Al-Qadi al-Nu'man

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Abu Hanifa al-Nu‘man ibn Muhammad ibn Mansur ibn Ahmad ibn Hayyun al-Tamimi, generally known as al-Qāḍī al-Nu‘mān also Qāżi Noʿmān[1] (died 974 CE/ 363 AH) was an Isma'ili jurist and the official historian of the Fatimid caliphs. He was also called Qadi Quddat and Da'i Duat.


Born in Qayrawan,[2] North Africa, al-Nu'man converted to Isma'ili Islam and began his career in Ifriqiya (modern-day Tunisia, western Libya and eastern Algeria) under the first Isma'ili Caliph, al-Mahdi Billah (r. 909-934 CE/ 297-322 AH), quickly rising to become the most prominent judge (qadi) of the Fatimid state. During his lifetime, he served four Fatimid Caliphs:[3]

During al-Nu'man's fifty years of service to the Fatimids, he wrote a vast number of books under the encouragement of the caliphs on history, biography, jurisprudence (fiqh) and the interpretation of scripture (ta'wil). After the Fatimid conquest of Egypt and Syria, al-Nu'man left Ifriqiya and travelled to the newly founded city of al-Qahira (Cairo) where he died in 974 CE/ 363 AH.[3]

His works[edit]

Al-Nu'man's work consists of over 40 treatises on Fiqh, history, religious beliefs and Ta’wil.[3] Fuat Sezgin cites 22 works by him.[4]

Al-Nu'man's most prominent work, the Da'a'im al-Islam (Arabic:دعائم الاسلام)('The Pillars of Islam'),[5] which took nearly thirty years to complete, is an exposition of the Fatimid jurisprudence.[6] 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. Iran has incorporated Daim-ul-Islam into their constitution.[7]

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 Salamiyah, 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'hkjjj' (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.[8] 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 book 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, in which he has entailed in detail words of Imams in Majalis, or just while walking which he had taken note of, and the wisdom encased within them) and the Kitab al-himma fi adab atba‘ al-a’imma (The Book of Etiquette Necessary for Followers of the Imams).

Further reading[edit]

  • Between revolution and state: the path to Fatimid statehood: Qadi Al-Nu'man and the construction of Fatimid legitimacy by Sumaiya A. Hamdani. London; New York: I.B. Tauris; London: In association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2006.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Poonawala 2016.
  2. ^ Daftary 2006.
  3. ^ a b c Daftary 1990, p. 250.
  4. ^ Sezgin 1967, p. 575-578.
  5. ^ Al-Nu'man 2018.
  6. ^ Poonawala 2002, p. xxx.
  7. ^ Fyzee 1974, p. ?.
  8. ^ Stewart 2002, p. 116.


  • Al-Nu'man (2018). "Al-Nu'man, Al-Qadi (d. 363 AH/ 974 CE) | The Institute of Ismaili Studies". Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  • Daftary, Farhad (1990). The Isma'ilis: Their History and Doctrines. Cambridge University Press.
  • Daftary, Farhad (2006). Leaman, Oliver (ed.). The Biographical Encyclopaedia of Islamic Philosophy (PDF). Continuum International Publishing Group.
  • Fyzee, Asaf A. A. (1974). The Book of Faith: Translated from the `Da'a'im al-Islam' of Qadi Nu'man. Nachiketa Publication Ltd.
  • Poonawala, Ismail K. (2002). The Pillars of Islam: Acts of devotion and religious observances. Oxford University Press.
  • Poonawala, Ismail K. (2016). "Ismaʿilism xi. Ismaʿili Jurisprudence". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  • Sezgin, Fuat (1967). Geschichte des Arabischen Schrifttums. I. Brill. pp. 575–578. ISBN 9789004020078.
  • Stewart, Devin J. (2002). "Muhammad b. Dawud al-Zahiri's Manual of Jurisprudence". In Weiss, Bernard G. (ed.). Studies in Islamic Law and Society Volume 15: Studies in Islamic Legal Theory. Brill.