The thirteen studies in this volume explore critical problems in Fatimid history and historiography, many specifically focused on the content of doctrinal writings produced by the Ismaili supporters and agents of this caliphate who worked on behalf of the dynasty both within the empire and outside. Several concern issues in disputes that separated the various factions of Medieval Islam and served to distinguish the Ismailis from the rest, often branding the Fatimids with the charge of heterodoxy. Others deal with the consequence of Shiite rule over a largely non-Shiite populace. Yet others involve the relationship between religious ideology and the administration of government. Among the themes featured in this collection there are separate investigations of institutions of learning, of succession to the imamate, the da`wa, the judiciary, relations with the Byzantines and with the Abbasids, and works on heresiography, doctrines of time and the accusation that the Ismailis upheld the metempsychosis of the human soul. The latter topics help to situate the Ismailis, and hence the Fatimids, within the broader context of Islamic thought.

Contents: Introduction; Fatimid institutions of learning; Succession to rule in the Shiite caliphate; The Ismaili da'wa in the reign of the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim; Another family of Fatimid chief Qadis: the al-Fariqis; A Byzantine victory over the Fatimids at Alexandretta (971); The 'crusade' of John Tzimisces in the light of new Arabic evidence; Al-Maqrizi and the Fatimids; Purloined symbols of the past: the theft of souvenirs and sacred relics in the rivalry between the Abbasids and Fatimids; 'In praise of al-Hakim': Greek elements in Ismaili writings on the Imamate; Abu Tammam and his Kitab al-Shajara: an new Ismaili treatise from 10th-century Khurasan; An Isma'ili version of the heresiography of the 72 erring sects; Eternal cosmos and the womb of history: time in early Ismaili thought; The doctrine of metempsychosis in Islam; Index.