The two brief works edited and translated here for the first time are primary material from the years before the establishment of the Fatimid caliphate in 297/909. The two brothers who were central to the success of the Ismaili daʿwa in North Africa, namely Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Shīʿī and Abu’l-ʿAbbās Muḥammad, have been identified as the authors of these sermons, and as such they provide a unique view of the nature of the daʿwa among the Berbers of the Maghrib.

The sermon by Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Shīʿī shows how the arguments for belief in the imamate of the family of the Prophet, the ahl al-bayt, were developed and presented to bring new adherents to the cause. The Book of the Keys to Grace by his elder brother Abu’l-ʿAbbās, too, concerns not only the centrality of the imam in the faith but also sheds light on the hierarchy of the daʿwa in this early period and its organisational sophistication.

Both texts also shed light on the contemporary theology propagated by the Ismaili daʿwa, including for instance, the powerful analogy of Moses/Aaron and Muhammad/ʿAlī, the awareness of a variety of religious traditions and the use of detailed Qurʾanic quotations and a wide range of hadith. As such they constitute primary source material of interest not only for Ismaili history but for this early period of Islam in general.