Table of contents
- Historical Background
- The Nizari Ismaili da'wa
- The Heritage and Its Themes
- Unity and the Cosmos
- Sacred History and Human Destiny
During the period of Fatimid rule, the influence and extent of Ismailism grew considerably. The Fatimid Empire at its height exerted its influence far beyond Egypt to Palestine, Syria, the Hijaz, Yemen, Iran, Sind, and the Mediterranean. In 450/1058, the Fatimids also occupied Baghdad, the capital of their rivals the Abbasid dynasty, for a short period.
The Ismaili da'wa played a very important role in maintaining ideological loyalty and support within this far-flung empire. It served also to create a unified doctrine and organisation to offset the differences that had beset the movement during its earlier stages. Its efforts at preaching Islam extended its influence into India and to the remoter regions of Central Asia.
It was in the sphere of intellectual and cultural life that Fatimid Ismaili achievement seems most brilliant and outstanding. The Fatimid patronage of learning and its encouragement of scientific research and cultural activity made Cairo a renowned centre, attracting mathematicians, physicians, astronomers, thinkers, and administrators of note from all over the Muslim world, particularly to its two great universities, al-Azhar and dar al-hikmah. These seats of learning also gave impetus to the development of legal, philosophical, and theological thinking among Ismaili scholars, which provided the basis for a comprehensive articulation of Ismaili thought and doctrine. The cultural and economic impact of Fatimid rule extended also into Europe, bridging the way for further development in the West of Muslim scientific achievements in fields such as optics, medicine, and astronomy.
The Druze Movement
The centre of this group remained in Yemen for several centuries, establishing a vigorous state for a while, but, faced with hostility, it moved eventually to India, where the new headquarters came to be established in 947/1567. The community in Yemen dwindled in time, although followers of this branch of Ismailism - particularly of a subsequent offshoot of the Tayyibi da'wa known as the Sulaymanis, who give allegiance to a chief da'i residing in Yemen - are still to be found in certain regions of that land.
In India, the Tayyibi Ismailis continued to develop under a chief da'i and succeeded, sometimes under adverse conditions, in sustaining successfully their religious life and organisation. The majority there are called Da'udi, to distinguish them from the Sulaymani line and both groups are referred to also as Bohora, which denotes their occupation as traders and merchants. The chief da'i of the Da'udi group resides in Bombay; the community is concentrated in the provinces of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, in most major cities of India and Pakistan, in East Africa, and lately in smaller numbers in Europe and North America.
The focal point of the Nizari Ismaili movement was the fortress of Alamut in the Alborz Mountains of northern Iran. This fortress, captured by the da'i Hasan-i Sabbah in 483/1090, now became the centre for a growing number of strongholds that were established through military and diplomatic means. In time, these centres became networks of Ismaili settlements in Iran as well as in Syria, where a similar pattern of establishing strongholds in mountainous regions took place. Hasan-i Sabbah, according to Nizari tradition, acted as the representative of the Imam, organising the various settlements. This process of consolidation provided a basis for what was to become a Nizari Ismaili state that incorporated both Iranian and Syrian strongholds and was ruled from Alamut by Ismaili Imams, who assumed control after the initial period of establishment under representatives such as Hasan-i Sabbah. Although under constant pressure from the Seljuqs, the state had a thriving existence for over 150 years. However, confrontation with the expanding Mongol power led to the downfall of the state, the demolition of its principal strongholds, and a general and widespread massacre of Ismailis.
The history of the Nizari Ismailis following the destruction of their state and the dispersal of their leaders in Iran and elsewhere is little known. In Syria, as in Iran, they continued to survive despite persecution. Often in Iran their organisation resembled that of the Sufi tariqahs (orders), which by now had established themselves all over the Muslim world. The Nizari sources speak of an uninterrupted succession of Imams in different parts of Iran and, in the ninth/fifteenth century, of an emergence of new activity on the part of the da'wa which led to a further growth of Nizari Ismailism in parts of India and Central Asia, to which the Imam in Iran remained linked through the activities of the da'is. In general, however, the various communities of Nizari Ismailis in Iran, Syria, Central Asia, and India remained relatively isolated and self-protective for several centuries, mindful of the constant threat of persecution.
In the thirteenth/nineteenth century, the Imam of the time, Hasan 'Ali Shah, called the Aga Khan, migrated to India from Iran. In the twentieth century, under the leadership of the last two Imams, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III (1294/1877-1377/1957), and Shah Karim al-Husaym, Aga Khan IV (b. 1936), both of whom have played a major leadership role in Muslim as well as international affairs, the Nizari Ismailis have effected a successful transition to the modern period in many parts of the world. This reorganisation has encompassed developments in various spheres of education, health, economic and cultural life and has been linked wherever possible to national goals and in recent times on a more global scale to creating a greater self-consciousness among Ismailis as well as other Muslims of the role their Islamic heritage can play in modern life.
Thus, there is considerable diversity of thought and development represented in the literature, much of which still remains to be properly edited - let alone carefully studied. The following exposition of Ismaili doctrine and spirituality can be regarded as a heritage shared in general by all Ismailis in the context of their effort to relate questions of authority and organisation in the ummah to an understanding of the inner core of the Islamic message and the values contained in that message.
The curriculum in Fatimid seats of learning led an individual through progressive and disciplined study of a wide variety of sciences. The student commenced study with the aim of mastering al-'ibadat al-'amaliyyah (practical worship), the sciences necessary to grasp and define the Shari'ah in terms of the pillars of faith, a Shari'ah which shared a number of essential characteristics with those of other Muslim legal schools. After mastering these subjects, the student then proceeded to a study of al-'ibaddt al- 'ilmiyyah (intellectual worship), the sciences that expound and interpret the levels of meaning reflected in the pillars.
Ta'wil and Tanzil
As used generally the word has come to signify "interpretation" and that hermeneutics today commonly has as its synonym "exegesis." However, the original meaning of hermeneuein and of related words - or in any case their principal meaning - was not that at all, and was not far from being its exact contrary, if we grant that exegesis is a movement of penetration into the intention of a text or message.7
The milieu within which Ismaili thought flourished and developed had already been characterised by the steady integration of philosophical and analytical tools assimilated through translations from the Greek tradition, as well as influences transmitted through Persia and India. Ismaili thought represents a self-conscious attempt to harmonise elements from these traditions that were considered compatible with its own understanding of Quranic wisdom. Nasir-i Khusraw calls this jami' al-hikmatayn, "synthesis of the two wisdoms,"8 the title of one of his works, in which he seeks to harmonise the esoteric understanding of Islam with the wisdom of the ancients. In doing this he was following the fundamental Quranic notion of the universality of Revelation and the Islamic affirmation that God had vouchsafed the truth to others in the past. The synthesis, however, was not an indiscriminate one, and it has also been argued that in addition to Neoplatonism, early Ismaili sources also reflect influences from Gnostic elements in the milieu.9
The Principle of Double Negation
The ta'wil applied to the Quranic verses regarding God leads in both writers to a process of dissociating all humanlike qualities from God. This is considered to be the first step; both writers recognise that such a position could, in fact, lead to an accusation that they too had committed ta'til, leaving them open to a charge of "hidden anthropomorphism." The step that must now be taken is that having denied that God cannot be described, located, defined, limited, etc., one must negate the previous negation. The absolute transcendence of God is established by the use of double negation, in which a negative and a negative of a negative are applied to the thing denied - the first freeing the idea of God from all association with the material and the second removing Him from any association with the non-material. God is thus neither within the sensible world nor within the extra-sensible. The process of ta'wil here begins with an affirmation of what God is not, then a denial of that affirmation, thereby deleting both the affirmation and the denial. Such a process of double negation offers the only means whereby one can use the available language without fully accepting its premises. In the above discourse, the resources of language, that is, the letter of the Revelation, establish a starting point, and ta'wil reveals how language itself is unable to express fully the reality inherent in the concept. Such a mode of defining the transcendence of God, in the Ismaili view, is an act of cognisance of God - indeed, an act of worship in itself.
God transcended the order and unlike in Neoplatonism, where the One brings forth by emanation the Universal Intellect, in Ismaili cosmology, Allah creates by a timeless and transcendent command (amr). The process is defined as ibda', origination, which is an all-encompassing, timeless, creative act. Thus, all of creation is directly related to God in its origin, but manifested through a subsequent process of unfolding from the Universal Intellect, which is the First Originated Being. God is badi' (Originator), as described in the Quranic verse-the Originator of the heavens and the earth (II, 117). The Quranic terminology of Qalam (pen), 'Arsh (throne), and qada' (decree) are also equated with the Universal Intellect as the prelude to a framework for what is called 'alam al-i' (the Universe of Origination) in a hierarchical series. This level is then made to correspond to the alam al-din (the Universe of Religion), in order to provide a framework in religious life represented by a hierarchy of faith (hudud al-din), which in turn corresponds to the various cosmic principles. The highest in this hierarchy constituting the first three intelligences were identified with the Prophet, his wasi (heir), 'Ali, and the succeeding Imams respectively. This order was expounded in systems first elaborated in detail by al-Nasafi (d. 331/943) and subsequently refined in the works of Sijistani, Kirmani, and Nasir-i Khusraw. The exact hierarchy of the various intellects and the terminology employed tend to differ in the various authors' works, but the fundamental principle of the absolute transcendence of God, the general order of the cosmic principles and underlying hierarchical notions are retained.
The architecture of the Ismaili cosmos, while affirming a strong sense of unity, is also the sacred canopy within which its religious conceptions unfold. Thus, cosmology, metaphysics, and religion are closely interlinked, where each element in the hierarchical universe mirrors the other, establishing a chain of being, making the cosmos intelligible and meaningful and at the same time rooting the religious life on earth to a dynamic cosmos, operating under divine command.
God who created the heavens and the earth in six days (VII, 54).
Al-Mu'ayyad fi'l-din Sh-irazi (d. 470/1077) in his interpretation of the verse starts by demonstrating that the reference to days bears no relation to the conception of a day measured with the rising and setting of the sun.11 Since there was no sun before creation, it would be absurd, he argues, to suppose such a measure of time in relation to God's creative power. He then refers to other Quranic references where God is said to create faster than the twinkling of an eye, and he concludes that the references to heaven and earth have in reality nothing to do with the heaven, earth, and days as conceived in terms of man's measure of space and time. The true ta'wil of the verse reveals a sacred history, connoting the six cycles of prophecy, each an event of cosmic significance. The prophets and the time-cycles they represent are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and the Prophet Muhammad.
Each prophetic mission inaugurates a Shari'ah, a revealed pattern of life to ensure that society accords with the Divine Will. Each prophet, however, is succeeded by the wasi, who, while preserving and consolidating the Shari'ah, also has the role of interpreting and communicating the inner meaning of the Revelation and the legal prescriptions. The completion of the sixth cycle also marks the onset of a seventh era, in which the Imam assumes his role and thereby completes a process referred to in the Quran's climactic verse:
Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam for your religion. (V, 4)
Faith consists entirely in action, and profession is part of action. Action is made obligatory by God, and is clear from His Book ... Faith possesses circumstances, stages, grades and stations. In faith, there can be total perfection; or else it may be imperfect ..."13
Specifically, he begins with the ta'wil of the times for ritual prayer, based on references to the Quran (II, 238; XVII, 78-79; etc.). The established prayers during each day signify the great epochs of the Shari'ah initiated by the five great prophets who came after Adam - Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad.
Nasir-i Khusraw also attempts to elaborate the ta'wil of the three stages of time he identifies within the ritual of prayer itself - the beginning, the middle, and the end. The beginning stage symbolises the natiq, the Ismaili term for the Prophet as the promulgator of Revelation; the middle stage stands for asas, the interpreter of the inner meaning of Revelation; and the final stage stands for the qa'im al-qiydmah, in which both the outer and the inner are fused and transcended. Such a cyclical view of history is an important aspect of Ismaili thought and illustrates the dual dimension of time that Ismaili writers saw reflected in the Quran. The first dimension provided a body of rituals and doctrines for a historical community; the second transposed these rituals and doctrines to a level of meaning beyond the historical constraints of time, where this tanzil was metamorphosed by ta'wil to provide the individual Muslim an opportunity to grasp the root cosmic meaning of the revealed Law.
Before discussing specifically the performance of the ritual prayer itself, al-Nu'man makes an interesting reference to the qiblah, the point of orientation for prayer, taking as his reference the verse "so set thy face to al-din (the religion) hanifan (as a primordial monotheist)" (XXX, 30). He points out that at one level this is the point of orientation to which hunafa' (primordial monotheists) like Ibrahim and Adam set themselves - the Ka'bah (or even perhaps Jerusalem). In its esoteric sense, the verse refers to the wasi, the Prophet's successor, through whom the Prophet turns his face to the community and through whom the batin of religion is affirmed during the Prophet's own lifetime and the zahir established to serve as a point of continuity after his death.
The discussion then proceeds to the steps incorporated within prayer itself. These according to Nasir-i Khusraw are seven: (1) takbir, which symbolises the taking of the covenant from a mu'min. During takbir, the believers are required to be silent and to concentrate their attention fully on the performance of prayer - in the same way that a mu'min from whom the covenant has been taken should not manifest his quest for the batin openly lest his intentions be misconstrued and his words misunderstood. (2) Qiyam, standing, which symbolises the firm affirmation of the mu'min to stand by his covenant and not be swayed from it. (3) Recitation of the Fatihah and an additional sura, which symbolises communication with the rest of the community, conveying to them the meaning of faith and elaborating it for them. (4) Ruku', bowing, which symbolises the recognition of the asas and during his absence the hujjah, who is the evidence for his existence. (5) Sujud, prostration, which symbolises the recognition of the natiq as the heralder of a "great cycle" and the Imam of that cycle. (6) Tashabhhud, which symbolises the recognition of the da'i. (7) The offering of salam marks the giving of permission to manifest in conversation and action one's faith, just as after the offering of salam in ritual prayer one is permitted to converse.
When the worshiper completes the performance of salat in zabir, he has correspondingly sought to fulfil his inner quest, which involves a recognition of the inner meaning of the steps. In essence, then, the ta'wil of the steps within salat is that they are stages in the journey of the individual soul in its quest for the inner realities of the Faith.
The essence of such an interpretation of prayer is summed up thus by Nasir-i Khusraw:
The exoteric (zahir) of Prayer consists in adoring God with postures of the body, in directing the body towards the qibla of the body, which is the Ka'bah, the Temple of the Most High God, situated at Mekka. To understand the esoteric of Prayer (ta'wil-e-batin) means adoring God with the thinking soul and turning towards the quest of the gnosis of the Book and the gnosis of positive religion, towards the qibla of the spirit which is the Temple of God, that Temple in which the divine gnosis is enclosed, I mean the Imam in Truth, salutations to him.15
The autobiographical account of Nasir-i Khusraw's conversion to Ismailism refers to a dream that jars him from what has hitherto been a life of sloth, and he subsequently undertakes a pilgrimage to Mecca. On the way, he encounters and is converted to Ismailism, and he is subsequently invested with the important role of preaching as a key member of the Fatimid da'wa. It is, however, in an ode celebrating this conversion that the pattern of ta'wil woven into the narrative is made apparent. His sleep becomes the equivalent of the state of ignorance; the figure in the dream is the catalyst who causes the act of awakening leading to the quest; and the subsequent resolution is symbolised in the arrival at the balad al-amin (Quran XCV, 31), the Cairo of the narrative, but in reality the secure abode of true understanding, which is the goal of the quest. The transformation is consummated through the act of commitment, the taking of the oath of allegiance to the Imam, the symbolism of which is evoked in the Quran (XLVIII, 18).18
In the Kitab al-'alim wa'l-ghulam, the protagonist Abu Malik is a type of spiritual exile who, as part of his mission, has left his home. He enters a town incognito and mingles with the crowd before encountering a disciple. The narrative then unfolds in a series of dialogues, so that the process of pedagogy in Ismailism becomes evident. This process is a threefold one. Initially, the disciple's sense of quest is aroused; he is sensitised to the meaning of symbols, the use of ta'wil, which leads from the letter to the spirit. His desire for knowledge having now awakened, the disciple is eager to know more about the figure in whose hands are placed the keys to inner meaning and to the spiritual heaven, namely, the Imam. In a further stage, he acquires a new name, symbolising his entry into a new pattern of understanding and way of life and, in a final stage, the act of transformation is marked in a ceremony. What transpires at this ceremony remains unrecorded. The text does not reveal the secret; it has only been communicated personally to the disciple.
In the narratives recorded in the ginan literature, the description of the activities of the Ismaili da'is, also called pirs, reflect a sequence of action with certain interactive features, such as the following: (1) the anonymous arrival at a well-known centre of religious activity; (2) the performance of miracles and the winning over of a disciple or disciples; (3) a period of confrontation and even rejection; (4) eventual triumph and mass conversion; (5) departure.
The literal testimony of these narratives is, as in the last two cases, but a mirror of the original prototype in which the disciples pass through an initiatory process. A key set of images is that of the "raw" and the "cooked," where the disciple, a princess in one case, has taken a vow to daily taste cooked meat until the secret of who her bridegroom is to be is revealed to her. The day that the pir is in the vicinity, her gamekeeper, unable to find a deer to hunt for her meat, encounters the animals of the jungle around the pir, mesmerised by the playing of his song. Through a miracle, the pir gives a piece of the deer's meat to the gamekeeper. When the princess cooks and tastes it, she, as if awakened, recognises the nearness of her bridegroom's presence and seeks him out. In time a marriage takes place, bringing the metaphor of the bride and groom and their marriage, marking the transition from quest to transformation, to union.
H. Corbin has attempted to illustrate the image of the Imam as nur (light) in the works of the Fatimid and post-Fatimid period to elucidate the essential elements of what he calls "the little known and scarcely studied form of Shi'ite Ismaili Gnosis,"19 where reference is made to the complex image of the pillar of light (haykal nurani), by whose power the members of the hierarchy of faith are raised upward until they are all gathered together in the qiyamah.
The later period of Ismailism reflects features that are analogous in some respects to Sufi theosophy, this similarity being a result of common contexts and mutual influence. The language of devotion is one aspect where the influence is apparent - in particular, where the element of religious experience seeks to illuminate the apprehension by the intellect and the soul of the Haqiqah. It is poetry rather than prose that captures best these moments of contemplation and acts of awakening. This mode of expression is already present in the qasidah of Nasir-i-Khusraw and is echoed also in the ginans, as the examples below show. One is a description of Nasir's initiation and transformation, and the other evokes the moments of bliss and illumination in the ginans, which can be described only in terms of a "spiritual concert."
That sage set his hand upon his heart
(a hundred blessings be on that hand and breast!)
and said, "I offer you the remedy
of proof and demonstration; but if you
accept, I shall place a seal upon your lips
which must never be broken." I gave my consent and he
affixed the seal. Drop by drop and day by day
he fed me the healing potion, till
my ailment disappeared, my tongue became
imbued with eloquent speech; my face, which had
been pale as saffron now grew rosy with joy;
I who had been as stone was now a ruby;
I had been dust - now I was ambergris.
He put my hand into the Prophet's hand,
I spoke the Oath beneath the exalted Tree
so heavy with fruit, so sweet with cooling shade.
Have you ever heard of a sea which flows from fire?
Have you ever seen a fox become a lion?
The sun can transmute a pebble, which even the hand
of Nature can never change, into a gem.
I am that precious stone, my Sun is he
by whose rays this tenebrous world is filled with light.
In jealousy I cannot speak his name
in this poem, but can only say that for him
Plato himself would become a slave. He
is the teacher, healer of souls, favoured of God,
image of wisdom, fountain of knowledge and Truth.
Blessed the ship with him for its anchor,
blessed the city whose sacred gate he ever guards!
O Countenance of Knowledge, Virtue's Form,
Heart of Wisdom, Goal of Humankind,
O Pride of Pride; I stood before thee, pale
and skeletal, clad in a woollen cloak,
and kissed thine hand as if it were the grave
of the Prophet or Black Stone of the Kaaba.
Six years I served thee; and now, wherever I am
so long as I live I'll use my pen and ink,
my inkwell and my paper ... in praise of thee!20
When the unrecited name makes its abode in the interior
it becomes a lamp which illumines the heart;
the glories of true contemplation are felt within
The world's tinsel can no longer dazzle.
The flame lit by recitation
swallows all remembrance and devotion.
Truth hovers on the Master's lip
Because - as he says - "I am always on its side."
The world is dazed by brightness
and turns away from the blazing glare.
If you were to reveal the mystery of this radiance
the world would brand you a fool.
"In the heart, I make my seat," says the Master
"all seventy-two chambers ring with music,
the dark of night is dispelled
and the concert of ginans begins."
The unrecited name plays on and on:
a symphony is heard within.
The seventy-two chambers fill with music, though
its essence is perceived by only a few.21
Ismaili spirituality is ultimately rooted in two essentially Islamic themes - a cosmos-mirroring "Unity" and a sacred history reflecting the working out of Divine Will and human destiny. These themes as illustrated in the literature reveal a pattern in Ismaili thought where human life is an exalted destiny whose movement in its highest stage mirrors a return to its origin, as in the following Quranic verse: "From Him we are and to Him we return" (II, 156).
However, this goal has as its context the material world, where matter and spirit exist in a state of complementarity. The zahir which defines the world of matter is the arena in which the context for a spiritual life is shaped. The essence of Ismaili thought shows no propensity for rejecting this material world; in fact, without action in it, the spiritual quest is regarded as unworthy. It is in this juxtaposition of zahir with batin, of the material with the spiritual, that the world of the believer comes to be invested with full meaning. Such is the continuing heritage that daily inspires Ismaili life and is summed up in its most universal aspect, in the words that conclude a memorable passage in the Memoirs of the forty-eighth Nizari Ismaili Imam, Shah Sultan Muhammad Shah, Agha Khan III:
Life in the ultimate analysis has taught me one enduring lesson. The subject should always disappear in the object. In our ordinary affections one for another, in our daily work with hand and brain, we most of us discover soon enough that any lasting satisfaction, any contentment that we can achieve, is the result of forgetting self, of merging subject with object, in a harmony that is of body, mind and spirit. And in the highest realms of consciousness all who believe in a Higher Being are liberated from all the clogging and hampering bonds of the subjective self in prayer, in rapt meditation upon and in the face of the glorious radiance of eternity, in which all temporal and earthly consciousness is swallowed up and itself becomes the eternal.22
2. For the Fatimids see Encyclopaedia of Islam s.v. "Fatimids" (by M. Canard); see also Abbas Hamdani, The Fatimids (Karachi: Pakistan Publishing House, 1962).
3. For an overview of the early period, see S. M. Stern, "The Succession to al-amir, the claims of the later Fatimids to the Imamate and the rise of Tayyibi Ismailism," Oriens 4 (1951) 193-255; and Encyclopaedia of Islam, s.v. "Bohoras" (by A. A. Fyzee).
4. The most thoroughly researched study on the Niz'ari Isma`ili movement is M. G. S. Hodgson, The Order of Assassins (The Hague: Mouton, 1955). A summary of this work appears in Hodgson, "The Ismaili State" in The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 5, ed. I. A. Boyle (Cambridge: University Press. 1968) 422-82.
5. The most comprehensive survey of Ismaili literature is I. K. Poonawala, Biobibliography of Ismaili Literature (Malibu, CA: Undena, 1977).
6. Translated from the quotation in H. Corbin, Histoire de la philosophie islamique (Paris: Gallimard, 1964) 17.
7. Quoted by Eugene Vance, "Pas de trois: Narrative, Hermeneutics and Structure in Mediaeval Poetics, in Interpretation of Narrative, ed. M. J. Valdes and Owen Miller (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978) 122.
8. Nasir-i Khusraw, Kitab Jami` al-hikmatayn, edited with a preliminary study in French and Persian by H. Corbin and M. Moin (Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1953).
10. The analysis is drawn from Azim Nanji, "Shi`i Isma'i1i Interpretation of the Qur'an," in Selected Proceedings of the International Congress for the Study of the Qur'an, Australian National University, 8-13 May 1980 (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1982) 40-42. For the cosmology, see Halm, Kosmologie; and W. Madelung, "Aspects of Isma'i1i Theology: The Prophetic Chain and the God beyond Being," in Ismaili Contributions, 51-65.
11. A. Nanji, "Shi'i Ismaili Interpretation," 43-46.
12. Reference to the account is made by W. Madelung, "Ismailiyya," 204; see also B. Lewis, "An Ismaili Interpretation of the Fall of Adam," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 9 (1938) 691-704.
13. The Book of Faith from the DaŸa'im al-Islam of al-Qadi al-Nu'man, trans. A. A. A. Fyzee (Bombay: Nachiketa Publications, 1974) 6. A complete translation is to be published soon by the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London.
14. See A. Nanji, "Shi'i Ismaili Interpretation," 43-46.
15. Quoted by H. Corbin, "Nasir-i-Khusraw and Iranian Ismailism," in The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 4, ed. R. N. Frye (Cambridge: University Press, 1975) 523.
16. For a description and analysis see H. Corbin, "Un roman initiatique du Xe siècle," in Cahiers de civilisation médievale 15 (April-June 1972) 1-25, 121-42.
17. For the literature and its background, see Azim Nanji , The Nizari Ismaili Tradition in the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent (New York: Caravan Books, 1978). The theme of transformation is dealt with on pp. 101-10.
18. For his "conversion" and contribution to Ismaili esoterics, see Corbin, "Nasir-i-Khusraw"; for his works, see Poonawala, Ismaili Literature, 111-24. The relevant portion of the qasidah has been translated in Nasir-i-Khusraw Forty Poems from the Divan, trans. P. L. Wilson and G. R. Aavani (Tehran: Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy, 1977) 4-9.
19. H. Corbin, "Divine Epiphany and Spiritual Birth in Ismailism Gnosis, in Papers from Eranos Yearbooks (Bollingen Series 30; New York: Pantheon Books, 1964) 5:71. Here, as elsewhere in this article, Corbin's contribution and influence in the interpretation of Ismaili spirituality will be very evident. Some of his articles are to be made available in English translation in the near future; also H. Corbin, Cyclical Time and Ismaili Gnosis (London: Kegan Paul International/Islamic Publications, 1983).
20. Nasir-i-Khusraw, Forty Poems from the Divan, 8-9.
21. The translation is part of a project on the ginans supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is from a series of compositions entitled Sloka.
22. Sultan Muhammad Shah, Agha Khan, The Memoirs of Agha Khan (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1954) 335.