This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Isma’ili Shiism and the Fatimid Caliphate

The second branch of Shiism is called Isma’ilism. The point of contention that caused this branch to separate from the main body of Shiism relates to the identity of the seventh Imam. It is believed that according to Divine command, Ja’far al-Sadiq, the sixth Imam, chose his son Isma’il to be the seventh Imam. But Isma’il died before his father, and so Musa al-Kazim was chosen to be the seventh Imam. There were some in the community who refused to accept this and who continued to claim Isma’il as the true seventh Imam, and by this they were given the name Isma’ilis and Isma’ilism was born.

By this disagreement, the Ismaili succession of Imams diverges from the Twelvers, and for some time their imams were known only to their followers and were hidden from public life, only to emerge forcefully in the tenth century in Tunisia, declaring themselves rulers and eventually gaining power in Egypt and other parts of North Africa. This marks the established of the Fatimid Caliphate. In this capacity, with their capital in Cairo, they stood in opposition to the Sunni Abbasid caliphate, based in Baghdad.

Although Fatimid Ismailism is fairly moderate in its approach, some of the more radical movements in Shiite history are offshoots from this source. Namely, the Nizaris were a revolutionary movement who taught the “Great Resurrection” and the rejection of formal, legal teachings in favor of a purely esoteric interpretation of Islam. In this way, we can understand why, when comparing the extremes of Shiism to those of Sunnism, we can say that the former tends to identify with an excessive esoterism and the latter with an exclusivist exoterism.

Outsiders have no way of knowing the true number of Ismailis, but they achieve coordination throughout their global community by way of their imam who acts as its leader.

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