Saturday, December 9, 2006

34)Intellectual pluralism in 10th to 12th century Fatimid Egypt

The cosmological doctrines that were developed by Ismaili dais during the peri-Fatimid period reveal a commitment to intellectual pluralism by the illustrious Imams of this dynasty that should inform our search for knowledge of all types during the current era:

What I find interesting and very illuminating is how the Imams of the Fatimid period(Al-Qaim to Al-Mustansirbillah) themselves encouraged pluralism of intellectual expression as well. Here you have, on the one hand, the eastern Iranian dais(Al-Nasafi, Al- Sijistani, Khusraw), enthralled by the infusion of Judeo-Christian monotheism into the lofty ideas of Plato(giving Neoplatonism), incorporating it into their own unique Ismaili cosmological doctrines, during the pre- and early years of the Fatimid Caliphate (Imams Al-Qaim to Al-Muiz). Then, on the other hand, you have Arab intellectuals like Alfarabi and Ismaili dai Al-Kirmani, operating during the Imamats of Imams Al-Hakim to Al-Mustansirbillah, preferring, instead, the Aristotelian idea of the ten intellects and incorporating some of those ideas into their cosmological doctrines. Clearly, the Imams of this illustrious period rolled out a fertile red carpet which provided the enabling environment for pluralism of intellectual expression to flourish.

While the the Al-Kirmani cosmological doctrine continued to be elaborated and promulgated by Caliphs of the later Mustelian period, it was the Al-Sijistani-Khusraw cosmological doctrine that became the ultimate preference of the Nizari Ismailis and my personal opinion is that our 48th Imam himself, Mowlana Sultan Mohammed Shah, in his Memoirs under the chapter on Islam, is partial to the doctrine of the Universal Soul, which is exclusive to the Al-Sijistani-Khusraw cosmology:

"Islamic doctrine goes further than the other great religions, for it proclaims the presence of the soul, perhaps minute but nevertheless existing in an embryonic state in all existence in matter, in animals, trees, and space itself. Every individual, every molecule, every atom has its own spiritual relationship with the All-Powerful Soul of God."


Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan 4.
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan 3