Notes

1. GAL, i.sosf. ; GALS, i.692-7 ; EI2, art. IbnHazm (Arnaldez); I. Goldziher, Die Zähmten, ihr Lehrsystem und ihre- Geschichte, Leipzig 1884, esp. 116-70 (Eng. tr. by W. Behn, Leiden 1971, 109-71); I. Friedlaender, 'Zur Komposition von Ibn Hazm's Milal wa 'n-Nihal', Orientalische Studien Th. Nöldeke gewidmet. . ., Giessen 1906, i.267-77 ; M. Asin Palacios, Abenházam de Córdoba y su historia de las ideas religiosas, Madrid 1927; Roger Arnaldez, Grammaire et théologie chez Ibn Hazm de Cordoue, essai sur la structure et les conditions delà pensée musulmane, Paris 1956; do., 'Controverses théologiques chez Ibn Hazm de Cordoue et Ghazali', Mardis de Dar al-Salam, Paris 1956, 207-48 ¡ do., 'La profession de foi dlbn Hazm', Congreso de arabistos y islamistos, Cordoba, 1962, Actas, 137-61 ; A. J. Arberry (tr.), The Ring of the Dove, London 1953.

2. Abü-Bakr ibn-al-'Arabï: GAL, i.525; GALS, Í.632Í.; EI2, art. Ibn al-'Arab! (Abü Bakr . . .) (J. Robson); 'Ammär Tâlibï (Talbi), Arä' Abi-Bakr ibn-al-'Arabïal-kalämiyya, Algiers n.d.

3. Ibn-Tümart : GAL, i.5o6f. ; GALS, i.697 ; EI2, art. IbnTümart (J. F. P. Hopkins); I. Goldziher, 'Materialien zur Kenntnis der Almohaden-bewegung', Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, xli (1887), 30-140 (and in Gesammelte Schriften ii, Hildesheim 1968, 191-301), and also the introduction to Luciani (ed.), Le Livre de Mohammed ibn Toumert, Algiers 1903 ; R. Brunschwig, 'Sur la Doctrine du Mahdi Ibn Tümart', Ignace Goldziher Memorial Volume, ed. S. Löwinger, ii.1-13.

4. Abenmasarra: GALS, i.378f.; EI2, art. Ibn Masarra (Arnaldez); M. Asin Palacios, Abenmasarra y su escuela, Madrid 1914, and Eng. tr. by E. H. Douglas and H. W. Yoder, The Mystical Philosophy of Ibn Masarra and his followers, Leiden 1978.

5. Avempace: GAL, i.6oi; EI2, art. Ibn Badjdja (D. M. Dunlop); Georges Zainaty, La morale d'Avempace, Paris 1979.

6. Ibn-Tufayl: GAL, 1.602L; GALS, i.83if .¡EI2, art. IbnTufayl (Carra de Vaux); Eng. translations of Hayy ibn-Yaqzän : (1) The Improvement of Human Reason, by S. Ockley, London 1708 ,• revised by A. S. Fulton, London 1929; (2) The Awakening of the Soul, by P. Brönnle, London 1904.

7. Averroes : GAL, i.604-6 ¡ GALS, i.833-7 ; EI2, art. Ibn Rushd (Arnaldez) ; Simon van den Bergh (tr.), Averroes' Tahafut al-Tahafut (The Incoherence of the Incoherence), two vols., London 1954; G. F. Hourani (tr.), Ibn Rushd (Averroes) on the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy, London 1962, a translation of Fasl al-maqäl-, do., 'Averroes on Good and Evil', Studia Islamica, xvi (1962), 13-40, L. Gauthier, La théorie d'Ibn Roschd sur les rapports de la religion et de la philosophie, Paris 1909 ; Roger Arnaldez, 'La pensée religieuse d'Averroès', in Studia Islamica, vii, viii, ix (1957-9).

8. Muhyï-d-dln ibn-al-'Arabï: GAL, i.571-82; GALS, i.790-802; EI2, art. Ibn al-'Arabï, Muhyi '1-Din (A. Ate§); A. E. Affifi, The Mystical Philosophy of Muhyiddïn Ibnul-'Arabi, Cambridge 1939; H. Corbin, L'imagination cieatrice dans le soufisme d'Ibn 'Aiabï, Paris 1958, and Eng. tr. by R. Manheim, Princeton 1969.

9. Ibn-Sab'ïn : G AL, i.6n; GALS, i.844; El2, art. IbnSab'ïn(A. Faure).

Chapter Sixteen THE ELABORATION OF SHÏTTE THEOLOGY

While among the Sunnites the Ash'arite, Hanbalite and other schools of theology were developing in the ways described, something similar was taking place in each of the three main branches of Shi'ism.

After the organization of Imàmism in the years following the death of the Eleventh Imam in 874, and especially after the proclamation of the greater occultation about 940, leadership in the sect fell more and more to its scholars. In the early tenth century al-Kulini (d.939) had begun to lay the foundations of Imâmite law. The systematic elaboration of Imâmite belief, however, was the work of a number of scholars through the next century or so.1 The most important were :

( 1 ) ash-Shaykh as-Saduq, also known as Ibn-Bàbawayh ( or -Bâbù-ya) al-Qummi (d.991), son of the shaykh of the Imàmites in Qumm, who spent some time in Baghdad and finally settled in Rayy, which was then under the vizier as-Sâhib ibn-'Abbâd;2

( 2 ) ash-Shaykh al-Mufid ( 947-1022 ), who was latterly the head of the Imâmite school of Baghdad and somewhat critical of Ibn-Bàba-wayh;3

(3) ash-Sharif al-Murtadâ 'Alam al-hudà (967-1044), a descendant of the Seventh Imam and naqlb, 'dean', of the 'Alids, who had studied under ash-Shaykh al-Mufid and succeeded him as head of the school in Baghdad, though he had also studied under non-Shi'ite teachers, including the Qâdï 'Abd-al-Jabbâr the Mu'tazilite, and had come to hold views closer to Mu'tazilism than those of al-Mufid;4

(4) ash-Shaykh at-Tûsî, also known as Shaykh at-Tâ'ifa (995-1067), who came from Tûs and studied under the two previous scholars, then after the expulsion of the Buwayhids from Baghdad in 105 5 went to Najaf, the Shi'ite shrine in Iraq ,s

(5) al-Fadl at-Tabarsi (d.1153 or 1157), who was reckoned the leading theologian of his time, but is chiefly remembered for his great Qur'ân-commentary.6

The beliefs of the Imamites, apart from those about the imamate, are similar to those of the Sunnites except in minor details. As Ignaz Goldziher emphasized, even the Sunna or example of the Prophet was of great importance among the Imamites. At the same time, however, they considered that most of the Companions of the Prophet admired by the Sunnites (and first transmitters of their Hadith) were unreliable, since they had rejected Muhammad's designation of 'All to succeed him as imam. They therefore made their own collections of Hadith, and these normally had the name of one of the Imams or a respected Shi'ite scholar in the chain of transmitters (isnad).

Eventually what are known as 'the Four Books' came to be regarded as canonical. These are: al-Kafi fi 'ilm ad-din, 'the Sufficiency for the Science of Religion', by al-Kulini,- Man la yahdum-hu 1-faqih, 'He who has no lawyer present', by Ibn-Babawayh; Tahdhib al-ahkam, 'the Correction of Judgements', by ash-Shaykh at-Tusi; and also by him al-Istibsar fi-ma ikhtalafa fi-hi l-akhbai, 'Examination of the Differences in Hadith'. Many of the Hadiths of the Imamites are similar to those of the Sunnites, and consequently many of their religious practices are similar. Detailed laws, too, are derived from the same principles of jurisprudence, namely, Quran, Sunna ( = Hadith), consensus [ijma) and analogy (qiyas); but consensus has to be linked with the views of the Imams. More scope is given to analogical reasoning by the Imamites, since the leading jurists at any time are held to have the right of ijtihad, that is, the right of applying the basic principles in a fresh way to a contemporary problem without slavishly following precedent. A jurist with this right is a mujtahid.

The earliest full statement of doctrinal belief is the Risala or 'Epistle' on Imamite beliefs composed by Ibn-Babawayh. The structure of this Risala is not unlike that of Sunnite creeds, and it may be divided into five sections: God and his attributes (pp.25-48 of the English translation); eschatology (48—82); revelation and the Qur'an (82-9); the imamate (89-116); miscellaneous methodological questions (x 16-28). In the first section God's oneness is insisted on, and the distinction between essential and active attributes (sifat adh-dhat, — al-fi'l) is accepted, though the latter are said to be muhdath, 'originating or appearing in time'; the reason for this last point is that, for example, God cannot be Provider (raziq) until there is a creature for which he makes provision (rizq). The anthropomorphic terms applied to God are interpreted metaphorically. Thus in the verse 'everything is perishing except his (God's) face' (28.88) he interprets 'face' (wajh) as 'religion'. In the second section the common Muslim eschatological beliefs are accepted, but again some of them are interpreted metaphorically. The chief point to notice in the third section is that God is spoken of as creator of the Qur'an as well as its utterer or speaker. As has already been seen, if the Qur'an is created, it is not necessarily the expression of God's being, and may therefore be modified hy an inspired Imam.

In Ibn-Babawayh's creed the author's views come close to those of the Mu'tazilites at certain points; and one of the interesting features of the development of Imamite theology is its increasing acceptance of Mu'tazilite conceptions and principles. In Ibn-Babawayh's case, however, though some of his views corresponded to those of the Mu'tazilites, his method was closer to that of the Hanbalites and he disapproved of Kalam. Ash-Shaykh al-Mufid, on the other hand, criticized Ibn-Babawayh on various points, including his rejection of Kalam, and considered that he himself was a mutakallim. He held, however, that Imamites like himself differed from the Mu'tazilites in two ways: first, they considered that the use of reason in theology required a basis in Qur'an and Hadith, whereas the Mu'tazilites trusted in reason alone; and secondly, they believed in the imamate of 'Ali from the time of the Prophet's death, whereas the Mu'tazilites accepted the doctrine of the 'intermediate position' (p.52 above). Ash-Sharif al-Murtada was even closer to the Mu'tazilites, for he abandoned the first of these differences and held that the truths of religion were to be established by reason alone. It is interesting that, where al-Mufid had thought that the Mu'tazilite school of Baghdad was close to Imamism, al-Murtada preferred the school of Basra.

From this time onwards there have been two contrary tendencies in Imamism, one making use of reason and engaging in Kalam and the other mostly restricting itself to Qur'an and Hadith and criticizing the use of reason. The opposition between these tendencies becomes prominent in the Safavid period.

(b) the Isma'ilites7 Isma'ilite theology was first elaborated under the Fatimid dynasty which established itself in Egypt in 969 and maintained itself there until 1171. There were, of course, others who held the main Isma'ilite beliefs. Among these, for example, were a body of men known as the Qarmatians (Qaramita, Carmathians), who about 894 had established a semi-independent principality at Bahrein on the east cost of Arabia, which flourished at least until the end of the eleventh century. The relations of the Qarmatians with the Fatimids are obscure; sometimes they fought against them, but at other times they acknowledged suzerainty, as when in 951 in obedience to the Fatimid caliph they returned to the Ka*ba the Black Stone which they had carried off twenty years earlier. Fatimid missionaries and propagandists (sing. da I) were sent throughout the provinces which acknowledged the 'Abbasids, and gained the adhesion of many groups of discontented men in various localities. Since the Fatimids claimed to be the right ful rulers of the whole Islamic world, their propaganda constituted an underground revolutionary movement.

The long reign of the caliph al-Mustansir (1036-94) was a time of great prosperity for the Fâtimids, even though by that date they had lost the North African provinces where there had been few conversions to Ismàilism (as indeed was also the case in Egypt). On the death of al-Mustansir, however, a serious split occurred in the Ismaélite movement. The vizier al-Afdal ibn-Badr al-Jamâlï, who was the real ruler in Egypt, managed to have the designated heir, Nizâr, replaced by a younger son, al-Mustali, whom he supposed would be more amenable to himself. The Persian and Syrian Ismaélites, who had begun to despair of the Fâtimids ever invading 'Abbisid domains, took advantage of this happening to break their connection with the Fâtimids by declaring themselves followers of Nizâr. Nizâr himself, after being defeated and imprisoned in Alexandria, disappeared, probably murdered; but the leader in Asia, Hasan-i Çabbàh, claimed that Nizâr was only in hiding and that he was in touch with him. Indeed as late as 1164 the successor of Hasan-i Çabbâh claimed he had received two letters from the Imam in hiding.

A further schism took place among the Mustalians on the death of the caliph al-Amir in 1130. His infant son at-Tayyib mysteriously disappeared, and after some fighting his cousin 'Abd-al-Majid became caliph with the throne-name of al-Hâfiz. Most of the Mustalians in Egypt and Syria became Hàfizites (or Majidites), but after the fall of the Fâtimids they suffered some persecution and by 1250 had almost ceased to exist as a community. The Tayyibites, on the other hand, who had always been less numerous than the Hàfizites in Egypt and Syria, had almost died out there by 1250 but were flourishing in the Yemen and, as they still are, in India.

In 1090 before the death of al-Mustansir the Ismà'ïlites of Persia under the leadership of Hasan-i Çabbâh had gone into open revolt against the Sunnite Seljûq regime in Baghdad and had seized the mountain fortress of Alamut. In the following years they seized other fortresses and towns. Part of their policy was to carry out conspicuous political murders, such as that of the Seljûq vizier Nizâm-al-mulk in 1092. It is from this practice that the word 'assassin' has come; it apparently represents an Arabic word, probably hashshâshîn or has-ïshiyyîn, meaning 'users of the drug hashish', but it is not certainly known why they were so called. The Crusaders in Syria had many picturesque tales about them and their leader, whom they called 'the old man of the mountain' (shaykh al-jabal). After 1094 most of the Syrian Ismâ llites had become Nizârites and acknowledged the lordship of Hasan-i Çabbâh. The fortunes of the Nizârites varied from time to time and from region to region, but the descendants of Hasan-i Çabbâh maintained themselves as Lords of Alamut until the fortress was captured by the Mongols in 1256, and even then the Nizárites were not exterminated.

From this simplified account of Ismá'ilism up to 1250 something will have been gathered of the character of the movement. Some Sunnite writers tried to explain it as a resurgence of the old pre-Islamic religions ¡ and the earlier European scholars tended to see in it a Persian national or racial movement. The latter suggestion is clearly wrong, since many non-Persians were Ismá'ilites, while the Persian ruling classes mostly became Sunnites. Recent scholarly opinion has therefore come to regard Ismá'ilism as essentially a series of revolutionary movements among labourers, artisans and other depressed classes. Dissatisfaction with the existing state of affairs probably led to a temper of revolt in many centres. It was in part the genius for organization of some of the Isma'ilite leaders which enabled them to produce a semblance of unity out of numerous disparate groups scattered over a wide area, and to create at certain periods a revolutionary underground movement with a not-too-definite doctrinal basis. A central point was obedience to one's superiors within the movement, together with the belief that the commands from one's superiors ultimately came from the Imam himself and were infallible. Great emphasis was placed on the missionary or propagandist effort of the movement, its da'wa, and the focus of its organization was the da'i, missionary or propagandist. The da'i in an area, as an official representative of the Imam, often had considerable power. Thus for a time Hasan-i §abbah was the da'i in charge of the whole Fátimid da'wa in Persia.

There are accounts which suggest that Ismá'ilite propaganda was carefully graded. At the lowest level what was said was adapted to the position of ordinary people and the religious beliefs they had previously held. After they had progressed to a higher level they were apparently taught that truth in the positive religions is always relative, and that whatever truth they have is taken up into Ismá'ilism. Doubtless something like this took place in some regions at certain periods, but it is difficult to say to what extent this was the normal procedure. Certainly in dealing with Muslims they made much use of the distinction between the external (zahix) and the internal (batin). They claimed that the Qur'án, besides its external or obvious meaning, had an internal, hidden or esoteric meaning, and that this inner meaning could be learnt only from the Imam or his agent (such as a dai). Because of this point in their teaching they are sometimes called Bátinites. They also spoke of what was given by the Imam or his agents as ta'lim, literally 'teaching' but with the connotation of 'authoritative instruction'; and thus they may be called Talimites, as in the Mwiqidh of al-Ghazáli.

The distinctive belief of the Ismá'ilites was their doctrine of the imamate. They are sometimes known as Sab'iyya, 'Seveners', in contrast to the Imamiyya, who are Ithna'ashariyya, 'Twelvers'; but the chief difference between the two is not in the number of Imams. The formal difference, of course, is that, while they agree in acknowledging Ja'far as-Sadiq as the Sixth Imam, the Imamites hold that the Seventh was his son Musa and the Isma'ilites say it was another son Isma'il. The more fundamental difference, however, is that, where the Imamites are content to have an Imam in complete occultation, the Isma'ilites tend to look for an Imam who is active in the world in the present. Admittedly the Isma'ilites have at times acknowledged a hidden Imam, when that was temporarily advantageous; but on each occasion the hidden Imam before long gave place to an actual present Imam. Thus at Alamut Hasan-i Sabbah (d. 1124) appointed one of his generals to succeed him as da I, and this man was followed by a son and grandson. The latter, Hasan n (known as Hasan 'ala dhikri-hi s-salam), who reigned from 1162 to 1166, claimed openly the title of caliph and not-so-openly that of Imam. The son who succeeded him and the later Isma'ilite rulers of Alamut were all regarded as Imams and lineal descendants of Nizar. Something similar happened in several other cases. Because of its conception of the Imam the Isma'ilite movement became fissiparous, and besides the schisms already mentioned several others took place later.

Something can be learnt about other aspects of Isma'ilite belief from several credal statements which have been preserved.8 One is found in the first chapter of Da'a'im al-islam, 'the Pillars of Islam', the fundamental work on Isma'ilite jurisprudence, composed under the Fatimids by the QadI an-Nu'man (d.974). The basic creed contains only nine simple clauses, of which the first two repeat in a slightly enlarged form the two clauses of the Shahada, 'there is no deity but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God'; four deal with eschatology, and the remainder with the authority of prophets and Imams. The same author has also a book entitled Asas at-ta'wil, 'the Foundations of (authoritative) Interpretation', in which he explains the inner or esoteric meaning of a large number of Qur'anic verses, which he arranges according to six of the seven eras recognized by previous Isma'ilites; each era is inaugurated by a natiq, 'enunciating (prophet)', namely, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, while the natiq of the seventh era is the MahdI.

A summary in English of a much fuller creed was published in 1936 by W.Ivanow under the title of A Creed of the Fatimids. The author, who died in 1215, was the fifth Tayyibite da'Imutlaq, 'absolute da'I', in the Yemen. The book comprises one hundred articles of belief, and Ivanow reckoned that a printed edition would occupy about 300 pages. Some of the articles deal with religious practice rather than doctrine, and the arrangement is haphazard. Nearly a score of articles deal with belief in God, but are largely negative: he is not a body nor a substance nor matter nor form; he has no names, no attributes, no limits and is not in space and time. There are articles on prophethood and the imamate, as might be expected, but the treatment of eschatology is abstract; that is, while the reality of eternal reward or punishment is'asserted, the more picturesque beliefs derived from the Qur'an or the Hadith are passed over in silence. The Isma'ilites would not deny these, of course, but would interpret them symbolically. The work is essentially a positive presentation of Isma'ilism and there is no explicit argument against other sects, but the author has so worded his assertions that Sunnite and other non-Isma'ilite doctrines are clearly denied.

This work and similar ones illustrate a further feature of Isma ll-ism. Although the authors may be described as philosophically minded and seem to have been familiar with some of the features of Sunnite and Imamite Kalam, they cannot have entered into overt discussion with these disciplines and they did not develop a philosophical theology of their own. This was doubtless because Isma'il-ites hold that, since human reason has limitations and cannot reach the fullness of truth, this can only be received from the Prophet or one of the Imams. What we do find among Isma'ilite writings, however, are elaborate semi-philosophical gnostic cosmologies. Among the writers of these are Abu-Ya'qub as-Sijzi (d. after 971?); Hamid-ad-din al-Kirmani (d.c. 1021); Ibrahim al-Hamidi (d. 1162); and the Persian-writing poet Nasir-i Khusraw (d.c.1080). These works are not theological in the usual sense, and, though they are sometimes called 'philosophy', this is not the normal rational discipline but one dependent on the esoteric knowledge of the Imams. Since they are well outside the main currents of Islamic thought, they are left aside here.

As already noted, the Ikhwan as-$afa', though a distinct group, had some connection with Isma'ilism about which there is little agreement. Out of Isma'ilism there also developed two small groups, the Druzes and the Nusayrites ('Alawites, Alouites), which are now virtually independent religions.

(c )theZaydites9

By the tenth century Zaydism seems to have been restricted to two small states under Zaydite rule. One of these was in regions to the south of the Caspian Sea and existed from about 870 to 1126. The other, established in the Yemen before 900, has managed to survive into the present century in one form or another under the Zaydite Imams of Sanaa. Even to speak of 'states' here is perhaps to give a false impression, and 'communities' might be a better word. Sometimes a son succeeded his father, but at other times there seems to have been a kind of interregnum for several years. The Zaydite principle was that any suitably qualified descendant of al-Hasan or al-Husayn, who publicly put himself forward as Imam, was to be accepted and followed. There seem to have been cases, however, where a man was accepted as Imam without being actual ruler of any district. Altogether the history of these Zaydite communities is so complex that it is difficult to make generalizations.

What is clear, however, is that there was extensive intellectual activity among the Zaydites, and a relatively large number of books has been preserved. One of the qualifications for the Imamate was religious learning, and among the Zaydite authors are many Imams. Some of the intellectual activity was directed to the elaboration of Zaydite jurisprudence, which is not considered here, but there were scholars in most of the religious disciplines, and some attained distinction.10 In an account of Zaydite theology, however, the most interesting point is the relation to Mu'tazilism. This is a problem as early as the caliphate of al-Ma"mun, but the character of the problem changes after the establishment of the Zaydite states. The Imam al-Qasim ibn-Ibrahlm (d.86o) was deeply influenced by Mu'tazilite doctrines, but a little later the northern leader al-Utrush vigorously criticized the Mu'tazilites. Towards the end of the tenth century, again, some Zaydite scholars were closely associated with the Mu'tazilite school in Rayy under the patronage of the Sahib Ibn-'Abbad and some even studied under the Qadi 'Abd-al-Jabbar. Such was the Imam al-Muayyad (944-1020) and some of his followers. Indeed certain Zaydites identified themselves completely with the Mu'tazilites, at least in theology; for example, the Imam an-Natiq bi-l-haqq Abu-Talib (951—1053) and Manekdim (Abu-l-Husayn Ahmad) (d. 1034).

The men named so far are all from the northern Zaydite community at the Caspian Sea. Sometimes their Imams were recognized as Imams by the community in the Yemen and sometimes not; and the same was true of the Imams in the Yemen. Besides the recognized Imams there were men who claimed the imamate but gained no more than local recognition. Though some of the earlier Imams in the Yemen have left books, the more important works came with the flourishing of intellectual studies there under the imamate of al-Mutawakkil-'ala-llah, who ruled from 1137 to 1170. He wanted to unite all the Zaydites—the 'state' in the north had ceased to exist in 1126—and wrote a book in which he acknowledged the northern Imams and also tried to smooth out the slight differences between the northerners and the Yemenites. His efforts were strongly supported by the Qadi Ja'far (d. 1177). These were followed by several scholars of the family of ar-Rassas. The tasks confronting such scholars included the defence of Zaydism not merely against heretical groups within (the Husaynites, who expected a 'hidden Imam' to return as Mahdi, and the Mutarrifites, who adopted a nature-philosophy and various strange views ), but also against the Bâtinites or Ismá'ilites who were now established in the Yemen. The father and brother of the Qàdi fa'far had actually been Ismâ'ilite intellectuals.

The Mu'tazilite theological doctrines on which the Zaydite scholars differed from one another and from the Mu'tazilites proper were mostly slight. Some Zaydites were closer to the Mu'tazilite school of Baghdad, others to that of Basra. One hair-splitting difference of which much was made was with regard to God's creative will. Despite their acceptance of much Mu'tazilite theology the Zaydites thought of themselves as having a separate identity from the Mu'tazilites. Sometimes they expressed this by saying that they themselves restricted the imamate to the descendants of al-Hasan and al-Husayn, whereas the Mu'tazilites held it to be open to any qualified man of the tribe of Quraysh. What is here alleged to be the Mu'tazilite view may be connected with the question of the recognition of the caliphate of Abü-Bakr and Umar. The early Zaydites had recognized them and spoke of this as 'the imamate of the inferior', since 'All was superior (afdal)} but some later Zaydites did not recognize the two. It is conceivable, too, that recognition of the 'Abbàsids was also involved, since local Zaydite leaders, unlike the Fâtimids, did not claim to be rightful rulers of the whole Islamic world. The essential focus of Zaydite identity was, of course, the recognition of the Imams.

In all this it appears that Mu'tazilite theology in its Zaydite version has suffered a transformation of function. It has ceased to be an attempt to deal with the intellectual problems facing all Muslims, and instead has become the basis of identity, in part, of a small community which wants to maintain its separateness from the large community around it.

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