Idrīs ʿImād al-Dīn b. al-Ḥasan hailed from the prominent al-Walīd family of the Quraysh in the Yemen, who led the Ṭayyibī Mustaʿlian Ismaili daʿwa and community for more than three centuries from the early 7th/13th century. He was born in 794/1392 in the fortress of Shibām, a high peak on the Jibāl Ḥarāz and a stronghold of the Ismailis in the Yemen. Idrīs succeeded his uncle as the nineteenth dāʿī muṭlaq or supreme leader of the Ṭayyibī Ismaili daʿwa in 832/1428. Besides being a scholar and a versatile author, Idrīs was also a politician and warrior. Idrīs died on 19 Dhu’l-Qaʿda 872/10 June 1468 at Shibām.

Idrīs ʿImād al-Dīn is generally considered as the most celebrated Ismaili historian. His eminence as the historian of the Ismaili imams and their daʿwa derives from the fact that as a dāʿī he had access to the entire contemporary literary heritage of the Ismailis then available in the Yemen, parts of which have not survived. The bulk of Ismaili texts of Fatimid and earlier times had been gradually transferred to the Yemen from the second half of the 5th/11th century due to close relations between the Fatimids and the Īulayḥids of the Yemen who recognised Fatimid suzerainty and led the Ismaili daʿwa in South Arabia.

The dāʿī Idrīs composed three major historical works, which may be regarded as the main sources on the history of the Ismailis until the second half of the 9th/15th century. His first historical work, ʿUyūn al-akhbār wa-funūn al-āthār, in seven volumes critically edited here for the first time as a complete set, is the most comprehensive source on the history of the Ismaili daʿwa from its origins until the second half of the 6th/12th century.