By Farhad Daftary
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Ivanow’s The Alleged Founder of Ismailism (Bombay, 946). 6. Nizam al-Mulk, Siyar al-muluk (Siyasat-nama), ed. H. /968), p. , The Book of Government; or, Rules for Kings, tr. H. , London, 978), p. 23. 7. Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali, Fadaʾih al-Batiniyya, ed. ʿA. Badawi (Cairo, 964), pp. 2–36. 8. For a survey of these legends, see F. Daftary, The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Ismaʿilis (London, 994), especially pp. 88–27. 9. Marco Polo, The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian, Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East, ed.
The origins of Ismailism as a separate branch of Imami Shiʿism may be traced to the dispute over the succession to Imam Jaʿfar al-Sadiq (d. 48/765). Often living clandestinely, and conducting their daʿwa or missionary activities secretly in order to escape persecution at the hands of their numerous enemies, the Ismailis have nevertheless had a very eventful history, extending over some twelve centuries and through many Muslim lands from North Africa to Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
In the meantime, the Kaysani Shiʿism of the Umayyad 20 Ismailis in Medieval Muslim Societies times had largely aborted in the Abbasid cause. It was under such circumstances that Jaʿfar al-Sadiq emerged as the main rallying point for the allegiance of the Shiʿa. Maintaining the Imami tradition of remaining aloof from any revolutionary activity, Jaʿfar al-Sadiq had gradually acquired a widespread reputation as a religious scholar and teacher, and besides his own partisans, large numbers of Muslims studied or consulted with him, including Abu Hanifa al-Nuʿman (d.