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Wilferd Madelung

Abstract

This paper analyses the theorisation of the Imamate in Ismaili thought before and during the Fatimid period, drawing on Ismaili and Druze sources. It outlines early Ismaili interpretations of the doctrine of historical cycles of seven imams and the culmination of these cycles in the Mahdi/Qāʾim, and it traces the evolution of this doctrine under the Fatimids as well as among the eastern Ismailis, with attention to issues such as the genealogies of the first Fatimids, adherence to the law, and the role of the Mahdi or Qāʾim.