Publication

  • Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani: Ismaili Thought in the Age of al-Hakim
    by:

    I.B. Tauris in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London 1999

    Ismaili Heritage Series 3

    ISBN Paperback:
    1 86064 420 1
    ISBN HardBack:
    1 86064 321 3
  • The purpose of this book is to introduce a major Ismaili scholar and writer from the time of the Fatimid caliphinfo-iconImaminfo-icon al–Hakim bi–amr Allah, who reigned from 386/996 until 411/1021. He is Hamid al–Dininfo-icon Abu’l–Hasan Ahmad b. ‘Abdallah al–Kirmani. So important was his role in the da‘wainfo-icon (the teaching and proselytising organ of the Ismaili movement) of that era that he deserves recognition alone for his support and defence of his Imam. Beyond that, however, Al–Kirmani possessed a profoundly ingenious theoretical mind that allowed him both to master the philosophical and scientific achievements of the best Arabic works of his day and to express these same principles in a way that made sense in terms of the instruction provided by the da‘wa.

     

    After writing numerous books and treatises that contain a fascinating mixture of religion and philosophy, Al–Kirmani ultimately disappeared only to be remembered through them. The histories and chronicles are silent about him. In fact there is now no information about the man or his life that does not derive directly from his own words. Yet we know that he was the first of the great eastern Iranian da‘is to take up residence in Egypt in the capital city of the Imam. And we are fairly certain that he did so after having been summoned there by Khatkin al–Dayf, the Imam’s newly appointed administrative head of the da‘wa. Al–Kirmani’s scholarship was obviously impressive even then and his reputation has grown ever since. Many later Ismailis, who looked back on that period, tended to see it primarily in terms of Al–Kirmani’s contributions. It is as if he defined the best of that age and he was its permanent legacy. Although we now know a great deal more about the reign of al–Hakim and many of the events that took place during that time in Egypt and elsewhere, only some of which concerned Al–Kirmani, in the literature of thought and the sciences of this period, no other figure in the ‘ came even remotely close to him. It is thus certainly proper in this one sense to regard him as its foremost spokesman and his works as its finest achievement.
     

    If Al–Kirmani had been merely an active agent of the Ismaili da‘wa and not a writer of profoundly influential works of doctrine, he might have been more readily ignored. He also represented a scientific outlook that matches most closely the thought of his contemporary Ibn Sina (Avicenna), and that makes him doubly fascinating. But, ironically, modern scholarship has tended to ignore him except to note in passing his importance both as an outstanding da‘iinfo-icon from that era and a major theologian within the Islamic philosophical tradition. His greatest work was the Rahat al–‘aqlinfo-icon (Peace of the Intellect). Once it had been published, its overwhelming complexity, sophistication and resulting difficulty were immediately recognized and admitted. He gained some notice accordingly but still attracted little serious scholarship. Despite the publication of more of his books and treatises in recent decades, few were willing to undertake the arduous task of deciphering, evaluating and ultimately explaining the workings of his mind as it appeared in his individual writings or in his thought as a whole. This deplorable situation finally changed, and changed dramatically, with the publication of Daniel De Smet’s La Quietude de l’Intellect: Neoplatonisme et gnose ismaelienne dans l’oeuvre de Hamid ad–Din al–Kirmani in 1995. De Smet offered an extremely important, full–scale study of his philosophy and its context and sources, at last a truly impressive contribution to the scholarly understanding of Al–Kirmani. Nevertheless, much more can and should be said about him; his works are not all in print by any means and those that have been published have appeared in many cases with serious textual problems and flaws. There are as well quite interesting issues of interpretation regarding Al–Kirmani’s thought and how to classify it. De Smet has both set an enviable scholarly standard for evaluating what Al–Kirmani said in his books and also, in the process, proposed ways to understand it that involve an interpretation which will in itself stimulate further investigation of him.
     

    This present book, however, was not the appropriate place to engage in the detail and nuance necessary for such scholarly debates. Al–Kirmani remains largely unknown to the reader of English, and thus the most pressing responsibility here was to bring together the information about the man and his works and to provide a guide to his thought in such a way that others – specialists and interested laypersons alike – may follow and understand him. In this instance, an exhaustive treatment was, therefore, postponed in favour of an introduction and a preliminary accounting of the basic facts and ideas. This book therefore examines this great da‘i first as a member of the Ismaili da‘wa and next tries to explain his thought in broad terms. Its purpose is similar to Dr. Walker’s previous study in this same series of al–Kirmani’s equally important predecessor, Abu Ya‘qub al–Sijistani. However, readers of that book will find that the approach here is different. For Al–Sijistani a fair amount of previous scholarship already existed. Since, for example, the earlier books and articles by Walker himself on al–Sijistani contained a full apparatus of source citations, he decided for that volume that he could attempt a new interpretation of al–Sijistani without burdening the reader with the distracting array of notes and other academic niceties. For Al–Kirmani, however, that was simply not feasible since there existed no foundation for it. Despite De Smet's valuable beginning, many references and details are included here to support what appears in this book. But the author has tried, nevertheless, to keep in mind twin obligations, one to the scholarly expert who will demand to know where the information he relates comes from, and the other to the less expert reader who desires to learn more about the era of Al–Hakim and about his ardent supporter, the great da‘i and philosophical theologian, al–Kirmani, whose writings so brilliantly defined Ismaili thought in those momentous times nearly a millennium ago.

  • Preface

    The Imaminfo-icon and the Da‘iinfo-icon

    The Works of al–Kirmani

    Al–Kirmani and the Da‘wainfo-icon

    Double Observance by Works and Knowledge

    God, Creation and the Cosmic Order

    The City of God

    Appendix A: Al–Kirmani and the Philosophers

    Appendix B: Al–Kirmani’s Citation of His Own Works

    Appendix C: The Author’s Table of Contents for the Rahat al–‘aqlinfo-icon

    Notes

    Bibliography

    Index

     

  • Abu Muhammad, Mukhtasar fi ‘aqa’id al–thalath wa’l–sab‘in firqa. Ms. Istanbul ‘Atif 1373; photocopy Indiana University Library.
     

    al–Antaki, Yahya b. Sa‘id, History, ed. ‘Umar ‘Abd al–Salaminfo-icon Tadmuri, Tarabilis, Lubnan, 1990.
     

    Assaad, Sadik A., The Reign of al–Hakim bi Amr Allah (386/996–411/ 1021): A Political Study, Beirut, 1974.
     

    Baumstark, A., ‘Zu den Schriftzitaten al–Kirmanis,’ Der Islam, 20 (1932), pp. 308–13.
     

    Bosworth, C. Edmund, ‘Baha’ al–Dawlainfo-icon’, EI2, Supplement, pp. 118–19.
     

    ‘Mazyad, Banu,’ EI2, vol. 6, pp. 965–6.
     

    Bryer, David R., ‘The Origins of the Druzeinfo-icon Religion,’ Der Islam, 52 (1975), pp. 47–84 and 239–64, and 53 (1976), pp. 5–27.
     

    Corbin, Henry, Avicenna and the Visionary Recital, trans. by Willard R. Trask, New York, 1960.
     

    Daftary, Farhad, The Isma‘ilisinfo-icon: Their History and Doctrines, Cambridge, 1990.
     

    De Smet, Daniel, ‘Le Kitâb Râhat al–‘Aqlinfo-icon de Hamid al–Kirmâni et la cosmologie ismaélienne à l’époque fatimide,’ Acta Orientalia Belgica, 7 (1992), pp. 81–91.
     

    Mizan ad–diyana ou l’ équilibre entre science et religon dans la pensée ismaélienne,’ Acta Orientalia Belgica, 8 (1993), pp, 247–54
     

    ‘ Le Verbe–impératif dans le système cosmologique de l’ismaélisme,’ Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Théologiques, 73 (1987), pp. 397–412.
     

     La Quiétude de l’intellect: Néoplatonisme et gnose ismaélienne dans l’œuvre de Hamid ad–Dininfo-icon al–Kirmai (Xe/XIe s.), Louvain, 1995.
     

    de Blois, Francois, ‘The Oldest known Fatimid Manuscript From Yemen,’ Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, Off print from vol. 14 (1984), pp. 1–7.
     

    al–Farabi, Abu Nasr, Al–Farabi on the Perfect State: Abu Nasr al–Farabi’s Mabadi’ ara’ ahl al–madina al fadila, ed. and trans. by Richard Walzer, Oxford, 1985.
     

    Alfarabi’s Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, trans. by Muhsin Mahdiinfo-icon, Ithaca, NY, 1969.
     

    Kitab al–siyasa al–madaniyya, ed. Fauzi M. Najjar, Beirut, 1964.
     

    Tahsil al–sa‘ada, ed. Ja‘far Al–Yasin, Beirut, 1983.
     

    Gacek, Adam, Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts in the Library of The Institute of Ismaili Studies, vol. 1, London, 1984.
     

    Ghalib, Mustafa, al–Haraka al–Batiniyyainfo-icon fiöl–Islam, Beirut, 1982.
     

    Goriawala, Mu‘izz, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Fyzee Collection of Ismaili Manuscripts, Bombay, 1965.
     

    Halm, Heinz, The Fatimidsinfo-icon and their Traditions of Learning, London, 1997
     

    al–Hamdani, Husayn, Maqalat kitab al–riyad, l’l–shaykhinfo-icon Ahmad al–Kirmani, Hyderabad, 1358/1939.
     

    Husayn, Muhammad Kamil Ta’ifat al–duruz, Cairo, 1962.
     

    Ibn al–Athir, ‘Izz al–Din, al Kamil,fi’l–ta’rich, ed. C.J. Tornberg, Leiden, 1964 (Beirut reprint).
     

    Ibn al–Jawzi, ‘Abd al–Rahman, al–Muntazam, vol. 7, Hyderabad, 1939.
     

    Ibn Sina, Abu ‘Ali, The life of Ibn Sina, ed. and trans. By W. E. Gohlman, Albany, NY., 1974.
     

    Idris, ‘Imad al–Din b. al–Hasan, Uyuninfo-icon al–akhbar, vol. 6, ed. M. Ghalib, Beirut. 1984.
     

    Ivanow, W., Ismaili Literature: A Bibliographical Survey, Tehran, 1963.
     

    Jiwa, Shainool, ‘Fatimid–Buyid Diplomacy During the Reign of al–‘Aziz Billah (365/975–386/996), ’ Journal of Islamic Studies, 3 (1992), pp. 57–71.
     

    Al–Karajiki, Kanz al–fawa’id, Beirut,1985.
     

    Al–Kirmani, Hamid al–Din Ahmad, al–Risala al–durriyya fi ma‘na al–tawhidinfo-icon, ed. M. Kamil Husayn, Cairo, 1952; ed. M Ghalib in Majmu‘at rasa’il al–Kirmani, pp. 19–26. Ms. Tubingen University.
     

    al–Risala al–lazima, ed. Muhammad ‘Abd al–Qadir ‘Abd al–Nasir in Majallat Kulliyyat al–Adabinfo-icon, Jami‘at al–Qahira, 31 (1979), pp. 1–52; ed. M. Ghalib in Majmu‘at rasa’il pp. 61–8o.
     

    Risalat al–nuzum fi muqabalat al–‘awalim, ed. M. Kamil Husayn, Cairo, 1952 (with al–Durriyya); ed. M. Ghalib in Majmu‘at rasa’il, pp. 27–34. Ms. Tubingen University.
     

    al–Risala al–radiyya, ed. M. Ghalib in Majmu‘at rasa’il, pp. 35–42. Ms. Tubingen University.
     

    al–Risala al–wadi’a fi ma‘alim al–din, Ms. Fyzee Collection, Bombay University Library.
     

    al–Risala al–wa‘iza, ed. M. Kamil Husayn in Majallat Kulliyyat al–Adab, Jami‘a Fu’ad al–Awwal, 14 (1952), pp. 1–29; ed. M. Ghalib in Majmu‘at rasa’il pp. 134–47.
     

    Kitab al–masabih fi ithbat al–imamainfo-icon, ed. M. Ghalib, Beirut, 1969.
     

    Kitab al–riyad, ed. ‘Arifinfo-icon Tamir, Beirut, 1960; Ms. Hamdani Collection.
     

    Kitab ma‘asim al–huda wa’l–isba fi tafdil ‘Ali ‘ala al–sahaba, Ms. 724, copied in Surat 1356/1937 and 107, undated, The Institute of Ismaili Studies Library, London. All specific citations, by folio number, are to Ms. 724.
     

    Kitab rahat al–‘aql, ed. M. Kamil Husayn and M. M. Hilmi, Cairo, 1953; ed. M. Ghalib, Beirut, 1967; Ms. Hamdani Collection (from photocopy ARCE, Cairo). – Kitab tanbih al–hadi wa’l–mustahdi, Ms. 723, in The Institute of Ismaili Studies Library, London. (See Gacek, p. 152). Ms. Fyzee Collection, Bombay University Library, no. 57 (Goriawala). References by page number to the first of these.
     

    Majmu‘at rasa’il al–Kirmani, ed. M. Ghalib, Beirut, 1983 (Containing al–Durriyya, al–Nuzum, al–Radiyya, al–Mudi’a, al–Lazima, al–Rawda, al–Zahira, al–Hawiya, Mabasim, al–Wa‘iza, al–Kafiya, and two treatises Fi’l–radd ‘ala man ankara [yunkiru] al–‘alam al–ruhani and Khaza’in al–adilla not by al–Kirmani).
     

    Risalat mabasim al–bisharat, in Husayn, Ta’ifat al–duruz, pp. 52–71; in Ghalib, al–Haraka al–Batiniyya fi’l–Islam, pp. 205–33, and in Majmu‘at rasa’il al–Kirmani, pp. 113–33.
     

    al–Aqwal al–dhahabiyya, ed. Salah al–Sawi, Tehran 1977.
     

    Kraus, Paul, ‘Hebraische and syrische Zitate in isma‘ilitischen Schriften,’ Der Islam, 19 (1931), pp. 243–63.
     

    Lerner, Ralph and Muhsin Mahdi, eds, Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook, Ithaca, NY, 1972.
     

    Madelung, Wilferd, ‘Das Imamatinfo-icon in der fruhen ismailitischen Lehre,’ Der Islam, 37 (1961), pp. 43–135
     

    ‘The Assumption of the Title Shahanshahinfo-icon by the Buyidsinfo-icon and “The Reign of the Daylaminfo-icon (Dawlat al–Daylam)”,’ Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 28 (1969), pp. 84–108 and 168–83.
     

    al–Majdu‘, Isma‘il b. ‘Abd al–Rasulinfo-icon, Fihrist al–Majdu‘, ed. ‘Alinaqi Munzavi, Tehran, 1966.
     

    al–Maqrizi, Taqi al–Din Ahmad, Itti‘az al–hunafa’ bi–akhbar al–a’imma al– Fatimiyyin al–khulafa’, vol. 1, ed. J. al–Shayyal, Cairo, 1967, vols 2 and 3, ed. M. H. M. Ahmad, Cairo, 1971 and 1973.
     

    McDermott, Martin J., The Theology of Al–Shaikh Al–Mufid (d. 413/1022), Beirut, 1986.
     

    al–Nu‘man, al–Qadiinfo-icon Abu Hanifa, Da‘a’im al–Islam, ed. A. A. A. Fyzee, Cairo, 1951–61
     

    Peterson, Daniel, ‘Hamid al–Din al–Kirmani on Creation’ in A. Hasnawi et al., eds, Perspectives arabes et médiévales sur la tradition scientifique et philosophique grecque, Louvain–Paris, 1997, pp. 555–67
     

    Pines, S., ‘Shi‘iteinfo-icon terms and conceptions in Judah Halevi’s Kuzari,’ Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, 2 (1980), pp. 165–251.
     

    Poonawala, Ismail K. ‘Idris b. al–Hasan,’ EI2, Supplement, p. 407.
     

    Biobibliography of Isma‘ili Literature, Malibu, California, 1977.
     

    al–Razi, Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Zakariya’, Rasa’il falasfiyya, ed. P. Kraus, Cairo, 1939.
     

    al–Razi, Abu Hatim Ahmad, A‘lam al–nubuwwainfo-icon, ed. Saleh al–Sawi and G. A‘wani, Tehran, 1977.
     

    Kitab al–islah, Ms. Hamdani Collection.
     

    Saleh, Abdel Hamid, ‘Ibn Khalaf, E12, Supplement, p. 390.
     

    Sayyidinfo-icon, Ayman Fu’ad, ‘Nusus da’i‘a min Akhbar Misr li‘l–Musabbihi,’ Annales Islamologiques, 17 (1981), pp. 1–54.
     

    Al–Sijistani, AbuYa‘qub Ishaq, Ithbat al–nubuwwa (or al–nubuwwat), ed. ‘A. Tamir, Beirut, 1966. Ms. Fyzee Collection.
     

    Kitab al–iftikhar, ed. M. Ghalib, Beirut, 1980. A definitive edition by I. K Poonawala is not yet published and, until now, is available only from the editor.
     

    Kitab al–maqalid, Ms. Hamdani Collection.
     

    Kitab al–yanabi‘, ed. with partial trans. into French by H. Corbin in his Trilogie ismaélienne, Tehran and Paris, 1961. See also Walker, The Wellsprings of Wisdom.
     

    Sourdel, D., ‘al–Kadir bi’llah,’ E12, vol. 4, pp. 378–9
     

    van Ess, Josef, ‘Zur Chronologie der Werke des Hamidaddin al–Kirmani’ in ‘Biobibliographische Notizen zur islamischen Theologie’, Die Welt des Orients, 9 (1978), pp. 255–61.
     

    Chiliastische Erwartungen und die Versuchung der Gottlichkeit: Der Kalif al–Hakim (386–411 H.), Heidelberg, 1977.
     

    Walker, Paul E., Abu Ya‘qub al–Sijistani: Intellectual Missionary, London, 1996.
     

    ‘The Doctrine of Metempsychosis in Islam’ in Islamic Studies Presented to Charles J. Adams, eds W. Hallaq and D. Little, Leiden, 1991, pp. 219–38.
     

    Early Philosophical Shiism: The Ismaili Neoplatonism of Abu Ya‘qub al–Sijistani, Cambridge, 1993.
     

    ‘Fatimid Institutions of Learning,’ Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, 34 (1997), pp. 179–200.
     

    ‘The Ismaili Da‘wainfo-icon in the Reign of the Fatimid Caliphinfo-icon al–Hakim,’, Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, 30 (1993), pp. 161–82.
     

    ‘Platonisms in Islamic Philosophy,’ Studia Islamica, 79 (1994), pp. 5–25.
     

    [Review of] La Quiétude de l’Intellect by D. De Smet, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 117 (1997), pp. 386–7.
     

    The Wellsprings of Wisdom: A Study of Abu Ya‘qub al–Sijistani’s Kitab al–Yanabi‘, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1994.
     

  • Paul E. Walker

    English
    An historian of ideas with a focus on Mediaeval Islamic History, Paul E. Walker has taught at McGill University, Columbia University and the University of Michigan. For several years Dr Walker was the Director of the American Research Centre in Egypt, and is currently a Visiting Scholar with the University of Chicago's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He has authored and edited many books on Fatimid history and the formative period of Ismaili thought including Early Philosophical Shi'ism (Cambridge University Press, 1993), The Wellsprings of Wisdom: A Study of Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani's Kitab...Read more