Articles

Kinship, Camaraderie and Contestation Fatimid Relations with the Ashraf in the Fourth AH /Tenth CE century The founding of the Fatimid caliphate across the southern Mediterranean, and then in Egypt, Syria and the Hijaz at the turn of the fourth AH / tenth CE century, necessitated its negotiation with the ashraf, those who claimed lineal descent from the Prophet Muhammad, and who by this time had...
The Angels in Surat al-Mala’ika Exegeses of Q. 35:1 The opening of Q. 35:1 (Surat al-Mala’ika or Surat al-Faṭir) attests to the creative power of God and describes the angels as winged messengers. 
From Slaves to Supporters The role of the Slavs in the Fatimid Mediterranean Empire in the Fourth AH /Tenth CE century Among the distinctive features of their initial sixty-year phase of the North African era was the growing prominence of the Saqaliba – slaves of Slavic origin – across major areas of Fatimid administration, and in the affairs of the Fatimid household. 
Pluralism: Beyond Ethnic and Sectarian Identities Many societies of the Muslim world, for all their rich traditions of diversity and generosity, have lately fallen prey to ugly sectarian division. Communities that have long been part of the larger Islamic world and its heritage — Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and various minority Muslim...
Governance and Pluralism under the Fatimids (909-996 CE) The medieval Mediterranean littoral was a region inhabited by people of diverse ethnic backgrounds and religious persuasions. This was evident in 10th century Egypt, the mainstay of Fatimid domains, a land in which lived Arabs, Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Berbers and Sudanese - among whom were...
Javdan-nama Javdan-nama (also known as Javdan-nama-ye kabir or Javdan-nama-ye elahi), the major work of Fadhl-Allah Astarabadi (d. 1394; q.v.), the founder of the Hurufi movement. The title, which can be translated from Persian either as the “Eternal Book” or as the “Book of Eternity”, has been...
Ja‘far b. Mansur al-Yaman This is an edited version of an article that was originally published in the Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. XIV, Fasc. 4, p. 349, in December 2008.   Ja‘far b. Manusr al-Yaman was a high-ranking Ismaili author who flourished during the reigns of the first four Fatimid caliphs. His father, Ibn...
The Conversation between Moses and God (Munajat Musa) in the Epistles of the Pure Brethren (Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’) This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared in Al-Kitab: La Sacralité du Texte Dans Le Monde de l‘Islam. Actes du Symposium International Tenu à Leuven et Louvain-la-Neuve du 29 Mai au 1 Juin 2002, ed. Daniel De Smet, Godefroyde Callataÿ, and JanVan Reeth, published by...
Muslim Values Drawing on an excerpt from an address made by His Highness the Aga Khan in 2006, the author explores the links between faith and ethics, and how human virtue can help to achieve social harmony. 
What is Shi'a Islam? The historical formation of the worldwide Muslim community or Umma, as it is known in Arabic, has resulted in a great deal of diversity that reflects a rich intellectual, spiritual, and institutional pluralism. In seeking to express a response to the primal message of Islam, Muslims have...
Social Legislation in Surat al-Ahzab In this article the author examines Surat 33 of the Qur’an, al-Ahzab, in the context of circumstances in Prophet Muhammad’s life at the time of its revelation. Pivotal issues such as the roots of the Muslim perspective on adoption, succession of women, and who was referred to by the term ahl...
Divine Law / Divine Command: The Ground of Ethics in the Western Tradition-Muslim Perspectives The article posits that the ethical roots of the pre-modern Western tradition are not just based in biblical norms. The author delves into the origins and roots of Muslim ethics from revelation to the shaping of Muslim law, suggesting a strong connection between western and Muslim values based...
The Function of Asbab al-Nuzul in Qur’anic Exegesis This paper presents the extensive and in-depth research of Professor Andrew Rippin on the function of asbab in Qur’anic exegesis. His intention is to answer some very specific questions such as whether sabab (plural asbab) provide history or strict exegesis. In order to hone in on the subject...
Governing Diverse Communities: A Medieval Muslim Illustration The unfolding of the recent, people-led demonstrations across the Middle East brings to the fore the perennial question of what constitutes good governance and how the quest for good order is to be fulfilled. One way to respond to this question is to examine models of authority and leadership...
Avicenna on Matter, The Disobedience of Matter and Evil: Reconciling Metaphysical Stances and Qur’anic Perspective Avicenna generally believed in the traditional Aristotelian analysis of existents divided into the constituent elements of matter (madda) and form (sura) which are joined together to form the substance, which Aristotle called ousia. Avicenna even adopts the Aristotelian definition of substance...
Whose Memory? Re-thinking Orientalist and Occidental Conceptualisations of ‘Islamic Art’. In this reflective piece the author utilises a quote by cultural historian James Clifford to deconstruct the orientalist bias in museums when curating exhibitions of ‘Islamic Art’. He asks important questions about the generic term ‘Islamic art,’ and how narrow or broad this is in scope....
Husayn B. ‘Ali: Life and Significance in Shi‘ism According to most reports Husayn b. ‘Ali was born on 5 Sha‘ban 4/10 January 626 CE; another report mentions the middle of Jomada al-awwal 6/beginning of October 627 CE as his date of birth.
Eternal Cosmos and the Womb of History: Time in Early Ismaili Thought In this article the author grapples with theories of Time in Classical Theology. From this wide lens, he narrows the study down to how Time is presented generally in Muslim thought, and specifically in early Ismaili thought, drawing comparisons between Abu Bakr al-Razi, Abu Hatim al-Razi,...