempts, and practised political murder. In 520/1126 Tughtagin, ruler of Damascus, ceded to
them the fortress of Banyas on the frontier with the Franks and gave them official recognition in
Damascus. His son Buri in 523/1139 encouraged anti-Isma'ili rioting in Damascus in which the
Nizari community was virtually wiped out. The fortress of Banyas was consequently surrendered
by the Nizaris to the Franks. Soon afterwards they achieved lasting success in the Jabal Bahra'
area west of Hamat. In 527/1132-3 they acquired the fortress of qadmus, and other fortresses
came into their possession during the following decade. Masyaf, the most important stronghold,
was seized in 535/1140-1. The Syrian Nizaris continued to be ruled by agents sent by the lords
of Alamut. The most famous one, Rashid al-Din Sinan [q.v.] (557/1162-588/1192), showed signs
of independence, and there are reports that agents were repeatedly sent from Alamut to kill him.
A complete break was avoided.

The imamate of al-Musta'li was recognized by most Isma'ilis in Egypt, many in Syria, and by the
whole community in the Yemen and that in India dependent on it. A new schism developed,
however, among the Musta'lian Isma'ilis after the assassination of al-Musta'li's son and successor
al-Amir [q.v.] in 524/1130. Eight months before al-Amir's death a son, al-Tayyib, had been born
to him and had immediately been proclaimed as his heir. After al-Amir's death his cousin 'Abd
al-Madjid was put on the throne in Cairo as regent, officially in expectation of the delivery of a
pregnant wife of the late caliph Mention of the infant al-Tayyib was suppressed, and nothing is
known about his fate. Four days later 'Abd al-Madjid was overthrown and imprisoned by
al-Afdal Kutayfat [q.v.], who declared the Fatimid dynasty deposed and proclaimed the
sovereignty of the Twelfth Imam of the Imamiyya. Kutayfat was overthrown and killed in Muh.
526/Dec. 1131, and 'Abd al-Madjid returned to the throne as regent. In Rabi' IIq526/Feb. 1132
he was proclaimed imam with the caliphal title al-Hafiz [q.v.]. The succession of al-Hafiz, though
in violation of the accepted rule that the imamate could be inherited only by a direct
descendant, was supported by the official da'wa organization in Egypt and accepted by the
majority of the Musta'lian Isma'ilis in Egypt and Syria. They were known as the Hafiziyya or
Madjidiyya. There were, however, some Musta'lian communities in Egypt and Syria which
continued to support the rights of al-Tayyib and were known as Amiriyya. In the Yemen most of
the leaders of the established da'wa organization upheld the rights of al-Tayyib. Encouraged by
the Sulayhid queen al-Sayyida they founded the independent Tayyibi da'wa in the Yemen headed
by a da'imutlaq. The first of these was al-Dhu'ayb b. Musa, who was succeeded in 546/1151 by
Ibrahim al-Hamidi [q.v.]. The Tayyibi da'is worked successfully despite the fact that after the
death of the Sulayhid queen in 532/1138 they did not have the support of any of the rulers in
the Yemen. The Hafizi da'wa was supported by the Zuray'ids of 'Adan, who, beginning with
Muhammad b. Saba', were officially appointed Fatimid da'is in the Yemen, and by at least some of
the Hamdanid rulers of San'a' (see S. M. Stern, The succession to the Fatimid Imam al-Amir the claims of
the later Fatimids to the Imamate, and the rise of Tayyibi Ismailism, in Oriens, iv (1951), 193-255). There
are no reports as to whether the Hafizi da'wa ever had adherents in India. In any case the
community in India, which continued to be closely tied to the Yemenite da'wa, soon was solidly

The post-Fatimid period.


After the overthrow of the Fatimid caliphate in 567/1171 the Hafiziyya, no longer enjoying
official support, gradually disintegrated. Al-'Adid, the last Fatimid caliph, had appointed his son
Da'ud as his successor with the title al-Hamid li'llah. Da'ud was generally recognized by the
Hafizis as the imam after al-'Adid. He and all other members of the Fatimid family were
permanently detained as prisoners by the Ayyubids. As a result of a pro-Fatimid conspiracy in
Cairo in 568/1172-3 many of the supporters of the deposed dynasty were exiled to Upper Egypt,
which became a hotbed of pro-Fatimid activity. In 572/1176-7 a pretender claiming to be Da'ud
found wide support in qift. When the real Da'ud died as a prisoner in Cairo in 604/1207-8, the
Hafizis asked the Ayyubid al-Malik al-Kamil for permission to mourn him in public. Al-Kamil
granted them permission, but used the occasion to arrest their da'is and confiscate their
property. After Da'ud his son Sulayman mostly seems to have been recognized as the imam.
Sulayman died without child as a prisoner in 645/1248, but some of his partisans claimed that
he had a son who was hidden (see P. Casanova, Les derniers Fatimides, in MIFAO, vi (1897),
415-45). In 697/1298 a pretender appeared in Upper Egypt who claimed to be Da'ud b.
Sulayman b. Da'ud. Still later, about the year 723/1324, Isma'ilis are mentioned in 'Usfun in
Upper Egypt. In Syria a Hafizi community is mentioned at the same time in the Baqi'a
mountains near Safad. In the Yemen the Hafizi cause also lost all official backing with the
Ayyubid conquest. The Tayyibi da'imutlaq 'Ali b. Muhammad al-Walid (d. 612/1215) still composed
polemical treatises and poems against the "Madjidiyya", but they were already
becoming a rare minority.

Tayyibiyya [q.v.]:

The insignificant Tayyibi communities in Egypt and Syria, known as Amiriyya, are only rarely
mentioned in the sources. Toward the end of the 6th/12th century there is a vague referenceqto
the presence of Amiriyya in Egypt. In Syria a community of Amiriyya is still mentioned about the
year 723/1324 in the Baqi'a and Zabud mountains near Safad. These isolated communities
probably did not survive much longer. Only in the Yemen and India could the Tayyibi da'wa,
under the undisputed leadership of the da'imutlaq, establish itself permanently. After Ibrahim
al-Hamidi the position of da'i mutlaq remained among his descendants until 605/1209, when it
passed to 'Ali b. Muhammad of the Banu 'l-Walid al-Anf family, which was named after his
ancestor Ibrahim al-Anf, who was a prominent supporter of the Salayhids and a descendant of
the Umayyad al-Walid b. 'Utba b. Abi Sufyan. It remained in this family, with only two
interruptions in the 7th/13th century, until 946/1539. The traditional stronghold of the Isma'ili
da'wa in the Yemen was in the Haraz [q.v.] mountains, though there were scattered communities
in other parts of the country. The da'is generally enjoyed the support, or at least protection, of
the Hamdanids [q.v.], who permitted them to reside in San'a' and later, in the 8th/14th century,
in the fortress of Dhu Marmar. Their relations with the Ayyubids and the Rasulids were fair, but
the Zaydi imams were mostly hostile. The Zaydi pretender al-Mansur 'Ali b. Salah al-Din expelled
them from Dhu Marmar in 829/1426 after a prolonged siege, and they established their
residence in the Haraz mountains. The Zaydi Imam al-Mutahhar b. Sharaf al-Din in the
10th/16th century relentlessly persecuted the Banu 'l-Anf and seems to have practically
extirpated the family. The relations with the da'wa in India remained close. There the Tayyibi
community grew mostly undisturbed, though in the first half of the 9th/15th century
persecution under the Sultanate of Gudjarat resulted in mass conversions to Sunnism. In
946/1539 the position of da'imutlaq passed to an Indian, and after his death in 947/1567 the
headquarters were transferred to Gudjarat in India.

After the death of Da'ud b. 'Adjabshah, the 26th da'imutlaq, in 999/1591, the succession was
disputed. While in India Da'ud Burhan al-Din was established, Da'ud b. Adjabshah's
representative in the Yemen, Sulayman b. al-Hasan al-Hindi, claimed to have been designated
successor by the deceased da'imutlaq. The dispute was not resolved and led to the permanent
schism between the Da'udi and Sulaymani factions which accepted separate lines of da'is. Among
the Sulaymanis, whose cause had only few adherents in India, the position of da'imutlaq in
1050/1640 passed to the Yemenite Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. Fahd of the Makrami [q.v.] family,
in which it has remained since with few interruptions. The Makrami da'is established themselves
in Nadjran [q.v.], where they were supported by the Banu Yam [q.v.]. Before 1131/1719 they
conquered the Haraz region in the Yemen and held it against all attempts of the Zaydi imams to
expel them. The Da'i al-Hasan b. Hibat Allah (d. 1189/1775) conquered Hadramawt and
unsuccessfully fought the rising Su'udi dynasty in Central Arabia. From Haraz the Makramis
were expelled in 1289/1872 by the Ottoman general Ahmad Mu多tar Pasha, who took their
fortress 'Attara and treacherously killed the Da'i al-Hasan b. Isma'il Al Shibam al-Makrami. The
present da'imutlaq of the Sulaymanis is Jamal al-Din 'Ali b. al-Husayn al-Makrami, who succeeded
his father in 1939 (see A. A. A. Fyzee, Three Sulaymani Da'is: 1936-1939, in JBBRAS, xvi (1940),
101-4). Besides the Banu Yam in Nadjran, the people of the Jabal Maghariba in Haraz are
Sulayma-qnis. In India the Sulaymani da'is are represented by mansubs residing in Baroda.
Sulaymanis live mainly in Bombay, Boroda, and Haydarabad, Dekkan.

The Da'udi da'is after the split continued to reside in India, where the great majority of their
followers live. The da'wa generally was able to develop freely, though there was another wave of
persecution under Awrangzib (1044/1635-1118/1707). Since 1200/1785 the headquarters of the
da'is have been in Surat. The present da'imutlaq is Muhammad Burhan al-Din, who succeeded his
father Tahir Sayf al-Din in 1966. Da'udi Isma'ilis live chiefly in Gudjarat, Bombay, and Central
India. In Yemen there are Da'udis in the Haraz region. (For minor secessions from the Da'udis
[see bohoras]).

Nizariyya [q.v.]:

The imamate of the Nizaris remained vested in the lords of Alamut until the surrender of the
fortress to the Mongol conqueror Hulagu in 654/1256 and the consequent execution of the
imam Rukn al-Din Khurshah. Practically nothing is known about the imams following him.
Later lists of the imams differ widely concerning their names, number, and sequence. The list
now considered official in the Agha Khani branch has come to be generally accepted only since
the later 19th century. There are vague indications that the imams after the fall of Alamut
resided in Adharbaydjan. A split occurred in the line of imams after Muhammad Shams al-Din,
usually considered the son of Khurshah, or his son Mu'min-Shah, who is omitted in some lists.
One line continues with qasim-Shah, the other with Muhammad-Shah. The qasim-Shahi imams
in the latter part of the 9th/15th century resided in Andjudan, a village near Mahallat, where
the tombs of some of them are preserved. From this time until the 19th century the imams were
usually affiliated to the Ni'mat Allahi Sufi order. After a lapse of nearly one and a half centuries
there are further tombs of imams in Andjudan dating from 1043/1634 to 1090/1680. It is
unknown where the family lived in the intervening period. Imam Shah Nizar, who died in
1134/1722 is buried in Kahak, a village near Andjudan (see W. Ivanow, Tombs of some Persian
Isma'ili Imams, in JBBRAS, xiv (1938), 49-62). In the time of Nadir Shah (1148/1736-1160/1747)
Imam Sayyid Hasan Beg moved to Shahr-i Babak and acquired a winter residence in Kirman.
The imams now rose from their previous obscurity to involvement in political life. Imam Abu
'l-Hasan Shah was governor of Kirman from 1169/1756 until his death in 1206/1791-2. His son
Shah Khalil Allah, who enjoyed the favour of the qadjar Fath 'Ali Shah, returned to Kahak and
later moved to Yazd, where he was killed by a mob in 1232/1817. Khalil Allah's son, Hasan 'Ali
Shah Mahallati, was granted by Fath 'Ali Shah the title Agha Khan [q.v.], which has remained
hereditary among his successors. After a vain attempt at gaining independent rule of Kirman,
Hasan 'Ali Shah moved to India in 1259/1843 (see H. Algar, The Revolt of Agha Khan Mahallati and
the Transference of the Isma'ili Imamate to India, in SI, xxix (1969), 55-81). Bombay became the
permanent seat of the imamate. The present (1971) Agha Khan, Karim Khan, succeeded his
grandfather, Sultan Muhammad Shah, in 1957.

The branch of Muhammad-Shah apparently was closely associated with the Nizari community in
Daylam. In 776/1374-5 Khudawand Muhammad, who may be identical with Muhammad-Shah,
gained possession of the fortress of Alamut with the support of the local Nizaris. He was
consequently expelled and sought refuge with Timur, who sent himqto confinement in
Sultaniyya. The family continued to live in Sultaniyya until after 894/1489. Members of it,
however, were repeatedly active among the Nizaris in Daylam until the middle of the 9th/15th
century. The most famous imam of the Muhammad-Shahi line, Shah Tahir Husayni Dakkani,
because of his religious following aroused the suspicion of the Safawid Shah Isma'il, was exiled to
Kashan and later forced to leave Persia. In 928/1522 he came to Ahmadnagar in the Dekkan,
where he was instrumental in bringing about the proclamation of Shi'ism as the official religion
by the ruler Burhan Nizam Shah. Shah Tahir probably died in 956/1549. His descendants lived in
Ahmadnagar and later in Awrangabad (see W. Ivanow, A forgotten branch of the Ismailis, in JRAS,
1938, 57-79). The last imam of this branch, so far as is known, was Amir Muhammad Baqir,
whose last contact with his Syrian followers was in 1210/1796. As well as in Daylam, the
Muhammad-Shahi line had supporters in Bada多shan and the Kabul area in the 10th/16th and
11th/17th centuries, though by the beginning of the 13th/19th century the Isma'ilis there seem
to have generally adhered to the qasim-Shahi line. The community in Syria generally
recognized the Muhammad-Shahi line. In a period of troubles contact with the Imam
Muhammad Baqir was lost after the year 1210/1796. In 1304/1887, after a vain search for
descendants of Muhammad Baqir, a section of the Syrian community recognized the Agha-Khani
line. In 1957 about 30,000 Syrian Nizaris, living in Salamiyya and the villages of al-Khawabi,
adhered to the Agha Khani line. About 15,000, known as Ja'fariyya and living in qadmus,
Masyaf, and some villages near Salamiyya, continued to adhere to the Muhammad-Shahi line
(see 'A. Tamir, Furu' al-shadjara al-Isma'iliyya al-Imamiyya, in al-Mashriq, li (1957), 581-612).

The Nizari communities, widely dispersed territorially and partially separated by language
barriers, developed largely independently of each other, especially after the fall of Alamut. They
were led by local leaders, shay多s or pirs, who alone could claim access to the hidden imams The
Syrian Nizaris during the later Alamut period continued to be ruled by Persian agents sent by the
imams. After the fall of Alamut they at first preserved their political independence and joined the
Muslim efforts to expel the Mongol invaders in 658/1260 from Syria, but later were gradually
subdued by the Mamluk Sultan Baybars I. By the end of the year 671/1273 Baybars controlled
all their fortresses. The Isma'ilis remained subjects of the Mamluks and later of the Ottomans,
paying a special tax. During the late 18th and the 19th centuries they were frequently involved
in clashes with their neighbours, especially with the numerically stronger Nusayris, who
repeatedly occupied their fortresses. About the middle of the 19th century the Isma'ilis restored
the town of Salamiyya [q.v.] and settled the surrounding area east of Hamat, where now
approximately two thirds of the community live. The last Nusayri attack and occupation of
qadmus took place in 1920, causing much damage to property and manuscripts (see N. N.
Lewis, The Isma'ilis of Syria today, in Royal Central Asian Studies Journal, (1952), 69-77).

In Persia the Isma'ili communities were decimated by massacres but survived after the surrender
of Alamut and the other fortresses in Daylam and quhistan. Alamut was briefly reoccupied in
674/1275, but lost again in the next year. In the second half of the 8th/14th and the first half
of the 9th/15th centuries it was repeatedly, though only for shortqspans of time, in Nizari hands.
The Nizari community in Daylam was still a force in the local power struggle in this period,
though it was usually on the defensive, especially against the Zaydi rulers of Lahidjan. After this
time it gradually disappeared. In quhistan small Isma'ili communities have survived in the area
of qa'in and Birdjand. Other Nizari communities are found in the area of Nishapur in Khurasan,
around Kirman, in Sirdjan and the Jabal Bariz, and in the area of Mahallat and Yazd.

The Isma'ilis of the Upper Oxus region seem to have accepted the Nizari imamate before the end
of the Alamut period, though the exact date and circumstances are unknown. Local tradition in
Shughnan [q.v.] mentions two da'is, Sayyid Shah Malang and Shah Khamush, who were sent by
the imam and became the founders of the dynasties of pirs and mirs ruling Shughnan. In
913/1507-8 Shah Radiyy al-Din, who is perhaps to be identified with the imam of the
Muhammad-Shahi line of that name, the father of Shah Tahir Dakkani, came from Sistan to
Bada多shan and with the support of the local Isma'ilis established his rule over large parts of the
region. In consequence of quarrels among his supporters he was killed in spring 1509. In the
11th/17th century another imam of the Muhammad-Shahi line, Khudayba多sh, seems to have
taken up residence in Bada多shan and died there in 1074/1663-4. The Isma'ili communities
continued to be guided by local dynasties of pirs. There are Nizari communities recognizing the
Agha Khans also in the area of 鏌azna, in Chitral, Gilgit, Hunza, where they are known as
Mawla'is, and in the area of Yarkand and Kashghar.

The date and circumstances of the introduction of Nizari Isma'ilism in India are obscure. A
continuity of Isma'ili activity in Sind, especially the Multan area, ever since the early da'wa there,
is attested by sparse notices in the sources. In the first half of the 7th/13th century this activity
extended to Dihli. It may at this time well have been inspired by emissaries of the imams of
Alamut, but definite evidence is lacking. The first pirs mentioned in the religious literature of the
Indian Nizaris cannot be dated with any degree of certainty. The shrine of the earliest one,
Satgur Nur, is in Nawsari in Gudjarat, where the religious texts place his activity. The presence
of non-Tayyibi Isma'ilis in Gudjarat is vaguely attested for the first half of the 7th/13th century.
Pir Shams al-Din according to the texts came from Persia to Sind and became the founder of the
dynasty of pirs there. If the traditional pedigree of pirs is reliable, he may have lived in the first
half of the 8th/14th century, as some sources suggest. Other sources date him one or two
centuries earlier. His mausoleum is in Multan. Pir Sadr al-Din and Pir Hasan Kabir al-Din of the
9th/15th century are buried near Uch, south of Multan. Sadr al-Din is traditionally considered
the founder and organizer of the Khodja [q.v.] community, which consists mostly of converts of
the Hindu Lohana caste. Kabir al-Din's son Imam-Shah after about the year 875/1470-1 was
active in Gudjarat where he converted numerous Hindus.

Imam-Shah died in 926/1520 and is buried in Pirana near Ahmadabad. His son and successor
Nar (Nur) Muhammad-Shah (d. 940/1533-4) repudiated the recognition of the imam in Persia
and claimed the imamate for himself, thus founding a separate sect whose adherents are known
as Imam Shahis or Satpanthis. The sect later split further around different lines of pirs. It has
tended to revert toward Hinduism. Its followers, who are to be found chiefly in Gudjaratqand
Khandesh, consider themselves mostly as Imami Shi'is or Sunnis rather than Isma'ilis, though
they recognize the Isma'ili imams before the split (see W. Ivanow, The sect of Imam Shah in Gujrat,
in JBBRAS, xxii (1936), 19-70). Other Nizaris in Gudjarat remained faithful to the imams in
Persia. The great majority of Nizaris on the Indian subcontinent belong to the Khodja
community. There are, however, other Nizari groups, such as the Shamsis, followers of Pir Shams
al-Din in Pandjab and others. The Khodjas live chiefly in lower Sind, Cutch, Gudjarat, Bombay,
and in diaspora in East and South Africa, Ceylon, and Burma.


Pre-Fatimid and Fatimid times:

Nothing definite is known about the doctrine of the early supporters of the imamate of Isma'il
and his son Muhammad. Imami sources maintain that the Khattabiyya [q.v.], the followers of the
extremist Shi'i Abu 'l-Khattab [q.v.], constituted the bulk of the early Isma'iliyya. Later Isma'ili
doctrine, however, generally condemns Abu 'l-Khattab and does not appear to be substantially
influenced by the heresies ascribed to him and his followers (see W. Ivanow, Ibn al-Qaddah,
Bombay 1957). The Umm al-kitab preserved by the Isma'ilis of Bada多shan, in which Abu
'l-Khattab appears as a saintly disciple of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir and his sons are called the
founders of Isma'ilism, is a syncretistic compilation written not earlier than the beginning of the
4th/10th century and perhaps as late as the early Alamut period. The ideas of the Shi'i ghulat
[q.v.] represented in it are for the most part not specifically Isma'ili and evidently not derived
from Isma'ili sources. The work thus must not be considered 'proto-Isma'ili".

The doctrine propagated by the pre-Fatimid Isma'ili revolutionary movement of the second half
of the 3rd/9th century can be derived in its outlines from later Isma'ili works and reports of
anti-Isma'ili authors. It embodied already the basic framework of the later Isma'ili religious
system, though it was consequently modified in some important respects. Fundamental was the
distanction between the zahir exterior or exoteric, and the batin [see batiniyya], inward or
esoteric, aspects of religion. The zahir consists in the apparent, generally accepted meaning of
the revealed scriptures and in the religious law laid down in them. It changes with each
prophet. The batin consists in the truths (haqa'iq) concealed in the scriptures and laws, which are
unchangeable and are made apparent from them by the ta'wil [q.v.], interpretation, which is
often of a cabalistic nature relying on the mystical significance of letters and numbers. These
truths form a gnostic system comprising a cosmology and a cyclical hierohistory. At the basis of
the pre-Fatimid cosmology was a myth, only imperfectly reflected in the later sources, according
to which the divine imperative kun, consisting of the letters kaf and nun, through duplication
formed the two original principles kuni qadar. Kuni was the female and qadar the male principle.
The seven letters of kuni qadar were known as the seven higher letters (al-huruf al-'ulwiyya), which
are the archetypes of the seven messenger prophets and their revealed messages. From the two
first principles proceeded three spiritual powers, djadd, fath, and 多ayal, identified with the three
archangels Jibra'il, Mika'il, and Israfil, which mediate between the spiritual world and man in
the physical world (on this triad see H. Corbin, Le livre reunissant les deux sagesses, Tehran-Paris
1953, Etude preliminaire, 91-112). The cyclical history progresses through seven eras, each
inaugurated by an enunciator (natiq) prophet bringing aqrevealed message. Each of the first six
natiqs, Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, 'Isa, and Muhammad, was followed by a fundament (asas) or
silent one (samit), who revealed the batin of the message, and by seven imams. The seventh imam
in each era rises in rank and becomes the natiq of the following era, abrogating the law of the
previous natiq and bringing a new one. In the era of Muhammad, 'Ali was the asas and
Muhammad b. Isma'il the seventh imam. Muhammad b. Isma'il on his reappearance in the near
future will become the seventh natiq, the qa'im or Mahdi [q.v.], and will abrogate the law of
Islam. His message will, however, consist in the full revelation of the batin truths without any
zahir law. He will rule the world and then end the physical world, sitting in judgment over
humanity. During his absence he is represented by twelve hudjdjas residing in the twelve regions
(djaza'ir) of the earth. The cyclical history was sometimes coupled with astrological speculations,
and astrological predictions were made specifically concerning the date of the coming of the

Before the coming of the qa'im the batin must be kept secret and can be revealed to the
neophyte only on swearing an oath of initiation with a vow of secrecy and on payment of a due.
The initiation, known as balagh, was no doubt gradual, but there is no evidence of a strictly fixed
sequence of grades generally followed as described by anti-Isma'ili sources. Beneath the imam
and the hudjdjas a hierarchy of da'is was in charge of the initiation and instruction (da'wa [q.v.]).
Little is known about the actual organization of the da'wa in the pre-Fatimid and Fatimid age.
The widely differing enumerations of the grades (hudud) of the hierarchy given in Isma'ili religious
texts serve mostly ideal functions and cannot be taken as corresponding closely to the actual
organization (see W. Ivanow, The organization of the Fatimid propaganda, in JBBRAS, xv (1939),

From about the beginning of the 4th/10th century onwards the early cosmology was superseded
and partially replaced by a cosmology of Neoplatonic origin, apparently first propounded by the
da'i al-Nasafi [q.v.]. In this cosmology God is described as absolutely beyond comprehension,
beyond any attribute or name, beyond being and non-being. Through his divine Order or
Volition (Amr) he originated (abda') the Intellect ('Aql). The 'Aql is the First Originated Being
(al-Mubda' al-Awwal), since the Amr is united with it in existence From the Intellect the Soul (Nafs)
proceeds through emanation. From the Soul proceed the seven spheres with their stars and
move with its movement. Through the revolution of the spheres the single elements (al-mufradat)
or natures, humidity, dryness, cold, and warmth, are mingled to form the composites
(al-murakkabat), earth, water, air, and ether. As the composites mingle, the plants with the
vegetative (namiya) soul develop From them the animals with the sensitive (hissiyya) soul develop,
and from the latter, man with the rational (natiqa) soul. Al-Nasafi's cosmology was generally
adopted in its essentials, though refined and elaborated by the later authors. Some minor points
aroused controversy among them. The principles of the spiritual world in this cosmology were
identified with terms of the religious sphere. Thus the Intellect in religious terminology was
equated with the Pen (qalam) and the Throne ('Arsh), and the Soul was identified with the Tablet
(Lawh) and the Footstool (Kursi) etc. Much stressed were the analogies between the spiritual,
astral, and physical worlds and between man as theqmicrocosm and the physical world as the
macrocosm. The official Fatimid da'wa apparently did not accept this cosmology until the time of
the Caliph al-Mu'izz.

A somewhat different cosmological system was propounded by the da'i Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani
[q.v.] (d. about 411/1021). Instead of the duality of the Intellect and the Soul his system
comprises ten intellects in the spiritual world. The Soul is replaced by the Second Intellect or
First Emanation (al-Munba'ith al-Awwal), proceeding from the higher relation (al-nisba al-ashraf) of
the First Intellect. The Third Intellect or Second Emanation and First Potential Being,
proceeding from the lower relation (al-nisba al-adwan) of the First Intellect, is equated with
matter and form (al-hayula wa 'l-sura). From the First and Second Intellects proceed seven further
intellects. The tenth one is the Active Intellect (al-'Aql al-Fa''al) or demiurge governing the
physical world. The structure of the astral and the physical worlds and of the religious hierarchy
were similarly modified by al-Kirmani in close analogy to the spiritual world. The system of
al-Kirmani was not adopted by the Fatimid da'wa. Only among the Tayyibis in the Yemen did it
replace the earlier traditional system.

Fatimid doctrine, because of the Fatimid claim to the imamate, was forced to modify the early
doctrine concerning the role of Muhammad b. Isma'il as the final imam and Mahdi and the
restriction of the number of imams to seven. 'Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi at first radically broke with
this earlier doctrine by asserting that the imam after Ja'far al-Sadiq had been his son 'Abd Allah
rather than Isma'il and that the imamate continued to be handed down among his descendants
without restriction in number. Soon, however, attempts were made to accomodate the Fatimid
claim to the imamate with the earlier theory. Muhammad b. Isma'il was again recognized as
imam and as ancestor of the Fatimids. His return as the qa'im was sometimes interpreted
spiritually, as being realized in the rise of the Fatimids, who would gradually fulfil the predictions
concerning the qa'im. A second heptad of imams, often called the deputies (多ulafa') of the qa'im,
was admitted in the era of Muhammad as a special privilege of the latter. The eschatological
expectations in respect to the qa'im were to be fulfilled after the expiration of the second
heptade of imams. This theory also had to be abandoned as the Fatimid caliphate continued,
though even then the eschatological events generally were expected in the near future (see W.
Madelung, Das Imamat in der frhen ismailitischen Lehre, in Isl., xxxvii (1961), 43-135).

Fatimid doctrine, in contrast to the pre-Fatimid attitude which tended to depreciate the zahir,
invariably insisted on the equal importance of the zahir and the batin and made every effort to
suppress antinomian trends, which, however, often came to the surface among more radical
Isma'ili groups. The Isma'ili fiqh was elaborated chiefly by the qadi al-Nu'man [q.v.] (d. 363/974),
whose work Da'a'im al-Islam became the most authoritative exposition of it. Isma'ili law agrees in
general with Imami law, but does not permit the mul'a [q.v.] temporary marriage and nullifies
bequests to a legal heir except with the consent of the other heirs (see A. A. A. Fyzee,
Compendium of Fatimid Law, Simla 1969). In the ritual, Isma'ili fiqh also agrees generally with
Imami doctrine (see R. Strothmann, Recht der Ismailiten, in Isl., xxxi (1954), 131-46). It gives,
however, full authority to the imam for determining the beginningqof a new month rather than
requiring the sight of the new moon. In practice the beginning of the month was fixed by
astronomical calculation. Thus it fell often one or two days earlier than for the other Muslims.
This often led to friction in particular in respect to the beginning and end of the fasting month
of Ramadan.

Post-Fatimid times.

Tayyibi doctrine:

The Tayyibi community in the Yemen and India preserved a large part of the Fatimid religious
literature and retained the interest in the gnostic cosmology and cyclical history of the Fatimid
age. Tayyibi doctrine, however, from the beginning adopted the cosmological system of
al-Kirmani in place of the traditional Fatimid system, and modified it by introducing a mythical
'drama in heaven', first described by the second da'i mutlak Ibrahim al-Hamidi [q.v.], which
profoundly shaped the Tayyibi gnosis. According to this myth, the two emanations from the
First Intellect, the Second and Third Intellects, were rivals for the second rank after the First
Intellect. As the Second Intellect reached this position by his superior efforts, the Third Intellect
refused to recognize his superiority in rank. In punishment for this failure he fell from the third
rank behind the following seven intellects and, after repenting, became stabilized as the Tenth
Intellect and demiurge (mudabbir). The physical world was produced out of the spiritual forms
(suwar) which together with the Tenth Intellect refused to recognize the superiority of the
Second Intellect and out of the darkness generated by this sin. The Tenth Intellect, also called
the Spiritual Adam (Adam al-Ruhani), tries to regain his original rank by calling the fallen spiritual
forms to repentance. The first representative of his da'wa on earth was the First and Universal
Adam (Adam al-Awwal al-Kulli), owner of the body of the ibda' world (al-djuththa al-ibda'iyya), who
opened the first cycle of manifestation (dawr al-kashf) and is distinguished from the Partial Adam
(Adam al-Juz'i), who opened the present age of concealment (dawr al-satr). After his passing he
rose to the horizon of the Tenth (Intellect) and took his place, while the Tenth rose in rank.
Similarly the qa'im of each cycle after his passing rises and takes the place of the Tenth, who
thus gradually rises until he will join the Second Intellect. Countless cycles of manifestation and
concealment succeed each other until the Great Resurrection (qiyamat al-qiyamat) which
consummates the megacycle (al-kawr al-a'zam), sometimes specified to last 360,000 times 360,000

The soul of each believer on his initiation is joined by a point of light, which grows as he
advances in knowledge. On his passing it rises to join the soul of the holder of the rank (hadd)
above him in the hierarchy. It continues to rise from hadd to hadd until it is gathered together
with the souls of all other believers in the light temple (haykal nurani) in the shape of a human
being which constitutes the form of the qa'im (sura qa'imiyya) of his cycle, which then rises to the
horizon of the Tenth. The souls of the unbelievers remain with their bodies, which are dissolved
into an organic matter which is consequently transformed into various harmful creatures and
substances in descending order. Depending on the gravity of their sins they may eventually rise
again through the ascending forms of life and as human beings may accept the da'wa or end up
in Sidjdjin in torment lasting as long as the megacycle.

Continuing the Fatimid tradition Tayyibi doctrineqmaintained the equal validity of the zahir and
the batin and repudiated antinomian trends. qadi al-Nu'man's Da'a'im al-Islam remained the
authoritative work of fiqh.

Nizari doctrine:

Owing to the upheavals in the political history of the Nizari communities, their wide dispersal,
the language barriers between them, and the repeated loss of large parts of their religious
literature, Nizari doctrine is marked by major shifts in time and nearly completely independent
local traditions.

Doctrine of Alamut:

The vigorous activism of the movement led by Hasan-i Sabbah even before its break with the
Fatimid caliphate was associated with a new preaching (da'wa djadida), most eloquently
formulated, though perhaps not originated, by Hasan-i Sabbah himself. The new preaching
entailed an apologetic reformulation of the old Shi'i doctrine of ta'lim, i.e., the authoritative
teaching in religion, which could be carried out only by a divinely chosen imam in every age
after the Prophet. Hasan-i Sabbah reaffirmed the need for such a teacher as a dictate of reason
and went on to prove that only the Isma'ili imam fulfilled this need. In his argumentation he
seems to have stressed the autonomous authority of each imam, independent of his predecessors,
thus unwittingly authorizing the later shifts of doctrine. The doctrine of ta'lim had a strong
impact in the Sunni world, as is reflected by its elaborate refutation by al-Ghazali [q.v.] and

A religious revolution took place under the fourth lord of Alamut, Hasan 'ala dhikrihi al-salam
(557/1162-561/1166), who on 17 Ramadan 559/8 Aug. 1164 solemnly proclaimed the
resurrection (qiyama) in the name of the imam, whose hudjdja or deputy (多alifa) he declared himself
to be. In consonance with the Isma'ili expectations concerning the qiyama he announced the
abrogation of the shari'a, which so far had been strictly enforced by the lords of Alamut. The
resurrection was interpreted spiritually as the manifestation of the unveiled Truth in the imam
which actualized Paradise for the believers who could grasp it, while it condemned the
non-Isma'ili opponents to spiritual non-being, i.e., Hell. After the murder of Hasan by a
brother-in-law opposed to the abolition of the shari'a, the doctrine of the qiyama was further
elaborated by his son and successor Muhammad (561/1166-607/1210). Hasan before his death
seems to have hinted that he himself was the imam at least spiritually. Muhammad now
maintained that his father had been the imam also by physical descent, apparently alleging that
he was the son of a descendant of Imam Nizar who had secretly found refuge in Alamut. The line
of imams thus continued through Hasan and Muhammad in the lords of Alamut. Muhammad put
the imam, and specifically the present imam, at the centre of the doctrine of the qiyama. The
resurrection consisted in viewing God in the spiritual reality of the imam. This doctrine entailed
the exaltation of the imam over the prophet, which became characteristic of Nizari thought. At
the same time a new figure, the imam-qa'im, was introduced in the cyclical history. The
imam-qa'im in the various eras was identified as Melchizedek (Malik al-Salam), Dhu 'l-qarnayn,
Khidr, Ma'add, and, in the era of Muhammad, as 'Ali. He was recognized by the prophets in
each era as the locus of the divinity. In the qiyama the imam-qa'im, i.e., the present imam, who is
identical with 'Ali, appears openly in his spiritual reality to the believer, who in his spiritual
relationship to the imam is identical with Salman [q.v.]. The ranks ofqthe teaching hierarchy
intervening between the imam and the believer have, also in agreement with the Isma'ili
expectations concerning the qiyama, faded away. There are only three categories of men left: the
opponents (ahl al-tadadd) of the imam who adhere to the shari'a, the ordinary followers of the imam
or people of gradation (ahl al-tarattub), who have gone beyond the shari'a to the batin and have
found partial truth, and the people of union (ahl al-wahda), who see the imam in his true nature
discarding all appearances and have reached the realm of full truth. The qiyama doctrine was
clearly influenced by Sufi ideas and terminology and prepared the way for the close relationship
between later Nizari Isma'ilism and Sufism.

The qiyama doctrine was repudiated by Muhammad's son and successor Jalal al-Din Hasan
(607/1210-618/1221), who proclaimed his adherence to Sunni Islam, publicly cursed his
predecessors, and imposed the Sunni shari'a on his followers, inviting Sunni scholars to instruct
him. As he continued to be considered by them as the imam, his orders were accepted without
opposition. There is evidence that at least before his death he acted towards his followers again
in the fashion of an Isma'ili imam. Under his son 'Ala' al-Din Muhammad (618/1221-653/1255)
the enforcement of the shari'a was relaxed, though it was not officially abolished. The adjusted
doctrine which now was developed to explain the new religious situation is expounded in the
contemporary Isma'ili works of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi [q.v.]. The reimposition of the shari'a by Jalal
al-Din Hasan was interpreted as a return to precautionary dissimulation (taqiyya) and a new
period of concealment (satr), when the truth is hidden in the batin, in contrast to the preceding
period of qiyama, when the unveiled truth was apparent and available to all. The qiyama
proclaimed by Hasan 'ala dhikrihi 'l-salam, coming at about the middle of the millenium of the era
of the Prophet Muhammad, was merely anticipatory of the final qiyama at the end of it. In the era
of Muhammad periods of satr and qiyama may alternate according to the decision of each imam,
since every imam is a potential imam-qa'im. The state of spiritual union (wahda) in the time of satr
is restricted to the hudjdja of the imam, who partakes of the divine Support (ta'yid) and possesses
the truth of the imam, with whom he is consubstantial. The ahl al-tarattub are divided into the
strong (aqwiya') and the weak (du'afa') according to their closeness to the truth.

Conditions in the post-Alamut period favoured the adoption of Sufi ways of life by the imams and
their followers also externally. Isma'ili ideas were often camouflaged in Sufi forms of expression,
especially in poetry. Doctrinal works were written again from the 9th/16th century on, at a
time when the victory of Shi'ism in Persia permitted the Nizaris and their imams to act somewhat
more openly. The doctrine of the late Alamut period as expressed by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi was
essentially retained. Works of the Fatimid age, which still influenced al-Tusi, were no longer
available. Interest in the Isma'ili cosmology and cyclical history waned. The role of the hudjdja as
the revealer of the spiritual truth and only access to the essence of the imam, already stressed by
al-Tusi, was further elaborated.

A special literary tradition within Nazari Isma'ilism in Persian was retained by the community of
Bada多shan. Although many works of the Alamut and post-Alamut period found their way there,
the community remained particularly attached to the works, genuine and spurious, of Nasir-i
Khusraw.qFatimid doctrine in the adaptation of Nasir, including the Fatimid cosmology, thus
maintained their influence. The community of Bada多shan also transmitted and revered the
Umm al-kitab representing largely non-Isma'ili thought.

Syrian Nizari literature, written in Arabic, developed independently of the Persian literature,
even during the Alamut period. Persian works were not translated into Arabic or vice-versa. The
Syrian community preserved a substantial selection of Fatimid religious literature, partially
different from those preserved by the Tayyibis. Even though the qiyama was proclaimed,
apparently with some delay, in Syria, the qiyama doctrine had practically no impact there. The
scholarly doctrine continued mostly in the Fatimid tradition. Syrian doctrinal works, while
concentrating on the traditional cosmology and cyclical history, virtually ignore the current
imam, the central figure in the Persian Alamut and post-Alamut doctrine. In religious literature
of a popular type Rashid al-Din Sinan is extolled as a saintly hero and his cosmic rank is
described in terms appropriate to the imam. Much of the Syrian Isma'ili literature was destroyed
later during the feuds with neighbouring communities.

Among the Khodjas Isma'ili literature, both Persian and Arabic, has been virtually unknown.
Only a single Persian work, the Pandiyat-i Javanmardi containing a collection of religious and
moral admonitions of the Nizari Imam al-Mustansir (end of the 9th/15th century), was accepted
as a sacred book, perhaps a century after his death. The traditional religious literature of the
Khodjas and the Imam Shahis is known as Satpanth [q.v.] literature, Sat Panth, i.e., True Path,
designating the religion preached in it. It consists of numerous writings in verse form, called
ggnas, written in, or translated into, several Indian languages. Most of them are ascribed to the
medieval pirs, but cannot be dated exactly and probably have undergone changes in the
transmission. They contain hymns, moral and religious instruction, legendary histories of the
pirs, and descriptions of their miracles, but no formulated creed or theology. Their religious
content is a mixture of Islamic and Hindu, especially popular Tantric, elements. While idol
worship is condemned, Hindu mythology is accepted. 'Ali is described as the Tenth Avatar or
incarnation of the deity, and the imams are identical with him. The qur'an is considered the last
of the Vedas, which are viewed as holy scriptures whose true interpretation is known to the pirs.
The religious role of the pir or guru is extolled. Acceptance of the true religion will free the
believer from further rebirths and open Paradise for him, which is described in Islamic terms,
while those failing to recognize the imams must pass through another cycle of rebirths. The
traditional Isma'ili cosmology, cyclical history, and hierarchy are unknown (see W. Ivanow,
Satpanth, in Collectanea I (The Ismaili Society), Leiden 1948, 1-54).
(W. Madelung)

in addition to the works cited in the article: Major aspects of early Isma'ili history and
doctrine are examined in: B. Lewis, The origins of Isma'ilism, Cambridge 1940

W. Ivanow, Ismaili tradition concerning the rise of the Fatimids, London 1942

idem, Studies in early Pesian Ismailism2, Bombay 1955

S. M. Stern, Heterodox Ismailism in the time of al-Mu'izz, in BSOAS, xvii (1955), 10-30. On Nizari
history and doctrine in the Alamut period: M. G. S. Hodgson, The order of Assassins, The
Hague 1955, (fundamental)

idem, The Isma'ili state, in The CambridgeqHistory of Iran, v, Cambridge 1968, 422-82

B. Lewis, The Assassins, London 1967. On the Syrian Nizaris in the time of the crusades: B.
Lewis, The Isma'ilis and the Assassins, in K. M. Setton (ed.), A history of the Crusades, i,
Philadelphia 1955, 99-132. On the history, doctrine, and present state of the Bohoras and
Khodjas: J. N. Hollister, The Shi'a of India, London 1953. Analysis of Isma'ili gnostic doctrine:
H. Corbin, De la gnose antique a la gnose ismaelienne, in Convegno di scienze morali storiche e filologiche
1956, Rome 1957, 105-46

idem, Histoire de la philosophie islamique, i, Paris 1964, 110-51. Analytical bibliography of
published and unpublished Isma'ili works: W. Ivanow, Ismaili Literature, Tehran 1963. General,
but unequal surveys of Isma'ili history and doctrine have been given by W. Ivanow, Brief survey
of the evolution of Ismailism, Leiden 1952

M. Kamil Husayn, Ta'ifat al-Isma'iliyya, Cairo 1959.


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Source: from the Encyclopedia of Islam -- 1999 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands