A major Ismaili Muslim scholar and writer who flourished during the first half of the eleventh century AD, Ḥamīd al-Dīn al-Kirmānī possessed a profoundly creative mind, which allowed him to master the theological, philosophical and scientific discourse of his time and to integrate this learning in numerous influential treatises on Ismaili thought. His knowledge and scholarship were on a par with the best of his contemporaries, including the philosopher Ibn Sina (Avicenna), with whom he shared a common scientific outlook. Al-Kirmānī’s career and achievements are inextricably linked to the charismatic Fatimid Ismaili caliph-imam al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh (386–411/996–1021), whose personality and politics remain enigmatic to this day. Al-Kirmānī was already a leading figure of the Ismaili da‘wa (religious organisation) in Iraq and Iran, and the author of several major works, when he was summoned to the Fatirnid capital of Cairo in order to address serious dissension there on theoretical issues of doctrine, which threatened to undermine the da‘wa in the final years of al-Ḥākim’s reign.

Paul E. Walker, an authority on Fatimid Ismaili history and thought, here provides the first systematic account in English of the life, works and accomplishments of al-Kirmānī. Particularly valuable is his penetrating analysis of the intellectual debates and arguments that arose in the Ismaili community and of their significance in the wider context of general Ismaili thought, at a time when the Fatimid state was at the height of its glory and influence in the Muslim world.