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An Early Doctrinal Controversy in the Iranian School of Ismaʿili Thought and Its Implications*

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Abstract The controversy stemmed from Nasafi’s Ketāb al-Mahsul, wherein he introduced a pre-Fārābian version of Neo-Platonism into Ismaʿili cosmology, adapting it to Shiʿi-Ismaʿili doctrines. It provoked a sharp reaction among the Ismaʿili missionaries of Khorasan. Rāzi, an accomplished theologian and Nasafi’s contemporary, wrote his Ketāb al-Eslāh mending Nasafi’s errors. This led Sejestāni to defend the views of his teacher Nasafi and rebut Rāzi’s arguments in his Ketāb al-Nosra. Kermāni tried to reconcile the debate from a vantage point of post-Fārābian philosophy in his Ketāb al-Riāz. The controversy demonstrates that even a difference of opinion concerning major doctrinal issues was tolerated and resolved by scholarly debate.

Affiliations: 1: University of California at Los Angeles

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