The transliteration of Arabic words follows the Brill EI3 system. Place names have been Anglicized according to their commonly used forms (e.g., “Sanaa” instead of the Arabic “Ṣanʿāʾ ”).
Personal Names and Imamic Titles
Incoherent usage of the names of the Zaydī imams can in certain circumstances lead to confusion. In general, the names consist of two parts, the imamic title and the given name. The imamic title is usually a compound of two or more words such as “al-Manṣūr bi-Llāh.” A common convention used by some Yemeni and western historians is referring to only the first part of the title, which is then followed by the given name, thus “al-Manṣūr al-Qāsim” and “al-Mahdī al-ʿAbbās.” Such a convention is mostly sufficient in discussions of the imams of the Qāsimī dynasty, however, when looking farther back in time, there are several imams with the same name. In fiqh texts, short abbreviations occur and there are combinations of names that reoccur inconsistently in different sources; for instance “al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Murtaḍā” is referred to by any of those names in many of the texts. In such cases I use the most commonly used version of the name; “Ibn al-Murtaḍā,” or “al-Manṣūr” for “al-Manṣūr bi-Llāh ʿAbdallah b. Ḥamza,” and a sufficient number of names in the beginning of a new section.
The phrase “ʿalayhi al-salām,” which translates as “peace be upon him,” is often stated after mentioning important imams in fiqh texts. This and similar honorary phrases are usually excluded from translations, except when it is interesting to see how a certain imam or scholar is honoured.
Dates have been converted to the Gregorian/Julian calendar by using the online converter at the homepage of the Asien-Orient Institut, University of Zurich (http://www.oriold.uzh.ch/static/hegira.html). Dates are given in AH/CE wherever possible. If the month is not known and two Gregorian years are possible, they are given as 1775 or 76. The ethnographic present is 2010.