The literary-religious tradition among 7th/13th century Yemenī Zaydīs: The formation of the Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258)

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Abstract

The rich sīra literature relating to the careers of imāms is a genre characteristic for the Zaydī communities in Yemen and in Iran. These documents were composed by close companions, secretaries or other personnel in their vicinity, often inspired in structure and terminology by the sīra of the Prophet Muḥammad. Their primary function was to legitimize the imāms, and describing their merits therefore formed an important element of such documents. The sīra of the Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Abū Ṭayr Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn (d. 656/1258) was composed by Sharaf al-Dīn Yaḥyā b. al-Qāsim al-Ḥamzī (d. 677/1278-9). The primary significance of the section of the sīra that is devoted to Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn’s formation, which is edited and analysed in the article, is that it provides a detailed picture of the intellectual scene in Yemen during the 7th/13th century and informs us about the characteristics of the formation of scholars during this period. Moreover, the document informs us about the works that were part of the transfer of knowledge from Iran to Yemen that began with the unification of the Caspian Zaydiyya and the Zaydīs in Yemen during the imamate of Abū Ṭālib al-akhīr (d. 520/1126) and gradually increased throughout the 6th/12th century until the death of the Imām al-Manṣūr bi-llāh in 614/1217.

The literary-religious tradition among 7th/13th century Yemenī Zaydīs: The formation of the Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258)

in Journal of Islamic Manuscripts

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ThieleJan, Kausalität in der muʿtazilitischen Kosmologie. Das Kitāb al-Muʾattirāt wa-miftāḥ al-muškilāt des Zayditen al-Ḥasan ar-Raṣṣāṣ (st. 584/1188), (Brill, Leiden 2011).

ThieleJan, '“Propagating Muʿtazilism in the 6th/12th century Zaydiyya: al-Ḥasan al-Raṣṣāṣ,”' (2010) 57 Arabica: 536-58.

TrittonA.S., The rise of the Imams of Sanaa, (London 1925) [repr. Westport CT: Hyperion Press 1981].

ʿUthmānʿAbd al-Karīm, Qāḍī l-quḍāt ʿAbd al-Jabbār b. Aḥmad al-Hamadānī, (Dār al-ʿArabiyya, Cairo 1967).

VoorhoevePetrus, Handlist of Arabic manuscripts in the Library of the University of Leiden and other collections in the Netherlands, (Bibliotheca Universitatis, Leiden 1957).

al-WajīhʿAbd al-Salām b. ʿAbbās, Aʿlām al-muʾallifīn al-zaydiyya, (IZbACF, McLean, VA 1420/1999).

al-WajīhʿAbd al-Salām b. ʿAbbās, Maṣādir al-turāth fī l-maktabāt al-khāṣṣa fī l-Yaman, (IZbACF, McLean, VA 1422/2002).

al-QāsimYaḥyā b. al-Ḥusayn b., Saʿīd ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ ʿĀshūr (ed), Ghāyat al-amānī fī akhbār al-quṭr al-Yamānī, (Dār al-Kātib al-ʿArabī, Cairo 1968).

al-QāsimYaḥyā b. al-Ḥusayn b., al-Mustaṭāb (= Ṭabaqāt al-zaydiyya al-ṣughrā) MS Maktabat al-Manṣūr, ().

al-HamawīYāqūt, Iḥsān ʿAbbās (ed), Muʿjam al-udabāʾ, (Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī, Beirut 1414[/1993-94]).

Zabāra al-YamanīMuḥammad b. Muḥammad, Aʾimmat al-Yaman, (Taʿizz 1375[/1955]).

ZarzūrʿAdnān Muḥammad, al-Ḥākim al-Jishumī wa-manhajuhu fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, (Muʾassasat al-Risāla, Beirut 1971).

6

Ed. al-Wajīh Amman 2002p. 605.

26

An edition is included in MadelungArabic Texts pp. 135-61. See also our “Iranian Zaydism during the 7th/13th century”.

28

Cf. GAL vol. 1 p. 397 # 9i; GALS vol. 1 p. 560 # 9.

33

For this work see Jarrar“Some Lights on an Early Zaydite Manuscript” pp. 279-97. M. Jarrar has published an edition of the work as Akhbār Fakhkh wa-Khabar Yaḥyā b. ʿAbd Allāh by Ahmad b. Sahl al-Rāzī (d. first quarter of the 4th/10th century). Beirut 1995. See also his “Arbaʿ rasāʾil Zaydiyya mubakkira” pp. 267-304. On the approximate dates of life of Aḥmad b. Sahl al-Rāzī see Modarressi Maktab p. 262 n.

45

Cf. Löfgren/TrainiCatalogue p. 214 # 434. See also GAL vol. 1 p. 388 # 6; GALS vol. 1 p. 551 # 6; Ayman Fuʾād Sayyid Sources p. 129 # 16; al-Ḥibshī Maṣādir p. 481.

Figures

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    The Sīra of the Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258). Manuscript (ج) of the present edition, which is kept in an unknown private library in Yemen. A copy of the manuscript is in the Dār al-makhṭūṭāt, Ṣanʿāʾ, and that copy is here reproduced. Copy of the original completed on 29 Shaʿbān 1098/10 July 1687. Opening shows two folios numbered 1a and 1b (in green, on top of the page).

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    The Sīra of the Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258). Manuscript (ج) of the present edition. Here ff. 3b-4a (numbering on top). The beginning of the Imām’s education (Nashʾa) on f. 4a, line 4 from the bottom. Copy of 1098/1687.

  • View in gallery

    The Sīra of the Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258). Manuscript (ج) of the present edition. Here ff. 4b-5a (numbering on top). Copy 1098/1687.

  • View in gallery

    The Sīra of the Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258). Manuscript (ج) of the present edition. Here ff. 5b-6a (numbering on top). Copy 1098/1687.

  • View in gallery

    The Sīra of the Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258). Manuscript (ج) of the present edition. Here ff. 6b-7a (numbering on top). The end of the section on the Imām’s education (Nashʾa) on f. 6b, line 10. Copy of 1098/1687.

  • View in gallery

    The Sīra of the Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258). Manuscript (د) of the present edition, which is kept in an unknown private library in Yemen. A digital copy was provided by the Imam Zayd b. ʿAlī Cultural Foundation. Copy completed on Friday, 14 Shaʿbān 1310/3 March 1893. Title and opening lines of the text of the Sīra.

  • View in gallery

    The Sīra of Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258). Manuscript (د) of the present edition. Copy of 1310/1893. Here ff. 4b-5a are shown, with the beginning of the section on the Imām’s education (Nashʾa) on the ultimate line of f. 4b.

  • View in gallery

    The Sīra of Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258). Manuscript (د) of the present edition, ff. 5b-6a. Copy of 1310/1893.

  • View in gallery

    The Sīra of Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258). Manuscript (د) of the present edition, ff. 6b-7a. Copy of 1310/1893.

  • View in gallery

    The Sīra of Imām al-Mahdī li-Dīn Allāh Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn b. al-Qāsim (d. 656/1258). Manuscript (د) of the present edition, ff. 7b-8a. Copy of 1310/1893. End of the text on the Imām’s education (Nashʾa) on f. 7b, line 11.

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