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The Chronology of al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān’s Works

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A chronology of an author’s works is necessary for understanding his or her intellectual evolution. Al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān wrote numerous books on diverse disciplines, such as jurisprudence, history, traditions of the Messenger of God and the Ismāʿīlī imams, biographies of the Fāṭimid caliph-imams, refutations of the Sunnī schools of law, and allegorical interpretation of the Qurʾān and the šarīʿa. The chronology of al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān’s corpus, which consists of more than fifty titles, is based primarily on pieces of evidence in his extant works. The sequence of al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān’s legal works suggests that The Pillars of Islam (Daʿāʾim al-islām), compiled under the directions of al-Muʿizz around 349/960, was his crowning achievement after serving the first four Fāṭimid caliph-imams since 313/925. In fact, al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān began and completed his first work Kitāb al-Īḍāḥ, a massive collection of legal traditions transmitted on the authority of the family of the Prophet, while he was still serving al-Mahdī (r. 297/909-322/934). The chronology further reveals that after composing The Pillars of Islam, al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān devoted his energies to the explication of the major Ismāʿīlī theological doctrine, namely the theory of taʾwīl (hermeneutics). In his Asās al-taʾwīl, he justifies the twin concepts of taʾwīl and bāṭin (the inner, hidden, esoteric meaning behind the literal wording of sacred texts)—from a jurist’s viewpoint—and argues that these concepts are firmly grounded in the foundational texts of Islam, viz., the Qurʾān and the Hadiths of the Prophet.Une chronologie des œuvres d’un auteur est nécessaire pour comprendre son évolution intellectuelle. Al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān écrivit de nombreux ouvrages sur diverses disciplines, comme la jurisprudence, l’histoire, les traditions du prophète et des imams ismaéliens, les biographies des califes et imams fāṭimides, les réfutations des écoles de droit sunnite et l’interprétation allégorique du Coran et de la šarīʿa. La chronologie du corpus d’al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān, qui comprend plus de cinquante titres, repose principalement sur des informations présentes dans ses travaux qui nous sont parvenus. La série des œuvres juridiques d’al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān suggère que Les piliers de l’islam (Daʿāʾim al-islām), compilé sous la direction d’al-Muʿizz vers 349/960, est le couronnement de son succès après avoir servi les quatre premiers califes et imams fāṭimides depuis 313/925. En fait, al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān commença et acheva son premier ouvrage, Kitāb al-Īḍāḥ, une imposante compilation de traditions juridiques transmises sous l’autorité de la famille du prophète, alors qu’il était encore au service d’al-Mahdī (r. 297/909-322/934). La chronologie révèle encore qu’après la composition des Piliers de l’islam, al-Qāḍī l-Nuʿmān consacra son énergie à exposer la doctrine théologique majeure de l’ismaélisme, à savoir la théorie du taʾwīl (herméneutique). Dans son Asās al-taʾwīl, il explique les concepts complémentaires de taʾwīl et bāṭin (le sens intérieur, caché, ésotérique derrière la formulation littérale des textes sacrés) - du point de vue d’un juriste - et soutient que ces concepts sont solidement ancrés dans les textes fondateurs de l’islam, c’est-à-dire le Coran et les hadiths du prophète.This article is in English.

Affiliations: 1: University of California Los Angeles


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