Isma’ili Shiʿa

Ismail Poonawala

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:
Isma’ili Shiʿa


The Isma’ilis, a major branch of the Shiʿa, take their name from their imam, Ismaʿil b. Jaʿfar al-Sadiq. They branched off from the main group, the Imāmiyya, following the death of Ja’far al-Sadiq in 148/765 in a dispute regarding the latter’s succession. Around the second half of the 3rd/9th century, the Isma’ilis launched a powerful messianic movement in various parts of the Abbasid Empire, promising the advent of the Mahdi. In 297/909, they succeeded in establishing the Fatimid dynasty in North Africa, and in 358/969 they conquered Egypt, ruling from there for another two centuries until they were overthrown by Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi in 567/1171. Besides establishing a powerful empire stretching across vast territories, the Ismaʿilis have profoundly influenced Islamic political and intellectual thought. Due to the constraints of space, this survey is selective and limited to recent books that have substantially contributed to Ismaʿili studies and that are useful to the researchers for further inquiries. Articles are cited where no other full book-length studies are available.

Article.  6670 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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