[P3759] Ismāʿīlī History and Thought

Created by Daniel Beben
Sunday, 11/23/14 4:30pm


The papers on this panel deal with the evolution of Isma‘ili Neoplatonic cosmology in the late Fatimid and Tayyibi Ismaili traditions, as well as the doctrines of religious authority in Nizari Isma‘ili thought. The first paper examines how the Fatimid da‘i Nasir-i Khusraw (d. 1088) addressed Qur’anic verses that depict God in positive of kataphatic language in light of his Neoplatonic metaphysics which explicitly adheres to an apophatic concept of God beyond attributes. The paper demonstrates that Nasir’s solution to this problem, as present in several of his works, is to interpret the Divine Names mentioned in the Qur’an as attributes of the Universal Intellect and Universal Soul (as opposed to God) by means of a Neoplatonic exegesis of Qur’anic verses. The second paper charts a parallel development of Isma‘ili Neoplatonism in the works of the Tayyibi Isma‘ili da‘i Ibrahim al-Hamidi (d. 1162) by analyzing the mythic elements that he introduced into Isma‘ili cosmology. The paper argues that such elements – the ideas of angelic descent, demiurge, and gnostic dualism – are “memory relics” (memetic pieces of religious myth) while analyzing their relation to similar themes from Christian Gnosticism. The third paper examines the Ismaʿili text titled the Kalam-i pir and presents a re-evaluation of its date, authorship, and its role and significance within the Central Asian Nizari Ismaʿili tradition.