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Al-Qadi al-Nu'man

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Kabir Karim

on 25 November 2013

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Transcript of Al-Qadi al-Nu'man

Al-Qadi al-Nu'man
Qadi Abu Hanifah an-Noman bin Abi Abdullah Muhammad bin Mansur bin Ahmad bin Hayyun at-Tamimi was a renowned Ismaili jurist in the Fatimid court. He espoused Ismaili faith early in life at Kairwan. His association with the Fatimids however began with his entry into the services of Imam al-Mahdi since 313/925. During the period of Imam al-Qaim, he concentrated mainly in the study of history, philosophy and jurisprudence and composed numerous works. Prior to the death of Imam al-Qaim in 334/945, he was appointed as a qadi. His status was further promoted during the time of Imam al-Mansur when he was granted the rank of Chief Qadi (Qadi'l-qudat). He however reached his zenith in the time of al-Muizz. Qadi Noman was greatly impressed by al-Muizz's appearance and writes that he was struck by "the refulgence of the Imamate from his countenance."
Letter From Imam
When al-Muizz ascended, Qadi Noman had felt his post dwindled and wrote a letter to the Imam about it. He got Imam's reply, which he had quoted in his "al-Majalis wal Musayarat." It reads: "O, Noman, may God protect you. I have read your letter. I regret that you are not sure of my patronage, and are trapped in fear unnecessarily. You have no reason to fear any adverse change in my attitude towards you. Instead, you should entertain greater hopes and aspire for a higher position. I know every thing about you. My well-wishers ought to look upon you as a model. Your friend will envy your lot and your enemies will feel jealous of you. May God help you and keep you straight on true path. With regard to the position you occupied with my predecessor, nothing is hidden from my notice. We, the Imams are the roots and branches of the same tree. If my father has died physically, the line of Imamate shall continue for ever. The souls of the Imams are joined like the hooks of a chain. If your patron has gone, your Imam is present. Thank God and have a trust upon Him for your affairs. Write to me about your needs, and you will be given what you want."
When al-Muizz came to Egypt, he also brought Qadi Noman with him as his own qadi. He however allowed Qadi Abu Tahir Muhammad bin Ahamad bin Abdullah to remain as the qadi of Cairo. Abu Tahir, however, always consulted Qadi Noman and asked him to revise his verdicts. Qadi Noman was not formally appointed to a higher official position, his rank as a judicial officer was however superior than that of Abu Tahir.

Qadi Noman was a man of great talent, learning and accomplishments, diligent as a scholar, prolific as a writer and upright as a judge. He was the founder and exponent of Ismaili jurisprudence. He died in 363/974 at Cairo and al-Muizz led the funeral prayers. He was a erudite and versatile author and the name of 44 of his works have survived. Of these 20 are totally lost, and 18 are wholly, and the rest are preserved in the private collection.
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Books Of Authership
He has written 44 books on Fiqh, history, religious beliefs and Ta’wil.

Al-Nu'man's most prominent work, the Daim al-Islam ('The Pillars of Islam'), which took nearly thirty years to complete, is an exposition of the Fatimid jurisprudence. The work that was finally completed during the reign of the fourth caliph, al-Mu'izz li-din Allah (r. 953-975 CE/ 341-365 AH), was accepted in its time as the official code of the Fatimid state, and serves to this day as the primary source of law (sharia) for some Mustaali Isma'ili communities, especially the Tayyibis.

Another major work, the Kitab iftitah al-da‘wa wa-ibtida’ al-dawla (The Beginning of the Mission and Establishment of the State) narrates the rise of the Fatimids, including the initial stages of the Isma'ili da'wa in Yemen under Ibn Hawshab; Abu 'Abdullah al-Shi'i's correspondence with the Kutama Berber tribes and their military expeditions leading to the conquest of the Aghlabid empire; al-Mahdi Billah's emigration from Salamiya, his captivity in Sijilmasa and eventual release, culminating in the establishment of the Fatimid state in 909 CE. The book also gives an account of the circumstances leading to the revolt of al-Shi'i, for which it holds responsible the incitement of his elder brother Abu al-Abbas, and his later execution. It also gives a description of the Fatimid state up to the year 957, when the book was completed.
Ikhtilaf usul al-madhahib (Differences Among the Schools of Law) was a refutation of Sunni principles of jurisprudence, written at roughly the same time as the earliest of such works.[2] Nu'man's book borrows heavily from those of Dawud al-Zahiri, Muhammad bin Dawud al-Zahiri and Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, three Sunni authors about whom Nu'man displays complex mixed feelings. It has been noted that while Nu'man's books is famous, it was not the first Ismali refutation of Sunni juristic principles.

Al-Nu'man's other major works are the Kitab al-majalis wa’l-musayarat (The Book of Sessions and Excursions) and the Kitab al-himma fi adab atba‘ al-a’imma (The Book of Etiquette Necessary for Followers of the Imams).
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