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B. Preface

[1] The text of the Ummu'l-kitab was edited by me in "Der Islam." 1936, pp.
1-132; cf. Also my "Notes sur L'Ummul-kitab des Ismaeliens de L'Asie
Centrale" in the "Revue des Etudes Islamiques," Paris, 1932, pp. 419-481.
The Kalam-I Pir, or Haft Bab-I Sayyid Nasir, was edited and translated by me,
Bombay, 1935 (I.R.A.'s Series, No.4). The Wajh-I Din was printed by the
Kaviani Press, Berlin, in 1924.

In the great scarcity of reliable information about Ismailism, and almost
complete absence of genuine works on it, the pamphlet was remarkable for a
considerable extent of outspokenness in the treatment of its esoteric subjects,
and also for the feature which is very rare in Ismaili works in general, namely:
numerous references to various authors and poets belonging to general Persian
literature. Having decided to edit and translate it, I carefully copied the text,
but wartime conditions and revolution prevented its publication. When in May
1918 I was sent by the Academy to Bukhara, I took the copy with me in the
hope of finding some learned Ismailis who would be able to explain to me the
numerous difficult and obscure places in the opuscule. Various circumstances,
however, prevented me from returning to St. Pertersburg. Instead, I found
myself in Persia, and later India. In Khorasan I came in touch with the local
Ismailis, but they confessed to never having seen the pamphlet before, and
could not help me in its translation. Later on, in India, I met many Ismailis
from Hunza, Chitral, and a few from Shughnan and other districts of
Badakshan. These also admitted never having seen the text before, and only
one claimed some some previous knowledge of it, mentioning that the real title
of the work was the Ma'dinu'l-haqa'iq. On the whole his testimony did not
inspire much confidence, and Iwould hesitate to accept his statement until it is
supported from reliable sources.

In India I have prepared an edition of the text, with an English translation, and
it was published under the title of "Ismailitica," in the VIII volume of the
"Memories of the Asiatic Society of Bengal" (Calcutta, 1922,pp. 1-76).
Except for some poetical works of Nasir-I Khusraw, this was the first genuine
Ismaili work in Persian ever published. It was quite natural that it evoked
considerable interest both amongst students and the Ismailis themselves, and all
copies of the separate issue were very soon sold. Those who wished to
acquire a copy had to purchase the whole of Vol. VIII which, except for this
paper, dealt with biology and other matters having no connection with
Ismailism. By now it seems even this opportunity has ceased to exist.
At present, twenty-five years after its publication, this little work not only has
not lost any of its interest, but, on the contrary, in the light of further studies
and finds, appears even more interesting than it did earlier. Access to the
original Ismaili literature of the Fatimid period and later has provided valuable
background to it, putting many of its features in a different light, and often
raising new problems where none was at first suspected. In any case the
inaccessibility of this text to students, except to those working in large and
well-equiped libraries, was to be deplored. I am, therefore, extremely grateful
to the "Ismaili Society" of Bombay who have sympathetically considered my
offer to bring out a second edition in their newly started series. It was,
however, unfortunate that the situation with printing in India had reached such
difficult conditions. The larger and better equipped presses all over the
country, already overworked, had been badly hit by the wave of strimes and
riots. For this reason only the use of small presses and lithography proved to
be practicable, and even in these it was possible to obtain the services of only
inferior and inexperienced scribes. For all these, and many other reasons, it
was decided to publish the text and translation separately.

It seems to be an inviolable psychological law that every beginner wants to
make his work at one a perfection of scholarship and erudition, stuffing it with
references to earlier literature, regardless of whether such references are really
needed or useful. In bringing out this new edition and translation I have
ruthlessly suppressed all such signs of youthful enthusiasm, leaving only those
references which are absolutly necessary.

I am taking this opportunity to reiterate my most sincere and profound thanks
to all my Ismaili friends without whose generous assistance and collaboration I
would have not been able to do much work for the study of Ismailism. I am
perfectly obliged to the President and the Committee of the "Ismaili society"
for the help they have so willingly given me.

Bombay, January, 1947.

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