Fatimid History and Ismaili Doctrine: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Fatimid History and Ismaili Doctrine

1st Edition

By Paul E. Walker


352 pages

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The thirteen studies in this volume explore critical problems in Fatimid history and historiography, many specifically focused on the content of doctrinal writings produced by the Ismaili supporters and agents of this caliphate who worked on behalf of the dynasty both within the empire and outside. Several concern issues in disputes that separated the various factions of Medieval Islam and served to distinguish the Ismailis from the rest, often branding the Fatimids with the charge of heterodoxy. Others deal with the consequence of Shiite rule over a largely non-Shiite populace. Yet others involve the relationship between religious ideology and the administration of government. Among the themes featured in this collection there are separate investigations of institutions of learning, of succession to the imamate, the da`wa, the judiciary, relations with the Byzantines and with the Abbasids, and works on heresiography, doctrines of time and the accusation that the Ismailis upheld the metempsychosis of the human soul. The latter topics help to situate the Ismailis, and hence the Fatimids, within the broader context of Islamic thought.


’All in all this volume offers a valuable collection showing the ways in which such a versatile scholar has contextualized both Fatimid history and Ismaili doctrine ” through family history, source analysis, and the interpretation of philosophical and theological doctrines.’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Fatimid institutions of learning; Succession to rule in the Shiite caliphate; The Ismaili da'wa in the reign of the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim; Another family of Fatimid chief Qadis: the al-Fariqis; A Byzantine victory over the Fatimids at Alexandretta (971); The 'crusade' of John Tzimisces in the light of new Arabic evidence; Al-Maqrizi and the Fatimids; Purloined symbols of the past: the theft of souvenirs and sacred relics in the rivalry between the Abbasids and Fatimids; 'In praise of al-Hakim': Greek elements in Ismaili writings on the Imamate; Abu Tammam and his Kitab al-Shajara: an new Ismaili treatise from 10th-century Khurasan; An Isma'ili version of the heresiography of the 72 erring sects; Eternal cosmos and the womb of history: time in early Ismaili thought; The doctrine of metempsychosis in Islam; Index.

About the Author

Paul E. Walker is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Chicago, USA.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at Michael.Greenwood@informa.com

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General