Spiritual Ethics: Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān’s Asās al-Ta’wīl and Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī’s Rawḍa-yi Taslīm

On multiple levels of signification, divine guidance and authority (walāyah) served as the focal point of Fatimid Ismaili identity. My proposed paper will compare the 10th-century Fatimid Ismaili author Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān’s Asās al-Ta’wīl and Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī’s Rawḍa-yi Taslīm. While Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān employs the Qur’ānic prophets as exemplars of practice in the context of an emergent Ismaili etiquette (adab), where obedience to the Fatimid caliph-imam of the time signified sound religious practice as well as correct doctrinal belief, Ṭūsī’s 13th-century work offers to the individual practitioner several redemptive strategies for salvation. He stresses the importance of spiritual ethics through the reliance on the ranks of religion (ḥudūd-i dīn) and the imam.

Given Ṭūsī’s broader interests in ethics, does he, however, give voice to what lay at the heart of Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān’s distinctions between the "rule of kings" and the "rule of the imams," namely, the correspondences between siyāsah and walāyah? For this reason, this paper will explore to what extent ethical models for perfection and spiritual purification serve as only the first stage for acquiring the knowledge embodied in the concept of the imam, given the Nizari Ismaili concept of the resurrection (qiyāmat), and its implications for 13th-century Ismaili practice.