Welcome to F.I.E.L.D.- the First Ismaili Electronic Library and Database. Guests are not required to login during this beta-testing phase

Ismailiyya Doctrine: Post-Fatimid times


Tayyibi doctrine:
The Tayyibi community in the Yemen and India preserved a large part of the Fatimid religious
literature and retained the interest in the gnostic cosmology and cyclical history of the Fatimid
age. Tayyibi doctrine, however, from the beginning adopted the cosmological system of
al-Kirmani in place of the traditional Fatimid system, and modified it by introducing a mythical
'drama in heaven', first described by the second da'i mutlak Ibrahim al-Hamidi [q.v.], which
profoundly shaped the Tayyibi gnosis. According to this myth, the two emanations from the
First Intellect, the Second and Third Intellects, were rivals for the second rank after the First
Intellect. As the Second Intellect reached this position by his superior efforts, the Third Intellect
refused to recognize his superiority in rank. In punishment for this failure he fell from the third
rank behind the following seven intellects and, after repenting, became stabilized as the Tenth
Intellect and demiurge (mudabbir). The physical world was produced out of the spiritual forms
(suwar) which together with the Tenth Intellect refused to recognize the superiority of the
Second Intellect and out of the darkness generated by this sin. The Tenth Intellect, also called
the Spiritual Adam (Adam al-Ruhani), tries to regain his original rank by calling the fallen spiritual
forms to repentance. The first representative of his da'wa on earth was the First and Universal
Adam (Adam al-Awwal al-Kulli), owner of the body of the ibda' world (al-djuththa al-ibda'iyya), who
opened the first cycle of manifestation (dawr al-kashf) and is distinguished from the Partial Adam
(Adam al-Juz'i), who opened the present age of concealment (dawr al-satr). After his passing he
rose to the horizon of the Tenth (Intellect) and took his place, while the Tenth rose in rank.
Similarly the qa'im of each cycle after his passing rises and takes the place of the Tenth, who
thus gradually rises until he will join the Second Intellect. Countless cycles of manifestation and
concealment succeed each other until the Great Resurrection (qiyamat al-qiyamat) which
consummates the megacycle (al-kawr al-a'zam), sometimes specified to last 360,000 times 360,000

The soul of each believer on his initiation is joined by a point of light, which grows as he
advances in knowledge. On his passing it rises to join the soul of the holder of the rank (hadd)
above him in the hierarchy. It continues to rise from hadd to hadd until it is gathered together
with the souls of all other believers in the light temple (haykal nurani) in the shape of a human
being which constitutes the form of the qa'im (sura qa'imiyya) of his cycle, which then rises to the
horizon of the Tenth. The souls of the unbelievers remain with their bodies, which are dissolved
into an organic matter which is consequently transformed into various harmful creatures and
substances in descending order. Depending on the gravity of their sins they may eventually rise
again through the ascending forms of life and as human beings may accept the da'wa or end up
in Sidjdjin in torment lasting as long as the megacycle.

Continuing the Fatimid tradition Tayyibi doctrineqmaintained the equal validity of the zahir and
the batin and repudiated antinomian trends. qadi al-Nu'man's Da'a'im al-Islam remained the
authoritative work of fiqh.

Nizari doctrine:

Owing to the upheavals in the political history of the Nizari communities, their wide dispersal,
the language barriers between them, and the repeated loss of large parts of their religious
literature, Nizari doctrine is marked by major shifts in time and nearly completely independent
local traditions.

Doctrine of Alamut:

The vigorous activism of the movement led by Hasan-i Sabbah even before its break with the
Fatimid caliphate was associated with a new preaching (da'wa djadida), most eloquently
formulated, though perhaps not originated, by Hasan-i Sabbah himself. The new preaching
entailed an apologetic reformulation of the old Shi'i doctrine of ta'lim, i.e., the authoritative
teaching in religion, which could be carried out only by a divinely chosen imam in every age
after the Prophet. Hasan-i Sabbah reaffirmed the need for such a teacher as a dictate of reason
and went on to prove that only the Isma'ili imam fulfilled this need. In his argumentation he
seems to have stressed the autonomous authority of each imam, independent of his predecessors,
thus unwittingly authorizing the later shifts of doctrine. The doctrine of ta'lim had a strong
impact in the Sunni world, as is reflected by its elaborate refutation by al-Ghazali [q.v.] and

A religious revolution took place under the fourth lord of Alamut, Hasan 'ala dhikrihi al-salam
(557/1162-561/1166), who on 17 Ramadan 559/8 Aug. 1164 solemnly proclaimed the
resurrection (qiyama) in the name of the imam, whose hudjdja or deputy (

Back to top