By Farhad Daftary
The Ismailis have loved an extended, eventful and complicated historical past relationship again to the 8eigth century CE and originating within the Shi'i culture of Islam. throughout the medieval interval, Ismailis of other regions--especially in significant Asia, south Asia, Iran and Syria--developed and elaborated their very own designated literary and highbrow traditions, that have made a superb contribution to the tradition of Islam as a complete. while, the Ismailis within the center a while break up into major teams who assorted non secular leaders. The Nizari Ismailis got here to have a line of imams now represented by way of the Agha Khans, whereas the Tayyibi Ismailis – identified in South Asia because the Bohras – got here to be led by way of da'is (vicegerents of the hid imams).
This assortment is the 1st scholarly try and survey the trendy heritage of either Ismaili groupings because the center of the nineteenth century. It covers quite a few topical matters and subject matters, resembling the modernizing regulations of the Aga Khans, and in addition contains unique experiences of neighborhood advancements in Ismaili groups all over the world. The members concentration too on how the Ismailis as a non secular group have answered to the dual demanding situations of modernity and emigration to the West.
A sleek historical past of the Ismailis should be welcomed because the such a lot whole evaluate but released of the new trajectory of this attention-grabbing and influential Shi'i community.
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Extra info for A Modern History of the Ismailis: Continuity and Change in a Muslim Community
D’après les écrits et les discours de Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan (1902–1954) (London, 2003); and M. Ruthven, ‘Aga Khan III and the Ismaʿili Renaissance’, in Peter B. , New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam (London, 1998), pp. 371–395. For details, see F. Daftary, Ismaili Literature: A Bibliography of Sources and Studies (London, 2004), pp. 84–103, and his The Ismailis, pp. 1–33. For some interesting anthropological case studies of these complex issues in the Muslim–Hindu context, see Dominique-Sila Khan, Conversions and Shifting Identities: Ramdev Pir and the Ismailis in Rajasthan (New Delhi, 1997), and her Crossing the Threshold: Understanding Religious Identities in South Asia (London, 2004), especially pp.
Factionalism was not only evident between the various religious communities but also within each of them. The deprived and harsh conditions in the area resulted in the fragmentation of political and religious authority. Internal conflicts and clashes were as common for the Alawi and Ismaili communities as inter-communal conflicts. However, the latter were sometimes larger in scope and therefore better remembered and documented, if only because Ottoman troops intervened with some regularity. Be that as it may, some of these recollections were committed to writing and published by Alawi and Ismaili authors, since the reconstruction of past events was not only shaped by a contemporary understanding of that past, but even more so by an urgent need to explain current conditions, namely the continuing problematic communal relations after the collapse of the Ottoman order in the wake of the First World War.
Most texts are attributed to Ismaili authors, including the famous Ikhwan al-Safaʾ, or Brethren of Purity, and the Fatimid jurist al-Qadi al-Nuʿman (d. 974), but some religious handbooks also included mystical texts that are not specifically Ismaili. The mystic Ibn Arabi (al-Shaykh al-Akbar) and his teachings on the wahdat al-wujud (oneness of being) also figured prominently in the Syrian Ismaili tradition with its strong mystical undercurrents. The activist mystic al-Hallaj (d. 11 The more specifically Syrian Ismaili sources in the religious repertoire of the shaykhs comprised roughly two types of texts: works attributed to Ismaili daʿi-authors who shaped the local Syrian tradition such as Rashid al-Din Sinan, Shams al-Din al-Tayyibi and Hasan al-Muʿaddil, and religious poetry composed by the Ismaili shaykhs of the Ottoman period.