Publication

  • The two sermons edited and translated here for the first time are primary material from the years before the establishment of the Fatimid caliphateinfo-icon in 297/909. The authors have been identified as Abu 'Abd Allah al-Shi'i and Abu'l-'Abbas Muhammad, two brothers who were central to the success of the Ismaili da'wa in North Africa. Da'wa, a term used to describe how Muslims teach others about the beliefs and practices of their Islamic faith, therefore provide a unique view of the nature and development of Islam throughout history. In this case, the primary texts shed light on the development of Islam among the Berbers of the Maghrebinfo-icon.

    The first text by Abu 'Abd Allah al-Shi'i shows how the arguments for belief in the Imamateinfo-icon of the family of the Prophet, that is, the Shi'a belief that all imams should be spiritual descendants of the Prophet Muhammad and his household, were developed and presented to bring new adherents to the cause. The Book of the Keys to Grace by his elder brother Abu'l-'Abbas, too, concerns not only the centrality of the imaminfo-icon in the faith but also sheds light on the hierarchy of the da'wa in this early period and its organisational sophistication.

    Both texts also reveal the contemporary theology propagated by the Ismaili da'wa, including for instance, the powerful analogy of Moses/Aaron and Muhammad/'Ali, the awareness of a variety of religious traditions and the use of detailed Qur'anic quotations and a wide range of hadithinfo-icon. As such they constitute primary source material of interest not only for Ismaili history but for this early period of Islam in general.

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  • Prof. Wilferd Madelung

    English
    A leading contemporary Islamicist, 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. Professor Madelung is at present Senior Research Fellow with The Institute of Ismaili Studies. Among his recent publications are Religious Schools and Sects in Mediaeval Islam (London, 1985...Read more

    Paul E. Walker

    English
    An historian of ideas with a focus on Mediaeval Islamic History, Paul E. Walker has taught at McGill University, Columbia University and the University of Michigan. For several years Dr Walker was the Director of the American Research Centre in Egypt, and is currently a Visiting Scholar with the University of Chicago's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He has authored and edited many books on Fatimid history and the formative period of Ismaili thought including Early Philosophical Shi'ism (Cambridge University Press, 1993), The Wellsprings of Wisdom: A Study of Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani's Kitab...Read more