|The Fatimids and their Successors in Yaman: The History of an Islamic Community.|
In collaboration with Paul E. Walker & Maurice A. Pomerantz; Arabic Edition and English summary of volume 7 of Idris ‘Imad al-Din’s ‘Uyun al-akhbar. London: I. B. Tauris in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2002, pp. x + 109 (English) + 397 (Arabic).
ISBN (Hardback): 1 86064 690 5
The recovery of Ismaili manuscript sources in modern times has revealed the diversity of this rich literary heritage, ranging from legal and other exoteric texts to treatises on ta’wil or esoteric exegesis, the hallmark of Ismaili thought, and a variety of theological and philosophical subjects. However, modern progress in Ismaili studies has also shown that the Ismaili da‘is, who were at the same time the scholars and authors of their community, were not particularly interested in historiography. Among the few historical works found in Ismaili literature, the writings of Idris ‘Imad al–Din b. al–Hasan, who led the Musta‘li Tayyibi Ismailis of Yemen as their nineteenth da‘i mutlaq for four decades until his death in 872/1468, occupy a central position. This learned da‘i, who had access to numerous Ismaili sources, in fact, produced several histories including the ‘Uyun al–akhbar, the only comprehensive history of the Ismaili Imams, from the earliest times until the late Fatimid period when Ismailism had already split into its major Nizari and Musta‘li factions.
The seventh and final volume of Idris’ ‘Uyun al–akhbar is published here for the first time in a critical edition prepared by Professor Ayman Fu’ad Sayyid accompanied with a summary English translation. This volume carries the narrative from the time of the Fatimid Caliph–Imam al–Mustansir bi’llah (427–487/1036–1094), and the revival of the Ismaili da‘wa in Yemen under the Sulayhids, to the reigns of al–Mustansir’s next two successors on the Fatimid throne, al–Musta‘li and al–Amir, and the origins of the Tayyibi da‘wa in Yemen under the patronage of the Sulayhid queen al–Malika al–Sayyida (d. 532/1138). This is, indeed, the most important Ismaili source on the early history of the Musta‘li–Tayyibi da‘wa in Yemen reflecting that community’s indigenous tradition. As such, Idris’ account of the origins of Tayyibi Ismailism are in conflict with the version propounded by the Hafizis, the other Musta‘li Ismaili community who recognised as their imams the later Fatimid caliphs, after al–Amir (d. 524/1130), but did not long survive the collapse of the Fatimid dynasty in 567/1171. Similarly, the author’s account of the Nizari–Musta7‘li succession dispute reflects the official view of the Tayyibis, the only surviving Musta‘li community in Yemen and elsewhere — a view that is rejected by the Nizari Ismaili tradition. The Nizaris uphold the rights of Nizar (d. 489/1095), al–Mustansir’s eldest son and original heir–designate who was set aside forcefully in favour of his younger half–brother al–Musta‘li (d. 495/1101) by the all–powerful Fatimid vizier al–Afdal.
The wide range of research projects undertaken, or encouraged, by The Institute of Ismaili Studies serve to reflect pluralism in Islam as well as a diversity of interpretations within Shi‘ism, including not only Ismailism of different branches but Twelver (Ithna‘ashari) and Zaydi Shi‘ism as well. It is in this academic spirit, and in order to further progress in Ismaili studies, that the present important text is offered here in the Ismaili Texts and Translations Series.
Edited from the Foreword by Farhad Daftary
Foreword by Farhad Daftary
Uyun al–akhbar, vol. 7 (English Summary of the Arabic Text)
Index to the English Text
Uyun al–akhbar, vol. 7 (Arabic Text, Bibliography and Indices)
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Content Date: January 2002