Kitab Tanbih al-Hadi wa’l-Muhtadi
Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani: Kitab Tanbih al-Hadi wa’l-Muhtadi (“The Book of Exhortation to the Rightful Guide and the Rightly Guided”).
Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani was a leading 11th-century da‘i, a native of Kirman, and one of the greatest theologians in the Ismaili tradition. His masterpiece is the celebrated Rahat al-‘aql (“Tranquillity of Mind”), one of the most profound works of early Ismaili thought, which he wrote in the year 1020 CE. Al-Kirmani’s life is obscure; we know that he served as a da‘i of Imam al-Hakim in Iraq and in that capacity, travelled frequently back and forth between Baghdad and Basra. He was summoned to Cairo during the crisis surrounding the emergence of the Druze and defended the Imamate against Druze claims. The present work exhorts obedience to the law as well as to the Imam and offers specific guidance on a wide range of legal and ethical issues.
The Hamdani manuscript was copied in the year 1202 AH, or around 1785 CE, in a graceful calligraphic hand, with full vocalisation of the Arabic text for the sake of clarity. Above the Hamdani seal of ownership on the title-page is written the exclamation “Ya Kabikaj!” or “O Kabikaj!” This is a standard formula often written on manuscripts. “Kabikaj,” once thought to be a kind of genie who protects books, has been shown by Adam Gacek, formerly librarian at the IIS, to refer to a plant, a member of the mallow family, which was believed to have preservative powers.