The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Ismailis was originally published in English in 1994 and was subsequently translated into Arabic (in 1996), Hungarian (in 2000) and Farsi (in 1997). In the book, Dr. Daftary used the then new scholarship on Ismaili history to establish the extent to which older Western accounts of medieval Ismailis had confused fact and fantasy. The book considers the origins of the mediaeval legends concerning Syrian and Persian Ismailis, and explores the historical context in which they were fabricated and transmitted. It questions how these misrepresentations persisted for so long, and how they influenced European scholarship.
The first event of the book launch, held on 11th May, was attended by representatives of local Jewish, Hindu, Christian and Muslim communities, as well as members of the Portuguese parliament and leading academics. The editor, Dr Vasco, and the translator, Faranaz Keshavjee, spoke at the launch on the importance of this book’s translation into Portuguese. They suggested that such materials should be made available in the libraries of faculties of Oriental and Islamic Studies. Dr. Daftary recounted how the history of the Ismailis had been written and the relevance of his book in understanding the ways in which “imaginative ignorance” had worked previously to encourage the misinterpretations that circulated in Western societies.
The launch continued on the next day in a local bookshop, where distinguished guests attended; readers of the bookshop were present. Judge Counsellor Dr. José de Sousa e Brito, the keynote speaker, marked the occasion by emphasising the ways in which Ismaili history had been written and how misleading information continued to be written until fairly recent times. He complimented both the publisher and the translator for having made this work available in Portuguese.
Dr Daftary concluded this series of events by addressing members of the Ismaili Community at the Ismaili Centre in Lisbon. He talked about the book and described its contribution to the larger fields of Islamic and Shi‘i Studies. This was followed by a book-signing session.
Including this book, various IIS publications have now been translated into ten languages, making significant contributions to many aspects of Ismaili and Islamic Studies worldwide.