Precedents to Rethinking Models of Authority among Nizārī Ismailis: The Case of Ṭūsī

Following the Nizārī-Mustaʿlian schism, the Ismailis of Alamūt gradually began revising their doctrines beginning with a new emphasis on the doctrine of taʿlīm as reformulated by Ḥasan-i Ṣabbāḥ. The second phase of this revision begins after the declaration of qiyāmat by the fourth ruler and the first Ismaili Imam in Alamūt, Ḥasan II.

Ṭūsī plays a critical role in restructuring Ismaili doctrines in the works he produced and supervised during his affiliation with the Ismailis. His major Ismaili works, including Rawḍay-i taslīm, Maṭlūb al-muʾminīn and Āghāz wa anjām include significant pointers as to how Ismailis in Alamūt began rethinking and reinventing the concept of authority in light of the discourse of qiyāmat. The role of Ṭūsī may be compared to that of Ḥamīd al-Dīn al-Kirmānī, when he was called to reorganise the daʿwa system at the time of al-Ḥākim bi Amir Allāh.

The Neo-platonic hierarchy of the Fatimid era was filtered and reduced to a much smaller cosmology which was, this time, close to Sufi articulations about authority and the walāya of Ismaili Imams. Moreover, Ṭūsī was much closer to the thinking of Ibn Sīnā and worked in the midst of various competing narratives, particularly that of al-Shahrastānī whose works left a lasting impression on Ismaili doctrines.
The revised Ismaili doctrines of the Alamūt period worked like an emancipating template which eased the later intermingling of Ismailis with Sufis. Their adherence to a highly spiritual and esoteric interpretation of Islam, which had this time shifted more towards the bāṭin as compared with the Fatimid period, facilitated even further the developments which led to the contemporary remodelling of authority and leadership in the Ismaili imamate.