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Dār al-Ḥikma

(661 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
The Dār al-Ḥikma (“House of Wisdom,” called also Dār al-ʿIlm, “House of Knowledge”), was an institution of learning in Cairo, founded in 395/1005 by the Fāṭimid caliph al-Ḥākim (r. 386–411/996–1021). It was located north of the Western (or Little) Palace, facing the still extant Aqmar Mosque. The books of the palace libraries were moved there, and public lectures were held by jurists, Qurʾān readers, specialists in prophetic traditions (ḥadīth), astronomers, grammarians, philologists, logicians, and physicians. In Ramaḍān 400/April-May 1010, al-Ḥākim incorporate…
Date: 2019-08-29

al-Jannābī, Abū Ṭāhir

(873 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
Abū Ṭāhir Sulaymān b. Abī Saʿīd al-Jannābī (d. 332/944) was the son and successor of Abū Saʿīd al-Jannābī, the founder of the Qarmaṭian community in al-Baḥrayn. Born in Ramaḍān 294/June–July 906, he was still a minor when his father was murdered in 300/913, and, with his five brothers, he remained under the tutelage of his uncle, the dāʿī (missionary) al-Ḥasan b. Sanbar. When he reached his majority, in Ramaḍān 310/December 922–January 923, he took over the leadership and soon terrorised the population of southern Iraq. Every year from 310 to 314/923 …
Date: 2019-08-29


(6,353 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
The Fāṭimids were an Islamic dynasty of Ismāʿīlī confession that ruled in North Africa (from 297/909) and Egypt (from 358/969) until 567/1171. The alleged descent of the dynasty from ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib and Muḥammad’s daughter Fāṭima has been called into question by contemporaries from the very beginning and cannot be proven. The dynasty issued from the family of the founders and early leaders of the Ismāʿīlī movement who came from Khūzistān and Iraq in the second half of the third/ninth century an…
Date: 2019-08-29


(353 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
The Baqliyya was an extremist Shīʿī, probably Carmathian (Qarmaṭī), sect mentioned in Iraq in early ʿAbbāsid times. The Kitāb al-aghānī of Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī (d. 356/967) mentions a figure from the time of the caliph al-Manṣūr (r. 136–58/754–75), a boon companion of the heretic ʿAbdallāh b. Muʿāwiya, a certain al-Baqlī (whose name derived from Arabic baql, “vegetables, greens”), who held that “mankind is like the vegetable: when it dies it never comes back” (Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī 11:231). This may be a literary invention, perhaps based on ver…
Date: 2019-08-29

al-Jannābī, Abū Saʿīd

(735 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
Abū Saʿīd al-Ḥasan b. Bahrām al-Jannābī (d. 300/913) founded the Ismāʿīlī Qarmaṭian communities on the Persian Gulf. He was of Persian origin, from the port of Jannāba (present-day Ganāva), on the Iranian coast. In the sawād (rural district) of Kufa, he married into a family that had been converted to the Ismāʿīlī daʿwa (mission), which was then headed by Ḥamdān Qarmaṭ and his brother-in-law Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdān (murdered 286/899). Abū Saʿīd was eventually won over to the daʿwa. Becoming a dāʿī (missionary) himself, he was initially active in his home region—Jannāba, Sīnīz, …
Date: 2019-08-29

Ibn al-Sulaym al-Aswānī

(470 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
ʿAbdallāh b. Aḥmad Ibn al-Sulaym al-Aswānī (fl. fourth/tenth century) was an Egyptian traveller. When Egypt was occupied by the Fāṭimid general Jawhar (d. 382/992) in 358/969, al-Aswānī was sent to establish contact with the Christian Nubian kingdoms south of the First Cataract of the Nile and to renew the bakṭ (from Latin pactum) of the year 31/652, by which Arabs and Nubians had agreed upon a peaceful exchange of goods. After his return, he composed a report for the Fāṭimid caliph al-ʿAzīz (365–86/975–96), of which al-Maqrīzī has preserved seve…
Date: 2019-08-29

Ibn ʿAṭṭāsh, ʿAbd al-Malik

(326 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
ʿAbd al-Malik Ibn ʿAṭṭāsh (fl. fifth/eleventh century) was an Ismāʿīlī missionary (dāʿī) and mentor of Ḥasan-i Ṣabbāḥ (r. 483–518/1090–1124 in Alamūt). Originally an adherent of Twelver Shīʿism, he converted later to Ismāʿīlī Shīʿism. He is said to have been arrested during the reign in Iran of Sulṭān Ṭūghril Beg (431–55/1040–63) but to have been released after feigning contrition. In Rayy, he became the son-in-law of the dāʿī Abū ʿAlī al-Naysābūrī. Ibn ʿAṭṭāsh acted as dāʿī in Iraq and later in Iṣfahān, where he held “wisdom sessions” (majālis al-ḥikma) in a “house of the mission” (dār …
Date: 2019-08-29

Darzī, Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl

(728 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
Anūshtakīn al-Bukhārī al-Darzī, called also Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl, was one of the first three propagandists of the doctrine of the Druze sect (al-Darziyya, al-Durūz, sing. Durzī), which is named for him. His name indicates that he was a Turk from Central Asia and a tailor (Pers. darzī) by profession; the common vocalisation of his name, Darazī, seems to be incorrect (van Ess, 64f.). According to the Christian author Yaḥyā al-Anṭākī (d. 458/1065) al-Darzī came to Cairo in 408/1017–8, but Yaḥyā sometimes confounds the different Druze protagonists al-Darzī, Ḥamz…
Date: 2019-08-29

Ibn ʿAṭṭāsh, Aḥmad

(385 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
Aḥmad b. ʿAbd al-Malik Ibn ʿAṭṭāsh (d. 500/1107) was the son of the former Ismāʿīlī dāʿī in Isfahan. He ostensibly apostatised from the doctrine of his father and missionised secretly under the cover of a linen seller. He became a teacher and steward of the young male and female palace slaves in the castle of Shāhdiz, which the Saljūq sultan Malikshāh I (r. 465–85/1073–92) had built about eight kilometres south of Iṣfahān. During the conflict between Malikshāh’s sons Barkyāruq (r. 487–98/1094–1105) and Muḥamma…
Date: 2019-08-29


(83 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] The Arabic word imām, “leader, master,” is used in Islam as a general term for someone with religious authority on a wide range of levels, from the prayer leader in a mosque to the supreme leader of all Muslims. In the latter sense it is used primarily by the Shi'ites (Šīʿa/Shiʾites), for whose teaching the recognition of twelve imāms as the legitimate successors of the Prophet Muḥammad is constitutive. Heinz Halm Bibliography W. Madelung, “Imāma,” EI 2 III, 1971, 1163–1169.


(164 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] “Sign of God.” In Shihite Islam this is an honorary title for the person with the highest spiritual authority. Since the 14th century it has been documented as an individual surname. The title was defined terminologically for the first time in the 20th century in the context of a self-consolidating hierarchy of spiritual dignitaries. Since then it represents the highest category of the mujtahids, i.e. Islamic scholars ( ʿulamā), who are qualified by means of studies and exams to make decisions independently and on their own responsibility ( ijtihād) on …


(298 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] (Arab. ahl as-sunna wal-ǧamāʿa, “people of the tradition and community”), collective term for adherents of mainstream Islam (II, 1), embracing some 90% of all Muslims. The term arose to differentiate the Sunnis from earlier sectarian groups and movements. Their characteristic feature is recognition of the tradition or practice ( sunna) of the prophet Muḥammad and the generation of his companions ( ṣaḥāba), initially transmitted orally in a multitude of anecdotal reports ( ḥadīṯ) and then set down in writing, as binding models for the everyday conduct…

Aga Khan,

(180 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] Turko-Persian title (“lord prince”). In 1848 the shah of Persia bestowed the title on his son-in-law, the 46th imām of the Shiʿite sect of the Ismaʿilites. The title has been borne ever since by the imām of the sect, who are considered direct descendants and legitimate successors of the prophet Muḥammad. The 48th im…


(411 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] a religious community that emerged from Islam, primarily in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, with a strong diaspora in America. Originating in the early 11th century in Cairo as a millennialist, antinomian movement within the Shi'ite sect of the Ismailites (Islam: II, 1), they were expelled as “extremist.” The core of their doctrine is the belief that the creator God appears to his creatures in human form in “periods of revelation” ( daur al-kašf); in these times, the true religion consists in the mere confession of God's oneness ( tauh.īd). In “periods of concealment” ( daur a…


(397 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] (Arab. šīʿa, “party,” or šīʿat ʿAlī, “party of ʿAlī”) is a collective name for several Islamic religious communities that regard ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib, Muḥammad’s cousin and son-in-law, the fourth caliph, and his descendants as the only true heirs of the Prophet and legitimate heads (imams) of the Umma (Community: XI; cf. Islam: II, 1.a). The šīʿa emerged during the civil wars surrounding the caliphate of ʿAlī and the succession of his son al- Ḥusain, who was killed in 680 ¶ near Kerbelāʾ in Iraq. The Shiʿite groups recognize either a series of imams descended …

Ibn Ḫaldūn

(166 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] (ʿAbdarraḥmān ibn Muḥammad; May 7, 1332, Tunis – Mar 19, 1406, Cairo), Arab historian. After a varied career in the courts of Fez, Granada and Bougie, Ibn Ḫaldūn arrived in Egypt, taught law in Cairo at the Azhar mosque and other academies ¶ and repeatedly officiated as a judge. His chief work is al-Muqaddima [Introduction], which precedes his universal history compiled from older sources, a theory of civilization and analysis of the origin and collapse of dominion, presented, primarily, using the example of the Moroccan-Andalusian …


(712 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] A madrasah (Arab. madrasah, Turkish medrese, “place of learning”) is a college for teaching Islamic jurisprudence ( fiqh). Originating in northeastern Iran or Transoxania, where a madrasah in Bukhara is reported to have burned in 937, a madrasah was originally the lyceum of Muslim private scholar, where he assembled his students. Whether the Buddhist monastery or vihara was the prototype of the madrasah is disputed; it is more likely to be an original Islamic invention. An endowment ( waqf) from private funds could enable the institution to survive the deat…


(197 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz
[German Version] Latin “Assissini” or “Heysessini,” from Arabic “al-ḥašīšīya” (“the hashish-eaters”), is the contemptuous designation for the extremist branch of the Shiite sect of Ishmaelites active in the Syrian coastal mountains during the Crusades. Founded in 1094 by the Ishmaelite missionary Ḥasan-i Ṣabbāḥ (died 1124) in Castle …


(7,074 words)

Author(s): Halm, Heinz | Smith, Jane I.
Islam is the monotheistic, revealed religion founded by the prophet Muḥammad. From its original home in the Arabian Peninsula, Islam spread over the Near East, North Africa, central Asia, India, and Indonesia, and it is still winning new adherents in Africa and around the world. In a.d. 2000 approximately 1.2 billion people are Muslims, some 20 percent of the world population. The countries that are home to the largest numbers of Muslims are Pakistan (150 million), India and Indonesia (120 million each), Bangladesh (110 million), Iran (75…

Ḥamdān Qarmaṭ

(867 words)

Author(s): Madelung, Wilferd | updated by, ¨ | Halm, Heinz
Ḥamdān Qarmaṭ b. al-Ashʿath was the leader of the Qarmatian movement in the sawād (rural district) of Kufa. Al-Ṭabarī (3:2125) has Karmītah, which is supposed to mean “red-eyed.” The diminutive form Qarmāṭūya is used by al-Nawbakhtī and Niẓām al-Mulk. Originally a carrier (who transported goods on oxen) from the village of al-Dūr in the ṭassūj (subdistrict) of Furāt Bādaqlā (east of Kufa), he was converted to the early Ismāʿīlī movement by the dāʿī (propagandist) al-Ḥusayn al-Ahwāzī. The date 264/878 given for his conversion by a much later report may be approximate…
Date: 2019-08-29
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