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22. S. Hodgson, The Order of Assassins (The Hague, 955). 23. K. Poonawala, Biobibliography of Ismaʿili Literature (Malibu, CA, 977). 24. E. Walker’s Abu Yaʿqub al-Sijistani: Intellectual Missionary (London, 996), and Ibn al-Haytham’s Kitab al-Munazarat, ed. and tr. W. E. Walker as The Advent of the Fatimids: A Contemporary Shiʿi Witness (London, 2000). For a complete listing, The Ismailis and Ismaili Studies 4 see The Institute of Ismaili Studies, Department of Academic Research and Publications, Catalogue of Publications, 2004–2005 (London, 2004).

They supported some of the Umayyad and early Abbasid caliphs while refuting others. Indeed, for several decades until 848, Muʿtazilism was the official doctrine of the Abbasid court. However, by the latter decades of the ninth century, Muʿtazilism had become increasingly pro-ʿAlid, and its theological doctrines left permanent influences on Zaydi, Imami Ithnaʿashari and Ismaili Shiʿism. Emphasizing rationalism, in the sense that a certain awareness is accessible to man by means of his intelligence alone in the absence of or in addition to any revelation, the early Muʿtazilis became known for five principles on which they had reached a consensus of opinion.

One aspect of the definition of Muslim belief undertaken by Sunni scholars was the articulation of statements that constituted a creed. Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafi school of Sunni law, and other major figures such as al-Ashʿari, al-Shafiʿi (d. 820) and al-Ghazali (d. ) further elaborated and consolidated this process of systematizing belief. Some of the key elements of these creeds emphasized particular perspectives on understanding the foundational beliefs common to all Muslims. Al-Ashʿari, for example, emphasized belief in the Qurʾan as Allah’s uncreated Word (in contrast to the beliefs of the Muʿtazila); he acknowledged the pre-eminent status of the Companions of the Prophet, without discriminating among them, but giving priority to the first four caliphs; he emphasized the idea of sunna, authenticated on the basis of authoritative claims of transmission related from acknowledged transmitters and constituting a consensus of Sunni 26 Ismailis in Medieval Muslim Societies scholars; and lastly, he decried ‘innovations’ in matters of belief and practice.

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