This important book, by an internationally acknowledged expert in Ismaili studies, introduces Ismaili history and thought in medieval times. Discussing the different phases in Ismaili history, it describes both the early Ismailis as well as the contributions of the later Ismailis to Islamic culture. A number of chapters deal with key Ismaili individuals such as Hasan-i Sabbah. Other chapters contextualise the Ismailis within the early Muslim societies, in addition to investigating the Ismaili-Crusader relations and the resulting legends on the Ismaili secret practices. Over the course of the work, it becomes clear that Ismaili historiography, and the perception of the Ismailis by others (in both Muslim and Christian milieus), have had a fascinating evolution. In the course of their long history the Ismailis have often been accused of various heretical teachings and practices and - at the same time - a multitude of myths and misconceptions have ciculated about them. This state of affairs reflected the fact that the Ismailis were, until the middle of the twentieth century, studied and judged almost exclusively on the basis of evidence collected, or even fabricated, by their enemies. As the most revolutionary wing of Shi'ism, with a religio-political agenda that aimed to uproot the Abbasids and restore the caliphate to a line of 'Alid imams, the Ismailis naturally from early on aroused the hostility of the Sunni establishment and majority. Farhad Daftary here separates myth from fact, propaganda from actuality, in a work characterised by his customary mastery of the sources and literature.
Ismailis in Medieval Muslim Societies