Until the middle of the 20th century, the Ismailis were studied and judged almost exclusively on the basis of evidence collected or fabricated by their enemies. As a result, a variety of myths and legends circulated widely, both in Muslim societies and in the West, regarding the teachings and practices of the Ismailis. The breakthrough in Ismaili studies came with the recovery and study of numerous genuine Ismaili texts that had been preserved in private collections in India, Central Asia, Syria, Yaman and other regions. Many of these texts have been edited, translated and published since the 1950s, thus contributing to the impressive progress in modern Ismaili scholarship.

This book deals with aspects of Ismaili history and thought in medieval times. Discussing the different phases in Ismaili history, it describes both the early Ismailis as well as the contributions of the later Ismailis to Islamic culture. A number of chapters deal with Ismaili individuals such as Hasan-i Sabbah. Other chapters contextualise the Ismailis within the medieval Muslim societies, in addition to investigating the Ismaili–Crusader relations and the resulting myths and legends about the Ismailis.

The essays collected in this volume, representing the results of modern scholarship in Ismaili studies, make a powerful contribution to our understanding of an Islamic community in medieval times and will prove invaluable to historians and scholars of the Muslim world.