KETĀB AL-RIĀŻ

KETĀB AL-RIĀŻ fi’l-ḥokm bayna’l-ṣādayn: Ṣāḥeb al-eṣlāḥ wa ṣāḥeb al-noṣra (Book of gardens on the judgment between the authors of the Eṣlāḥ and the Noṣra), one of the many works of Ḥamid-al-Din Kermāni (q.v.; d. after 411/1020), an Ismaʿili dāʿi (q.v.; missionary) in Iraq on behalf of the Fatimid Imam al-Ḥākem be-Amr-Allāh (r. 386-411/996-1021).  It is a classic example of the method of intellectual discourse and internal critique among Ismaʿili dāʿis.  Divided into a preface and ten chapters, it covers a range of topics including the First Intellect, the Universal Soul, the human soul, matter and form, the divisions of the world, and qażāʾ wa’l-qadar (decision and estimation; divine decree), among others.

As its title attests, the Riāż is primarily a critical assessment of two works by the author’s Ismaʿili predecessors: the Ketāb al-eṣlāḥ (q.v.) of Abu Ḥātem Rāzi (q.v.; d. after 322/933-34), written to critique passages in the Ketāb al-maḥṣul of Abu’l-Ḥasan Moḥammad Naḵšabi or Nasafi (d. 331/942), and the Ketāb al-noṣra of Abu Yaʿqub Esḥāq Sejestāni (q.v.; d. after 360/970), written in defense of Naḵšabi.  Kermāni also corrects some statements in the Ketāb al-maḥṣul concerning fundamental points such as tawḥid (monotheism), which were overlooked by Rāzi.

Since the publication of Wladimir Ivanow’s Studies in Early Persian Ismailism in 1948, the differences of opinion among these Ismaʿili dāʿis have drawn the attention of a number of scholars, most notably Samuel Miklos Stern (q.v.).  This focus has tended to overshadow the predominant theme of internal discourse exemplified in the Riāż, and the tone of great respect that Kermāni demonstrates for his predecessors, whom he emphasizes were following the right path and whose works, he insists, must be studied before his own Rāḥat al-ʿaql (Kermāni, pp. 21-29). Mutual cooperation and strengthening is thus the predominant motive in the work’s composition.

Kermāni’s methodology of internal critique is grounded in the central doctrines of Ismaʿili Shiʿism, which explain that the world has never been bereft of a divine guide.  Six nāṭeqs (prophet) have brought scriptures and a šariʿa (prophetic religion) which are in tanzili or exoteric language.  They each appoint an asās (q.v.), who promulgates the taʾwil or esoteric interpretation, which is continued through the cycle by a chain of imams.  In order to propagate the daʿwa, the summons to true knowledge, the prophet, the asās, and the imam in their respective times also have ḥodud‑e din.  The ḥodud‑e din consists of twelve ḥojjas who in turn appoint, as their subordinates, dāʿis to look after the daʿwa.  This organization of the ḥodud is according to the tradition of the previous prophets, such as Moses having twelve naqibs (chiefs; Qurʾan 5:12) and Jesus having twelve ḥawāris (disciples; Qurʾan 61:14; Kermāni, p. 213; Abu Ḥātem Rāzi, 2015, pp. 595-602; Jaʿfar b. Manṣur, pp. 172-74; Nāṣer‑e Ḵosrow, 1977, pp. 251-52).  The six cycles culminate in a seventh, that of the Qāʾem, who brings Allāh’s religion to its fullfilment.

In the cycle of the imamate, the imam is at the apex, with twelve ḥojjats (q.v.) under him.  The imam is infallible, but his ḥojjats and dāʿis are not.  They receive taʾwili knowledge from him according to their submission, dedication, and yearning. They must therefore resolve their shortcomings by working together and having recourse to the imam.  Thus, in the last chapter of the Riāż, Kermāni explains: “Knowing that other than the imam himself, nobody can comprehend and preserve all the sciences of religion, the nāṭeq appoints twelve ḥojjats under the imam.  They receive the exoteric and esoteric aspects of the religious teachings (from the imam), according to their natures (jawāher) and capacity of acceptance and deduction, so that they may guide others.  Thus, religion is like a human being [in whom the rational soul is the imam] and the senses are the ḥodud.  If one of the senses fails to detect something, the other senses must perceive it. By this, the previous sense is in no way defamed.  Similarly, what Abu Ḥātem had done and what I am doing do not defame the author of the Maḥṣul in any way.  It is not as some ignorant people have thought, that the former dāʿi had attacked and defamed the latter. Rather, we are simply fulfilling our duty of cooperating in the execution of the daʿwa” (Kermāni, pp. 49-50, 213-14).

This explanation also clearly demonstrates that Kermāni himself did not claim any final authority in the matter, as that was the prerogative of the imam alone.

The significance of the Riāż may be gauged from Kermāni’s own reference to it in his Rāḥat al-ʿaql (p. 23): “Prior to reading the Rāḥat al-ʿaql, the reader must direct his attention to the Riāż.  The explanation therein may be a help and a power to conceive the truth in that about which they differed.  The reader should not be satisfied with reading it just once, ten, twenty or [even] fifty times.  Rather, its contents must become a preserved form in the reader’s soul.”

Bibliography:

 Abu Ḥātem Rāzi, Ketāb al-eṣlāḥ, ed. Ḥasan Minučehr, Tehran, 1998.

Idem, Ketāb al-zina I, ed. Saʿid Ḡānemi, Beirut, 2015. Ḥamid-al-Din Kermāni, Ketāb al-riāż, ed. ʿĀref Tamer, Beirut, 1960; ed. Faquir M. Hunzai, London, forthcoming.

Idem, Rāḥat al-ʿaql, ed. Moḥammad-Ḥosayn and Moḥammad Ḥelmi, Cairo, 1953.

Faquir M. Hunzai, “The Concept of Tawḥîd in the Thought of Ḥamîd-al-Din al-Kirmânî,” Ph. D. diss., McGill University, 1986.  

Wladimir Ivanow, Studies in Early Persian Ismailism, Leiden, 1948. 

Idem, Ismaili Literature: A Bibliographical Survey, Tehran, 1963.

Jaʿfar b. Manṣur-al-Yaman, Sarāʾer wa asrār al-noṭaqāʾ, ed. Moṣṭafā Ḡāleb, Beirut, 1984.

Nāṣer‑e Ḵosrow, Ḵᵛān al-eḵwān, ed. Yaḥyā Kaššāb, Cairo, 1940.

Idem, Jāmeʿ al-ḥekmatayn, ed. Henry Corbin and Moḥammad Moʿin, Tehran and  Paris, 1953.

Idem, Wajh al-din, ed. Ḡolām-Reżā Aʿwāni, Tehran, 1977.

Idem, Zād al-mosāfer, ed. Moḥammad-ʿAli Ḥāʾeri, Tehran, 2005.

Samuel M. Stern, Studies in Early Ismāʿilism, Jerusalem and Leiden, 1983.

Paul E. Walker, Early Philosophical Shiism, Cambridge and New York, 1993. Idem, Ḥamīd al-Dīn al-Kirmānī: Ismaili Thought in the Age of al-Ḥākim, London, 1999.

(Faquir M. Hunzai)

Cite this article:

Faquir M. Hunzai, “KETĀB AL-RIĀŻ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2017, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ketab-al-riaz (accessed on 11 April 2017).