By Farhad Daftary
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Extra resources for Ismailis in Medieval Muslim Societies
Consequently, they did not produce a substantial religious literature. 2 Although a large number of Nizari Ismailis perished in the Mongol invasions, many survived and gradually reorganized their community. This represented the beginning of a new phase in their history, which was characterized by the strict observance of taqiyya or precautionary dissimulation under different external guises. In the aftermath of the Mongol invasions, the Nizari imams went into hiding and the scattered Nizari communities of Syria, Persia, Central Asia and India developed independently under their local leaders.
But according to the majority of the sources, Ismaʿil either predeceased his father or was otherwise not accessible at the time of his father’s death and subsequently, al-Sadiq does not seem to have openly designated another of his sons. As a result, on al-Sadiq’s death in Medina in Shawwal 48 ah, three of his sons, ʿAbd Allah, Musa and Muhammad, 48 Ismailis in Medieval Muslim Societies simultaneously claimed his succession.
As a result, they studied Islam according to the Sunni perspective and, borrowing classifications from Christian contexts, treated Shiʿism and Ismailism as ‘heterodox’ interpretations of Islam, or even as heresies, by contrast to Sunnism which was taken to represent Islamic ‘orthodoxy’. It was mainly on this basis, as well as the continued attraction of the seminal Assassin legends, that the orientalists launched their own studies of the Ismailis. Although the orientalists correctly identified the Ismailis as a Shiʿi Muslim community, they were still obliged to study them exclusively on the basis of the hostile Sunni sources and the fictitious occidental accounts of the Crusader circles rooted in their ‘imaginative ignorance’.