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Paradise of Submission: A Medieval Treatise on Ismaili Thought


A new Persian edition and English translation of Nasir al-Din Tusi’s Rawda-yi Taslim. Ismaili Text and Translations Series 5, London: I.B. Tauris in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2005, pp. 287 (English) + 220 (Persian).

ISBN (Hardback): 1 86064 436 8
Synopsis

Publication page on Google Books

Nasir al-Din Tusi, the celebrated scientist and philosopher of the 7th/13th century, produced many of his finest works on astronomy, mathematics, philosophy and various branches of the applied sciences under the patronage of the Nizari Ismailis in Iran. He also composed a number of works dealing with Ismaili thinking of his time, covering areas such as ethics, eschatology, theology and philosophy.

Tusi’s earliest Ismaili orientated work is the Akhlaq-i Muhtashami, (Muhtashmid Ethics), a compilation of 40 chapters on various aspects of ethical behaviour based on the Qur’an, the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, the sayings of the Shi‘i Imams and Ismaili authors, as well as the writings of men of learning from other traditions. This was followed by Aghaz wa anjam (The Beginning and the End), an exposition of Islamic eschatology and spiritual exegesis of the Qur‘an. He then composed Tawalla wa tabarra (Solidarity and Dissociation) on love for the Imam of the time, and Matlub al-mu’minin (Desideratum of the Faithful) which explored the characteristics of a true believer as understood by Tusi.

All these works, including Tusi’s autobiography, Sayr wa suluk (Contemplation and Action) were written in Quhistan, near south-east Khurasan, in present day Iran. At the age of thirty Tusi moved to Alamut, which was then the seat of Nizari Ismaili political power in Iran, where he embarked on the compilation of his most comprehensive Ismaili work, Rawda-yi taslim (Paradise of Submissiion).

Based upon the lectures (kalimat) that Tusi delivered at Alamut in Iran, Paradise of Submission is a treatise which reiterates the Nizari Ismaili teachings of Alamut within a coherent framework. These lectures were subsequently collected and compiled in book form by the famous Ismaili poet and dai of the Alamut period, Hasan-i Salah-i Munshi.

Comprising a total of 27 chapters called tasawwurat(meaning ‘reflections’ or ‘representations’), the Rawda deals with a variety of themes such as the Creator and the cosmos, the nature of human existence, ethics and human relations, religion, eschatology, prophethood and imamat. Additionally, there are chapters on categories of human knowledge, the nature of language, different forms of worship, and the soul’s progression from corporeality to spirituality.

The significance of this book arises not only from its comprehensive, almost encyclopaedic treatment of medieval Ismaili thought, with its characteristic synthesis of theology, philosophy and esotericism, but also from its unique status as the only major doctrinal work of the early Nizari Ismailis to have survived the Mongol invasions of Iran in the mid-7th/13th century.

This new Persian edition and English translation of the Rawda-yi taslim has been prepared by Dr. S. J. Badakhchani on the basis of W. Ivanow’s earlier edition (Bombay: 1950), as well as several known and recently discovered manuscripts of the text which are held in the collection of the IIS Library. The publication also includes an introductory essay contributed by Professor Hermann Landolt, and a Philosophical Commentary by Professor Christian Jambet.
 
 
 


Contents

Preface

Introduction, by Hermann Landolt

Paradise of Submission (English text)

Tasawwur 1

Refutation of the argument of one who denies the Creator, the Sublime, the Exalted, or maintains that there are two deities or two eternal beings, and [demonstrating] that human beings cannot establish a proof for His existence [§1-9]

Tasawwur 2

On the procession of all things from His Almighty and Holy Command, [written] as a catechism [§10-29]

Tasawwur 3

Concerning the question that 'Out of one can only issue one' [§30-36]

Tasawwur 4

Concerning the First Intellect, the Agent Intellect and the Universal Intellect, being three in expression and one in meaning [§37]

Tasawwur 5

Concerning the Universal Soul [§38]

Tasawwur 6

Concerning primordial matter [§39-45]

Tasawwur 7

Concerning universal nature and the universal body [§46-50]

Tasawwur 8

Concerning knowledge of the human soul [§51-66]

Tasawwur 9

Concerning knowledge of the human intellect [§67-77]

Tasawwur 10

Concerning the purpose of the attachment of individual souls to human bodies, and a short account of the composition of the human body [§78-101]

Tasawwur 11

Concerning the essential differentia of each genus and the natural kingdom: mineral, plant, animal and human [§102-106]

Tasawwur 12

Concerning the perfections which the attribute bestows on its subject, and vice-versa, through the permission of God Almighty [§107-109]

Tasawwur 13

Concerning the categories of knowledge: the necessary, the speculative, the instructional and the inspirational [§110-113]

Tasawwur 14

Concerning good and evil, that evil does not exist in initial origination, and [explaining the] existence of the evil that is perceived in this world [§114-132]

Tasawwur 15

Concerning Paradise and paradises, Hell and hells, purgatories and the paths [§133-160]

Tasawwur 16

Concerning Adam and Iblis [§161-182]

Tasawwur 17

Concerning the causes for various differences that exist among the world's inhabitants, and between the followers of truth and the followers of error [§183-207]

Tasawwur 18

Concerning the paucity of the followers of truth and the great number of the followers of error [§208-214]

Tasawwur 19

Concerning demons, fairies and angels [§215-220]

Tasawwur 20

Concerning progression from corporeality to spirituality, and from spirituality to rationality [§221-224]

Tasawwur 21

Concerning the Origin and the Return, this world and the Hereafter, mans coming into this world and his departure from it, illustrating whence he has come, why he has come and whither he is heading, and discussing the resurrection of souls and bodies [§225-264]

Tasawwur 22

On the refinement of character [§265-299]

Tasawwur 23

Concerning various kinds of submission [§300-316]

Tasawwur 24

On prophethood and the imamate, where with respect to prophethood are discussed miracles, pseudo-prophets and the possessed, and with respect to the imamate are discussed pupils, teachers and the hujjats [§317-389]

Tasawwur 25

On the essence of language, the faculties of speech and hearing, and silence [§390-4O1]

Tasawwur 26

Concerning the cycles of the six Prophets with authority, from Adam to Muhammad - peace be upon them - and the truthful Imams - may their mention be sanctified - and the appearance of the mission of the Resurrector, and the proclamation of the mission of Resurrection [§402-482]

Tasawwur 27

On idol worshippers and refutation of their doctrines [§483-518]

Annex

  1. On the nature of spiritual union
  2. On the hierarchy of spiritual knowledge

Appendix

A Philosophical Commentary, by Christian Jambet

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Rawda-yi taslim (Persian text)



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Content Date: March 2005

The Institute of Ismaili Studies - Paradise of Submission: A Medieval Treatise on Ismaili Thought
Last updated: 5/4/2011 14:30