Few biographical details are available on Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Quhistani, a prominent Nizari Ismaili author and missionary (da‘i), who flourished in the second half of the 9th AH / 15th CE century and died not too long after 904 AH/1498 CE.
He was born in the district of Mu’minabad, to the east of Birjand, in Quhistan, the medieval name of the south-eastern region of Khurasan. He evidently spent his entire life in that part of Persia.
As mentioned in his sole surviving work, Haft bab, or Seven Chapters (pp. 24, 63), a treatise written at the beginning of the 10th AH / 16th CE century and preserved by the Nizaris of Central Asia, Abu Ishaq was a contemporary of the thirty-fourth Qasimshahi Nizari imam, Mustansir bi’llah also known as Gharib Mirza (d. 904/1498), whose mausoleum is still preserved in the village of Anjudan in central Persia.
As explained in the first autobiographical chapter of his Haft bab (pp. 4-9), Abu Ishaq was born into a non-Ismaili (probably Ithna‘ashari) family and converted to Nizari Ismailism in his youth by a local da‘i. Subsequently, he was appointed to a post in the da‘wa or missionary organisation of the Quhistani Nizaris by the region’s chief da‘i, a certain Khwaja Qasim.
Co-Director and Head of the Department of Academic Research and Publications
An authority in Shi'i studies, with special reference to its Ismaili tradition, Dr. Daftary has published and lectured widely in these fields of Islamic studies. In 2011 a Festschrift entitled Fortresses of the Intellect was produced to honour Dr. Daftary by a number of his colleagues and peers.