Kitab A’lam al-Nubuwwa
Abu Hatim al-Razi: Kitab A’lam al-Nubuwwa (“The Book on the Signs of Prophecy”).
This book derives from a public debate held in the 10th century in the presence of the governor of Rayy, a once-important Iranian city near modern-day Tehran. The philosopher and physician Abu Bakr Zakariyya’ al-Razi denied prophecy; he taught that reason, common to all human beings, provided the only path to salvation. His opponent was the Ismaili da‘i of Rayy, the great Abu Hatim al-Razi, who died in 934 CE, and whose work constitutes one of the most significant early treatises of Ismaili theology. Abu Hatim argued that both philosophy and science were not products of human reason but had divine origins. He further upheld the universal validity of prophecy, not only within the Islamic tradition but also in the teachings of other faiths, including Zoroastrianism as well as Christianity and Judaism.
The present manuscript, one of two in the Hamdani Collection, is beautifully written in a clear scholarly hand and probably dates from the late 18th or early 19th century. The title-page bears several seals and stamps of ownership of successive members of the Hamdani family. Since the Hamdani manuscripts were handed down from father to son over several generations, from the 18th century to the present, such ownership seals and stamps constitute a precious family history.