• The Risala al-mujaza al-kafiya fi adabinfo-icon al-du‘at (A Brief and Concise Treatise on the Code of Conduct for the Da‘iinfo-icons) constitutes the only extant work in Ismaili literature that deals with specific practical aspects of the Ismaili da‘wainfo-icon, an appeal and encouragement to the faith.

    Written by the Fatimid author Ahmad b. Ibrahim al-Naysaburi (11th century CE), it represents a normative guide for the Ismaili da‘is, who functioned as the religious agents and ‘summoners’ responsible for the leadership, instruction and spiritual and social welfare of the Ismaili community.

    Al-Naysaburi’s enumeration of the da‘is’ ideal traits and attributes in the Risala al-mujaza belongs to the wider genre of ‘professional adab’ literature that exclusively addresses groups belonging to certain occupations and instructs them in specific ethical principles and codes of conduct, and which is prevalent in classical Muslim culture. It may also be located in the even older tradition of the Mirror of Princes literature, which dates back to pre-Islamic Persia, and which promoted the ideal practice of rulership.

    Indeed, many of the characteristics of the da‘i listed in the Risala are consistent with the topoi in the Mirror of Princes literature as it relates to the ruler, namely the virtues of piety, chastity, uprightness, mercy, forgiveness, humility and generosity. In this regard, the communal functions of a da‘i also mirror the duties traditionally ascribed to a responsible ruler — that he has to maintain the community, protect the weak, and fight and punish crime, corruption and social disintegration — but with the one key distinction that they are, in this instance, always elaborated within the context of the Ismaili da‘wa.

    The present work constitutes a critical edition and translation of the Risala al-mujaza al-kafiya fi adab al-du‘at. Al-Naysaburi’s treatise is a fascinating testimony to the wide network of a class of individuals charged with proclaiming the da‘wat al-haqqinfo-icon (‘call to truth’) over various frames of time and space. It is thus a valuable resource for students and scholars interested in medieval Islamic literature more generally and the structure and workings of the Fatimid da‘wa in particular.






    Context, Author and work


    Transmission of the Risala al-mujaza al-kafiya fi adabinfo-icon al-duʿat


    Literary tradition


    Reflections of history and intertextuality


    Structure, contents and style


    Manuscripts and editions


    The date of the Risala al-mujaza by Paul E. Walker



    Translation of al-Risala al-mujaza al-kafiya fi adab al-duʿat: A Brief and Concise Treatise on the Code of Conduct for the Daʿīs


    Select Bibliography


    English Index


    Arabic Index


    Arabic Text



  • Paul E. Walker

    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

    Verena Klemm

    Verena Klemm is Professor and Chair of the Institute of Arabic Studies at the University of Leipzig in Germany. A specialist in medieval Muslim history and Arabic literature, Professor Klemm obtained her doctorate in Islamic Studies from the University of Tübingen in 1988 and her habilitation from the University of Hamburg in 1997. Dr Klemm has authored and edited several books including Die Mission des fatimidischen Agenten al-Muayyad Fi d- din in Siraz (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1989),Literarisches Engagement im arabischen Nahen Osten: Konzepte und Debatten(Würzburg: Ergon, 1998),...Read more