kseeker wrote: ↑
Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:15 pm
Thank you Biradar. I have ordered them last week.. should get a copy soon hopefully...
Have you read any of the Ikhwan us Safa translations? Also, are there any other of Fatimid Books in English which you would recommend?
I am very interested in the theological subjects and ideas...
I have also heard that in India Sheikh Ahmed Ali's recordings of sabaqs are available for sale. Have you heard any of them?
Any insight or references you could share would be highly appreciated
There are a lot of books on Fatimid history and philosophy in English. You can fill a small library. The translations of Ikhwan as-safa are very good, however, they are written really for scholars rather than non-specialist readers. However, you can benefit from them also. I would not recommend buying them as they are expensive, but looking to see if your local library can borrow them from some university. Usually, even small libraries have a borrowing program with universities. Or, best of all, you can find a local university which has these.
This is true for most of these books, BTW. Unless you are very rich it is pointless buying these books as they are books of reference and difficult to read. Best to borrow from a library.
One interesting source is to look at bibliographies that have been published in this field. From there you can get a good starting point for further research. The best bibliographies are:
- "Ismaili Literature: A Bibliography of Sources and Studies", by Farhad Daftary.
- "Biobibliography of Ismāʻīlī literature", Ismail Poonawala.
I prefer the latter as it is really very detailed, but is now old and dated. However, Poonawala is making an updated edition which will add a lot of things discovered since his original work was published. There is also a bibliography by Vladmir Ivanow, which is even more dated now but still valuable. Ivanov often gives large excerpts from various books and even translates them so his books can be useful.
Below is a small list, not comprehensive but you can get a good sense of things if you read a couple.
- "The Ismailis" by Farhad Daftary. There is a PDF copy floating around on the web, and I can give you a link if you can't find it. The first half of the book is on the history of the Ismailis till the end of the Fatmid era. The second half is the Nizari history, so perhaps of less interest.
- "The Empire of the Mahdi. The Rise of the Fatimids", Heinz Halm. This is an excellent book, and is written like a novel and one can feel the adventure and excitement leading to the manifestation of the Imam.
- "The Advent of the Fatimids", Translated by Madelung and Paul Walker. It is a first-hand account of a conversation between a scholar and a da'i central to the efforts of the Imam to control North Africa.
- "Towards a Mediterranean Empire", translated by Shainool Jiwa. This is on the reign of Moiz Imam.
- "The Founder of Cairo", translated by Shainool Jiwa. On Imam Moiz.
- "Founding the Fatmid State", translated by Hamid Haji. Translation of Qadi Numan's Iftita al-Dawah.
- "Inside the Immaculate Portal", a biography and collection of letters of Ustad Jawdhar (Juzer), translated by Hamid Haji. This is a most interesting book as it gives first-hand description of intimate details of what happened in the Imam's household. It is actually very relevant to today's situation as one learns that shezadas used to behave in a despicable manner even during the time of Imams. The Imam in many places uses many choice words to describe his own kin. They apply to most of the shezadas today also.
- Couple of books on Moayyad Shirazi by Mohamad Adra and Bazat Tahera Qutbuddin.
Amongst philosophical, theological books there are many also, but they are very hard to follow for those without needed preparation. For example, "The Wellsprings of Wisdom" is a book by Yaqub al Sijistani, translated by Paul Walker. It is not easy reading. There are also translations of individual smaller treatises by, for example, Hamid al-din Kirmani. These are very difficult to follow, perhaps almost incomprehensible to most folks. Again, the background needed to understand philosophical works is deep and would need significant study.
Incidentally, often people wrote in a very oblique manner, hiding their real meaning behind layers of allegory and quaint expressions which need someone knowledgeable to decipher. It not surprising that self-study is hard and one really does need a "sabaak" like environment (i.e. teacher student direct interaction) to understand these things properly.
There are also a huge number of papers in various journals on various aspects of history and philosophy. These may be hard to find and unless you are a researcher, pointless.
Incidentally, one can't read even the translation of Ikhwan as-Safa from cover to cover. First, the modern mind is no longer used to the type of reasoning the ancients used. Second, the Ikhwan mix a lot of math and geometry with philosophical speculation which one may find very odd. The books on logic are mainly from Aristotle and unless one is familiar with his works, not easy to understand. The last few books on magic and the summary (and summary of summary) are very difficult to understand.
As to the recordings of Ahmed Ali Raj. They are available online on thebohras.com. No need to buy anything. Unfortunately, I would be very careful about believing anything he says. Ahmed Ali Raj was hostile to the main-stream bohras and was rather a fanatic himself. The Progressives managed to contain him somewhat but his chelas create havoc when they can. They are not unlike the mad mullahs in the Kothar. Perhaps crazier, as they have been isolated.
Another resource is to look at various poems by prominent folks. For example, STS and Syedi Sadiq Ali Saheb. They contain a lot of theological material. However, again, the language is difficult due to the medieval and flowery mode of Gujrati mixed with Arabic and Persian used in them, and the script is hard to read. Many words may not be comprehensible to an average reader.
Overall, people should make an effort to understand Ismaili and Tayebbi literature. However, it is not easy and not everyone has the time or the intellectual abilities to undertake this journey.