Drawing extensively on the testimony of the Persian historians of the seventh-eighth hijri centuries (corresponding to the thirteen-fourteenth centuries of the Christian era), this article sketches a detailed picture of several personalities involved in founding the nascent Ismaili state centred at Alamūt in the fifth/eleventh century. This background sets the stage for analyzing a new manuscript source documenting Ismaili history and thought of this period, Khwāja Qāsim Tushtarī’s Recognizing God (Maʿrifat-i Khudāy taʿālā). After outlining and amending previous scholarship on this author and surveying the text’s extant manuscript and lithographic sources, the article analyzes the historical references, focusing on the figure of Sharaf al-Dīn Muḥammad, and examining the evolution of the Ismaili leadership structure. It argues for a likely date of composition between 525/1131 and 533/1139, making Tushtarī’s Recognizing God one of the oldest Ismaili texts from Alamūt still in existence.
This article is a study of the Brethren of Purity’s thirty-seventh epistle, The Essence of Love. It compares this work with the treatises on love written by the Muslim philosophers Ibn Sīnā, Suhrawardī, and Mullā Ṣadrā, the leading representatives of the Peripatetic, Illuminationist, and Transcendental schools of Islamic philosophy, respectively. A fundamental distinction of the Brethren’s approach is their positive impression of love between human beings, including its romantic and conjugal components. Such love is not entirely under human control; the celestial spheres also exercise their influence. The Brethren contend that society and civilization prosper because of love. Unlike several others, they are intent on reconciling divine or “real” love with love between individuals. While the Brethren praise the benefits of romantic love and conjugal relations, Ibn Sīnā judges them harmful, and Suhrawardī a distraction. Mullā Ṣadrā, though, takes an intermediate position, influenced by both the Brethren and Ibn Sīnā.