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1. Diuxm of Khoki Khorasani. Persian text , od. with an

introduction by W. IVI:1,llOW. IH33. RC".l-lO (a8. 6d.)

2. Two Early i8maili q'renti8es tHa]! Babi Bubo RayyidM, and Matlub'll'l-m,u'ndllin by Nuslru'd-din 'I'usi). Persian text, ed. with an introdnetion by W. Ivunow. H133. As.IJ (2,~, Od.)

3. True Meaning of Religion (.Risula dar Haqiqat6 Din), b~ Shihabu'd-diu Shah. Persian text, with fill EllghHh t rn nslat.ion by W. Tvanow. 1933. RI'.L .. 4 (38.)

4. Kalami Pir, or Ha]! Babi Sayyid NaB??'. Persian text ,

ed, U ud translat ed into EngliRh by W. "P~111()W. Hl3o.

R.s.6 .. g (10.9.)

5, Araban Ioi Jaltaz-rani (= A1'ub lV(~vigation), by Hyed

Sulaiman Nadwi. Urdu. 193fi. Re.I (2."" 6d.)

6. Tile Book oj T1'ldh!nlnelJ8 (K itab al-Sidq), by AIm Sa'id al-Kharruz. AI',' bic text I od. and trunslated by A. J, AThC'J'1'Y, 1937. R~.J. (6R.)

7. Al-Hillallatu'l-A71ll"'1·iya. Arabie t ext , ed, with an int.rc-

duetion and notes by ARaf A. A. Fysee. 1938. Rf.!,2 (305. 6d.)

8. Tlte Sony oJ Lovers ('Usl,shaq.Nama), by 'Iraqi. Persian text, ed, and translnted into verse by A. J. Arberry, 19:m.

RH.fi (7b. 6d.)

9. A J."'lhi'ite I'reed, being H, t'l'u,lU:lla.tion of the Risalatu'L.

I'tiqadati'l-lmamiya of Ibn Babnwayhi, by Asaf A. A. FyzPf". 1942. HR 5 (88. 6d.)






concerning the





P ubZished for the Islamic Beseordi' .d88oeintiol' by HUMPHREY MILFORD



PBtNTlIID .IN :tlroU Bl" G. E. BINGBAll



41A. LowmR omolJLA.B BOA]), OALOUTTA


The present work if! an aottempt,-apparently the first of its kind,-to collect, analyse, and systematise as far as possible all the informa.tion contained in the genuine Ismaili literature conoerning the history of the grand Shi lite movement which brought about the foundation of the Fartimid caliphate in N. Africa in 297/909. This work is not intended either to esta.blish or refute the truth of such tradibion, or of the olaima of the

- Fatimids, or anything similar. The information collected here has remained for many oenturies a [ealously guarded secret, and only the changing spirit of modern times has made it possible to obtain aoeess to it. Although every possible effort has been made to render this collection as exhaustive as possfble, it is beyond doubt tha.t Or certain number of references, some of them perhaps of interest. have remained unused. partly because the works ill

. which they arc- found were not accessible, and partly because they are included (as it ofte-n happens in religious works) in the most unexpected contexts, where no one would reasonably search for them, It seems, however ~ almost certain that these would not alter the general picture in a.ny essential way_

If this work should provo useful to students, thiH is ontirely due to the most precious, admirable and unfailing co-operation and support of Illy Ismaili friends. Without their help nothing could ever hsvo been achieved on these lines, It is a, sorrow to me that I am not able to acknowledge here publicly my feelings of profound gratitude and indebtedness to each of them separately. Old prejudices are still by no means dead) and ma.ny of those who have proved their sincere sympa.thy with the oaUSB, and have done very much to BI:l~ist in these reeearches, would not wish to be associated with them in public,

I am immensely indebted to Mr. Ali Ma.homed Mecklal, Lhe President of the Islamic Research Assooiation, with his Exocutive



Committee, for the publioation of this work ill their seriea; and to Mr. A. A. A. Fyzee, for his helpfulness in pleoing a.t my dispossl his most valuable oollection of Manusoripts. My pro. found gratitude is also due to Mr. J. A. B. Palmer for having kindly taken upon himself the dreary task of going through the English of this work.


Bombay, JuZy 1941.



Ta.ble of tl'lWsliteration Abbreviations Bibliographical N otiee Introductory Nate

· .

· .

I. Sources

· ,

II. AI-Ma.hdi, hiR anoefltol'S and fa.lnily

I, The genea.logy of a.!.Mahdi, and his family .. 2. Doubts ra.ised by osoteric and athol' sources s. A portrait of aJ-Ma.hdi

III. Al~Ma.hdi and the "Qa.rma.t.ian" inva.aion of Syria IV. The Fa.timids in propheoies

V. The myth of 'Abdu'l-liih b. Maymiin a.l-Qa.ddilJ. 1, The genesis and evolution of the myth

2. The myth of Ibn a.1.Qaddil) and the Iema.ilia

VI. Translations.,

1. IBtitiiTu'l-Imiim

2. 8it'at J a ~ja'l' aZ-l,1iijib 8. IJtitli~lU'd-da'wa

4. Zahru'l.m,a';;:ni

O. A81'ii'I'I,'n.nulaqii' • ,

6. llfn:jali8 Bayyid-na Hlitim b. Ibrahim

· .

· ,

Genera.l Index

· .

Texts, Arabic (sepul'ltte Arn.bic pagination) , .

1. Shair'!J.u'Z-akhb&'

2. Ghayat'U'I-mawlDJi.d

3. IJ~itiJIJiu'd.da'wa

4. Zah'I'U'Z-ma'lJ.ni

5. AsrtiJru'n-nut.o.q6,'

6. Modalis Sayyid-""G 1jliitim b. Ibm/Wni

PAGE vii


x xi


1 27


45 61

67 95 127 127 140

157 157 184 224 232 275


810-387 I--J 13

1 35 40 47 81



\ i-a, i. 'U, ti; '"':" - b; ~ -'; I.!J -""; [. -j; c:. - b; t - kh ;. .:I-a; ;'-clh; J-r; ;-z: \J"-R; .J.-sh; ~-,; .;--~;. ~-l; ..\;.-,; t-'; t_-gh; ....,-J; J-q; J-1c; J-z; r-m; .j-n; .-h; .J-W, 11, (4); ..s-y,i,ii. Shortvowels: a,i,'u; elision of bhe alif in the definite article: '; basnea: '.


BiluJr = K. Bi~ljjru'l-anwQ;r, by Ml;td Biiqir b. Ml,td Tartl Mo.jIiRY, vol. xiii

(lith. Iltfa.ba.n, 1804/1887).

BSOS = Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studios. E.I. = Encyclopaedia of Islam, English edition .

.IiJ:upotre = S. de Sacy, Exposo de la. Religi.on cles Dl'\t~R, "PariR, IH3S, 2 vola,

(de) Goeje (pronounced: de-Khooya) == M.J. de Goeje, Mt!moil'e sur los CSir:mAthes du Bo.hra.tn at les Fa.timides, Leiden, 1886.

Guide == W. Ivanow, A Guide to Iams.ili Literature, London, 1933.

IstiUir = K. IB"tdN'~-Imiiim., by A1;tma.d b. M1;ld an.Nays&bul'l, ed, by W. Ivanow, Bulletin of the Faoulty of Arts, Egyptian University, vol. iv (1989)t pp. 98-107.

J A - J ournal Asia.tique.

'JBBRAS = J dUl'nal of the Bombay Braneh of tho Roya.l Asiatio Sooiety.

JRAS = J ourna.l of the Roya.l Asia.tio Sooiety. K. = kittib, or aZ-kitt7b.

Mimotre, see undEl'r (de) Gooje.

R. = riBlilat or ar·rialila.t.

(de) 8acy, Bee under Expoge.

Tabari = Anna.les quos Beripsit Abu Djafap' Mohammed Ibn Djarir o.tTaba.ri, ed. M.J. de Goeje (and others), Leiden.

'Umda = 'Umdatu'Halib Jf a.n8iib az 'Ali -ibn. .AM ftllib, by AJ:,mad h. 'All Ibn 'Jnsba, lith. Bomba.y, 1818/1900.

'Uuun = K. 'Uyanu,'L-akhbilr (fDa !u:nlunu'Z-athiir /i dMkri/",·Nabiyyi'LM'l'lJaJf.i."-Mukhtiit', etc.), by Sa.yyid.na 'Imadll'd-din IdrlS b. a.l.:ijaaan h. 'Abdi'I-l8.h b. 'Ali h. Mbd b. ij:atim.


Researoh in any va.st sub] sot, especially pioneer work depending on the gradual discovery of new materials, alwa.ys proceeds by periodioa.l 41 a.dv8rD.ces u, perfecting or amplifying what hed been done ea.rlier. Not rarely the discovery of new fa.cts demands from the student a, complete revision of hie ideas on the subject, or even the undoing of the wodl of months, or years. Such periodical reviR~onB arc quite in the na,ture of things; in faot thoy are nothiDg b\lt a. welcome sign of the progress of 1'esea.rch.

It is thorofore rQgretta.ble to observe that vel'Y often the raal potlitioll of one Rtudenfi remains unknown to other students working in the same field. Ideas or inform.n.tion of his, a.l.ready rendered obsolete by la.ter finds, are Bomatin1es either taken as the basis of now thaol'iea, or disputed and l'efuted with much waste of anergy and time. Such a situa.tion arises not only through the absence of full informo.tion as to the other workel"s publica.tions, but also the l.a.ck of exa.ct knowledgo of the extent to which they have become superseded, or ha.ve lost their value.

For these reasons r would like to suggest t.hat avery publleatlon on a subjeot of resBOrl'ch ought to be furnished with IL bibliographical note containing an up-to-date and completo liAt of all the author'a relevant publications, together with 6 short indication as to the extent to which eBoh of his works, in his own opinion. still preBerves its value, and s£il1 rafieots his views and ideas. Such a practlce, if firmly estebllahed, would obviate ma.n.y mistakes and misunderstandings.

PubZications oj W. ItJanow on 18maiZi BubjectB :

1. ! Ismaili MBS in the Asia.tic Museum of the Russian Academy of Soiences. (BulZetin de Z'Aeademie Impmial des ScienoB8, St. Petersburg, 1917 t pp. 359-386, in Buesian.) Reliable,

2. Ismailiticn., I and II. (Memoi'78 oj the A8iatic SOCiety oj BengaZ, C&lcutta., vel, viii, 1922, pp, 1-76.) Thewol'lt wasthefirstp\\bUaation on Ismaill subieete, and therefore h8.8 become obsolete and unreliable to a luge extent. In Part I the text is roliable, though some emenda.tiona lUo.y be introduced. Mtmy comments are no longer good. In Pa.rt II informa.tion about Isma.ilis in Kel'JDan is very v81UELble, as the conditions have la.tely undergone 0. great oha.nge. The list of the Imams has boen superseded by nos. 13, 18 and 19.



-------------------- ------

8. .An IBIDAilitic Pedigree. (Jouma& oj the ABB, Co.lcmtta, 1922, pp. 403-406.) Obsolete. Cf. no. 18.

4. Ima.m Ism.a.il. (Journal of t"'8 A.BB, Ca.lcutta, 1923, pp. 305-310.) Reliable.

5. Alamut. (Jo'Umal of the Royal Geographical Society, London, 1931, pp. 38-45.) Reliable. Supplemented by no. 21.

€i. An ISllUlrilitio Work by Na'iJiru'd.din Tusi. (JoU1't&al of tke Royal Asiatic Soviet1j, London, 1931, pp. 527-564.) Not quite reliabler it was published before proper a.cqua.inta.noe with Ismaili literature, and the comments Me not alwa.ys correot. I have in my possession now an old WlU corroct oopy of the same work, and hope to edit it.

7. An ISIruIoili Interp-reta.tion of tho Gulslumi Raz.. (Jout'lwl oj "11J Bombay Branol/, of Ute, RoyaZ ... 4.8ia.tio 800ie,0, Bombay, 1982, pp. 60- 78.) Reliable.

8. Notes sur l'Ummu.'l~kitab des Iemaeliens do PAsio Uoniralo. (llB'lJtl6 a88 liJtuaes Jalarn,iqusa, Paris, 1932, pp. 410-481, in l!'l'onoh.) Relia.ble.

9. A Guide to 18Dlaili Litera.ture. (Prize Publication Fu.nd l1B"itJH of tbe R.A.S., no. 13, London, 1933, pp. xii + 138.) Rolio.blo,o.lthough in the course of the in.tervening years much new lIUttOJ'Llll has been found, and many minor deta.ils are to be corrected.

10. Diwa.n of Kha.ki Khorasa.ni. (Persian. text with an introduction. lslamio Res6Q/l'ch A88ociation SerieB, vol. I, 1983, pp, ii+ 20 + 128.) Relia.ble.

11. Two Early Ismaili Trea.tises. (Ha.ft.ba.bi Baba Sa.yyid-na.J and Mat1ubu'l.mu'minin by Tum. 18'lam!io ReB. .lI8800iati0n Smu, vol. II. Bombay, 1933, pp. 9+64.) Reliable.

12. True Mea.nin.g of :Religion. (RisaJa. da.r Haqiqa.ti Din, by Shi.ha,bu'd-din Shah al·HUS&yni. 18Zamie ReB. A880Ciaticm S6"I'iM, vol. III, 1933, pp. iii + 29+ 37 ,Bomba.y.) Relia.ble.

13. Ka.1a.mi Pir or Ha.ft Ba.bi Sa.yyid Nasir. (Persian text with an English translation. I8lamic Reaearoll .A.8Booiation Series, vol. IV, Bombay, 1930, pp. lxvili+ 146+ 117.) Reliable.

14. Artioles in the EnfYJ/clopa.edia oj lelam, Leiden: "Iama.iliyya", C& Bsehidu'd-din Sin.a.n u, II Bohora. H, "Khoja.", etc. Reliable.

US. ~ Creed of the Fa.timids. (Bomba.y, 1936, pp. viii+ 82.) Reliable, although it differs in some points from the tra.ditional interpretation of the present Isma.ili speQiaJists.

16. Umm.u'l-kitab. (Persia.n text with an introduction. Der laZam, Berlin, 1986, pp. 1-132.) Reliable.



17. The Sect of IUlam.Shab in Gujrat. (JBBRAS. Bombay, 1936, pp. 19-70.) Reliable.

18. A Forgotten Bra.uch of the Isma.ilis. (JRAS, London, 1938, pp. 57-79.) Relia.ble.

19. Tombs of some Persian Ismaili Imams. (JBB.BAS, Bomba.y, 1939, pp. 49-62.) Relia.ble.

20. Au Iama.ili Ode in Pra.iso of Fida.wis. (JBBRAS, Bombay, 1935, pp. 63-72.) Reliable.

21. Some Isma.ili Strongholds in Persia (Alaro\lt and Gh'Clkuh). (Islamic OU7J,urB, Hyderabad, ] 938, pp, 383-896.) Bolia.ble.

22. Istitaru'l.Imam and SiJ:a.t Ja'fal' a.l-Hajib. (ATGbi(' text.) (Bullett'll of the li'llC'Ultv oj A'I't8, lHgyptV.lltb Utl'wenity, vol. lV (\~S6), Cairo, 1939, pp. 89-133.) Relia.ble.

23. The Organisa.tion of the Fa.timid Propaganda. (JBBR.AB, Bombay, 1939, pp. 1-85.) Reliable.

24. Imlaili8 and Qo.l'matitmS. (JBBRAb', 1040, ]')p. 43-86.) Relia.blE'. 95. Fltu'ly 8hi'ite MovementH. (JBBR.AS, 1941, PI)' 1-23.) "Reliable.


There is quite a oonsiderable literature concerning Ismailism, its origin, the hlstory of the Fatimid ealiphate, and other cognate ma.tters. Numerous works, mediaeval and modern, are specially devoted to this subjec1i. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that these mattees are generally regarded as well-known, and as oonstituting no problem, not only in the eyes of educated Muha.1D.lD1Ldans, but also in those of many orientalists. It seems therefore to be not quite unnecessary to explain why 0, new publicatdon on these 8ubjeots~ whioh introduoes to the student the original I~mQ,ili tradition~ mey not be superfluous or useless.

The triumph of the Fatimid movement, and the brilli8Jnt CQl'eer of the ea,r1ier Imams who built & great empire in N. Africa and Egypt, undoubtedly belong to the most momentous periods in the history of the Isla.mio :r:tations~ and of Muslim culture in general. Certain activities of the dynasty evoked far .. reaohing 'reperoussiol18, not only within the wide ~ts of the Jslamio world, but even affected the history of tho far away Chlistian

Europe, as in the case of the Orusades, for whioh the policy of some Fatimid caliphs was la.rgely responsible. For all these reasons their history well deserves c8ireful and critical study.

At the same time such a study presents almost unsurmount .. able difficulties. It is not soa;roity of records,-which in fa.ct are a,bundant,-but the absence of reliable guidance to the inner

. logic of the Fa.timid a.otivities whioh makes their history liable to misunderstanding. As Been by the eye ot'the outsider, uninitiated into the complex fabric of the religious base of their authority, their history eppeaes as So fantastio mosaic, composed of the most contra.diotory, conflicting, and apparently incompatible elements. Periods of remarkable military triumphs~ of unprecedented pros .. parity and seourity, unparalleled religious tolerance, patronage of learning, art, and other cultural activities, are ohaotica.lly


intermixed with periods of great national disasters, famines, internal unrest, armed revolts, terrible defeata, a.bject misery, outbursts of wild fanaticism and religious persecution, the unprecedented growth of superstdtdon, extremist beliefs, and so forth. The bewildered historian, from whom the secret inner motives of ma,ny aspeots of tho Fa-timid activities are hidden, is left entirely to his own efforts to make sense of the capricious and bizarre OOUfSB of evolution of the Fatinrid caliphate.

The mediaeval historian obviously could not be expected to re&li~ th.a.t th.e Fa.timid caliphs, in their poaition of semi-divine kings of'the ideal theocratic state, were always under an obltgstion to comply in their actions with certain popular ideas and ide-ala, expeotations and beliefs, following to a great extent tl'a.di .. tional standerde set for their activities, which they could altar only with great diffioulty. Suoh hidden springs of their drama, have up till now remained Inaeoessible to students. In the absence of anything better, the mediaeval historian had obiefiy to rely upon so-celled "thoroughly established fSoots, well known to every one", in other words on mere popular Idees of the matter, founded upon, and oontiD.uously reinforced, ,by the (l,nti~Fatimid propaga.nda. of the Baghdad ca.liphs and their supporters. In the course of the long process of such aemi-spontaneous and eolleotive accumulation of idea.s, and their polishing and adj ustment in the course of oral transmission, a, oonsistent and comprehensive picture of Fatimid affairs WQS evolved, It. well merits a, special study, and its comparison with the origina.l sectarian 'Version, 80 far as tho la.tter can be recovered, sh01VS that in fact it was a. kind of "negabive" version as opposed to the authentio and Iogioal, "positive" version. By a. natural process of condensation of colours, under the pressure of religious sentiment, not only has the story become as ~ whole very dark, but, moreover, f3very "white" spot in the original has been replaced with a corres-

ponding Ie black U, .

Oomparing both these versions, we can draw long lists of such opposite parallels. Ismatllsm, beyond any doubt, was chiefly



based on, and animated by fervent religious sentiment, without which it could have never come into existence :-in the U negative" version it a.ppears as a. doctrine of atheism. It was, also quite undoubtedly, 011e of the most consistent monothelatde systems over conceived by human mind:-the "negative" voeslon declaree thSlt it was really a doctrine of dualism, the "religion of tho Magians" . The central and fundamental ideal of Ismailism, also oommon to various Sbi'ite sects, was tho ultimate triumph of Islam aa the Bole religion of the world, the ultimate union of mankind in U one flock under one shepherd", i.e. the Imam from the house of the Prophet, who alone oan guide long suffering humanity to EL righteous and peaceful life, filling the earth with justioe and equity even as much as it has alwa.ys been :6Jled with tnjuatdce, oppression, and bestiality:-in the "negative" version wo .find that Ismailism was "Invented to blow up Islam from the inside". In the Shifit& doctrine the Alid descent of the Imam was one of the prima.ry and indispensable dogmas :-the U nega~ tfve" version "proves" that al-Mahdi and his suooessors were the descendants of a. Persian heresia.rch, or Or Jew.

In its pure and complete form this version was probably never used by historians who found themselves too often confronted with facts whioh demonatrated its absurdity beyond dispute. On suoh occasions their remedy has been to suggest their own compromise version, or some conjectural explanation, through which gradually gre&t confusion has been introdueed, and now in faot reigns in the litera.ture of the question. Modern researches, based on the same materials, applied the same method. This is why we Ieaen that Ismadllsm, an essentially conserva.tive movement, had a "revolutionary" nature, or was oreated by "Persian natdonalistlo aspirations", while in reality it was probably the most ruthlessly consistent development of the ea.rliest principles of Islam.

The value of the original Ismaili tradition, even of thoee (f crumbs" of it which alone can now be traced in available genuine Ismaili works, lies in its furnishing the background to tho




non-Ismaili information, and yielding olues for the deoipherment of ma.ny of the implica.tions in a mass of material that had rem.a.ined a ohaoa of popular ideas and individual, home-made theories and guesses, usually quite baseless and imaginary. Let there be no illusions about the Ismaili tradition itself: it is profoundly influenced and modified by religious theories, beliefs, superstitions, etc. But there is also no doubt that in the main it preserves a correct idea. of the "skeleton" of events, however fra.groenta.ry such reminiscenoes may be. The present work is an attempt at collecting, systematising, and, as far as possible, elucidating the tradition. We are here concerned only with the hil;Jtory of the Fatimid movement befo'1'e its final triumph manifested in the proelamatdon of al .. Mahdi as caliph, in 297/909, in Raqqada. The reason why this work is limited to this period alone is the diffioulty of undertaking a revision of the entire history of the Fatimids. Strange to say, as far as it is possible to see without special study, Ismaili literature as it survives at present preserves rela.tively much more informa.tion concerning the earliest period thau concerning the history of the eeliphate, That this is not an illusion is clear from the CUyO/fl/u'Z-a7c1ibtiJr of SayYid-ni Idrls who wrote in the middle of the ninth/fifteenth c. The remarkable meagreness of his information, his thorough dependence on general historical titerature, prove beyond doubt that no detailed and genuine historical materials had been preR served in the Ismaili community, probably on account of the

tra.gic end of the dynasty. -

It may be added that long established tradition, grown out of .the religious controversy t has introduced Or certain standard scheme in all works dealing with Fatimid history, even the most modern ones, This scheme oonsists mainly in tra.oing the genealogy of the founder, &l-Mn.hdi, and describing the impious doetrine, preached by the dynasty. The first item is not only due to the faot tha.t for mediaeval authors the history of the state was the history of its kings. It seems that it also la.rgely depends on the fact th.a.t such genealogy occupied l\ very prominent 'J?lace



in the system and works of the Ismailis themselves, beoause the Alid descent of the Imam was one of the most important, dogmaa, while the dark period of "occultation" always evoked certain doubts, and demanded special explanations. In a critical study, quite obviously, the question whether al-Mahdi really descended from the Prophet or not, is hardly essential for the historian. It. will never be solved beyond dispute, and suoh a solution is 0. matter of curiosity only. Even if the Fa.timids roally had nothing to do with the Prophet, they were at any rate universally reeognised as his descendants by their followers, and wore compelled to act according to those standards and rellglous ideals whioh they undoubtedly would have followed, had they been authentic Alida.

The question of the "origin" of Ismeillsm, and its cc founder" does not arise for the Ismalli: the founder is the Prophet, and the origin iR the Divine Revelation of Islam. The mediaeval mentality had no Ideaa of evolution or the colleotive work of geneeatdona, and could not grasp the most complex prooess which formed the full-grown Ismaili doctrine. For mediaeva.l man religious dootrine was alwa.ys eternal, unchangeable, even if founded by the supposed heretics. Therefore the malicious Ibn a.l~Qadda~, who lived in the seoondjedghth c., must be made to invent the Ismadli doctrine of tho fifth/eleventh e., snd later. It is pathetio to study the learned discussions of eritdoal, up-todate scholars as to whether Ibn f11~Qaddi1}. was, or was not, tho "founder" of the dootrine.

With regard to the dootrine itself, and its evolution, the Ismaili tradition, quite naturally, does not give any direct indications; as f8t~ as possible while handling purely religious material, the matter is avoided in the present work. The question can only be trea.ted by means of oritioal and thorough study of the ea.rliest a.vailable Iamaili works. It may be noted, however,

.. that the very faots of the history of the Fatimid movement were by no means something entirely unconnected with its religious evolution. There is not the slightest doubt that the evolution of



the dootrine was inseparably, as body and soul, connected with the development of the political successes of the movement, its expa.nsion, its political aims, and 80 forth. And vice oerea, ideological and political considerations were strongly influenced by the evolving system of dogma, both its theory and popular beliefs. This is particularly notioea.ble in such an important and cardinal point as the doctrine of tho Imsmet, Uncontrolla.ble events in family life could alter the originBrlly simple and oonsistent theories, while the theory itself could influenoe dynastic decisions,

In addition to this there is no doubt that an important process was silently and unostentatiously at work for a long time. The unprecedented successes of tho Fatimids whioh placed them at the head of the whole Shi'ite m.ovement undoubtedly attractod to them a huge number of recruits from various decaying Shi'ite schools. These people brought with them a, grea.t ma.ny ideas which had to be adjusted to, and amalgemated with, the standard Ismaili theory. In faot, it is possible to disoern sometimes quite ole&1'ly that theories snd logical consequence carried little ~eight even in: purely theoretica.l speonlabions, Many theories appear whioh ace indubitably- introduced as 'oompromises, expla.na,ti~ns, or apologies to justify certain acts or changes in the system required. by irra.tiona.l events. All such aJtera.tions are carefully built up in the usual traditiona.l style.

The value of the original Ismaili historioal tradition is not limited only to the chance of a better understanding of the substratum of the doctrinal evolution, arid the course of the events which determined the further destinies of the Fo.timid movement under thell' caliphate. Reliable knowledge of the details of their experiment is of immense importance to the study o~ the major problem of Bhi'ism in general, because the Fatimid osliphete was the only known laege scale instance of the realisation of the Shi'ite dreams and theories conoerning the Alid theocra.tic state.

Under the influence of the "negative" propaganda. version not only mediaeval, but even modern historians acquiesce in the ides tha,~ Ismailism was somet~ differen,t from Islam. They



thus disregard the immensely important faot that in reality it was the leading and the most typical and developed school of Sbi'ism. The latter itself, according to these ideas, was merely & "political" movement, or ra.ther "ubiquitous Alid intrigue" J a. long series of rrsinge on the part of the numerous Alid adventurers, impudently outraging that authority of the Omsyyads and Abbasids whioh had been "ostabliehed by law". Even in the most up-to-date researches we read that only after a. long period of time did Shi'ism begin to develop its own religious doctrine, and even this took the form of absurd and fa.n.ta,sti<l sootMia,n beliefs. Views of this kind undoubtedly require thorough revision.

Beferenoes to the original Shi'ite sources suggest tha.t there was little matorial difference in the dootrine of the va.rious Bhi'Ite sohools (just as there was not muoh difference between Shi'ite and non-Shi'ite Islam) as far as concerns thoir real reUgio'U8 beliefs and forms of worship, apart of those abstruse theosophical speculations with which the ra.nk and file of the community had nothing to do. Ismailiem, under the most able guidance of the early FatimiIDI, achieved a. grea.t success, while all other sects, including the school to whioh la.ter on was conceded rocognition as the "orthodox H Shi'ite doctrine, the Ithna- 'asha.:ri, were disorganised and depleted, lost their influence, and in many cases entirely disappeared.

Ample material means, the position of a sovereign sta.te, and especially the grea.t enthusiasm of the masses, permitted Ismaillsm to develop its dootrine and create 0. large literature to tho extent. which no other branch of Shi'ism could have dreamt of producing at the time. In fact, J smailism a.nticipated many advanced phases in tho evolution of general Islemie thought, which were to appear centuries latee, It was, above all, this prooipita.te advance which created the illusion of the "rupture" with the more backward circles of Islam. In rea.lity it was a grave disservice to Ismailism because it furnished the pretext for



propeganda whioh misinterpreted their philosophy, and raised the cry tha.t the movement was c, outsido the pale of Islam ".

From & purely oritical point of viow, Ismailism was undoubtedly the most catholic and highly developed form of Shi'ism, and is thus invaluable for the study and understanding of the Sbi'ite mind in general, The part of the la.tter in Islamic cultural progress was resolutely obscured by anti-Bhi'ite sources, and its real extont and implioationa are only now beginning to dawn upon us. Thera is no doubt tha.t serious researches will inevitably bring to light muoh more ma.terial which will necessitate & thorough revision of existing ideas and theories, and, as a result, the rowl'iting of many pages in tho history of the Islamic civilisation.


It appears that every reference to the Ismailis found in general Iiterature has already been brought to light, and no Important and substantial materials remain unused. A complete bibliography was published. in ] 922 by L. Ma ssign on, in his "Esquisse d'une Bibliographie Qn.rmate" (in the "Volume of Oriental Studies presented to Professor E. G. Browne", pp. 329- 338). Additions to his list have of late been published periodically by A.. A. A. Fyzee, in the JBBRAS, Bombay, in 1935, 1936 and 1940. These lists include the Iamaili and non-Ismaili Islamic works, and tho studies by different orientalista,

Most probably all early non-sectarian authors, when wrlf.,ing about the origin of Ismailism and the Fatimid dynasty, when they do not offer their own theories, derive their informa.tion from a. few original sources. And these themselves are ultimately based on a few Ismaili works, especially the Iftita1).u'd.da,'wa of QaQiNu'Ul8.n (cf. further on), or perhaps soma other early authors whose names have not come down to us. The information derived. from these early works was gradually adulterated by various additions, or perversions of the original statements, or "condensation", or intensification of the alleged horeticism. And finally, when numerous versions were in oiroulation, these were still further perverted under the influence of different theories, so that ultimately lost all historical value. To trace this prooess, and to oxtraot and systematise all th,at hitherto has been made acceasible to students in this matter, would be an exceedingly useful work. It would form a fascinating subject for a doctorate thesis, or the initiaJ work of a serious research student, working somewhere within easy reach of a. large and up-to-date library .

With genuine Ismaili sources remaining inaocessible, and

general sources being much adulterated, fragmentary, and ofte


perfectly worthless, the works of different orientalists mostly were "movements ill darkness". Except few they 1110Stly preserve any value only as raw lllatoria.l,-in so far as they edit or translate orlginal aourees, either IsmaiIi or non-Ismaili. In their own conolusions and deductions different authors usually place too much confidence on the "contemporary testimony", despite the obvious fact that it is seriously corrupted by bitter. religions and political jealousies and enmities. The result was that the same hostile attitude crept into, and continued at work, in what were intended as critical and perfectly impartial studies. Thus,. in spite of'more than 0. hundred years of researoh, and the publication of many interesting contributiona, the problem remains as insolu ble as it was in the beginning.

Genuine Ismaill works have been not entirely unknown in European libraries for many decades past. But, strangely, they never attra.cted the attention of the students to the extent whioh they really deserved.t And now tha.t a.t last the way has been opened to direct acquaintance with Isma.iIi 1itoratlU'8, we may take stock of what is generally available. It would be proper to say that· genuine Ismaili literature, being, ent~ely religious in its interests, .oompletely ignored history. Its authors and readers lllost probably relied on the general historical works. AB shown further on, there Is, for the earlier period, strictly speaking, only one historical work,- QiQi Nu'man's Iftitalyu'd-dtJ,'wa. The next group of works, whioh to some extent may yield historioal information, is hegiologieal tradition. This group also oontains ,"ery few works. The next, also very limited group, is that of works on controversy,-just a few that contain allusions to historical faots. Finally S}OID6B the material which forms the main contents of Ismadli literature, namely the esoteric specula .. tlons, ZUtqii,'·iq. Here, in the mystic twilight, facts and things of this world lose t.heir ordinary features and outlines, laws of logic and commonsense often disappear, and we enter the enchanted

• I

1 Of. further on, the beg. of Cha.pter V.


zl.B:IR AND BA.'rIN.

. ,


realm of dreama, mirages, visions, symbola, and the moat uncere .. monious twisting a.nd falsifioation of history.

However, gonuine historical information iR 80 scarce in Isma,ili literature that we cannot afford to neglect or diRl.'Bgawl anything, and must do our bost to avoid overlooking all interesting indioation merely on account of its being disguised in religious gaTb.

There is an important matter to be noted about these esoteric works, as about the exoteric and esoteric marters in general. Every stltdent of Isnlailisln must properly realise th e fact that the terms ,aM?' and biitin, i.o. exoteric and esoteric, do not completely coincide with the terms "plain" and U secret". There are things which have nothing to do with esoteric mattera, and ytit are kept secret, and there are many esoteric doctrines which are not concealed.

The ~likir matters kept secret are mostly those which are either un1lattering to the Ismailis, or which do not :fit in wit.h their religious theories, or which are suppressed because they would stir up enmity in their opponents if they reached their knowledge. Sometimes such ,ahi?' matters thus kept secret are really surprising, e.g, the names of different hereeiarohs, or of erring and heretical aeota. Books are written to refute their doctrines, but their names are omitted I

It would be better to understand the term ¢.16ir as "general Islemio " ) or simply " general H, while the terms ba~inl and lJaqri/iq may be taken as meaning "specially Ismadli ", There is no special secret about elementary esoteric doctrines, although generally everything in Ismaili doctrine and Ismaili literature is regarded as secret: it should not betaken outside the community, But real seorecy, even within the Ismaili community, is reserved only for those books which require a considerable amount of education and religious training to insure the reader against the

1 The te1'lll b{#in is mostly used. in genuine Ismo.ili works M a substantive, in the sense of the inner mooning revealed by ta'wll. 01' allegorioal intelpreta.tion. Apparently it is never applied to the works, 01' doctrines,



misfortune of being misled through misunderstanding them. A well .. known example may suffice: the Encyclopaedia of the Ilihwanu' ,-~afa, copies of which one can buy in allY bookshop, is regarded as "secret" ,1

There is another point to be made clear. It is generally believed that information preserved in esoteric works is more' reliable than that in the ~ahir works, because esoterio works are . intended for the "chosen few", not for the "duped, fooled, and fleeced " masses. This would be perfectly logical; but ill fact it is entirely erroneous, in so far as it refers to historioal matters, not to religious. However surprising this may appear J the real case is the reverse of this.

Where we have an opportunity to c0!llpa,re the versions of one and the same event as found in the ;anir and in the lpaqa'iq works, we find very often tha.t these versions differ oonsiderably, not only as to the details, but as to the substance, and that the esoteric version for the most part is a favourite folk-lore motive, 01' simply a superstitious fiction, based on tho mystioal meaning of numbers, association of individual letters, etc. 'J:he best illustrations can be derived from two well-known works of one and the same highly authorita.tive author, Sa.yyid-ni Idris,-h~s ~tihi1' work 'Uyunu'l-akhbolr, and his 'esoteric treatise Zalwu'l-ma'ani. In the Oha.pter xvn of the la.tter there is given what ma.y be celled the "secret Hand esoterio version of the-history of the Imams, aoeounts of their real position, importance, etc. One tyPioal example will suffice.

Every student of Ismailism knows the historical acoounta of tha.t fa.t-eful night when the aged aJ-JY.[UBta.n~ unexpectedly died after a, short and a.pparently not very serious illness, and the princes and other dependents were urgently summoned to the palece only to find that the all-powerful commander in chief had.

1 I ha.ve already suftloiently explained tlrls in the introduction to my uGuide to Isma.ili Litera.ture u. p. 19 sq., and during the yeMs which have elapsed sinoe its publica.tion I have not found anything to make me a.lter

my opinion. '



alrsluly placed his own son-in-law, tho youngest prince Musta/Ii, upon the throne, and required. them to take the oath of allegiance to him. There. are different versions of what had roally ha.PPOllOO, - quite naturally, indeod. But it is quite clear that the eldest prince, the original heir apparent, Nizar, under one prote:x:t 01' other, escaped, and took refuge in Alexandria, claiming hia rights. The events happened in the full light of history, and there is very little doubt as to their real trend.

But this is what we find in the esoteric version, reserved for the "trusted few" only, and withheld from the ma.sses: when Mawla-na. al .. MuBta~ died, his sons came together, and started to dispute as to their rights to succeed him. No decision could be reached, Then Dhfi/Z-jiqar (or Dhii'l-jaqar), the legendary sacred sword of 'An, was produced (from the unseen ~). All princes in fnrrn tried their utmost to unsheath the sacred sword, but in vain, At last al-Musta'li made an a.ttompt. And lo! The sword came out smoothly and easily. Thus it was oleer to overy one present that al .. Mnsta.'li had the right to succeed.!

This popular motive of many fairy tales of different nations, should, according to the ideas mentioued above, be taken ill preference to the ,aki?' versions. And there are many similar oases. If any valuable information can be gathered from esoteric works, it can only he derived from careful analysis of different eontradiotory statements, lapses, passing referonces "out of the focus of attention", etc. It must be made an elementary general rule never to trust esoteric and mystio authors, unless their sta.tements are supported from other fJOlU'08S. The ,ani" version should always be preferred, where there is a oonfllct between the two.

Mystics, and believers ill esoterio matters, live in a, different world, of different values. Their logic and judgment are com .. pletely dominated. by religious emotions, and if these olaeh with

1 Cf. also the Introducsion to al.H'Iddyatu'l-Ami'loiyya, ed, by A. A. A.

Fyzee, pp. 14.15.


faots, the facts have to give way to the aentiment. Going through what ma.y be called the esoteric interpretation of history, in general and individua.l cases, one finds in esoterio works falsiflca. .. tion and twisting of facta to be a rule, to which there are but few exceptionR. Facta are made to fit spurious prophecies, mystioal. theories about the symbolism of numbers, astrological predictions, religlous ideas, and popular superstit ions. The idea of conveying unvarnished truth to the chosen few, for whom such works are intended, is perfeotly alien to thE.' mystic mind; and there a..re no limitB to the lllPst unscrupulous falslfication.

Tho earliest historiC's,l work in Ismaili literature, and apperently the only one which is almost completely free from religioua adjustlnent of facts, is the Ijtitrllpu'd-da'wa wa ibticLc.i'u'cL-dalWw,J completed in the beginning of 346/957, by the groat juriHt and theologian of the early Fatimids, "QaQi Nl1~lnin '\ Le. Abu l;Ia.nifa an-Nu'man b. Mubammad at·Tamimi (who diod in a63/974)~ cf. Guide, no. 103. The author, a native of Qn.yl'o,wa.n (near the present TUlllS), entered the service of al-Ma.hdi in 313/9255 Le. about fifteen years after his enthronement, It is therefore quite natllt&l to find in his work complete familioirity with local conditions.

His book was a,pparently intended fOT the general public as muoh as for the Iarnsilis, and probably was not kept secret ill Fatimid times. The author does not enter in this work into the diacussion of the religious aspect of the campaign of the founders of the dynasty, or their religious claims, It seems that all informs .. tion about the conquest of N. Africa by the Fa.timids, found in different works of general Iiterature, is direotly or indireotly derived from this source. It is very plea.aa.n.t to hear that Dr. B. Lewis, as he twioe mentions in his H Origins of Isroa'ilism. " (pp. 16 and 75), is preparing an odition of it. There are several copies of the work in Europe, and it really deserves 8. good edition.

The author takes matters from the point of view of a general historian; contrary to the habit of the great ma.jority of Jslamio

18TlTlltu'L-lM 1M.


historians, he does not write a laudatory account of the events whioh centred round the subject of his glorification. His master, a.l~Mahdi, appears on the stage only in the last part ofthe book. For this reason, a.lthough the work is direotly connected with our subjeot, i.e. the ca.reer of al.Ma.hdi, it gives very little information which can be used in the present study,

Apparently the Influence and popularity of this early work was responsible for the appearance of other writinga on historical subjeota, and, beyond doubt, of the 18titii.1"u/Z.lmam, compiled under al- 'Aziz (365-386/975-996) by ~mad h. Muhammad (or Ibra.him) a.n-Na.YEliLbiiri (probably a Persian), cl', Guide, no. 112. He is tho a.uthor of several well-known theologioal works: his Ithbo.tu'lRlmJiJrnat, and o,z-Zaki'ra Ii ma'fifati'd-daTi'Z-iikhw'o, (of. Guide, 114 and 115) are very popular, while another of his works which seems to have been very interesting, al .. Mujizatu'l.kajiya (Guide, 113), on the organisation of the .Fa-timid propaganda, is preserved only in the quotations in the Tu1)Jat'l.I.'Z-qulub ,1

There is no doubt that he knew the IjtitiilJ, a.s may be seen from the passage at the end of the work, in which he refera to the further [oumey of al-Mahdl, and his being looted by brigands near ~a.hiina:2 It is quite probable that his purpose was to supplement the Iftit(1). with information which it did not contain, na.moly the antecedents of al-Mahdi before his experiences in Sijilmasa.

With the kind collaboration of my friends, Dr. P. Kraus, Dr. Kamil ij:usaYll, and Mr. Ji[ . .A. ',ami, this work, together with the Biro, of Ja.'£ar al .. ij:ijib, has been edited by main tho "Bulletin of the Faculty of Arts of the Egyptian University" (for 1936, issued in 1939, pp. 93-133). For technical reasons it was impossible to publish a transla.tion and notes together with the text; therefore the English version is given further on in the present volume.

1 A summary of this~ and differont detaila are offered ill my papal', "The Orga.nisation of the Fatimid Propegande ", JBBRAS, 1930, pp, 1-3":;, s Cf. llItititr, text, p. 106.


It must be ca1'efully noted that in all translations given }tetts the beginnings of the corl'e8ponaing pages of tke original A,tabic text are marked by heavy type figure8. Refere.nces in the indea: to 8UCh, combined text-and-tra-nslation 'Unit8 are given in keavy type. 11'11

he ea8e of the Istitar and Siro. the original Arabic text is that 0/ the edition mentioned above.

'I'hero are works which produce all extremely good .fir8t impression, inspiring complete confidence as to their reliability and trusbworthinees. Thil'l, however, completely evaporates at tho nrHt touch of oritical analyaia, Works which are in the reverse position 1.\1:6 much rarer. And one of Lhese aeoms to be the 18titar. Its author, as may be soan from Us shortness and ccRkGtchine~s", apparently did not atta.ch niuoh Importance to

his work, and neither apparently did lnany generations of the Ismailis: iL was a pleasant trifle, sufficiently religious in contents to be preserved in a thoroughly religious literatul'e, but not serious enough to attraot the unwelcome attention of falsifiers. It wa.s this circumstance whioh proteoted and preserved it to this da,y.

The first impression of the 18titfitr, as 6"1Sry one oan see for him.s&lf by reading its translation here without comments, is very POOl't-it looks as if it had been written speoially for entertainment, with no regard to historioal truth. It seems to be ra.ther superfioial, sacrifioing too much to dramatisation of the na.rrative, Introducing many details which are olosely reminisoent of the Arabian Nights., But a.ll this vanishes when we study carefully whAt it conta.ins beneath the outer entertaining form, by aorutdnising every statement, and collating it with available reliable sources.

OnLy then does it become clear tha.t in the 18titar We have precious crumbs of Information about a. period which is a lost world in history, information whioh cannot be found anywhere else, a.nd which was saved from inevitable oblivion by the desire of Sayyid~nl A\tmad an-Na.ysibiiri to offer his readers an entertaining piece of reading. Legend oocupies a prominent



part in his narrative, but this probably was all that he could find.

Taking the story of the events for which we have an excellent source of information, tho Annal« of Tabari~ who was himself a contemporary, we must admit that not only does th e version of the lstita1" seem. to be perfeotly reliable, but, pieced together with what is found in Tabari, it permits us to reconstruct the picture of the time with rare completeness and convinoing inner logic. Ta.ba.ri's reports are substa,ntial, but lack cohesion a.nd inner 00 .. relation, When combined in one with the version found in the Istilllr, things that are obscure and isolated in his Annals at. once appear in their true light.

Scrutinizing details, it is easy to see ~ha.t such small but rather importa.nt indications as references to local conditlons, distances between places mentioned in the story, etc., leave no doubt as to the author's perfectly reliable knowledge" of the country, The narrativo itself, with different deta.i.1s which would not be very flattering to early Ismailism, such as the defection of the chief dii,'i, or the strange behaviour of some of al~Ma.hdi's assoeiates, shows a sincere intention to give a true version, as far, indeed, as tho religious mentality of the a.uthor permitted it. All this makes the reader change his a.ttitude oompletely, and, what is very important, inspires a certain amount of confidence also in those portions of the story which refer to much earlier events,- • that dark period which followed. the death of' Muhru.umad b. IsmiL'il.

As we shall see later on, all early Ismaili sources which are acoosaible now, refer with great obscurity to the intervening links between Mub.a,mluad h. Isma'il and al-Me.hdi, the "three concealed Imams", without mentioning their names. Apparently it was a. grave sin to mention their names. .Anyhow, this was avoided. .And although there probably were soma early hagiologlcal works ill which legends about these eairly Imams were collected,-the reports which are incorporated ill the fourth


volume of the 'UyUrn/u" .. akhbar of Sa.yyid .. na Idris,l-it is obvious that such information, for some obscure r&lLSODs, was not popula.riaed amongst the masses. It seems probable, however, tha.t this work was the only source of Sayyid. .. na. Idris f01" the Informa .. tion about the second haJf of the third/ninth c. In any oaae, he derives some Ntorie~ from the 18titar, and hes nothing to add from elsewhere. We sha.ll refer to the oontents of this work while disouasing tho Iamaili version of the genealogy of a.1·MfLhdi.

Next comes tho Si,a, 01' autobiography of Ja.'fn.l' a,l-liIa.jib, whioh usua.lly forms one small volume with the ]8titaf'. Ii was, most probably, composed ea.rlier than the latter, probably in the beginning of the reign of al·'Aziz (365-886/975-996), by Mu1.unnmad b. MUOMlllllad arl-Ya.mani. In 81ny eaae it was composed after 346/957, the rla.te of the completion of bho Tftititl}, to which it refers (p. 125 of the text) under the title of Kitab fl ibtitk'i'd-da'wati'#~1'dlibi'Y1Ia (for soma reason tho author avoids tho use of such terms as Fa.~imi, 'Ala.wi, ete.).

The student ma.y at first feel eusploious about this work.

The figure of al .. Mahdi~ aJ.though hishorioa.l beyond all doubt a.fter his enthl'onement~ is something like. a pha.ntom before this date,nothing is oertain about him, his career bofore he is proolaimed caliph. And here we find a detailed story of his departure from Sa,!smiyya, and different details of his esperiences ; it looks odd: he laughs, ea.ts, has a. haircut, buys slaves, ate. But, just as in

• the case of the 18titil1', there is no doubt as to the genuineness of the work: it is too clover and sophistioa.ted. for a falsification. There a.re oases of falsification in Ismaili litera.ture. To mention one,-the "autobiography" of Nifi,ri Khusr&w in the Ka~ Ptr. But the fact of falsifioa.tion leaps to tho eye from every word of it. In tho mra of Ja.'far there is too much exaggeration of the author's own part; his personal matters block too much the vision of the events a.nd the figure of his master. But this is

1 Cf. my "Isma,uis a.nd QMma.tia.ns" J JBB'RAS, 194-0, pp. 43-85. where the story of Bayyid -ni Idrfs about Mu1;La.nunad b. IStna.cil and his sons :is tl'a.nala.ted.



. exactly wha.t we should. expeot : the work obviously was Wl'~tten to remind the old aervanb's masters about his exceptional aervieea. 'The point-of view of the author of the opuscule, looking at his plaster and the events in whioh he participated from the position -of an old intimate servant, and of the domestic occurrences, with which he was primarily concerned, is perfectly genuine. There is no sign of its being artificially introduced,-it seems sincere from the beginning to the end. It is also vary interesting tha.t .on several occasions the author plainly confesses tha.t he cannot remember correctly owing to remoteness of the events.t Mare-

"over, the compiler carefully notes all cases in whioh informatdon was received not directly from Ja,'far, but indirectly, through .some one else.2 For all these reasons I do not think there oan be a.ny doubt as to the work being on the whole a genuine dooument of the time. It seems also that the text is quite weH preaerved, without any traces of attempts to interfere with it. In my edition I used several independent copies, and recently eollated it with yet another copy, belonging to my friend A. A. A. Fyzee. and dated 1155/1742, finding no braces of real variants.8

The work contains many interesting details, and, if we ha.ve to admit its genuineness, it means that together with this we ha.ve to admit tile genuineness of the account of the hero,,al-Mahdi. A oomplete translation of the original is given further on, and BIn a,nalysis of its contents, in so far as al-Mahdi is concerned, is given in the chapter dealing with his genealogy,

It may be added here tha.t although the Bira of J a'fnr never mentions Ustadh J awdhar, and his Sira~ just as the latter never refers to the former, there must be some oonneotdon between both these works. It is difficult to discover who originated the idea of oompiling such a work, whether al-Ma~iir al-JawdharJ, the secretary of Ja.wdha.r, or the- compiler of the Siru, of Ja'fa,r.

1 Of. pages 120, 123, 127. 2 Cf. pages 124J 120, 127.

a The different readings are given in the footnotes to the corresponding places of the transla.tion, and the copy is called F.


Ustiidh Jawdha.r, a court slave, one of tho ~aqaZiba a.t Baqqada, entered the service of a.lwMa.hdi after his triumph over theAghla.bids. He WELlS a.pp&rently a. sort of an accountant or sooretaey. Lator in hiM life he occupied position of trust, and held high rank ill the service of the Imams. As may be Been on many oocasions, his religions position was quite exceptional.! His SiraJ diotated by himself to his secretary, is muoh bigger than that of Ja'far. But while the latter reads like the soenario of & high cla.ss historica.l film, the SiTa. of Ja.wdha.r is in.to16t&bly boring: the elements of self adveetdsoment and of emphaeis on his own importenoe are incomparably more prominent here than in J a'far's memoirs. It contains nothing which is of use to us ill our present research, beoause during the reign of o,J. .. Ma.hdi,. the author was too young, and originally had no eonneetdon with Ismailiam ; he only came in touoh with politieel Iife at a much later period. The only redeeming feature of his work is the large number of quotations from the origiual papers of the Fatimids connected ~th their financial and administrative policy; although mercilesaly abridged, they may well deserve a careful investiga.tion by students of the internal policy of the early Fa.timids.

Passing from historical and biographical works to those on Ismaili religious tradition, we must first of all m.ention a most Important compendium produced by the same QaQ.I N u 'miin,the 8karl"'lll~akkbar. As luay be seen from references scattered in the text, it was one of the latest works of the Iesrned QaQ.i. In any case it was composed after the Iftita1)., Da'a'Vmu'l-I81iinn,. and GlwMajtJlis wa'l.mU8a1larat, which are referred to. Thus it was probably completed some time between 350/961 and 860/97I.

This is one of the earliest compendia of Shi'ite tradition, obviously based on a number of ea.rly works subsequently lost. It therefore deserves the most careful study. Some of its sec ..

1 Cf. further on, in the enracts from the Zahru'Z·mactJra by Sayyid.ni Idris. when he deals with the biographies of a.l·Ma.hdl and al~Qi'im. The story is of unique interest.



tiona, especially those dealing with early Shi'ite movements, deserve special nobice.! It forms two bulky volumes of about .a. thousand pages or more altogether, andis divided into sixteen parts (juz'). We are here concerned chie~y with parts 14 and 15. The first deals with tradition concerning the Imams, from J a' far ~-ea.diq to a.1-Mahdi. Part 15 contains prophecies and supernatural signs proving the high mission of al-Mahdi; the first half of this part contains an interesting collection of early popular beliefs and expeotatdons connected with the Shi'ite dream; the second half consists of paraphrasea of the corresponding portions of the Iftita;q., repeating the story of the mission of Ibn ~a.wsha.b, i.e. Ma.llf}fuu'I.Ya.man, with hia extraordinaey successes, and thei1'


oontinua.tion by the other dtZ'i, Abu 'Abdi'l-la.h ash-Shi'i, in the

Maghrib. Only one passage, edited in original Arabic further on (Texts, pp. 31-34), is conoerned with our present reseaeoh. The further possibility may be mentioned tha.t casual references

. to the same matters of some interest ma.y be gathered from a careful examination of other works of Qa.«;li Nu'min,-such a.s aZ-Majalia wa'Z-mlUJJaya.,at, or aZ-Manaqib Zi-ahl bayt RaauZi'Z-liik (cf. Guide, 1108. 100, l02), although the information yielded by .the examination of these bulky works lnay be very small.t

The next item to mention is the 'Il yunu'l-akkbar of Sayyid-na Idris ('Imadu'd-din Idrls b. al-Hasan, the 19th dri,'i of the Yaman, d. 872/1468, of. Guide, no. 258). The work is in seven large volumes, and the portion with which we are here concerned is the end of the fourth vol. (oompleted in 842/1438), and the beginning of the :fifth. Compared with a. brillia.nt mind suoh as tha.t of Q8.Q.i Nu'ma.n, we have to deal here with a muoh inferior intellect. The a.uthor's narrow Yam8J.ute outlook, llis super-

1 or, my paper "Early Shi'ite Movements ", JBBRAB, 1941, pp. 1-23. i Q84I Nu'min composed a. work speciaJ.ly devoted to the religious aspects oftha oareer of a.1-MahdJ.- the Mu,'iilimu'l-Malu:li (cf. (Juide. 101). Unfortuna.tely, it is lost; therefore it is difficult to deoide whether the oorresponding pa.ges of the Bhm'(IIU'l-akhbtitr are based on it (as other parts are based on va.rious other ea.rlier works oftha author) ; or whether, perheps, what is now trea.ted as a. separa.te book, is in reaJity an extract from the ShM1yu'l-akhbfiAo •



stitiouaneaa, his irritating method of never mentioning the sources, either Ismaili or non-Ismalli, which he freely uses, his readiness, to pasa at a moment '9 notico from historical narrative to the preaching of elementary and well-known religious matters, make his work extremely disa.ppcinting. On fuller analysis this improssion gains strength. Tho first four volumes are almost completely copied from the Skarq.u'Z-akhbfiR", with occaaional patches borrowed from other works. The aocounf of al~M.ahdi is a. verbatim oOPY of the IJtitri;lJ. His concealment of his sources is very treaoherous: it is impossible to be certain on many ooca.sions whether the source is Ismadli, 01' antd-Iamaili. In any case, his work must bo handled. with special oaution.,

This list really exhausts the hiatorioal works in lsmaiIi literature concerned with our period. Tho bulky 8iwth vol, of the well-known Kit{j,bu'l-(J,zl~ar (Guide, 275), by a highly talonted Indian Ismaili, ~asall b. Niil}. b. Yfisuf h. Mu1}.omtnad of Bharueh (Broach) (d. 939/1533), dealing with tho historical matters, yields nothing new. It is very lengthy (over 1350 pages), and is a. collection of quotations from the C Uyunu'l.akhbar. Anothor modern work, also by a.n Indian, Shaykh Qu~b Burhanpftl'i, who flourished towards the end of the XIlth/XVlllth c. (of. Guide, no. 335),-Muntaza'u'l-akhbar, is merely an epitome of the C Uyilnu'l-akhbar, to which, as a second volume, is added a concise history of the post-Fatimid period, based on different sources. This later part seems to be of more value, for its particular subject.

To pass from works on religious tradition to esoterfo works

is like passing from n. religious school to the temple itself. In

tradition there may be something new, some aoquisition of fresh information. In esoterio and dogmatic works one bas to deal with things eternal, revealed by God, unohangea.ble and not to be criticised. The purpose of the authors of the different works is not to convey new knowledge, but to explain and present in a. more attra.ctiveJ convincing and clearer form those eternal truths, which are already well known to the adherents of the sect, This



is the sphere of religious art, in which the question of "how " is everything, because (C what " is already known. Every author: vies with the other ill the invention of novel ways to pI'ove what· has been already proved differently a hundred times. As usual ill such matters, the earliest works are invariably the more original and a.ttractive by reason of their freshness and sincerity. Gradually; in the course of time, these writings become more and more overgrown with habitual associations, routine, and ilnitation j they become stereotyped, pedantic, petty minded, soulless. III Ismaili esoteric literature it is only in the earliest period that one finds erudite works such as those of Abu ~ittinl Rizi and :e:a.midu'd-din Kirma.ni, full of real philosophic effort •. Later on the spirit evaporates, a.nd the speculations degenera.te· into manipulation of ready made ideas and sentences. Still later ,. in the provincial surroundings of the Yamall and the ata.gno,nt atmosphere of tho middle ages, crude superstition spreads. very widely. From the ea.rliest simple and clea.r works one passes by degrees to ponderous volumes which claim to be the most secret reveletiona of extraordinary mysteries. A good example is the 8hwmil8u'~w~iihira by Sayyid-ni ~atim. b. Ibl'a.hilll (d. 596/1199), of. Guide, no. 205. Here, side by side with the most abatruae speculations on tho system of emanations, and on the mysteeies of the creation of the universe. one meets the most learned and ponderous disoussions of suoh important questions aa. why, according to the words of Ja'fa.r t1lil .. eidiq, the Jinn do not like the proximity of a, bath-house (bammam), and flee from the·

place in which one is built 11 .

In esoteric speculations connected with the subjeot of' our research several matters should be noted. The most important is wha.t may be called the symbolical parallelism of events. Whatever the true history of the Imams, their genealogy, suo .. cession, eto., these had to be nothing but a complete parallel and

, .

1 As is known, Fatimid Isma.iliem l'6gards the ideas of the Jinn and a.ngels as abstractions. denotlng certain natural and cosmic energies. The, whole mat.ter is therefG~e flo highly o.batruse speculation.



repetition of tho evonts connected with the precursore of tho Imama and Prophets. Generations 0 r learned Ismuilia, including a. man as really clever as QaQi N u'ma,n, wasted their t.inIS and -energy with amazing persistence in tracing such paralleliam in the legends of the great prophets of ancient times. J L the Founder of Islam loft as his suooesaor cAli, according to the Shi'ite doctrine, it was because his remote ancestor Abraha.ln hsd done this or that with his son Isma.'il, etc. The idoa. is traced through the legends of aJl the prophets, from Adam onwards, and hugo efforts a.re expended. in foroing these into uniform terms. It may be noted that such reference to precedenta in religious history is a. prominent feature of tho Coran UsoU'; the Ismaills only carried the method to its extreme. In such Hpoouln .. tiona all difference between the historic case and its legendary prototype gradually disappears, and the sense of ]'oaJ.iLy iH often lost: IS the author referring to Isma,'il h. Ju'far, tho Ismail! Jmam, or to ll:ima'il son of Abraham ~ All thib seriously all'ootH the reliability of historical information, bocauae, eonsoiously or unoonsoiously, the anthora of the esoterio works force the real events to resemble as much as possible the circumstances in the legend. Sometimes hlstorioal personages are referred to under the names of their :Bibllcalprototypes. A quotation (Texts, p. 81-106) from one of such ta,'wil works, by Ja.'far h. Mau\\ii:ri'l- Yaman, is offered ; it olearly shows how much confusicn can be introduced by enthusiastio praotitioners of this method.

The second important point is the superstitious belief in the mystical implioations of numbers. The belief is obviously of i.n1mense a.ntiquit.y, based on one of the most fundamentel properties of the human mind. Rhythm, the sense of symmetry and dissymmetry) obviously is one of the most primitive elements of our spatial perception. It is quite natura.l tha.t its projeotion npon the perception of the universe should have worked at all times as & powerful stimulus to human ouriosity. Pythagoras with his numerous successors was one of ma.ny 6&rly sagee to ta.ke up the ma.tter very seriously. The middle ages, with their



oa.bbaJiatio speoula.tions, had a :firm faith in the reality of suoh a rhythm. of things in the visible world. In the esoterio Ismaili doctrine this idea is a,n indisputable assumption. Henoe springs the "Sevenership" of the IsmailiS, and all their dootrlnes of seven Na,iq8, seven lmiinns, eto,l The force of these superstitious ideas was immense, and historioa.l fa.ots were bent and twisted merci- 1essly to fit them. AstrologioaJ speoulatdons, to some extent also oonneoted with suoh numerical perlodiem, also 'contributed very muoh to the falsification of)1istory, as de Goeje has already carefully elucidated it 'in his "Memoirs U (pp. 69-73). I a.m giving an extra.ct from the late esoteric work, ZaJl,ru/Z .. ma'li,ni," by Sayyid-nit Idris, whioh is a typical example of this mentality. There was another form of the same numerical mysticism. in the speoula.tions. regarding the number values of different names found in the system of the Druzes. In the IsmaiIi system it seems tha.t they were not so popular.

Apparently'the earliest esoteric work whioh contains Borne iD.formation useful for our purposes is a mystio work of Sa,yyid-D§, Ja'fa.r b. M~iiri'l-Yaman, the famous author of highly valued

1 However stra.nge this may Bound, the early boliefs in the cyole of

Seven. Imams, and tha.t the expeoted Messiah would be the SBVentl" of them, were shared by the Ithna.- 'o.sharis. Th~ great oompendium of the Bhi'ite tradition. the Biq,clrutl-anwiir of l\[o.jlist (vol. XIII). in dealing with the 1)aditks and akhbar predicting the advent of the Mahdi, quotes several prophecies ill. which h$ is expected to be "the son of six" (ibn 8illa). The author tries to offer his own explanations, whioh are not in the least

convincing. , .. _ , "

a Usua.lly ~he title is pronounoed Zah,-u,'t-ma14ni (with a in Zalw).

But Dr. Zooid Ali, Professor of Ara.bio in the Nizam College, Ha.yda.ra.ba.d, himself a Bchora, bas kindly explained to me tha.t all l8amea Bohoras pronounce it Zulu', with 'U, because the word is the Plural from (Jzhar, •• bri1Iia.nt, shining, bea.utiful' I • To me this seems sonalble, because the work deals with many subjectst praotica.lly covering the whole field of ISJD.8,ili dogmatics. Therefore the title suoh a.s CI (Many) beautiful Ideas" (or subjects) wouki' a.pp,eo.r to be more "a.ppropria.te than U A ;flower of ideas", in case we read Zahru l-ma'ani. But there is no doubt tha.t there are no rules or logiosJ grounds in the choioe of florid titles of works in Arabic. In addition to this, there is a. genera.l tendency in Indio. to pronounoe Ara.bic warda mostly with (J,.' nQ81'at (== nU{l'1'at), hazar Imam (~i1' Imam), eto. Anyhow, BS this is ra.ther imma.terial, and EI8 other learned Isma.Uis whom I consulted prefer the reading Zah'J", I leo,ve it as it is pronounced by the majority.




esoteric writings, a. contomporery o.f Qa~li Nu'man,-the .A8t'(ir'U/n-nu~aqa' (of. Guide, no. 43).1 The son, or, most probably) grand-son, of the conqueror of the Ya.man, he, as often happens, had not inherited the qualities of his ancestor. Probably ha.ving had n. good start as the relative of such 0. celebrity, he could nevor riae above pretentious mystic speculations, which as fOJ: as oan bo Roan, a.ro hea.vy and unoriginal.

Tho A.s1v.'iru'n-nulaqci' is closely connected with his other work, t.he Sa.rt.i'irn'n-1t1.f,~ti', being .&ppa.tently a revised lmd amplified version of the laUer. The Srllrri/i'l'1£'n-nulaqii/ deala summarily with the nlYfltic>al l:iyln bolism of tho Ooranio Iogends regarding the earliest great prophets, Ada.m, Niih, and Ihrahtm, and ends with two different e:lCplano.tiol1R of the OXlth sura of the Coran (tab bat yada i.lbi Lahab).

The .A.Bral''U'n~nL(,taqa', which was composed about 880/090~J is a.pparently a. new version of the preceding work. The first :fifty pages or so are taJten from the earlier book, ILl1d, from tho story of Ibrahim onwards, the version has been considerably amplified. At the end there are some very interesting references to Isma'il b. J&'fat which I shell set out without, any attempt to condense the story, so that this extraot may serve at the same time as a. good specimen of this kind of works. The main subjeot of the book is the story of Ibrihim, and the proofs of the right of Isma.'fi h. Ja.'f&r to the Imamat. It oontains a. strong eontroversial element, directed against the Ithna-'a.sharis. In this

1 I am muoh indebted to Mr. A. A. A. Fy~ee fo1' his ha.ving kindly lent to me a preoious cory from rua colleotion, an old Yamanita ma.n1l8oript. dated the 8th Dhi'l~Qa. de. 742/15 Apr. 1841.

B This may be u:lferred from the words of the author that 120 reus have passed since the "disappearance" of the last Imam of the Twelvers in 260/874. But we need not take tbia figure as perfectly Qacurate,- it is obviouslyappl'oxiInate, a.n.d the date of the work would, moat probably, be a.litt.le earlier. Therefore it seelllS to me clear tbat the author wa.s not the Bont but most pl'obably a. grand·80n of Ibn lJa.wsha.b. If the latter was an adult in 266/880, who could be entrusted with such a. responsible mission as his campa.ign in the Yama.n, it is difficult to believe tha.t. his BOn could be ftourisbing in. 380/gg0, i B. 120 yCltl'S later. So far I have not been able to tra.ce the full name of this Ja<fo,.r h. Ma.n~fir. It is quite possible that here ibn haa the meaning of 0. "descendant n, not IOn •


WORKS OF ~A.l\ftDU)D .. DiN.


respect it is very Interesting as one of the earliest controversies on the dootrine o£the Imamat. The stories of Jesus and Mul.tammad are very concise. Although I have not collated the works, it seems that the A8raru'n~n'U~aqa' may possibly be an " answer" to QieJ,i Nu'man's famous .A.sa.su't-ta'wil (cf. Guide, no. 71), whioh deals with precisely the same matters, bat without a clear con .. troversiaJ tendenoy.t

The next important "witness in the case", as far as I have been able to ascertain, is the brilliant Sayyid-nit ~amidu'd~din Abmad b. 'Abdi'l~la.h al-Kirmani, the chief dati of' "both the 'Irii.qa", i.e. of W. Persia. and Mesopota.mia., who flourished towards the end of the fourth and in the beginning of the fifth/ eleventh c.~ .and died probably towards the end of the reign of a.l-r;lakim (386-411/996-1021) whom he devoutly defends in ll1any of his writings.

As a. correotion to the aoount of his works given in the Guide (pp. 43-4:6) it ma.y be mentioned tha.t the most proba.ble sequence of his main works was this: the Rii1)at1J,'l- 'aql (no. 117), a, bulky philosophical work, and one of the most fundamental in Ismaili esoteric literature, often quoted, paraphraaed, eto., was appa.rently one of the earliest amongst his writings. Amongst his later works, all to a Isrge extent oontroversial in spiritJ -are: al.MalJabilJ.ftitkbati,'Z.lmamat (116), Mab&imu'l.mubliBharat (133), aZ.KiiJiya (135), and Tambi'hlU'Zwhiidi wa'Z-mustahdi (llS), which is one of the la.test of all. There is also al-qawiya (132). .All these oontain historical allusions, especially the Klifiya, PamJii,1,/u'1- -hiliJiE, MabdBim'U'l~mubashat'iit, and Ma~bi1J..

A Syria.n da'?', .Abii'l.Fa.witl'i~ A1;unad b. Ya/qub, who wrote under al-ij:akim, left an interesting treatdse, Od-Bisala fl'l~l mrinnat~ divided into 16 questions (Guide., 14:8). ,It is preserved in the second volume of that most valuable chrestomathy, .Majmii,'u't .. -wbiyat, of Sa.yyid-nii. Muh&rinnad h. 'fihir ~l~Ifarithi (d. 584/

1 Although there is no doubt tha.t this work was composed 19n9 after Qi(li Nu'mitn's death {in 363/974)t there are no references to him in the Asrdnln-Nu'/Gq6/ .


G:a:lY.A.TU'L-MA. wILTD.

1188), of. Guide, 195. Though it does not mention names, it obviously refers to the antd-Ismaili polemics.

Next in chronological order comes the strange Ghtiyatu't-mawalia, ascribed to Sa.yyid-ni al-Khattab (d. 533/1138; of. Guide, 184). A quotation, from an incorrect oopy, has been published. by .B. Lewis in his "Origins of Isma.'llism", p. 109. Tho purpose of the work is to prove the genuineness of the Ima.mat of a~-'fa.yyib, the son of al-Amir (495-524/1101-1130), the last Imam of the MusLa '!ian line, whose historical reality is highly questioneble, and whose existence is a matt or of faith. Many works in pOBt-Fatimid Iamaili literature touch on tbiH subjoct, and. there would be nothing particular to notice about it, if it did not contain one most amazing statomem, namely a revelation tha.t al-Mahdi was not an Imam, and tho father of aJ-QiL'im, and that there wa.s a. fourth concealed Imam, of Whose existence a.ppa.rently no other work knows anything, snd who is to IDl the vaoant place. This is 80 extraordina-ry that i.t ia worth while to examine the case in detail.

The work is divided into five biibs, each subdivfded into /a,ls: 1. ithbatu'l-l)/ujaj fl'l~jazfj,'ir al~itkrui- 'tJ,8M'1'; 2. an-n4sittu'l-mutlal}liiL bi'l-la'MU ; 3. kadhihi'l-qiiditkat wa itl"batu' {l~{laQilJ,min-kfj" eto.; 4. itkbatu'ZRimamat li/Z-lmiilm a'-1'ayyib; and 5. aZ-la4ri/iJ wa gkayatu-hti wa'I-l}ujubu'l-k1whn8a 'lOa ~uhWru-k{j biRlJ,udUdi-ka wa ,uhiiru'l-maqillm bi-jann/i-M tOa tajalli aZ-Gkayb bi-ka. It begins with the 11.BUAI specula.tions a,bollt the necessity of guidance for the people which God, in His meroy, never rofusee, always keeping in the U 12 islands of the earth U His "proofs H.1 One

1 The lwJiats of the twelve imiraB are very often referred to in different esoterio works. whenever they touch on the :ra.ther frequently discussed subjeot of the (M.u.loo"ld-tlin. But the nomes of these :jam'"r are nO\'er mentioned in this oonnection~- presumably beosuse this is a matter of general knowledge. Such presumption, however, seems to be too optimistio: on enquiry from vary many learned Isma.ilis, I was only able to elioit their oonfession tha.t they ha.ve no knowledge of this, and even. tha.t they were unable to ne.me the work in which I oan find inf01'lJl8,· tion. But at last, quite incidentally, I discovered this, in en esoterio troatise, Risiila/Ju'l-Bamuila, by Sayyid-na c.Ali h. a.l.ij:usayn b. 801- Wal!d~ tho cousin of the £fth Yama.nite diicl, who fiourished towards the end of the

GHl.YATU'L .. ldAw1LID.


of suoh proofs, for the Yama.n, is the petty local princess, &1- -Ifurra.tu'l-Malika. There follows a lengthy diseusalon of the question whether a woman can be such a 1}'Ujjat, or not, whioh is decided in the a.ffirmative. Then follow esoteric epeoulatdons about the manifestation of Divine wisdom in man, about the question of the Batr of Imim a.~-Ta.yyib, and Batr in general,

. -

about sucoession of Imams. In the fourth bab are diaeussed the

questions of the genealogy of a,t-~ayyib, an.d of his being a legitima.te successor of his anceetors, and the belief tha.t he is not dead. mtima,tely the ma.tter is again transferred to the sphere of abstraot speoulatdons, and of proofs by numerical values of letters, etc. On the whole the question can be ea.sily summed up in the author's own statement: suoh is our belief, and the belief of our ancestors.

The Whole matter seems from beginning to the end to be e:rlremely suspioious. We can. visualize the situation. The a.sSELssina.tion of ol-Amir took place in 524/1 1 30,-the Musts. 'lia.ns make it two yeMs later, 526/1132. In this year, according to the tradition, the iD;fa.nt heir appa.rent, fOT some unlmown reason, "disappeared" without leaving any trace. As Sayy.id-ni al-Kha~a.b died in 533/11381 the treatise cannot have been written later than only nine years after this extraord:inary event. Imagine

sixth/twelfth c. «(}wide, 192). It is .included in that valuable chrestomathy, the Madfno,'u't-tQ/l'biyat (cf. Guide, 195). In this treatise there is a table, showing tho theosophio BOheme of the position of the Ima.m in the Universe. In this are inoluded the titles of the twelve 'fw,jjatB. I oonsultEd three copies' (all modern), but, in one of th&m the table was omitted. The other two agreed. completely, except tha.t in one of these one name was missing. It a.ppears tho.t in this sense :j03ATa does not mean the "isla.nd u, as it usuelly mea.ns) but is ts.ken here in. ita burn sense, £rom the raotj-z.f" II:: to out off, and. therefore means "a. slice. outting " ~ or a part, 8 section. Therefore the expr.ession "12 jazii'if"n should be tra.ns1&ted as the n 12 sections of the world's popuIo.tion ", They ere: Ara.bs, Turks, Berbers, Negroes, Abyssini.e.ns, mt:La.zo.r8~ Chino., Da.yla.m. (obviously for -Persia in general), Riim (= Byzantium and Europe in general), India (Hind = Eastern Afghanistan), Bind (= India. in generaJ), and eaq8Jiba. (Slavs,- often confounded with Sicily). Thus this cla.esifico.tion is partly baaed on geograpbioa.l, and partly on ethnographical principle, and pI.o.inly belongs to the fourth/tenth c. (of. the nemesr Khua.rs, Da.ylam, eaqiliba.. Cf. also further on). Expl'eaaions such as Dire found in the IBUtar, e.g, the jazircr. of ~arrin, of Syria., etc., obviously mean tb.e'province or district.


that the heir apparent of a :first class power suddonly disappears without leaving a.ny trace; but a1i-,+ayyib was for tho Ismedhs incomparably more Important than any ordinary prince.-« he was all in all for their religious life. Then. we :find tha.t one of the religious leaders of the oommunity, j1.1St a few years after tho cala.m.ity, writing in a purely abstract and academic manner, basing his speculettons on the vagnest and most abstract principles, confines himself', in short, to the bare assertion that we must believe him to be alive. Together with such dlaoussions comes the statement that al .. Mahdi was not an Imam, and that his place belongs to a mysterious fourth, concealed Imam whom fo:r some reason the Ismailis for over two hundred yoars had concealed lvith such eztraordinary jealousy. It is impossible to ascertain without exhaustive study of Ismaili litQratltro whether similar revelations are found in other works also. So far I have found traces of these only in the Zalwu'lMma'ani of Sl1yyid .. ni Idris. As may be seen from the translation of tho original pa.ssage further on, he alludes to this thoory oloarly enough for those who ha.ve read the Ghiiyatu'ZMmawIJLid, but not clearly enough to pin him to his word.

Learned Ismailis usually accept without allY reservation tho trallition whioh a.ttributes certain works to different well-known authors, though in some oases it appears very suspicious. In this case the situation is the same. There are no indications a.s to the name of the author in the work itself. The reasons for which it is attributed to ru-Kha.ttii.b are unknown ... But it seems


almost obvious that the work belongs to Or much later period.

Perhaps it was composed by SayyidRM Idris himself ~ Obviously under what may be in a. way called the "pressure of public opinion '\ he boldly Ineorporates tho myth of Ibn al .. Qaddatt in his Zahru'Z .. mac ani. With his U diplomatic sense" , he apparenbly arrives at the way of reasoning which comes to a compromise: since everyone thinks that al.Mahdi was a descendant of al.. Qadda.b) he must let it be so, But, nevertheless, he shall reveal the "truth", a. great mystery: a.l-Mahdi was not the fa.ther of



the ancestor of o.~~'fa.yyib, aJ.~Qa'im. The latter's real father was a super-mysterious Imam 'Ali, who died on his wa.y to the Maghrib, leaving his son al .. Qi'im in oharge of al-Mahdi .

.All this is highly suspicious, and apparently 110 allusion to this is found in earlier sources. Strangely, the author of tho Fikri8tu'l-MajdiL', so well informed, omits the Gkayatu'Z-mawaZid from his list, perhaps feeling certain doubts regarding it. I tried my best to asoertain from oertain experts in Isma.i1i lit~rat\lre whether the work is quoted or referred to in any recognised esoteric treatises, but I was unable to elicit any definite informe> tion, This is not strange, because many esoteric authors rarely refer to their authorities by name, It would be necessary to read all the esoterio works in order to be certain, We shall return to these matters further on.

The next, chronologioally, is the collection of the MajiZU,s, I.e, leotures or discouraes, of Sayyid-nfi, ij:ittim h. Ibr8.him a1 .. -J;limidi, who was the third Yama.nite dB/i, and died in: 596/1199. Only nos. 77-133 of his lectures are in existence (Guide, 216). We are here only concerned with a portion of the II 7th majlis, the supposed prophecy of' 'Ali h. Abi 'falib himself, obviously compiled in the beginning of the fifth/eleventh c., in the reign either of a,~-~a.hir (411-427/1021-1036)" or al-Mustaneir. It refers to the Imams not under their names, but under serial numbers. This,- as also the confusion of detes, is apparently a, crude device to give verisimilitude to the "prophecy ". Although of no particular Importance, the extract seems worth quoting, because it contains interesting allusions, and reflects the spirit of probably Influential circles (Texts, pp. 107-113)~

The latest esoteric work of importance which should be quoted here, the Zall1ru/Z-ma'am by Sa.yyid-na Idl'is (Guide, 260) t has been already referred to. It covers, as usual, the whole field of the subjects of esoteric theosophy, and in the 17th chapter gives a. systematio review of the whole list of 21 Imams, describing their esoteric position, and e~laining the religious character of their activity. .An extract, covering the biographies of the Imams



from Isma'il h. Ja."far to al-Qa'im, ia offered further on, with a. oomplete tra,nslation (Texts, pp. 47-80).

With regard to the quotations and translations from the original works, offered here, several points may be noted. .As a rule, there are praotica.lly no genuine varia.nts in the Ismaili manuaoripts preserved in the Bohora community in India. Most probably thoy have been copied from one single early copy brought from tho Yrunan; 01', possibly, even in tho Ya,man itself, as a. general rule, careful oopying from a single original edttion, and respect for the works themselves, safeguarded the copies from inexaotitudes. If a.ny differences between copies exist, they are a.lmost invaria.bly due to mistakes of the scribes, arisi~ partly from imperfect knowledge of Arabic, and partly from illegibility of the original. In a. great majorii,y of 00.1308 thoy can be easily rectified. Therefore, in order not to burden tho edition with often quite unnecessaey notes, only tho most in1l)ortant are here given in footnotes to the transla.tion. Anothor roaeon £01' adopting this course is that except in vary few oaees all oopies at my disposal were quite recent, and only there were one 01' two of eseli work. Ib should be therefore oarefully noted that the editing of all texts in this volume is 0111y tentative, and without any claim to :finality and complete relia.biIity.

As the present texts ha ve an a.uxilia.ry ohaeaoter, and, I hope, ma.y be in the future rendered 1lllD.eoessary by oomplete editions of the whole works, I have not oared to expend timo on scrutinizing every word in them. I shall be obliged to those who care to suggest emendatdons, wherever necessary.

With regard to transla,tions it should be noted tha.t I oonsidered it inexpedient to Jay down a,ny rigid rule as to whether Q trlLnslation of the extracts should be given in the text of the ana.lysis, or in the separate soction of translations. In order to economise space, I have thought it permissible not to edit original quota.tions from works whioh do uot raise a.ny doubts as to the meaning of the terms, such as extracts from the 'Uyu1IIU'l-alckbtilr, or the first volume of al-Azlui!r. But those texts, which either



claim special importance, or may offer ground for doubt as to tho implications of the original expressions, are given here in tho original .Arabic. .All translations, both in the special section, and in the text of the analysis, are a.s litera.l as praoticable. But oertain POrtiODB, of secondsry importance, are either briefly summarized, or simply omitted in tra,nala.tion. Such are the invoca.tions of blessings a£ter the names of the saints~ esoept in oases where they present something out of the otd.i.nn.ty. Whole passages ha.ve been omitted when they contained statements whioh would be resented by other seats of Islam, and when they presented nothing of importance for the trend of the narra.tive. Also omitted are the boring and stereotyped excursions into Biblical parallels, when they are of no importance (except in the extraot from the .A..arci1"U'n-'1lIUfaqa', in which they form the main. part of the argument). On Borne oocasions the extraots in original Ara.bic are edited, but left without a. translation, because intended for reference only, as in the case of the (}hayatu'Z ..

.. ~.

(In order to make it easier to follow the argument, I would rooommend the readers, before proceeding further ~ to read my paper, "Ismeills and Qa.rma,tian.s", in the JBBRAS, 1940, pp. 43-85, and pieces I and 2 in the Cha.pter VI further on.)



1. The Genealogy of aZ-Mahdil and his Family.

Many students of the history of Ismailism have remarked the strange fact that the Fatimids~ desplbe what may be called "V61'Y strong provocation", never made a public proclamation and official announcement of the genealogy which they claimed, and which was 80 muoh disputed. Their own version was apparently known only either through various renegades or other people for some reason closely connected with the Boot, such as I e.g., Akhii Mubsin, and others. It is referred to fragroentarily, and, as far as I know, there is no indication of its. being Inoorporated in any offioial document, and refuted by their enemies in toto. The Abbasid proclamations of 402/1011 or 444/1052 are vague, and do not quote it. So strange a. silence is taken (as by do Goejet p. 6), as one of the proofs that their genealogy is not genuine. This idea, is rather na/tva: with the resources at their disposal the Fatimids could easily ha.ve had the most reliable genealogy prepared by tho best specialiets, and have bought the tostimony of the greatest authorities, in case all official version, true or falsified, as the case might be, had really been required from their point of view. It may be safely presumed that such shrewd politicians and men of such brilliance generally as were the first Fatimid caliphs, realised perfectly well the dangers of the situation; there are many proofs that hostile propagende, trying to compromise the Fatimids, striking at the root of their o.nthority,- their .Alid descent,- reached its destination, sometimes sowing grave doubts in the different' Ismaili communities.1 But notwithstanding all this, nothing was done, although there are tra.oes in esoterio Ismo.ili works of

1 The epistle of al~Mucizz bi'l~lii.h to his dd'i in Sindh, quoted in the 'U'Yun'U~Z.a7chb6A·, sufficiently proves this. Of. my pa.per uIsmailis and Qa.rrnatians", JBBR.AS. 1940t pp. 74·75~



the time, indicating that religious authorities were by no means blind to the consequencea of such apparent inaotivity.

It is remarkable, that the names of the three concealed I:rnams, the links between al-M&hdi a.nd the ancestor to whom he laid claim, MuJ;uIDunad h. Ism§"n b. Jacfar, are not mentioned even in the Ismaili books of the time: Abu ij:atim ar.Rizl, Qi~i an·Nu.'mi,u, in his numerous works, Ja'far b. M8iD.f}iiri'I-Yaman, and other authors of the fourth/tenth 0., never mention these names. The first, towards the end of this period, to break silence was the a.uthor of'the lsUtarJ analysed above. And lster on such referenoes a.ppear in the later works of Sayyid .. na ij:amidu'd-din al·Ki.rmani, the great philoaophee and high official, obviously in view of ~he great pressure of the hostile propaganda. They appear in his oontroversial works, apparently intended for perusal within the community. 1

Thus we may Ba.fely infer that there was a very strong re .. ligious prejudice directed a.ga.inst "uncovering those whom God has veiled", or inspired by some similar idea. It was probably regarded. as a. grea.t sin, and it WBtS felt that any fnocnvenienee should be endured rather than that suoh ~n offence should be committed. Such psyohology is by no means strange in the IsmaJ.li surroundings; it always persisted, and even now still persists· in certain oircles, To keep seoret everything conneoted with their religion, however remotely, is one of the most importa.nt principles in Ismaili life. It is quite obvious that in the conditions of tha.t remote time, and the heated atmosphere of religious fa.natioism a.in.ongst the masses, suoh a. _ preoautionary measure was most stringently enforoed. Most probably, this so got into the "blood" of the oommunity, tha.t even after the

. situa.tion had changed, and the Fa.timid power was able to secure the safety of its su.bjeots, the taboo for a long time was not relased, For this reason those who were for any reason interes~ed in the desoent of the Fa.timids were left to their own ingenuity in

1 See further on, p. 46 sq.


case they did not trust the version expressed by the Fatimida'

own ola.ims. The variety of genealogies suggested by various parties and historioal writers must really oonstitute a. record - these amount to several hundreds.! With their :predominantly hostile tendency, each author vies with the others in inventing something more humilia.ting and scandalous for the dynasty. The moat "effective" (and at the same time apparently the most absurd) version, according to whioh the Fatinrlds were descended from a oertain heretic, 'Abdu.'l-lii.h h. Maymiin aJ .. Qaddih, has won general a pproval. It has become a sorb of an "official and generally reoognised" version in non .. Ismaili circles, has been treated quite seriously, and even now evokes attempts at repair by ingenious theories. We are going to study it further, and it will suffioe here only to mention that it has vitiated to a considerable extent a. great deal of non-seetarien testimony whioh would otherwise be reaJly valuable.'

We do not know whether there were a.ny attempts in Ismaill literature to sum. up a.va.i.Iable historical information about the anoestors of a.l·Ma.hdi before the 'Uyfj/n/IJ,)Z~akhoolr of SaYyid~na. ldris. But by fa.r the best and. moat succinot acoounb is found in the first volume of the Kitabu'l-a.zluil)', the chrestomathy by the eminent Indian Ismaili, ij:asan b. NUb. of Broach, ss mentioned above, in the chapter on SOUl'CeB. We may offer here a translation of the relevant portions, omitting; superfluous details.

. .. "The fifth Imam was Mawli-ns. J a "far 1>.. Mu:ttammad, Abu 'Abdi'I.:.}a.h, surnamed ~-Sadiq. The period of his Ima.mat was 34 years and seven months; he died in the month of Sha.wwaJ 148/Nov ... Dec. 765, being 68 or 69 yaa.rs old. He was buried in the Baqf oemetery (in :Medina,), next to the graves of his father and gra.nd .. fa,ther, of Imam I;Iasa,u b. 'Ali, and Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet ...

1 The la.test work on this subject is Prince P. Mamour'a I. Polemics on the Origin of the Fatimi Caliphs t, (London, 1934).

S See further on. Chapter m.

30 K. AL-AZll.'ll:t. ANO:mS'rORS OF AL-MAlIDI •

The 8ixth Imam was Ma.wla.-nit Ismit'il b. Ja'far, Abu

Mllbammad, surnamed aI-Wa.fi. He died during the lifetime of his father, but not before the la.tter had appointed him as his successor. (It is stated in history tha.t his grave is in the Baqtoemetery. I visited it in 904/1498-9 j it was situa.ted within the oity walls, near the Ba.qi' gate). He bequeathed his position to his son, Muba.mmad h. Isma'iI, with the consent of his father; transferring to him the office of the Imamat by his father's, Imam Ja.Cfar's order, and ill his presence. Imam Ja'£ar OOID.-

.munieated this only to the heads of the ShiCite community, out 'of fear 9£ exposing his heir to danger, ill pursuance of the polioy of concealment; thus only It few knew of this, those privileged ones who knew for certain tha.t the designation of the Imam is irrevocable, and that the Imamat can be transfel'red only from one person to one, from the perent to the Bon.

The 8Bventh Imam was Mawltt .. na Muhammad b. ISlnit'il, Abu 'Abdi'l-lah, surnamed ash-Shakir. He bequeathed his rank to his son 'Abdu'l-Ish b. Mu1;tammad... His grave was in a place called Fa.rghan.a (some say Na,ysabiir). It is narrated that the Imams of the period of -~ukut' (i.e. the Fatimid caliphs) have removed the ashes of the concealed Imams to Cairo, but God alone bows whether this is true.1 .

. . .

Now comes the second heptade of the Imams, who are

called khulo/a', or U successors" .

- The :first of them is 'Abdu'l-lftth h. MuttaDlDJ.ad h. Isma'il h.

Ja'far, Abu Muha.mmad, surnamed lbr .. RaQi, or, as some saYt Na.l}ir. He died in SaJamiyya., and was buried there,' but his ashes were a.fterwards transferred to Ca.iro.

1 Of. my "Isma.ilis and Qarmatia.n.s'" JBBBAS. 1940, p. 63. In June 1937, while on 80 visit to Cairo, 1 did my beat to discover traces of Fa.timid tombs. With the help of Prof. K.&mil Husain, of the Egyptian University, references in some medilBvM works, dealing with the Qarllrfa,. ha.ve been verified. on 'bhe spot.t and 1008.1 inha.bitants were questioned. But. nothing oould be elicited. It would be an interesting Bllbjeot to collect referenoes in rnedi(Qval authors to these graves, as aJao the tombs of the Fatimids in Mahdiyya.. It is obvious tha.t all of them ha.ve been destroyed since the fa.ll of the dynasty.

The 8econd of them was Alunad b. 'Abdi'l~lah, Abii'lwIJusa.yn, surnamed at-Ta.qi, or, as some say, al-Khayr. He died in Sa.lamiyya, but his ashes, as in the case of his father, were later on transferred to Cairo.

The third of them was Mawla...na Imam a,l.ij:usayn b . .A.1;una.d, Abu cAbdi'l.lih, surnamed az·Zaki. He died in 'Askar Mukram (in Khiizistan), and his burial place was concealed.

The Jaurtk of them was Ma.wla.-ni aI-Imam rAbd\1.'l~l6.h b. aJ. .. ij'usayn, Abu Mlll;tammad, surnamed al-Mahdi bi~1.1a,h, Amiru~·mu'minin. He was the :first of the Imams of the period of ;u"hilr (i.e, possession of seouler authority), the dawn of the Light, the one who brought about the allevia.tion of the lot of the faithful. He was born in 'ARkar Mnkram in Khiizistan, on the night on Monday the 12th of Shawwa1260j30-vii.874, or, as some S&y, 259/11.8.878 (if the day of the week mentioned here is true, the la.ter da.te is perfeotly ()orroot,- the day really was a. Sunday).

His father returned with, him to Salamiyya., where he was brought up by his uncle Abu ~Ali al-J;£akim (i.e. Muhammad b. Ahmad t), surnamed Sa'idu'l-Kha.yr, in whose charge his father left him. It was this Sa'idu'l-Khayr who sent the daci Abu!}-Qasim JiIasa.n h. Fara.h Ibn ~awsha.b, surnamed Manl}iir, to the Yaman.. His father died when he was eight years of age.1 me uncle Abu 'AU al-~akim married him to his own daughter, and Abli'lwQaaim al .. Qa'hn bi-amri'l-lah was the issue of this marriage. Imam al .. :e:usayn h. Abroad (obviously l'bii 'Ali al .. I;Iakim, who is really mea.n.t here) died a. short time after the ma.rriage. The dura.tion of the Ima.mat of al·Mahdi, since the da.y on which he left Salsmiyya to his death, was 38 years, five months, and three days.s Propaganda in his fa.vour has spread everywhere, in the

1 This is obviously based on the lBeitdr, 95, where it is said that al-Mohdt was at tha.t time Bo obUd (jf, lUlWI-tuJii.liyyo,) and Bimt Ja'jar al-hiidib, 109.

• 2 This fa.Us upon the 1.2-th of Ra.ma4tn 283/29-10-896. ~l-M~di must oertainly ha.ve left 8e.la.miyya. several years la.ter, before the mvasion of Syria by the sons ~f Zakruya. Most probably in reality this date refers

Ya.man and Maghl'ib, but nobody knew either his name or place ofresidenoo. He died in Mahdiyya on the night of Tuesday in the middle of Ra.b. I 322/4-3-934, being 61 yea.rs, five months and three days old. He 'was buried in Mahdiyya.

The flftk of them. was Mawli-niL aJ·Imim l\[ul;lammad. h. (Abdi'l-la.h, Ahii'I-Qa.sitn, sumamed aJ.Qi'im bi-~'l .. lah, Amint'l-mu'minin. He succeeded his father at the age of 47, and his reign lasted 12 yeru's, six months and 27 da.ys. He. died on the 14th Shawwil 334/19.5-946, at the age of 69 years, six months and 27 days. He was buried in Mahdiyya. n .

It may be added that the same information is repeated in the firat volume of aI-ibhiir in babular form.

It is not necessary to take all these precise co.loulatiollB of' , the ~e of al-Mahdi, and al-Qa.'im as quite reliable, In faot, it seems oertaln tha.t al-Mahdi was born either in 259 or in 20() A.H., although some authors mention 266/879 (Ibn Khallildtn, IT, 77) as wen~ probably wrongly. But about the dato of the birth of a1~Qit'im. there is greater diaeord : usually the date is given a~ 280/893, approximately, of course. The same Ibn I{ha1I.ikin gives three alterna.tive dates: 277/890, 280/893 and 282/890, and it seems that the last one is nearer to the truth. The statement tha.t al·Qa,'im succeeded his father, alo:Mahdi, at the age of 47, implies hie being born when a.l~Mahdi was only 15-16 years old, perhaps less. It is ])lost pro ba.:t>ly taken from the:fifth volume of the 'Uyu'n/u/7,..alr.kblLr, and seems to be too early. Wl1sten. feld (86) sa.ys that a.t.tJthe date of his desth he was 55 years old, and this again means that he was born about 280/893.1

In my previous pa.per, "Ismailis and Qarmatians ", JBBRAS, ' 1940. pp. 60-671 I ha ve already given the contents of the P8r88a.ges, referring to Ism a, 'n _8rnd Mu.1;a.anunad b. lama (n, found at the end of the fourth volume of the 'U'/fonu'l-alckb6Jr of Sayyid.na Idris;

,to t~a dea.th of his guardian, Mu.Jte..mma.d b. Al;I.mBd, 8.8 we ma.y see

,furtlier on. '

1 cr. in.te~esting ~feren.~eB in the Sf-rat of J a. 'fa.r 'Where it is repeated .. 'ly mentioned tha.t a.t the time of the emigra.tion aJ·Qi'im stUf was B-

emall child. _ '_ _

'UyO NU'L-.AXB».lR. IMAM' AllDU'L .. Ll.II. 33

and. we ma.y here' add wha.t may be gathered about the three u concealed U Imams. . Sayyid-na. I~ris has derived his informa-

. tdon, as may be seen, from the Bha'rl}/u/l-akhblilr of QaQ1 Nu'mitn (very little, indeed), Istitar, the portion of the lost Bit'a of ~l1ru'I .. Yama,n, quoted in the beginning of the ljtital)u'd.. da'wat and some other few sources which cannot be identified. His information is very meagre, and he makes up for this in the biography of Imam Ahmad b. 'Ahdi'l-la.h by inserting a, lengthy account of the Raaii/il Ikhw{jni'~-I}afa, which are supposed to have been composed by this Imam. Here is a. translation of relevant pa.ssages:

"Then the Imamat went to Imam ar-Ra4i '.A.bdu'l·liLh b.

Mubammad b. Isma'il, a.fter his father's death. He returned to Nih5.wand, whore he married a daughter of Hamdan, son of (or son of the uncle of) Ma.~iir h. Ja.wshan~ who was from Kii.ziriin. The issue of this marriage was a son, 'Ali h. 'Abdi'I-ULh, surnamed aJ.-La.yth, and a, daughter, Fitilina. The Imam's brothers also married, and had posterity.

When 'Abdu'l-lah h. Mnuammad became the Imam, the Abbasids intensified their search for him everywhere. For this reason he left his son ('Ali 1) as his lieutenant, and himself went into concealment, so that none of his agents or ordinary followers knew his whereabouts. (Before leaving them) he instructed his

. dO/is in the knowledge of the religion, his own and of his holy ancestors, and the da'iB were striot1y oarrying. out their InstruotionS~" (Here follows the story of the heresy of Altmad ibn 801- -Kn.yyal, already transla.ted and discussed ill the previous paper, JBBRAS, pp. 64-5.) On p. 65 of the same paper a translasion is also given of the passage, describing the further movements of the Imam: he again hides himself, this time in Daylam, aeoompanied by 32 trusted dii'is. Here another Bon, Abroad, hi s successor in the future, is born, by sn Alid wife whom. he took a.t .Ashnash. After this follows a lengthy story of al-Ma.'miin's strange plan of abdicating in favour of cAli ar-Ri~.iL, son of Miisa. al .. Ka,im, and the la.tter's death. · On pp. 65-67 the reader Will


34 rUy(JNUL'~.!ltltBIR. IMAM 'ABDlJ'L-L.iH.

find the details of the Imam's appointing as his deputy his own brother al~lJusa.yn b. Muba,mmad, his being proclaimed an Imam, the tragio death of '.Ali al .. Layth (the son or the brother i), the journey of aJ.-~usayn to Khwarizm, to his brother Abmsd, and ·the death of all members of the family, ambushed by enemies.

"When the Imam received news of all this, and of the misfor. tunes that befell his brothers end his son, he left Ahw8.z, and went to Sa.marra, where he stayed for a time, with his son Ahmad. He wrote to his daci8, informing them tha.t he was in safety. Then he travelled to Syria, disguised as a merchant. Be ultlllllLtely settled in Sa,lamiyya., where he built a, house, still oon .. tiD.u.ing to pla.y his part of a, merchant. There were living many Bashtmftes, some of whom were related to the Abbasids. So he pretended to be one of these, and was regarded as one of their number. He was respected fo!' his great piety and virtue, whioh were the proofs of his high position. He kept in atriot secret his own real name, and the name of bla son.

His da'is have completely lost trace of him. Then they arrain.ged a. search, sending out their deputies to look for the Imsm. .Aniongst these notable da'is were a. oertain Hurm~, with his son M.a.hdi,l and Sllr~8.f' h. BUBtam,i with his son 'Im.rin .. This Ma..hdi had oolleoted four thousand rJA,rUiltB in cash, from the donations of the faithful. He took th~ Bum with hhn, and

1 In my paper, "Isma.ilia and Q8J.'m.atians tt, p. 85, I have alrea.dy raised the guestion as to this Mahdt b. Hurxnuz boing the fathel' of Abu Zakariyi Yo.Q.yi b. &l·Mahdl at·'faznillli or 8JI.~BlmimI, killed by Abu Sa.'id in Ba.1).rayll soon a.fter 281/894. Dr. Lewis, in his work uThe Origins of 1SJlli,'Uisrn" (Oambridge. 1940), p. 78 sq., colleots severa.l forms in which this name is met with in histol'icaJ. reports, conjectming tha.t these imply one and the, same person. l1:a.y we go a. step further, and suggest that this Ma,hdi was also the fa.ther of another prominent I~a.ili dCZei, Zs.kriiya b. Maltd'rllYa., the fa.ther of the invad8l's of Syria l' If this Mahdr was a young men in the beginning of the third/ninth c., Za.ltarriyit. or Za.krUya, the father of the U Qarma.tia.n 1t brothers. could have been his son. Suoh oousidel:'ationa are metaly II. guess, be.sed on the indubita.ble tendenoy, noticeable in the history. of ee;rly Iama.ili.sm~ for high pffioes to become hereditary in certa.in privileged families •

.. The t1trauge n&1D8 BmW is ap_parently a la.ter Yf1lllmlite kabiza.tion otthe original PeJ.'sian SubrAb, as is ob~o1l8ly suggested by the combina.tion oftha names: Suhrib h. Rustam.


started. on ~ tour in seareh of the Imam. He bought some eosmetdcs, hiding money in his wares, making inquiries about the Imam whose description he mentioned to the people. At last when he oame to Salamiyya, he was direoted to the house of his master. He asked the servants to be admittedin the presence of the Imam, explaining his being a. da'i. Then he was admitted, and S8.W the Imam, to his grea.t joy, and handed over to him the money which he had brought. Later on he returned to his country, and organised the da'wat there.!

The Imam remained in SaIamiyya to the end of his life.

H~ appointed as his successor his son Aluna.d h. 'Ahdjtl-lih b. Muhammad h. IsmJicfi, and ciroula.ted his will to his dacis. Then he died, a.nd waa buried in Salamiyya.

After the dea.th of his father, ~mad h. 'Abdi'l-1i.h b. Mu1}.a.mmad b. Isma.'il became the Ima.m. He sent biB dii/ie from SaJamiyya to different provinces. His dii,'i8 rallied around him (itt~la hi-hi), prea.ching in his favour, but preserving theutmost secrecy as to hie residence and his real name. He married. and had a. Bon, al- ij: usayn, who was his eldest Bon, and ultimately succeeded him after his death." Then the a.uthor proceeds with the story of Imam A1}.ma.d's compiling the Encyclopmdia of lkhlwanu' lJ~fafa, the purpose of which was to counteract the heretioal and antd-Islamic innova.tions whioh began to spread with the connivance of a,l .. Ma'miin. A detELiled 0,0- count of the oontents of all the 52 f'i8ala8 is here given.!

1 This story differs 'slightly from tha.t of the Istitlir, p. 93 sq. No Mahdi 'is mentioned there, although he ma.y be referred to, in reality,. under his ku/n,ya .

• Of. Guide, 13-15. Ismaili tra.clition usually rego.rda the "abbrevia.· tions" of this work, O/I'·Risalal;u'l·J6Jmi'a and Jilmi&atu'l·Jami'a, as later compositions of the a.uthor and of his son, a1~s.:llsa.yn b..A..Qmad. Ap .. pa.rently there existed also other a.bbreviated versions. On. perusal, these secret works, which are supposed to revea.l deep mysteries, easily seem to contain nothing but a akelaton altha main work. It is therefore a. tempting suggestion that one of these CI a.bbrevia.tioDs" may really be So very early original version) perha.ps going BoB fa.r ba.ok 8B the third/ninth c. (judging from the well·known a.xohaism of the ideas in the R. IkhtiJii,n;"I.,aJa). And perha.ps the story of the "lea.rned society n. sponta.neously founded for the oompila.tion of such an enoyolopaedia., may really contain 0. nucleus of truth in the fact that at a. later time, in the fourth{tentb 0., under the-



. .

The Imam then gave orders to distribute copies of the new Encyclopwdia. in mosques, for the guidance of the people. This was reported to al.Ma'miill, who, not unnaturally, became very interested to find the source of this new form of propaganda. POllOWM the touching Rtory of the devout and brilliant dli.'i who comes to 31-Ma.'lulln, participates in the disputes with theologians of d:ifferent schools, comes out viotorious, is' asked to show the real Imam to whom the caliph swears to hand over the supreme authority, then ultima.tely confesses himself to be the Imam, and is beheaded. All this is taken from the 14thjwl of the Skar7.tu'Z·akl,bii1,.1

The Imam died in Salamiyya, and was buried there. Now comes the section which is the most interesting for our inquiry.

"His son, al-Hnsayn, surnamed az .. ZakiJ succeeded him as the Imam.. He organised the propaganda, spread it further afield, broadoasted instruction to his followers (bathtlta'l~C ulUm Zi-shi' ati~hi)J making it manifest (a~hara-ha); he established proofs, explained the ri8lilae (apparently the Encyolopoodia. of the Ikhwanu'~-qa.fa),2 and despatched his do}is everywhere. He thus made the true religion visible to those who were in search of it. His propaganda. was spread widely by his iJii,'i8, proselytes became numerous, and different signs began to appear foretelling the advent of the Mahdi, and its near approach. The agents of the Imams promised relief to the people, under the law of Islam, and its injunctions.

The Abbasids intensified their seareh for him, but were unable to locate him. They apprehended undesirable 'oonseqnenoes to themselves fr?m his widely spreading propaganda,

);'a.timids. n. mlrober of specia.lists, including even non~membeI'B of the Qact. were engaged to compile detailed tresitiaes on different subjeots which formed -pn.t'ts of the whole work. The matter is still obscure, and requires thorough investigation. Perba.ps this hypothesis may to some extent offer a. more pl'(Jmisillg line of research.

1 The aeeount given in the A81'6N.t'n-n/ulaga' of Ja.'far b. :M;ansiirPl • .. Yaman, in the extr&cfi tra.nslated further on, goes muoh f1.lrther than these, almost a~itting sincerity in the "conversion " of al·l\fa.'m;un.

I cr, the note 2 on p. 36. Apparently his JOJmi'af/U'Z-Jami'a is here

ilIlplioitly referred to. '

watohing the rising might of the movement. His dli/iB kept his name secret, avoiding to give any indioation of h:is. whereabouts, revealing this only to the most trusted followers. The time of the advent of aJ-Mahdi was approaching, and the Great Date was due.

The Imam al-Hueayn, desirous of promoting his propaganda, and organising his'dD/is, in furtherance of what God Himself wished in the way of the manifestation of His Light, tra.velled ,to Kafa, on pilgrimage to the tombs of hia ancestors, cAli and his son, l}:usayn. Here he met with Abti'I.Qasim h. al-Faral.l Ibn Hawshah, later on the great dO/i, the conqueror of the -raman." (Follows an extract from the Si'l'a of this saint, preserved in the IftitaQ,u'd.da''loa of Q04i Nu'ma.n, and already edited by Quatre .. mere, JA, 1836).

The Imam continued to live in Salamiyya, associating with the local Hashimites, and posing as one of them. Wealth of all kinds was coming to him from all sides from his da,('f.8. (Follows an extract f-rom the 8i'l'G of Ja..'far about th0 underground passage, and the mysterious hoarding cave, the local Sesame of the Arabian Nights.) The Imam kept on the best of terms with the local go vemors , giving them rich presents, so that they complied with all his demands. He kept an open table for the Hashimites and others.

H When the departure of Imam aIM l:;I usayn approached, he entrusted his son, al-Mahdi, to his own brother, M~am.mad b. A.q.mad, surnamed Sa'idu'I-Khayl', as guardian and as .trustee of the Imamaf which belonged to his Bon, al.Mahdil at that time merely a child, who had to be put in charge of someone until his ,a.tta.inment of hia majority. [I omit Biblical paTaUem, referred to here.] The trustee wished to keep the Imamat for his own son, depriving al-Mahdi of it. But everyone amongst his sons, whom he made the Imam .. designate, died, until no more sons remained to him.l Meantime God had given victory to Abu'l.

1 This is taken from the 18titiir, p. 96.


·Qisim Ibn ~a.wshab in the Ya.man, and he prepared the clothes (tMytib,-covers fo1' the Ka.'ba.1), writing on these the na.me of al-Mahdi bi~l-la.h. This is what Tmam al-Mu8to.n~ bi'l·lih has revealed in his sermons about the story of his ancestor, al-Ma.hdi bi'l-lih.1

, The gra.ve of Imam al-Husayn was in 'Askar Mukram, becsuae he travelled to that place not long before the rising of the I' Qarma.tia.ns "; when their impious movement had arisen they occupied Syria. He left his place and his people secretly, because of the vigilance of the Abbasids, and went to ~ Aska.r Mukra.m, where he died. HiB brother, Mul;tammad h. Ahmad, surnamed Sa'idu'l-Kha.yr, died in SaJamiyya, and was buried there. Thus the Imamat ultima.tely went to al-Ma.hdl,"

It is interesting that the names and dates in. the account given in the K itaJru/Z-azhii.r aometlmes do not coincide with those given by Sayyid-nA Idns, Therefore it seems there were also other sourees, which were accessible to Hasan b. Nii1.1; and it would be interesting to know why they were not used by the a.uthor of the 'Uyii.nu'l .. a,lc}ibiiJr. In order to systematise the material, 'we may tra.ce here the genealogical tree, beginning with Muha.mmad h. Isma.'il, Informa.tion a.bout him a.nd his

. ,

descendants, as ava.ilable in all these sourcee, raises many questions. Our sources Me the' UytQ.n,u'l-a1chbar (as in my paper, "Iamailis and Qarma,tia.ns", in the JBBRAS, 1940; for brevity we shall refer to it under uI.Q. "); the Sira r'B. "); and the latitiJ,r .(" 18t. "),

M'Ul).4mmaa b. lsf'l'lij'iZ had two sons who were a.pparently born to him. before his migration to the East,- Isma.'il and J"a,'far. They seem to be quite historical (of. C UmrJatu't-1'llUb, 209), left laege posteri~YJ are very rarely referred to in Ismaili works, and a.pparently pla.yed no part in sectarian life. It is impossible to ascertain whether UIsma'fi (II) U who a.ppears as

1 It ilJ not clear whether al-Musts.wJir refeI's here to the sins of Mul;1a,1lllDsd h. Al;u:Dsd in trying to usurp the otnes for his own SODS, or only the reference to Ibn ]Ja.wsba.b belongs to hUn.



the successor of Mu1;tammad b. Isma'n in tho Druze genealogy of the Fatimids, has anything to do with this Iema'il, or is a. mere fiotion.

In Persia one of his Bona was 'Abdu'l .. lih, his successor as the Ima.m; he is apparently the same as 'Abdu'r-Ra.~mii.n of the DaBttaru"-munajjimin (de Goeje, 203). 'I'abari (III, 2218) is not oerta.m a.bout his historioal reality; but the fact tha.t he ra,ises the question leaves it beyond doubt that already in the seoond half of the InjIXth 0., i.e. about 100 years after the events. he was recognised as the suocesaor of Ima.m MU\la.mmad h. Ismi'U in sectarian ciroles (I.Q., 60-63),

Three other BODS were: A1}.mad, al .. ij_usayn, and cAli " sur. named alMLayth", in full agreement with the Dastu1"Ill .. munajjimin.

e Ali al-Layth is apparently confounded with a.nother 'Ali, who is said to be a son of' Abdu'l.lah. He was murdered by .Abba.sid em.issaries (I.Q., 66). His son .A1}.mad a.venged his death (ibid.).

A1;lma.d h. lVIul}.ammad b. Ism.a.'il (I.Q" 66) emigrated to Khwarizm. We do not know what happened to him.

Al-J.IUB8ryn h. M~mmad b. Isma,'n was appointed to act on behalf of his (elder) brother, C Abdu'l-lah, travelled to Mekka in disguise, returned to Ahwaz, was proclaimed the Imam (I.Q., 65) by some clil'iB, against his will, as is stated, started for Khwirizm, to join his brother Al}mad, was ambushed, and murdered with all his relatives (I.Q., 66). Only A4mad .b. 'Ali a.l-La.yth b. Mul;tammad b. ISlD.s/n remained.

'.A..bdm.'Z-lalz. b. MuluMnm,ad; b. Ismci'iZ tra.velled to Da.ylam (or M8.zo,nda.rin), returned to Ahw8.z (I.Q., 67), went thence to Mesopota.mia, Siimarra, and nltimately settled in Sa.1amiyya.. Ho had two sons, .A\l.ma.d and Ibrahim (1st" 95).

About Ibrahim b. 'Abdi'l-lih b. Mul;lammad h. lema'il nothing is known (even his name is not mentioned anywhere except for the 18titar), save the faot'that his posterity was still living at the time of al·Mahdi (of. 18t., 97,-aw1ii.tL Ibrahim).


They were apparently slaughtered later on in Salamiyya by the H Qarmatians", in 291/903.

Ahmad b. 'Ahili'l·T.ah b. Muhammad b. [&rna/il succeeded his

. .

father, and is supposod to be the author, or, to use a more up-to.

date term, "chief editor" of the Enoyclopmdia of I1IJhwanu:~-lJaja. He lived in Salamiyya, and had two sons, al-Husayn, his suecessor, and Mu1},ammad, surnamed Sa'Idu'l-Khayr (1st., 00). AM seen above, in the ](itabu'l .. AihiiJr, AI}.mad h. "Abdi'l .. lah is endowed with the surname al .. Khayr, and his son Mul;tammad is also called Abu C Ali al-Haklm, An this obviously may be true: there is nothing improbable in the faot that a person should have been called Abii 'Ali MuQ.ammad h. Ahmad, sumamed Sa'id, and also Sa'idu'I-KhaYl' (SaCid, son of al-Khayr 1), and at the same time also al-ij:akim, as a tribute to his learning, or something on the same lines. It is a great pity that the autlior of al .. .A.zJui,1' does not mention the souroe from whioh he has taken this,- perhaps this would put us on the track of something useful. As mentioned in the same al·Azka1', o.l-Mahdi was married to this person's daughter, the mother of al.Qa'im. His posterity were living in Salamiyya, and probably perished a.t the hands of the (( Qarmatians" with other members of the house in 291/903 (1st., 97): He himself died soon after al-Mahdi's wedding,- we will Bee this presently in detail.

l!U8Ctyn b. Altmad b. 'Abdi'Z~lah b. Mul;,ammad b. Isrnii'il, the father of al-Mahdi, is apparently the same ":e:usa.yn" who figures in the well-known story of the conversion of Ibn ij:awshab, later on the Ma.n~firu'l- Yaman, although this is not as certain as could be desired. There is appa.rently much confusion both in the C U yun and the .Azhar, of which it seems easy to trace the cause: both derive their information from the Istitar and the Bira of Ja'far, and in these, for some reason, references are very ambiguous: CC al.I mtiJm. " , who is referred to on suoh ooeaaiona, is not named, and from the context it is by no means easy to see who is meant in every particular case, whether



Alpnad h. 'Abdi 'I-lah, his son ~USB.yn b. Ab.mad, or the "acting'" Imam, Mu.1,1ammad h. A1;lmad, or, lastly, al·Mahdi him.se1f.l

.As we have seen above, it is clearly stated in the .Azhiir tha.t Husayn h. Ahmad died when al .. Mahdi, his son, was eight years old. As the laeter was born about 260/874, the date of his death must be Oct. 268/881.2. Ta.bari, as is known, refer-, to al.Mahdi under the name of Ibn al-B~i,-Uthe son of the Basran " , a.nd the Ismail; sources completely agree in this, emphasiaing the connection of the Imams, and especially of this fJ.usayn b. AQ_mad, with Southern Meaopotamia and the adjoining province of Khuzistan. It is stated that al . .Ma.hdi was born in 'A.skar iVIukro,m, in the latter province, and that


If usayn also died and WI18 buried there. We can easily believe

this: apparently in the second half of the third/ninth e. it became evor olearer that the centre of gravity of Ismaili power was shifting towards the South East: Southern Meliopotamia, Khiizi. still, .Fars, and the Ya.rnau, whioh was best reached by sea frOUl such pleoes as Basra. It is therefore not diffioult to believe that

1 On pp. 10~ and 109 a.ppoirently "al-Imam ", whom .fa/far could remember, WOoS Mu.lJ.aID.llULd h. Al).mad. On p. US Hal·Imam" apparently is al-ij:usayn, as he is mentioned in connection with the mission of IbD. ij:awsha.b to tho Ywno,n; ]'iruz, the chief dati, who later 011 rebelled aga.inst al-Mahdi, was the instrw:nent by whom Ibu ij:o.wsho.b was brought into touch wit..h t.he "Imam". But it ma.y be also tbo.t ua al.~uaa.yn wed SOon a.fter the first meotdng, the mission was orgenised by Mu'Q.a.mm.ad. Lower on p. 115, and further on, "aI-Imam" plainly refers to o.1·l\Ia.hdI. On p. 122, giving deta.ils about the oareer of Abu'l-'Abbas, the elder brother of Abu 'AbdPI·IUh ash.ShI'l, ho again refers obviously to M.ul;lo.m.mad h. Atamad: "and he saw al·lmiim and aI·Mahdi, with al.Qa'im with both of theJJl. He (al·Qa.'im) was at that time still a. small child II. Further Oll ~'a1-Ima.m n a.gain plainly refers to al·Ma.hdI. As the whole Si'l'a clearly shows, Ja'fa.r never refers to religiOUS m.a.ttOl'S, in which ho obviously regarded hlmso1f aa not oompetent. Although he was Q devout ala.VBt it aeoms to be .not quite oertain whether he himself was an Iemo.ili. As one can see from his Biro, many of a.l·MahdI's intimate serventa were Ohristians (p, 108). Ma.uy rose to high position. Therefore there would be nothing ~tra.nge in Ja.'fa.r's not being reoJIy an Ismaili, 'Perhp,ps this oircumstanoe ma.y explain tho fact of the compila.tion of his Biro, as 0. "reply" to the boastful Sim of J"awdhar. da.'fa.r's unspoken idea. m.a.y have been that though not himsolf an Iamaili, or at least not of a. high rank in the Isz:naili hiera.rchy~ yet he had performed for his masters all the services which he records. If wo assume this, it would be quite easy to undorstand the way in which he avoida dwelling on purely Ism.o.ili matters.



. the head of the sect in faot settled in Borne centre in one of those loca.lities, leaving his son and heir, with other members of the family, in charge of, his younger brother, in a. comparatively safer place such as the remote Sala.miyya, where few would be

ikely to connect a. wealthy merchant family residing in their midst with the growing unrest and activities in t:6.e remote South. The' Uyt[J;n, however, offers a puzzling pieoe of information when it states that Imam ijusayn lived until al.. Ma,hdl was married, and died soon after this in cAsk&!' Mukra.m whither he had gone in haste on h.e&dng of the rise of the "Qat. matia.ns ",' who later on have invaded Syria. To me it seems cle&? that this is entirely due to a oonfusion created by the wrong identifioa.tion of "aJ-Imii.m)) in the I 8tittlr. If Jilusayn died Boon after the merriage of a.l-Ma.h.di, and th;is took place .about the time of the invasion of the "Qa.rmatians ", Le. 290/908, there are many' absurdities in the situa.tion. .Al~Mahdi was then about thirty years old,- surely rather an advanced age for his (first) marriage. If "the Imam. " suddenly left Se,la.tniyya., ,vhy did he flee not away from the "Qarmatiana", but towards the very territory from whioh they had started' How could he leave "an infant son" in the charge of his brother, when this in£a.ut was thirty years of age 1 We must therefore surmise that F.Iusayn in fact died" when al-Mahdi was a child (1IItitiilr, 95). "The Imam U who died soon after the marriage of &1- -Ma.hdi obviously was his uncle and guardian, MulJ.a.mmad b. A1;tmad (Sim, 109), and "the Imam" who fled from Sa.lamiyya .at the approach of the H Qarma,tians" must oertainly have been al- Mahdi himself.

It is stated in the lstf,tiir (95) that the guardian, Mu1;tammad surnamed SaCiduJI-Kha.yr, the "aoting Imam", tried to usurp the Imamat for his own line, appointing one after another his eons successively as his heir, but tha.t all of these died, 80 that ultimately the Im&mat, by the will of God, returned to him for whom it was destined, i.e. al-Mahdt, Similar stories are



found in other periods of Ismailism.1 It is more probable that in reality Mul;tamma.d b. A1)mad succeeded his brother as the Imam on the death of al-Busayn, and tha.t later on he did in fBoot appoint one or more of his sons as his prospoctive heir. On the death of Mu1,lammad's sons, however, and on subsequent dea.th of MuQ_a.m.mad himself. al-Mahdt, the Bon of his brother ~UBa.yn, found himself the eldest of the family, and was recognised as the Imam, as is explained further on.

The absence of detailed biographies of the ancestors of al.Mahdl is expladned by the Ismaili sources as the result of their having lived in striot disguise. This seems quite probable, if we realise the situation. What in faot would the popular memory preserve about the religious heads of the sect when these were living ostensibly as merchants, carrying on their business, assooiatmg with then- friends, marrying, educating their probably numerous ohildren, and so on ~ The memory of religious tradition is very economical: it retains only reminiscences of the most important names and events. What really constituted the most important part of the aotivities of the lmams,- their propaganda efforts, was without any doubt ca.rried on in the utmost seoreoy, "between four eyes". Simi ... larly, their agents, also disguised sa pious merchants of slightly lower standing, and, perha.ps, in isolated cases secretly composing their books in addition to their cautious and quiet propaganda, left little to be remembered of them in the way of "sensational events" . Not all of them were outsta.nding men of the talents of Ibn Ha.wshab or Abu' Abdi'l-lih ash-Shi'i. Further, sinoo


the leaving of a,ny trace of their activities in writing was ob-

viously a.voided as much as possible, it is certain that very little could really have been preserved in the records and memory of succeeding generations. Thus the long "blank" period in

1 As an instance ma.y be mentioned the tradition regarding the eimiIa.r situation whiclt arose after the death of pir ij:asan Kabiru·d-din.~ the fa.ther of Imim-Shltht the founder of the Satpa.nthl sect in Gujrat~ towa.rds the end of the ninth/fifteenth c.


l!'AMILY 0]' .A.L-l\UllDI.

the story of the Imams, living in such conditions, cannot reason .. a.bly be taken as valid proof of the falsity of their claims to continuous succession from their original ancestor, Isma'il b. Ja.'far. We do not know how, and by what proofs th,ey used to oonvinoe their followers as to the genuineness of their claims. But our ignoranoe does not oonstitute a '.'legal proof" of the futility of their case. It seems that it would be far more suspicious if they had had a consistent and olear-cub story, prepared to satisfy the legitima.te curiosity of their followers and of outsiders.

It is possible to collect Borne very interesting iDformation about the fa.mily of al-Mahdi from different allusions, scattered in the istitar snd the Sira: he had a. brother, Abu Mu1}ammad, app8lrently younger than himself, who hod some posterity (1st .. , 95, 102). He fell ill, and died on the day Abii MahziU, i.e, ~a,9ibu'8h~l'jhama, the cc Qarmn.tian", invaded Salamiyy&' (1st., 100), i.e. in the middle of 290/908. "Sons of al~Mahdi's uncle" are referred to inIal., 97.

A very interesting, but entirely obscure reference is found in. 1st., 102, in which it is stated tha.t the aame A1;lii _M~ziil, writing secretly to a.1~MahdI, referred to "his cousin (ibn 'amm) with his son" being deported, or exiled (da!') to 'Iraq (Western Persia or Mesopotamia. ~). Cf. also Texts, p. 108.

Some interesting allusions are found in the' Bflra of Ja,cfar aZ-bl$jib. As it should be in a work ascribed to an intimate servant of the family of aJ. .. Mahc1i, matters are here touched upon about which we should scarcely find informa.tion elsewhere, namely questions concerning his women-folk, On p. 108 Jo,'fa.r remembers the oiroumstances of al-Mahdrs marl'iage to his cousin) and plainly sa.ys that she latel" on became the mother of a.~.QitJim. On p. 110 it appears tha.t at the time of his emi. gration from Sa,l~miyya. his own mother (i.e. the widow of &l*H.:usayn) was still living, and that he had two daughters.

, His family a.180 included two nieces, daughters of his brother J and Umm. ~abib, tll.t wife of aZ-Qo/im. This is extremely interest-



mg. Was she the future wife of al-Qii.'im (married to him later), or was he married already a.t that time ~ As we may see, on P: III of the Bit'a, aJ.-Qa.'im during the :flight to Egypt is remembered by the old servant as a small child, orying when displeased. In the Istitar, 95, he also appears as a ohild, as we have seen. Whioh is true ~ Was he a small ohild, or a married youth ~ If he really was 47 at the time of al-Ma.hdi's death, in 322/9342 he would then have been 13 at the time of the emigration, in 288/901. But it is more likely that he was born about 280/893, as shown above, p. 32.

It may be added that in addition to al- Qa 'im, the 18titfir mentions another Bon of al-Mahdi, still a. child, by a concubine, who figures in the story of the "Qal'luatian" slaughter of his relatives. From non-Ismaili souroes it is also known that later on he had many other BODS: .Abu 'Ali A.l;Lmad (d. 382/992); Abu ~aIib Miisa; Abii'l-T~I.usayn 'lsa (d. 382j992); Abu 'Abdi'l. -1Ah al-Hnsayn (d. ca. 336/948); and A.bu Sulayman Di'iid (d. 341/952). Cf. E. de Za.mba.ur, "Manuel de genea.logie at de chronologie", p. 95. For some reason these sons are never mentioned III Ismaili works.

2. ])OUbt8 raised by Esoteric and other Sources.

So far the Fatimid version seems to be surprisingly simple and consistent, and such as to inspire a. considerable amount of confidence in so far as it not seldom finds support in the allusions sca.ttered in non-Ismaili sources. I do not spea.k of such as Akhti Mul},sin, whose information is obviously derived from the Ismaili tradition, but is delibera.tely vitia.ted in details. The confusion and inaccuracies noted above oonstitute a. very valuable proof of the antiquity and pr~ervation of this trBdition : it is olea.r that the authors of the works in which it is preserved, did not interfere with it. They simply copied the sources a.t their disposal, paying no regard to the inoonsistency of different reports.


There are, however, certain points of doubt as to whether the pioture is in faot 80 altogether flawless. A strange, though perha.ps definitely erroneous vlLria.tion is found in the names of the three concealed Imams in the fourth part of the K itdb'lJ"Z~ ~.Azhar of IPtsan h. Nul}. of Brosch, At its beginning he quotes bhe well-known esoteric work of ij:a.midu'd.din al-Kirmini, the Panbihu'l-MrJi 'wa'l-mustakdi (cf. Guide, No. 118), whioh a.ppea.rs to bo one of his latest compositions, and so written just about the' beginning of the fifth/eleventh c. The quota.tion is from the 26-th bab: fi't-tanbih Zi .. am7' 'nUl/n yrujib ulr,Mh,u'd .. rJiim min-au wo/ftirfi4 ea'ati-'ti'l-ladhi lvuwa WaUyyu'Z-7ith Ii ar4i .. 1vi. The author refers to the Imam of the time, al-1;Iakim bi .. am9'i''L-ldh) tracing his genealogy to 'Ali, in the course of which, between al-Ma.hdi and Mu1;La.mmad b. Isma.'U, he mentions throe names of the concealed Imams: 1. C Abdu'l-lab. (as usual); 2. Mu1}.am~ road (instead of the usual A}pn&d); and 3 . .A.Q.m.ad (instead of the usual J;[usa.yn). I have compared two copies of this volume of aZ-AzJulr,- unfortuna,tely not oId,- and found that both these completely coincide in this passage. On collating it with two (also modern) copies of the original work, Pombtlvu/l .. 1ziiOA, I found tha;t the pn.ssage eoineides in. everything, except in the names of these three Imams, whioh are given in their usual form: C Abdu~l-lah., ~mad, ij:usa.yn. Which version is to be trusted 1 Is this au ordinary mistake in the K. aZ-AzMr, which orept in a.t sn early elate, and was later on blindly repeated in all subsequent copies 1 Or may this be the original version, which the shrewd Bohors, ij:aslm h. Niiq, found in an old copy of the Ta7lbih'llZ-hadi 1 In such 8r case we must admit tha.t at the end of the fourth/tenth c. the Fa-timid tra.dition regarded Imam AQ_ma.d (the author of the Ra8fi,'iZ of Ikhwanlu/,.,a!a) as the fa.ther, not the grand .. father of al-Mahdi, and his father as M:u1pJ,mmad b. c Ahdi'l .. lih.1 Against this we have the testimony

1 It is interosting to note that in some non-Ismaili souroes such as tbe .myetio works of the Druzes. al-MahdI appea.rs to be the son of Abii Shalaghlagb A1)m.ad b. Mu1pwuna.d b. 'Abdi'l-lih (of. de Qoeje, p. 21).



of the Iatitar, whioh we can ha.rdly believe to be "revised and oorreoted" in this respeot, and, to some extent, a still earlier source, the well-known quotation from the RiTa of Man,uru'l·Yaman inoorporated in the Iftittil). and the Skar}pu'Z-akhbtlr, in whioh his oonversion is attributed to Q'U8a'JlTb (assuming this

, ~:\l8a.yn to be the same M the Imam ~UBa.yn, the father of al • • Mahdi). In any case, there is appa.rently, so far as I have been able to ascertain, no other work in which these names €Lre mentioned in this form. Tabari, III, 2232 sqq., quotes epistles, sent by the "Qal'matian" leader, ~pparently on behalf of 0.1 .. -Mahdi. Unfortunately, the text is very uncertain here, and it is not easy to see what the reading should be, whether "from 'Abdu'l-lih (b.~) AQ_mad h. 'Abdi'l.lih", or "from the alavB 01 God e abdi'l.Zfi,k) AlJ,mad b. 'Abdi'l.lih", or simply "}rom (min 'indi, as in the footnote h) AlJ.mad", eto. The name is often regarded as the "regnal name" which was assumed by Yal;tyi b. Zakriiya, the "Qarmatian", who "proelaimed himself the Imam". This seems to be very doubtful, and most probably, if the whole matter is to be taken seriously, and is not a falsification (whioh is also very likely), the dooument must be regarded as a letter written in the name of al-Mahdi. Thus he could either be oalled 'Abdu'l·la.h, or A1}.mad, and his father's name

, could be either Al}.ma.d, or 'Abdu'l-la.h. . All this of course inspires very grave doubts.

Quite a different question is raised by the indisputable historioal facts of a series of defeotions on the part of the leading dfj'is under al-Mahdi, which perhaps to some extent may have 8. connection with doubts in his official genealogy. The" apostasy tI of ~amda.n Qarma~ and 'Abdan seems to be the first in this chain, The next, within a few years, is the disillusionment of the "Qarmatian" brothers, which they, quiok to pass from worda to sots, expressed in the terrible sla.ughter of al.Mahdi's family in Salamiyya, in 291/903. In a few yea.rs again, perhaps in quiok succeaaion, the chief ddi F""lI'iiz deserts al·Mahdi, flees tothe Ya.man, and there starts s. rebellion; and, at the top of


al~Mahd.i'a remarkable successes, the man who has brought him on the throne, Abil. 'Abdi'l-lih ash-Sht'I, revolts aga.inst him. Those moreover are only the cases which are known.

Formerly only the first and the last cases were known, but already de Goejc had tried to connect tho apostasy of Qa.rma.~ with tho revolt of Ahu 'Ahdi'}·HLh ash-Sht't (Memoif'e, p. 67). It seems worth while to examine these cases In ore thoroughly. 'l'he ~tory of tho apostasy of ij:a.mdan Qarma~ is narrated by Nuwayri, an author who apparently had at hia disposal some Iamaill eouroes, but who, out of enmity, or for some othol' reasons, quite impudently perverted facts in his own writings. Tho events aooording to him were as follows (de Goeje, Mem., 58; de Sacy, Expo8e, Intr.,: 193 sq.}: Qa.l'lnat, with his aCcfoto.l'Y 'A..bdii.n, was staying at Kahvttdhii., near Baghdad, keeping in touch with the headquarbors in Salamiyya. When tho head of the sect died (Mul}.ammad b. Ahmad, cc. 2S:J/8961), bit! Bon n) and successor (al .. Mahdt 1) wrote to him a letter in which he found "some unusual expreasions, deviating from the ostablished custom, and indicating some important ehange ", To clear his doubts he sent his trusted secretary 'Abdin to Sala.l11iyya. The lattc-r, in an interview with the 8011. of the deceased head of the sect, was informod that he (al~Mahdi 1) was not a descendant

of' Aqil b. Abi ~a.lib (fOf whom obviously he was giving himself out in Salamiyya for the sake of disguise), hut of' Abdu'l-leh h. Maymiin h. DaYfJan" who had nothing to do with Mu\l,amma.d b. Ismii.'il. The preaching in favour of the latter was nothing but a, trick to dupe people, etc. ' Abdan returns, reports to lJamda.n QarmD;~, the latter assembles his diL''£8, reveals to them the news, and suspends the propaganda, "One of the sons of' Abdu'l-lsh b. Maymiin H, who usua.lly resided in f~'aliqan (in Persia, East of Ala.miit, familiar to students of Ismadlism), passing through the So.,vltd of Kiifa, failed to find Qarma.~, who absconded; he meets' Abda.n, a.pparently tries to win him back, but fails, and, with the help of ZakriiY3, gets rid of him. These events took plaoe during the years 286/899 and 287/900 (de Ssoy, Intr., 200).


. .


All this, with lively dialogues, and surprisingly intimate knowledge' not only of the minutest details of what happened, but also of the deepest thoughts and intentions of the pBlrtioipa.nte, can be nothing but one of the numerous improvisations of Nuwayrl, whose primary purpose was to provide entertaining reading, and who oared less than anything for the truth. But the basis of this story, namely a. radioaJ. change in the polioy of the Salamiyya, headquarters, which caused a split in the sect and opposition on the part of I;la.mdan, probably contains some grains of truth.

Wha.t suoh extraordinary changes could have been, is diffioult to guess. It seems obvious that the phrase "preaching in favour of MUl}ammad b. Isma,'il ", who died about a century earlier, is probably a. mistake, and. should be understood as "preaching in £a.vour of a. d88u'tltditnt" of the saint. The mention in the eame story of the statement of the suooessor of the defunc.t head of the sect that he had nothing to do with this Imam, clearly suggests such a. oorrection. It is quite probable, although there is no documentary proof, that there was such Dr seat, perha,ps the cc Qarmatians of Bahrayn " (and obviously of Southern Persia), who really expected the "return" of Mu4ammad b. Isma.'il. We do not know for certain whether 1;ramdin Qarma.1; had a.nything to do with them. But it would be extremely c1iffioult to believe that the heads of the inoipient Ismadli movement would have been co;ntent with the rale of chief aO/is, and only at the last moment would. hELve revealed to one of the most trusted do/Is their real position. The split could have been caused by some irregularity In su.ccession, either that of a.l-Ma.hdi instead of one of the sons of M~a.mmad b. A1}.mad, or that of al-Mahdl instead of his own (elder ~) brother I Abu Mul),a,mmad. We must alao l'eoaJl the faot that 8hi'ism was a, living religion, the supply of the Alid candidates was plentiful, and a.lthough there were all kinds of sects of the waqiJa type, they were apparently not very popular.



The most important oonsideration is that although ij:am.da.n Qarma.~ rebelled, or' even seceded, together with a. certain following, the heads of the sect, nevertheless) commanded the recognition of the great ma.j ority. The masses at that particular period could hardly have been moved to snoh an extent as 'We Bee in the rise of the Fartimids simply by vague and mystio promises. l'he story of the adventures of Ibn ~awshab, sup. posed to be narrated by himself in the lost Sira (of. Iftital)f Bharll,u'l.akhbiir), clea.rly shows the "thirst" of the masses for 81 definite candidate, not a. "symbol ". Therefore there ma.y be serious reasons to think that the stress in the narra.tive of these events is laid on the claims to Mahdi"ism.

Sayyid-na Idris, implioitly following the Ghtiyatu'l .. mawalid in his Zahru'l-ma'iim,i (as may be seen from the extract em.ted here in the original Ara.bic, and translated further on), gives us to understand that the religious position of al·Mo,hdi was somewhat. inferior to that of his son and suocessor, al.Qa.'im.


We can see that apparently a,l·Mahdi himself did nothing to

bring himself more into tune with the numerous prophecies current among the masses, while everything in this respeot was done to osuee al·Qa'im to come up to expectations. One of the earliest prophecies, which a.ppa.rently already existed by the end of the first/seventh 0.,1 promised that the name of. the Mahdi should be exactly the same as tha.t of the Prophet himself. In non-Ismaili sources it is reported that the original name of &1· .Qit'im was' Abdu'r.RaJ;tmin 2, but it was subsequently changed into Abii'l"Qitsim MUQ.a.mmad, the name of the Prophet. Simi .. larly, in esoteric sources stress is laid on his being the twelfth in descent from' Ali, in accordance with another Shi'ite prophecy. 8 His regnal name, a1,~Qii/im, is the ShiCite equivalent for the all .. Isla.mic Mahdi. A trivial, but noteworthy detail is that in the story of an alleged. miracle of a,! .. Mahdi, narrated in the mra

1 Of. my article "Early Shi'ite Movements'" JBBRAS, 194:1, p. 8. I Of. lVustenfeld, U Fa.timiden.Chalifen It, p. 70.

S See the tradition no. 43 in the extraot from the B'hail,/u'Z.a,loJ.biir.




of Ja'far (120), the miracle is reaJIy worked by al.Qa'im, who supernaturally produces wa.ter in a dried up stream, according to an old local prophecy concerning the advent of the expected Mahdi.

In esoteric and extremist speculations, such as those of the Druses, the position of al-Qa,'im is incomparably greater than that of al-Mahdi. We may feel strong suspicions that in these speoulations da.ting from long after the dea.th of al-Ma.hdi the principal part was played only by superstitious ideas, whioh had no oonnection with the faots. And it is highly probable that the same superstitious ideas may, in a different way, have been dangerous to his cause, because they foroed him to pass the test of miracle-working, as is often narrated in non-Ismaili historical works. Disillusionment in this respeot w~ obviously a. very powerful source of opposition.

The strongest proof of the faot that the danger was quite serious" and that measures were devised to meet it, is found in a fact which has hitherto remained unknown. As ma.y be seen from the chapter dealing with prophecies concerning the advent of the :Mahdi, Qac;li Nu'man (obviously in his oapacityas official speaker for the ea.rly Fn.timids in matters of religious policy) systematically adheres to the idea. that Mahdi-ism is the same thing as the Imamat (in Isma.ili sense). According to his. theory, the Mahdi is a kind of a colleotive name, applicable to a dynasty of the Imams (al-A'imm,atu'Z-mahrliyyU1&): whatever has not been done by anyone member of the dynasty in fulfil .. ment of the prophecies, will be done by his deseendanta, There is hardly any room for misunderstanding of the implioations of the theory, and the reasons of the policy. It was an attempt to find a suitable pretext to postpone, "payment of the cheques" by transferring the liability from the founder of the dynasty to his snccessora,

It may be noted that the term Ma.hdi is used in Ismaili litera.ture as merely a name. Its Iamaili equivalent, the Qa/im, i.e. the "One who a,riseth (at the Last Day, i.e, in the last phase


DEFEOTION OF 1i'1l.t.ii Z.

of the " old order", to uphold the purity of religion "}, has vast implications, both of a. religious end seculae na,ture whieh obviously would not :fit the historical al .. Mahdi. Though undoubtedly a. man of a brilliant intellect, extraordinary person .. ality, and organising talent, he appears) nevertheless, in all reports about him as a, remarkably secular figure, entirely devoid of any mystic Dim bus, or any aspirati~n to the rank of 8 great l'eligious teacher of humanity.

With aU this in mind we may perhaps be able to penetrate the causes of the defection of different da/is. It is quite possible that both !;1amdiLn and Firftz, experienced and intelligent men, realised quite well the risk connected with such extraordinary claims. Perhaps find.il1g a, pretext in some ~regula.ritieB of the succession, th~y tried to dissociate themselves from al-Mahdit

. .

while oarrying on their mission along lines whioh they regarded

more profita.ble. As ~ known, Ismadli sources do not mention lilamdan at all (proba.bly because he became a. renegade andrebel). The case of ~l1'iiz is na.rrated with slight differences in detalle in the Biro. of Ja'fa.r, and in the JJtitlilJ,u'd-da'wa. The latter, as we have seen, is parlicularly :re]ia,ble, because it is based on l'eports of contemporaries. The extract relating to thie ma.tter is transla.ted further on, and is edited in the original Ara.bic. It is not oleae whether Firuz rebelled because al-Mahdi wanted to move to the Ma.gbrib, as narra.ted iri the Biro. (113-115}t 01' a.l-Mahdi had to give up the idea of going to the Ya.man because Firiiz preceded him there, as is stated in the lftittil),. In any case the reasons of the rebellion of FIruz were obviously more serious than the fear of certain discomfort oonnected with the journey. :Most probably the choice was between the quiet a.nd certain position of an ordinary Imam. in the Ya.mant and of the ambitious programme of the MahdiJ u the sun rising from the West".

The reason for the disillusionm.ent of the Qarmatian brothers, and their wild Bedouins, is quite obvious - their own defeat, fol' which they, regal.'Wng themselves as al .. Mahdi'a army, laid



the blame on him. The army of the Mahdi cannot be defeated. But they suffered a defeat. Therefore their master was not the Ma.hdI. It is highly probable that the story in the lstitiir


of their having slaughtered the relatives of aJ-Mahdi and pillaged

his house only at the last moment, when everything seemed lost, is quite true. 1

The reasons for the rebellion of Abu C Abdi'l.lah sah-Sht' i are more difficult to trace, unless we admit that the realisation of his 'failure to make al-Mahdi merely a, puppet in his hands played an important part. The hints that he had discovered that al-Ma.hdi was not an Imam, but an ordinary dci'i, are highly improba.ble. It is more likely that he suffered some disappoint .. ment in regard to the Mahdi .. ism of his master. If al-Ma.hdi was really nothing but a temporary Imam-guardian, in charge of the real Imam, aJ·Qii/im, who was a minor, not more than 17 years of age, there would be nothing extraordinary on the part of al-:Mahdij at least his right to ~e rank would ha.ve been equal to that of Abu 'Abdi"lrlAh himself. The offioial appointment of aJ.-Qa.'im as heir apparent a.lmost immediately a.fter the exeou .. tion of the rebels may look suspicious. But it could easily have been dictated also by quite natural fears of another plot, which, if suocessful, would have undono much of what had been achieved so far with so much sacrifioe and labour. In any case, complete accord appears to reign through all the re .. lations between al-Mahdi and al-Qa'im. Although, as we have seen, cf. p. 45, al~Mahdi had many sons, of which there is no doubt, he never astempted to sppolnt one of them as his successor. and they: ~ever pla.yed any important part. Only s£ter his death a certain "Ibn ':t'aliit al-Qurashi" rose in Tripoli, claiming a.utho-

1 It might a.ppear as if the slaughtering of al-Mahdl's family was a kind of revenge for his II desertion It, and his farilure to ta.ke his place at the head of the forces that were fighting for him. But this would be an illusion. In fact, it was not BO. His conduct was a.pparently regarded as quite natural: a.l-M.a.hdt simila.rly took no part in Abu 'Abdi'l-lih ash·Shill's campaigns, and in general never commanded an army in the field. The same was tho case with the Abbaaids when Abu Muslim was fighting for them, and with ma.ny earlier Alid insurgents.



rity for himself because he was So son of 1L1 .. Mahdi. But he is sta.ted to have been a pretender. It would be difIicult to regard him as suoh in case he was a real prinoe. Surely, all sons of al-MabdI were well known to everybody.

To sum up, the doubts as to the genuineness of the rights of al.Mahdi, which nre derived from this survey of the known faots regarding the defection of his closest collaborators, point m.ore to their disagreement with his ambitdoua assumption of the pm of the expected Mahdi rather than to any doubts tha.t he was not the Illls,m, or the father of al-Qa.'im.

In my paper "Ismsllis a.nd Qarma.tians" (JBBRASf 1940, pp. 73 .. 74) I have a.lreadytouohed on the question of the theories of Dr. B. Lewis, in his work mentioned above, conoerning the two v&rieties of Imams, the m'UBtagarr, or real, a.nd the rrl!U8tawda.' , Or acting, tha.t is to say, aoting during the minority of a, rea.l Imam, when the latter succeeded his fa.ther. His "reeonstmo .. tion U of the genealogy of fLl~Qa.'im. (p. 72 of his book), is based on several misnnderstandings,-firstly,. on n. mista.ke in his copy of the GMyatll/Z .. mawaZia, secondly, on the aooeptanoe of the fa.uta.stio (or mystic) theories of the Drusee, and, thirdly, on the introduotion of beliefs whioh only developed much later on. His "reconstruction" of the genealogy of aJ .. Qi'im is quite improbable: Mul}.a.mmad b. Isma'n was almost certainly born about 120/738, and al.Qa'im" the fifth generatdon, died in 334/946. This makes five generations for 214: years, or 43 years per generation, while in the case of the historics,l Fatimids it is only 23. Thus it is obviously unacceptable.

From. a great mass of Indirect indications, sca.ttered in Ismaili and non .. lama.ill sources, it seems highly probable that the earliest ideas concerning the Imamat and the succession approximated to the a.rcha.io type still preserved in Zayilism. To me it seems almost indubita.ble that succession had little that was mystioa.l about it in those early days. The Imam was the eldest member of the family. Thus) aa we have seen, ij:asan suooeeds his father C AU; on his death he is succeeded by his' brother ij:usayn,



and the latter, most probably; is succeeded in his turn by his half- brother, Mu1;lammad b. al .. ijanafiyya. After him. later on 'Ali b. ~UBa.yn (Za,ynu'l .. 'ibidin) succeeds as the eldest in the family. Similarly," MulJ,a.mmad b. Ismi'tl, according to the ouabom, was regarded by many as the rightful successor of hie grand-faeher, Imam Ja'far, although according to the shari'at the successor was his "uncle, MusiL h. Ja'far (as admitted by the Ismailis). In his newly founded community his Imamat, oontinued in his successors, makes his father also an Imam. As we may see, early works, both plain and esoteric, conoentrate their efforts on proving this point. ,It is -qulte proba.ble that the generaJ. attitude to the question of the euoeeesion of al.Mahdi and his immediate ancestors was quite the same, and only after the foundation of the Fatimid dynasty the succession from father to the Bon becomes a, rigid rule, the designation of the heir


apparent becomes irrevocable, the Stot of the '1IAJ,f, receives

the nature of a. divine set, eto. In esoterio speoulations the

r position of the Imam is oontinuously expanding and acquiring grea.ter and greater affinity with things divine. But there is not the slighest reason to believe that suoh was the position at the earliest period.

Such theories as those of the difference between the musta.· gOiN' and m'U8tawda' Imams, or the identity of the Ma,hdi and the Imam belong, without the slightest doubt, to the much later phase in which, under -the Fatimids, the belief that genea.logy and suooesslon are one and the same thing had been universally accepted. The whole list of the early Sbi'ite Imams has been <ha.stically revised, even it ma.y be severa.l tim.es in the course of the evolution of Ismailism. Exception was made only for the ease of ~aaan being succeeded by his brother I1usa,yn, but MuQamma.d h. a.l·~ana.1iyya was forgotten, and his memory wa.s preserved, as that of f1 mUBtawda' Imam, the gua.rdian of Zo.ynu'l_cibidin, then a. minor, in esoteric works only. Similarly, there was rigidly enforced the prinoiple of the impossibility of the heir apparent predeoeasing his own father without compromising



hls rights to the Imamat. But an exception was made for the· case of Iama,'il b. Ja.cfar, explained by a. complex system OfvariOllS proofs from Biblical and Coranio anslogiee, etc. Suoh works as the .A.sraru'n .. 'nlulaqa " quoted fUl'ther on, give glimpses of this mentality. It is possible to colleot ma,ny suoh traces of gradua.l adjustment of the tradition to the later and later religious ideas. For instanee, Hasan disappears later on from the list of the regular Imams with the NizB.ris, and is regarded merely as a. l)'lIdjat (also in a, later, mystioa.l and higher sense).

Thus nothing can be more erroneous than to follow in the footsteps of the religious writers, and to permit oneself to be misled by a.na.ohroniams. There cannot be any doubt tha.t the early Imams were simply Imams, without any difference in their rWJ and that it was absolutely impossible for any nonAlid to be regarded as an Imam, on my pretext wha.tever. There 'was no division into m'UBtaqarr and 'IlIlU8taWda', and there could ha.ve been no necessity for this~ because, as may be very often inferred from the ea.rly works, there WM HI .rigid principle I that a minor etmniOt be tke [maim. Moat probably the'first ease of legitimate suocession of a minor was tha.t of al-1:likim - (in 386/996). Of. aJso Asraru,'fi~n'Ulaqa.', Texts, pp. 89-90.

It may be noted that even the idea of the q.ijab, or of a. digni .. tary whose duty 'Was to pretend to be the Imam, thUB sheltering the real holder of the o:ffi.oe~ did not appa.rently come into use before the third/ninth o., and does not seem to have been extensively used. But it is quite obvious tha.t such "screens" had nothing to do with the genealogy and the succession of the real Imams.

We have now to analyse the doubts raised by the Gkayaflu'l-matvcIliclJ referred to above (cf. pp. 20-23), a late esoterio work, whioh tradition regards as the work of Sayyid~ni al .. Khat~a.b, who died in 583/1138. This, however (&8 mentioned above, p. 22) is highly doubtful; most probably it is a. production of a much la.ter period. It contains several surprising revelations reg8rl'ding the history of the Fatimids. Firstly, al.Mahdi was



not a. real, mwtaqarr, Imam. He was not the cUba.ydu'l~la,h or' Abdu'l~liih, known to history. We must presume in general tha.t this 'ubaydu'l~lith never really existed. In reaUty al~Mahdl was Mu1;lammad (son of A"Qmad the Imam, we must presume), surnamed Sa,'id, or Sa'idu'I.Khayr, who in all other works is regarded as the uncle and the guardian of al-Mahdi ('Ubaydu'l.lih).

Secondly, al-Qa.'im, the second Fatimid caliph, was not his son, but the son of the fourth concealed Imam, 'Ali, entirely unknown from. any other sources, either Ismaili or non-Ismaili. He died on his way to the Maghrib, leaving his son and suocessor in the oharge of this Sa'id, who Ia.ter became known as al~Mahdi.

We have no sources either confirming or direotly contradicting these sta.tements, and ca.n only rely on the Dtna.lysis of known dates. The only indica.tion that may be relevant is the strange faot that the author of the K. aJ-Az'klilr counts the Imama.t of. aJ·Mahdi from the date of bis departure from Salamiyya (apparently a parallel to the hijra of the Prophet) which according to his caloulations faJIs in 283/896 (of. p. 31).

The only da.te in this obscure period whioh is available, and which can be to a. certain extent {but by no means unreservedly} relied upon, is that of the birth of al-Mahdi the caliph, 259-260/ 872-873. If al-Mahdi was' Abdu'I.Iah, his father (and if he was Mul;tammad b. AJ.-tmad, his brother) al-Jilusayn died when he was only about 8, according to the best available inform.a.tion, that is to say, in 268/881-2. .Although it is by no means certain, it seems that the despatch of Ibn J;[awshab to the Yaman with his mission was an act of this aJ-~usayn, in 266j880, Thus, if aJ.-Mahdi was Mu1;Lammad b. ~mad, a. brother of al-Husayn, the following, consequenoes seem to follow. Firstly, al-Husayn was Imam for a. very short period, as his brother was born to him in 260/873. Secondly, that he was succeeded by this unknown 'AlI, who ruled for at least the period 268-288/882-896, i.e. for fifteen years, without leaving the sZigktSBt trace of his existence, despite his proximity to the fully historical period of the existence



of the sect. Thirdly, the date of 283/896, for al-Mahdi's depar .. ture from Su,la.miyya. is rather too ea.rly,- he left not before 287/90') a.t which time nJ~Qit'im was a child, who had to be entrusted to a guardian. Thus an Imam, who was in office for 20 yea.rs. and must therefore have been not less than about 35-40 yea.rs of age, had no other sons exoept this ohild,- a situa.tion which seems somewhat improbable.

All this is an aocumula.tion of details which make it difficult to accept the theory. But there are other considerations also. If this' Ali died on the way to the Maghrw, as stated in the OMyatu'Z .. mawiiliEd, the question arises who was the real Mahdi,he, or his uncle Sa'id 1 There is no doubt that the great revolt in N . .Afrioa. was a M al"li movement, and it is extremely diffioult to believe that if he really claimed to be the Mahdi, but died on the way. his place could have been taken by his much younger relative in suoh a way tha.t no one noticed the faot, and that even his name. and his very existence, remained unknown to anyone. This theory places considerable stra.in on the imagination, especially when contrasted with the pla.in and na.tura.l version of the offioial Fatimid tradition ..

Turning to the latter, we ma.y attempt to see whether there is any name mentioned whioh could form. the cc substratum If of the legend. The only name tha.t suggests itself is that of the person, mentioned in the 18titar only, known as Abu Mu1;la.mma.d, the brother of al~Mahdi. We do not know whether he wa.a elder or younger than the l&tter l and whe..t hie. own name wa.s ~ he ma.y be anyone, including the C Ali, mentioned in the GMyatu'l • .. mawdlid. It is briefly stated tha.t he remained, with other members oftha family, at SaJ.amiyya, after the :flight of al~Mabdi, obviously regarding himself as safe from any danger. He had some descendants (97 t 102) was suffering from sn illness I and died on the da.y the "Qarms..tian" forces, after the siege of Damaaeus, anived in Sa.la,miyya, Le, in the middle of 290/903.

But again doubts arise from the laoonism of the available sources: it is noteworthy that in the same place it is stated that


when the "Qarmatia.n" brothers previously arrived in Salamiyya (in oonneotion with their complaints, and negotiations ooncerning the dismissal of the eldest, as the I8titiLr na.rrates), they addressed themselves to this Abu Mu1).ammad, but were informed that he was not (or no longer was 1) the Imam, and tha.t the real. Imam, al-Ma.hdi, had left. The reference to this strange inoident (surely, the man who claimed to be the ohief do,';' of an important provinoe 'should have known who was his Imam), appa.rently preserves in an extremely simplified form an allusion to a very knotty situation.

The most likely solution of this his~orioal puzzle is that the rea} happenings have Buffeted later from attempts to force the 'earlier history of the seot into religious moulds evolved at 8t much later period under the Fatimids, under the influence of an entirely changed outlook and conditions. It is possible therefore to suggest, quite tentatively and hypothetica.lly, a, scheme of reconstruotion of the events. Most pro ba.bly &1- ~1:lU8&yn b. Al}.mad was the Imam who died. ca. 268/881-2, a.nd waa succeeded by his brother, Mu\l.ammad b . .Al;tmad, surnamed. Abu' Ali al-'ij:akim, or Sa'Id, who was the eldest male member of the family, and was regarded as an ordinary Imam, in accorda.nce with ea.rlier ideas. He himself died ca. 283/896, a.pparently leaving some posterity~ as referred to in the latitiiJr. Apparently he was succeeded by his eldest nephew, Abu Mu1;ta.lll1ll;a.dJ mentioned in the 18titar, the elder brother of al .. Ma,hdi, as the eldest member of the ~amily. But the latter, being siokly and not very active, most probably was superseded by his a.mbitious and energetic younger brother, ~ Abdu'l-lab, later known a.s al-Mahdi. This caused discontent ill certain circles, and the defeotion of ~amdan surnamed al~Qarma~, the chief Meaopota.. mian iM/i, residing in Kalwadha, near Baghdad. The latter himself apparently rea.lly absconded, possibly apostatized, or died (being obviously a very old man), and nothing more was heard about him. His secretary, and possibly sueoeasor-destgnate, C Abdan., remained in touch with Sa.la.miyyar, although to &


certain extent in opposition. At this time Zakriiya h. Mahdllya" Le, Abu Mul,la.mma.d (or Abu Mal},miid, as he is called by Ta,bari) Zakariyi b. al·Mahdi al.Kiifi, the chief llii/f, of Southern Mesopota.mia, died, and his eldest son, Yal}.ya., known as ~a.Q.ibu'n.nii.qa, "the owner of the miraoulous she .. camel", appa.rently succeeded him as the ohief da'i. But the ambitions of Ya1}.ya. and his brothers apparently led to a olash with his NorthMesopotamian colleague, C Abda.n. Under pretext of disloyalty to the Imam, he disposed of 'Abda.n, thus causing ill-feelings in the community, and perhaps even a. major split: in the absolute darkness of this period we cannot be sure as to whether this split in faot may not have brought into existenoe the real Qar. matian movement of the South. As a. measure to plaoate 'the supporters of (Abd6..n, Yah..yi was dismissed by the Imam (i.e, a.l.Ma.hdi, as mentioned in the latifiir, 96, quite unequivocally). He, Yag,ya.1 acting in full accord with his brothers, tried by negotiation to settle the dispute, and to obtain reinstatement in his office, but fa.iled. Thereupon the brothers personally went to SoJa.miyya. to settle the dispute, but did not .flnd al .. Mahdi there .. It is more than probable that the aJf~ which aceom·, panied the dispute. the split, the murder of one of the ohiefs, eto., could not have rema.ined hidden, and that the caliph's government really intended to taJte aotion against the Salamiyya headqusrtera, In a. legendary form this is found in the story of the laatar regarding the local Turkish governor, who wormed out the secret, and blackmailed aI-.Mahdi.

One of the most interesting details is the story of the brothers ILpplying to al-Ma.hdi's brot16e'r Abu Mu1;tammM. Was this an attempt to proclaim him the Imam 1 They obviously had oome not only for the settlement of their personal matters, but also for a. sort of a, council of war, to plan defensive operations aga.inst the Baghdad ca.liph. At a,ny rate, immedia.tely a.fterwards the elder brother, Ya1;tya., goes to the Bedouin tribes, who were already converted to Iamallism, in order to mobilise a force; his. younger brother, s.l-I;lusa.yn, Abu Mahzul of the l.stitlir,


known to history as S8JJibu'sh.shii.ma, or eil}_ibu'! .. khltl, i.e. "the possessor of the (prophetio ~) mole" I remains as a sort of a lia.ison offioer between al-Mahdi in his seoret refuge, and his own brother; and the youngest. Mul}.ammad, a.pp&rrently returns to Kufa to aot. as 3 deputy to his brother in his original headquartera. "I'he rest of the story is narrated in the IBtitiilr, and is suffioiently

known from general history.

If we suppose that the Abu Mul}.ammad, mentioned here as the brother of al .. MahdI, was really the mysterious '.Ali. and the father of al .. Qa.'im, who really died. in Salamiyy&' from illness while prepaeing to start on his journey to the l\[aghrib, many difficult situations arise, as already mentioned a.bove (p. 67). If he really reigned for twenty years, why has his name fallen so completely out of th~ history of the sect 1 Why was M~am. mad b. Ahmad given the name of ~ Abdu'l.la.h, and why was al-Ma.hdi generally treated as a different person ~ We should ha.ve to introduce a large number of cc correotions" : Abu Mul}.am. mad was not a brother of al-M~di, al·Qa'im was not hia son, ~Abdu'l·lih b. al .. Husayn never existed, the story of M~ammad b. ~mad having been his guardian is an invention, and so on. It looks as if this mysterious C Ali is a mere product of nnaginstion; but, at the same time, it is difficult to be certain of this. We Dan therefore only postpone a. .final decision until more materials come to light.

To sum up, it does Dot seem that the doubts which arise from the various reports found in Ismaili sources, or other fa.ots which evoke suspicions, are sufficiently strong to shake the traditional version very seriously; but this is without prej udioe to the question whether that version is true, or not.

3. A PO'I'trait of aZ-Mahdi.

To the details conoerning al .. Mahdi Bond his fa.mily, reviewed 'above, an interesting addition ma.y be made,- namely what most pro ba.bly is quite 0. reliable and true indioation as to his personal appearance. This is found in the 8har1)la'Z .. akkbar,



by QiLQi an .. Nu'man, mentioned above, in the :fifteenth book, dealing with the prophecies concerning the Ma.hdi. A special cha.pter is here entirely devoted further on to propheoies eoncerning his advent; we may simply analyse the matter without going into the general nature of this kind of historical inf0l'1!lation.

As is known, amongst other matters oonnected with the expected advent of the Mahdi, that is Divinely guided Deliverer of the world, some prophecies set out certain features or physical qualities which the promised Messiah should possess. Both Sunnite and Shi'ite traditions preserve references to these. As is already pointed out by the Iate D. S. Margoliouth ("011 Mahdis and Ma.hdiism ,. , in the Proceeding8 oj the British .Academy, vol. VII. pp. 9-10), such references are already found in the collection of the 1}.aditTt.8 of Abu De.'iid (202-275/817-888), from whioh they were derived by different later authors. "It is here that a. desoription of the Mahdi is given: his nose is to be of a particular shape, and his hair of a particular out". Of. also D. B. Macdonald's article in the E.I., vol. III, p. 114b.


It seems very probable tha.t if such physical features were

already described in the ea.rliest versions of such prophecies, they were adjusted on different occaeions to fit diffe~t claim- 8tD.ts. In. Shi'ite litera.tuxe they were numerous. The Ithna .. • C ashari versions most proba.bly were modelled on the traditional description of C Ali ibn Abi ,+s,lib himself 1, perhaps with certain modifications. We find many of these in the grea.t· Shi'ite Encyclopaedia, the BiqlLru'l-anwar, of Mo1.lammad Baqir h. MU~lanllnad Taqi Ma.jIisi, vol. XllI (completed in 1078/1667; lith. IQfahan, 1304).

On p. 11 it is stated that the Mahdi will be a. man from the progeny of Fi~ima, young, of middle height, with handsome face. with hair hanging to his shoulders, with hooked nose, and

1 As is well-known. the traditional portrait of 'All wa.s that of his ripe age. probably not long before his death: he was rather short in stature, corpulent~ with big stomach; of darkish complexion. big black eyes, tall forehead. eigns of incipient baldness. When he was smiling or speaking, he showed a full mouth of excellent teeth.



high forehead. This is said on the authority of Jibir (ibn 'Abdi'!-la.h) a1~.Anrilari, who heard it from Imam MuJ}.o,m.m.a.d 0,1- .. Bl,qir. Other prophecies (page 10) invariably add a fat stomach (whioh the Arabs regarded as the sign of bravery). Some other prophecies add moles between shoulders, or on the face.

QaQi Nu'man quotes four lJ.adithB which in ma.ny respects resemble all these. But of the foregoing features only the hooked nose is left: the fat belly, and different moles are not mentioned. Instead of these other features are referred to.

Tradition no. 11: "From the !taditk narrated by Sufyan ath-Thawri, who related it from the Prophet. who said: the Ma.hdi will be a. man, descending from me. I see his fa.ce shining like a glittering star: his oomplexion will be as that of tho Arabs, and his figure like the figure of ill Jew" .

Qag.i Nu'man adds: "And so it was with al-MahdI, who wa.s handsome, one of the handsomest faced man. His face really was like a "glittering star JJ, as the Prophet described it. The glit~ring star is the one whioh shines muoh, And so it was in the case of al-Mahdi: his ~ace was lit and luminous, as if light radiated from it upon those who were looking at him. The expression "his complexion will be that of the Arabs" comes true because it was the same as that of the Prophet of God, the lord of the Arabs,-light3 with red showing through it. It was that which Arab connoisseurs in such matters call Ie 80ft bronzed" ,- the term abyaq" "white", is not used in appliea .. tion to the complexion of human beings. This colour is found in the ma.jority of the Arab noblemen, and is regarded as the most a.ttraotive .

.And the worda of the Prophet: "his body will be like the body of a' Jew" refers to the circumstance that Jews are usu8tlly well bUilt, in a. great majority of oases hea.vier than the .A.r&bs.l

1 Anyone who has seen various kinds of Oriental J eWB will be s._ur:prised to read this. But this is not merely 80 matter of ta.ste: this is ohVlously a variant of the element of corpulence, found in othel' traditions. A respeotable, highly placed man must not be thin, looking underfed 01' emaciated; and the Jews, UBUally leading EL sedentary life, were obviously more inclined to corpulence than the .Arabs.



'And so was a.l.Ma.hdI,- handsome, portly, strongly built, Everyone who would walk by his side would look smaller in oompaeiaon with him. And the same was the case with all those to whom the Imamat was transferred after him, till now. God has given them superiority, handsomeness, and perfeotion.

During the days of his life in disguise a.l~Mahdi was trying to concoal himself, and make himself unnoticeable, but could not: wherever he went, everyone who was spying for him, on seeing him, would say: "by God, this must be a prince; he cannot be a shopkeeper or trader, as he says he is ".

The same was the case with' al-Ma"nliJur when he tried to disguise himself in order that he might overhear what some people said. He used to change his dress, putting on different elothes, and mixing with the crowd, ordering them not to show him signs of respect, but to trea.t him as one of themselves, and they did BO. He did this in some of his journeys, but could not hide his identity. He entered in disguise certa.in frontier fortresses, occupied by people who have never seen him before, but was recognised by them. He did this after his viotory over the accursed Mukhlid, when the latter was ta.ken prisoner; and' also when Mn'ta.dd b. ,Mu1;tamma.d b. Jazar was in prison. When they saw him, both of them recognised him, a.lthough they had never seen him before. The Arabs have a proverb about such things: U alaa, the moon oa.nnot be concealed " .

Tradition no. 12. U Said 'Abdu'l-l8.h b. 'Uma.r wha.t was :reported to him, or tra.nsferred to him. from the Prophet:' the M&hdi will be given the strength of ten people •

.And 80 it teeny was with a.l.Ma.hdi, who was physically

. .

very strong, and famoua for this! since his early days".

Tradition no. 13. fC One of the 'Q,a.ditkB of Qa.tida., ascending to the Prophet, who said: aJ. .. Ma.hdi will have a high forehead, and aquiline nose. He shaJl fill the earth with justice and equity even as it has been :filled with injustioe and oppression II •

'f And so it was the oase with oJ..Ma,hdi, who had. a hooked nose a.nd open forehea.d,- both qualities being regarded as



the most attra.otive. And he really filled the oountry that had oome under his authority with justice; and those who come after him, his descendante the Imams, will fill with justice the rest of the earth, with their preaching. Its foundation has been laid by him, as we have already mentioned above. One of the past Imams was asked: art thou the Mahdi ~ And he replied: how can I be the Ma.hdi when I am an old man 1 And he took the hand of one of those who were asking, and passed it over his skin, saying: al·Mahdi should be the one who does not require help in mounting a horse".

Tradition no. 14. "It is narrated £rom C .Abdu'l-lah h.

Mas'iid, from what reached him from the Prophet, that the latter said: the Mahdi will not have a single white hair in ms head or his beard".

"And so it 'Was the case with al-Mahdi. WheD. he became the Imam, suoceeding the Imam who was before him, a.ppointing him as his sucaessor by a na,q, as the MaMJ&'Z .. a'imma (or Mukili/Z. -a'imma ~), and his dO/is began to preaoh this everywhere, he was young, passing from boyhood to the age of young men, and being a very handsome young man ".

It is quite obvious that Qi9I Nu'man was miting this after the death of al.M~iir (334-341/946-953). And. although his tone is clearly laudatory when he refers to his masters, it is diffioult to believe that he could oompletely pervert facts, known to a wide Dumber of his contemporaries. Therefore we may safely expect that his rema,rke are quite reliable, and contain historical truth. WhELt he says about aI"Mahdi's age at the time of his succession, fits very well the assumption that he became an Imam about 283/896: he was then just over twenty years of age.

In any caae, Q84i Nu'min is fully entitled to speak with authority on such a ma.tter as the a,ppea.ranoe of aJ·Ma.hdi. As is known, he came into his service in 318/925, and undoubtedly

__ '

.. han- ample ohanoe of seeing him during the nine last yea.rs of his reign.


....... __ • --- ..... __ ... , ..... _, ......... - ... ... ....._ ... ' _ _... ..... __ .. - ........ _ ....... -.____ ~ ... .., ... -., -- .......... ---_ .... - .. - ..... .,0;:---- - .. _-_ --- -~ - .... '-


The history of the Shi'Ite movement, of which Iamaillsm was one of manifestations, has not yet received the attention which it deserves. Wha.t is available in early Ismaili sources has been colleoted in my paper~ "Early Shi'ite Movements" (JBBRAS, 1941, pp. 1-23). What can be gathered from Ismaili sources about the origin of the sect is discussed in another paper, "Ismailis and Qarmatians" (tJBBRAS, 1940, pp. 4:3-85), and the further history of the family of the Imams is traoed above. on pp. 29-415. Summed up in a few lines, the pioture appears to be approximately as follows. Mu1;lamma,d h. rema'il, who esoaped to Persia, and most probably lived somewhere on the confines of Khiizistan and N. Firs, found a certain number of supporters and followers, just in the same way as othel' Alids did. On his death, most probably soon after 180/7961 his party, or sect, split between his different sons, and a. considerable proportion of his following, making much capital out of his being the seventh· in succession from 'Ali b. Abi 'ralib, adopted the belief that he, being the seventh Imam, should also be the seventh Na.tiq, or Great Prophet, whose mission was to reveal the last, final, and perfect religion which would fill the earth with justioe. Suoh beliefs have left. ~dellible traoes in the esoteric doctrine of Ismailism; simila.r theories, ali we see from the account of different 8hi'ite sects of tha.t period, were very often adopted in respect of other Alida on their deaths. But,. in the atmosphere of the strong living spirit of Shi'ite aspira.tions, such sects, of the waqifa, or waqfiyya' type, apparently naver lasted long. E'xpectations of the U return in glory" of this or that Sbi'ite saint were quite aooepteble, but life insistently demanded something bangible, and most proba.bly in all cases the partisans of such sects gr~{lna\1y filtered into the groups



supporting this or that new candidate. It is quite possible that one of the sons of the late Muhammad h. Isma'n, c: Abdu'l-lih (whose existe~ce is doubted by Tab8lri, ill, 2218, and who possibly was the real U impious' Abdu 'I-lab. b. Maymiin "), proved to be stronger than the other brothers in the struggle, and won the day. He settled in Salamiyya, probably in the beginning of the third/ninth c., living in disguise, and gradually his and his successors' efforts at propsganda were crowned with considerable success. In this they profited by the unrest and discontent prevalent in the Abbasid sta.te, and espeoially, the failures and discords in the other Shi'ite sects, from whioh followers could be won over as time passed. .

If all this is to some extent true,- and this seems very likely,-this ( ... ~bdu'l .. Uth could only have been a, genuine descendant of Mll1:tammad b. hnUi.'tt: rarely is the argument of cui p"0dest so convincing. He supported the principle of the continued Imamat because he was the person who would benefit from its acceptance by his followers, and he could claim this only because there was no doubt as to his right. It is quite possible that an early Shi'ite theologian, a. contemporary of Imam J a,r far atJ-Sitdiq, (Abdu'l~Iah h. Maymiin aJ. .. Qaddi1;t.. together with others, had some oonnection with the aeot, perhaps in its earliest phase,- this is entirely ObBCUl'e~ But it seems utterly improbable tha.t he could "pose" as an Imam, and become the progenitor of the Fa.timids. Most probably he was elder than Mu}.l.ammad b. ~a.'il, and it is very unlikely that he survived him. Even if he did, there is little doubt that he would have supported the Messianio beliefs regarding the deceased Imam, himself assuming the rank of his snpreme lientenant. high priest, or wha.tever it ma.y bel which would give him a complete control of the whole movement. .This, in fact, was the course adopted by the founders of the sect of the Drusea two centuries later.

The question of the relation between the Iem.aili.s and the Qa.rma.tia.ns, and also of the religion of this latter sect, is extremely



complex, and this complexity obviously comes from great eonfusion of terms, wrongly applied to different religious groups. The only sense tha.t we can get from the coufiioting reports is that the local Lower Mesopotamian term, lcarmitha. or karmuthii, unknown to Ara.bic elsewhere, implied sn agriculturist, a villager 1. This later on was Arabicised into qarmal, which had different meanings in Arabic 2. This occurred in oonneotion with the name of a. prominent 1000.1 leader, [jamdin Qarmah and the whole group W8B treated as his followers, as "named after him H, although ma.ny of its members possibly had no real oonneotion with him.

Looking into available reports, snoh as that of Tabari and others, we find an extraordinary combina.tion of the most irreoonoilable religious elements reported as forming the Qarmatia.n religion. Rejeotion of formal Muhammadan worship ('l'UfrJ;u'~.~ahir) is mentioned side by side with a maniacal external piety in the form of ,fifty Ialamio daily prayers obligatory on every member 8. An extraordinary collection of Imams of rival branohes are supported: Ismaili, Kayaanite, and others 4. In some beliefs we may recognise a connection with the Kaysaniyya, in others with the Khattabiyya; and even Kharijit.e ideas are common. All this presumes a. certain amount of syncretism, which would be quite probable in the beliefs of the masses, in whioh all these sects, at different times, found many recruits. But it is obvious that there must be certain limits even in the

1 Cf. L. Ma,ssignon's artiole on the subject, "Ene. of Isla.m It, vol. II, p.767. Almost every a.uthor o£fare his own version. Atpresonti, according to the statement of a specialist on Lower Mesopotam.ia, it appears that the expression is no longer used.

2 In Ara.bia the root q~'·-m·' moons "to walk, making short steps", and thence U to write closely", etc.

8 Taba.ri, III, 2126. His reference is quite unique; moat probably it refers to only 0. smaJl community.

4. It must be oa.refully noted, however, that as no genuine Qarmatie.n literature is preserved. all, such references are necessarily derived from various non-sectarian authors, who with the rarest exceptions ara not only unreliable, but usually deliberately misleading. In a.ny case, no reference is known to a.ny lro.a.m of the "saZ Qarma.tians, Le, the Qa.rma.tians of Ba.l,;lrayn.



worst cases of syncretism, and it seema highly probable that there were distinot groups, perhaps even rival sects, which were all sweepingly styled cc Qarami~a", or Qarmatians, without any regard to details. Then, when the "Qal'matians I' of Bal}rayn made their name hateful to the whole of the Islamic world, such confusion was perpetuated consciously and deliberately.!

Information concerning the U Qa,rmatians" of Ba,1}.rayn, and their real beliefs, clearly points to their close connection not with l\1esopotamia., but with S.W. Peraia,-Janniba., f;lira.f, eto. It is quite possible that they must ultimately be classed as a variety of the Ismailis (as both these sects are persistently connected in all reports), and different features in what little transpires about their religion may give, some ground for the snggestion that it may have been a development of the original 1.oliqifa phase of Ismallism, expecting the "return" of Muhammad b. Isma'Il, complicated by other Shi'ite and even I(harijite influences. Most probably these had very little in common with Fatimid Tsmafliam, both in letter and spirit, Neither did Fatimid Ismailhim present a. toned down form of the C( original revolutionary ideas" of the U Qarmatians", nor was the religion of the Abu Sa'idis of Bal,1rayn in any way dependent on the doctrine of the Fatimids. Both obviously were products of separate lines of evolution, of different social and economic, conditions, ethnic milieus, etc.

The success of the Fa.timid propaganda was not due to any supernatural causes. The S11i'ite movement had already atta.ined quite a respectable age of almost two centuries, and was still vigorous despite the absence of prominent flgures amongst the crowd of candidates for the leadership, Even the most important of these, the future line of the 'I'welvers, temporarily


1 That the word Qal'moito'l was used as an abush76 term cleal'ly appears from the fact that the authors of the latiUM' and Si1'at of Ja'far apply it to the ~W)ibutsh-sh§.m8, the YOWlger brother, although they do not apply it to his elder brothel', $a.l)ibu'n-naqa.. Both knew quite well that these ., Qt\r8mi~a l~ were really Ismailis, devout followers of al-l\{ahdi, and had

nothing to do with the Qa.rmatians of Bn1}myn, who looted Mekka, ,



lost all their prestige in the second half of the third/ninth o., on account of family discords and the unworthy behaviour of some of its members. The Abbasid empire was already a matter of the pasts and new dynasties were springing up in all provinoea. Economio distress, due to unsettled conditions, was growing,

The extraordina.ry triumphs of the Fatimids, following eaoh other in quick suocession, were obviously due to this widespread discontent and unrest, coupled with a. favourable superstitious atmosphere, widespread and ardent expectations of the advent of the promised Messiah, the Deliverer, who was. due to make his appeara.nce by the end of the third contury afterthe death of the Prophet. Strangely enough, though there are many reports of insurrections led by different Alids in conneotion with the similar beliefs concerning the end of the first century A..:a:.~ reports of similar' risings at this period are remarka.bly few. Obviously the Fatimidst and al-Mahdi, staked their a.ll on this,- and won, completely overshadowing, their competitors.

Sorutinizing the map of the Ismaili movement at this period we may to some extent perceive the mainsprings of ita meohanism. The mission to the Yaman is sent in 266/879, and by 293/906 the province is completely under the oontrol of Ibn ~awshab. The activities of the U Qarmatia.ns JJ in Lower IvIesopotamia begin, as Ta.ba.ri a.ttestsl in 278/891; and although the main effort" probably badly organised, the invasion of Syria in 290/903, fails, repeated raids oontinue long after this. tJltimately comes the grand insurrection in the Maghrib, which in 297/909 crowns the success of the Fatilnids, and permits them to lay the foundations of a new caliphate, The only corner where their aotivities did not produoe any visible result was "Daylam ", i.e. the Caspian provinoes with the adjoining Elburz mountainous belt.

Lower l\iesopotamia, with the neighbouring parts of Khiizistanl whioh was apperentlythe eradle of the Ismaili movement, as is known, had a long record of continuous insurrections, led



by different .Alida. The new oities, which rose under the Ara.bs, Ba~a. and Kiifa, originally es military settlements, and later as importa.nt trading centres 1, were always famous for their turbulent population, and were hotbeds of unrest. This is usually explained by the statement that they were always full of fluid elements, collected from clifferent provinces. It seems, however, from differellt reports of Alid risings that not only the cities, but also the 8awoo, i.e. the rura.l area" contributed to such movementa; and this, as also the mixture of different sects, is easily explatned by the local conditions.

Lower lIesopotamia., a. very fertile, but also a. very unhealthy oountry, 8t real image of hell during the greater part of the year, entirely depends on its canals for cultivation. An irrigation system, as is well-known, requires considereble investm.ent of oa.pital, which only wealthy landlords possess. The labour in such localities is usually drawn from different areas affeoted by economio distress. Agriculturists who for some reason become unsettled in their original habitation, or are pressed by such mctors as religious psrseeusicns, are usually the only labour available on the market. It is exactly what this "karmitM ,,, population WSfJ,- a, motley crowd of herd pressed needy villagers from di:fferent districts, with very various religious beliefs,. customs, etc. Their life in diflioult oonditlons, in great misery, and with not the slighest prospeeb of betterment, most peobebly was terrible, and fully explains their readiness to support any political movement which could promise them even the slight hope of a, change for the better. The gre&t demand for agrioultural labour is shown by the fact of the intense ilnportation of Negro slaves, which led to the well-known and terrible Insurreotion of255-270/869-888 [of, E./., IV, 1213), accompanied by desperate struggle and enormous bloodshed on both aides, and only supplessed with great diflicultYi suoh reports as Tabari's (III, 2127)

1 D8~ was the most important port on the Persian Gulf, and had .uperaedel:l the a.nciE'nt Obolla; and Kiifs. WAS the head of the CM'a.va.n routes across the desert to Syria. and to Mekka.



about the policy of the local governor, Al;lmad b. MUQ,ammad at.,+ayyi, is very interesting. Being appointed in 269/882 as governor of the Western districts of Lower Mesopotami8.r, and residing in Kiifa, he permitted the " Qarmatians", to profess their .religlon, but imposed a tax of one tlJ'Ilii!r per head, collecting by this means large sums. Suoh extraordinarily tolerant policy most probably wa.s not only dictated by financial considerations, but also evidently was endorsed by the practice of attraoting necessary labour, badly needed by the oountry. Apparently suoh magnanimous tolerance towards Shi'ites by no means formed a part of the Abbasid policy in general, as is clear from the subsequent lines, referring to protests of cautious people who warned the government against the "new sect". The restrictive measures, a.pparently taken after the ret~ement of the governor in 275/888 (de Goeje, Mem., 27) by his SUOCe8Sors, led to insurrec .. tions of 279/892, 284/897, 287/900, 288/g01~ and 289/902, before the grand revolt a.nd invasion of Syria.

Economio conditions in "Daylam ", i.e. Caspian provinces, with which the Imams of Sal.amiyya had strong conneotiona, as is persistently indicated by different Ismaili sources, were a. parallel to those in the sawiid of Kiifa and BI),~ra,. Here the belt of rioefields on the coastal plains even to the present day is chiefly cultivated with the help of wha.t ma.y be called U distress labour ", the proletaria.nised surplus labour of the helf sta.rving villages in the adjoining mountainous distriots of Rudbar, Alamfit, ':raliqan, and elsewhere, who for miserable wages do enormously hard work in terrible conditions of oonbinuous excessive humidity, heat or cold. These provinces alwa.ys harboured many Shi'ite sects, and. were the scene of various insurrections which lacked importance only on acoount of'the remoteness of the provinoes from the vital centres of the caliphate.

The Yaman, with its terraced slope oultiva.tion, and the proximity of nomads, probably presented its own economic difficulties, while the grievances of the Bsnn (UlaYF$ eamelmen,



plying between the trading centres of Southern Mesopotamia and Syria, proba.bly were much neerer to those of the Berbers of the remote portions of Ifriqiyya, exploited by the Arab city population ..

Ismaili sources preserve no detailed information as to the aotivities of their headquarters, or individual ilit'i&, until we have an apparently authentic report preserved in the Sira of Ibn Hawshsb (whioh itself, very unfortunately, is lost), relating to as late a date as 266/879. But suoh an act as sending a missionary to the Yamen shows that the practice was not a novelty in other places. In the reports preserved in non-Ismaili literature we m.ay find some interesting referenees, though it is not an easy task to separate the grains of truth in them from inventions and deliberate perversions.

The story of the U origin" Qf the H Qarmatian seat", as narrated by Tn.bari and other early authors, has been carefully analysed, after de Sa.oy~ by de Goejel in his Me.mDire (pp. 10 sqq.): it was repeatedly popularised by many other authors, Sind is familiar to' every student of Ismailism. There 0.1'6, however, m~ny implica.tions in it which com.pletely eseeped the attention of those who were not fa.miliar' with Isma.ili sources. Pieced together with the la.tter, this story, ¥ usua.lly happens after such an operation, shows the ma.tters in a. different light, revealing their true proportions.

In his summ.ary de Goeje aollates two versions of the origin ·of the Qa,rma.tia.n movement. One, by Akhii M$in, whioh is probably taken from the lost work of Ibn Razzam (de Sa.cy, Intr., 168 sq.), and is also quoted in the Fikriat of Ibn an-Nadlm, most probably ultima.tely comes from early Ismail! sources. The other is tha.t of Ta.bari (III, 2124, aq.), based on the report of au Abbasid officittl, MuJ;ia.m.mad b. Di'iid b. aJ.Jarra.l), who

. interrogated a captured Ismalli, supposed to be the son-in-law of the famous Isniaili. a.1i"i Zakriiya b. Mo.hdiiYB!.

. The most interesting point about this veesion.is that it is strictly loO&lised: the scene is laid. on the ~state.s of a rieh landlord,



al-Haytham al-'Ijli~ whom Tabari mentions as early as under 250/864~ and then under 267/880 and 269/882. This gives us some material for the dating of the events. The estate is situated in the distriot of Nahra.yn, or Quae Bahram. A certain ~usayn, a man of asoetic habits, an Ismaili dii'i, comes from Ahwaz, in I{huzistan, which, together with 'Askar Mukram, 80 often figures in these early Ismaili stories. He succeeds in converting several people, including an able and talented local man Hamdan, surnamed Qa.rmat. After this Husayn the iJiL'i is never mentioned again;' probably he leaves the place, and attention is entirely conoentrated on Hamdan, De Goeje speculates as to whether this :Ji[usaYll is the same as ~Iusayn,. son of "Abdu'l-Bh h. Maymiin ,aI-Qadda];l (the latter had by that time been dead for nearly: a century), the fa.ther of al.l\IIahdi. This is obviously highly improbable: the head of the sect, living in strict disguise, would hardly risk going through'the experiences described in connection with this ~U8a.yn 1.

We may note the admirable logic of these stories: 80 missionary oomes to a village. and, amongst others, oonverts a certain capable man. The oonvert takes his new religion with enthusiasm, makes progress in the service of the sect, and, pro .. bably after a considerable time, attains a high position as the Iooal "bishop". It is even not certain whether he really was the chief da';,. Then for the Bole reason that his name was I~amdan the Karmtitha, i.e. S. MeaopotamiELll villager, which he was, Arabicised into Qarmat;, all his compatriots - mrmftthii8,

1 As may be seen from the 18ti:ttir, the Bedouin. tribes of tho Syrian and Mesopotamian desert were converted by the efforts of Abfi'l-lJuslloyn b, al-Aswad, obviously all e~pert missionary of" long standing who was appointed the chief dafi by al-Mahdi .. It may be not altogether improbable tha.t this Abii'l-F.[usa.yn and !,[uBDoyn in Ta.be;ri's ecconnt are one and the same person. ~'he reason that after the conversion of lJamdan he completely vaniahee from the stagej" is quite obvious: as may be seen further on, translations (Texts, p. 100), there is a. precious a.llusion in the A 8'flJ.rutn_ -Nut.aqa' to an important detail of the Fatimid methods of organ.isation of their propaganda.. Missionaries sent from the centre organised local "cells H, which carried on the further spread of the preaohing. Thus, on 1ihe local ',I cell" under 1;[a.mdin being set up, the dd,';;' shifts to aome other place.