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QADI NOMAN

Encyclopaedia of Ismailism by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin

"Qadi Noman was a renowned Ismaili jurist in the Fatimid court. He espoused Ismaili faith early in life at Kairwan. His association with the Fatimids however began with his entry into the services of Imam al-Mahdi since 313/925. During the period of Imam al-Qaim, he concentrated mainly in the study of history, philosophy and jurisprudence and composed numerous works. Prior to the death of Imam al-Qaim in 334/945, he was appointed as a qadi. His status was further promoted during the time of Imam al-Mansur when he was granted the rank of Chief Qadi (qadi al-qudat). He however reached his zenith in the time of Imam al-Muizz. Qadi Noman was greatly impressed by Imam al-Muizz's appearance and writes that he was struck by "the refulgence of the Imamate from his countenance."

When Imam al-Muizz ascended, Qadi Noman felt his post dwindled and wrote a letter to the Imam. He got Imam's reply, which he had quoted in his al-Majalis wal Musayarat. It reads: "O, Noman, may God protect you. I have read your letter. I regret that you are not sure of my patronage, and are trapped in fear unnecessarily. You have no reason to fear any adverse change in my attitude towards you. Instead, you should entertain greater hopes and aspire for a higher position. I know every thing about you. My well-wishers ought to look upon you as a model. Your friend will envy your lot and your enemies will feel jealous of you. May God help you and keep you straight on true path. With regard to the position you occupied with my predecessor, nothing is hidden from my notice. We, the Imams are the roots and branches of the same tree. If my father has died physically, the line of Imamate shall continue for ever. The souls of the Imams are joined like the hooks of a chain. If your patron has gone, your Imam is present. Thank God and have a trust upon Him for your affairs. Write to me about your needs, and you will be given what you want."

When Imam al-Muizz came to Egypt, he also brought Qadi Noman with him. He however allowed Qadi Abu Tahir Muhammad bin Ahamad bin Abdullah to remain as the qadi of Cairo. Abu Tahir, however, always consulted Qadi Noman and asked him to revise his verdicts. Qadi Noman was not formally appointed to a higher official position, his rank as a judicial officer was however superior than that of Abu Tahir.

Qadi Noman was a man of great talent, learning and accomplishments, diligent as a scholar, prolific as a writer and upright as a judge. He was the founder and exponent of Ismaili jurisprudence. He died in 363/974 at Cairo and Imam al-Muizz led the funeral prayers. He was a erudite and versatile author and the name of 44 of his works have survived. Of these 20 are totally lost, and 18 are wholly, and the rest are preserved in the private collection.


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