• Download a PDF of the Foreword by Nadir El-Bizri 

    The Ikhwan al-Safa (Brethren of Purity), the anonymous adepts of a tenth-century esoteric fraternity based in Basra and Baghdad, hold an eminent position in the history of science and philosophy in Islam due to the wide reception and assimilation of their monumental encyclopaedia, the Rasa‘il Ikhwan al-Safa’ (Epistles of the Brethren of Purity). This compendium contains fifty-two epistles offering synoptic accounts of the classical sciences and philosophies of the age; divided into four classificatory parts, it treats themes in mathematics, logic, natural philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, and theology, in addition to didactic fables. 

    Epistle 48 belongs to the fourth part dealing with Divine-Legal matters. It deals specifically with methods that should be employed in advocating for the cause of the fraternity, and in calling different segments of society to join its ranks. The targeted segments include philosophers, kings, Shi'is, and administrators. Special templates for preachers engaging with these particular categories are provided throughout. It also addresses issues of governance and the ideal city, while emphasising again the primacy of the soul over the body, and the need for followers to know themselves. The Epistle ends with a story based on the famous Bilawhar wa-Budhasaf, given as an illustration of a successful mission. Epistle 48 reveals, more than any other epistle, the political nature of the fraternity and its mission, being, as the editors argue, part of the Fatimid missionary efforts in the period preceding the establishment of the Fatimid Dynasty.



    (39.49 KB)

    Introduction to Epistle 48
    Technical Notes to Epistle 48
    Translation of Epistle 48
    Arabic Technical Notes
    Arabic Edition of Risala 48
    Arabic Index


  • Professor Abbas Hamdani

    The late Abbas Hamdani, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, was born in Surat, India in 1926, received his B.A. (Hons.) and L.L.B. degrees from Bombay University in 1945 and 1947 respectively and his PhD from the University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies) in 1950, in Arabic and Islamic Studies. He taught Islamic History at the University of Karachi from 1951-62; at the American University in Cairo from 1962-69, and since then at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee until his retirement in 2001. His publications focused on the following four fields:...Read more

    Abdallah Soufan

    Abdallah Soufan received his BS in Mathematics, and his BA and MA in Arabic Language and Literature from the American University of Beirut, where he worked for several years as an Instructor of Arabic and Islamic Thought. He has recently received his PhD from Georgetown University. His research investigates dichotomies in classical Islamic thought, including the dichotomies of sunna /bidʿa, veridicality/tropicality, reason/ tradition, word/meaning, and exoteric/esoteric.Read more