Hamdan Qarmat b. al-As‘at (d. 321 AH / 933 CE), was an Ismaili da‘i and founder of the Ismaili movement in Iraq. He came from a village in the tassuj of Badaqla, east of Kufa, and is described as working as a carter when he was converted by the Ismaili da‘i Husayn Ahwazi sometime between the years 260/873-74 and 264/877-78.

The name Qarmat is variously explained as having been derived from Nabataean “Karmita” (red-eyed), or as meaning short in stature, short-legged. After the death or departure of Ahwazi, he became the organiser of the Ismaili movement in the Sawad (a district in the countryside surrounding Kufa) and soon took up residence in the town of Kalwada south of Baghdad. His partner and chief propagandist was his brother-in-law ‘Abdan.

Besides appointing the da‘is throughout the districts of the Sawad, Hamdan and ‘Abdan also trained da‘is for missions abroad. Thus they sent Abu Sa‘id Jannabi first to the coastal regions of Fars and later to Bahrain, and Ibn Hawsab and ‘Ali b. al-Fazl to the Yemen.

Later Hamdan sent ‘Abu Abd-Allah al-Shi‘i to the Yemen for training, from where he proceeded to the Maghrib. There he converted the Kutama Berbers to the Ismaili cause. According to ‘Abd al-Qahir Baghdadi (p. 267), al-Ma’mun, the da‘i of Fars, was a brother of Hamdan.


Wilferd Madelung 1930-2023

Professor Wilferd Madelung

A leading contemporary Islamicist, Professor Wilferd Madelung has made significant contributions to modern scholarship on mediaeval Islamic communities and movements, including Twelver Shi'ism, Zaydism and Ismailism. Educated at the Universities of Cairo and Hamburg, he became Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago in 1969 and the Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford from 1978.

Among his recent publications are Religious Schools and Sects in Mediaeval Islam (London, 1985), Religious Trends in Early Islamic Iran (Albany, NY, 1988), Religious and Ethnic Movements in Mediaeval Islam (Hampshire, 1992), The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate (Cambridge, 1997), and with Paul E. Walker An Ismaili Heresiography (Leiden, 1998). He has contributed extensively to The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Encycopaedia Iranica of which he is also a Consulting Editor, and learned journals.