By Mr. Fakquir Muhammad, Karachi (Pakistan)
His full name was Abu Hatim Ahmed, although some others described his name to be Abdur Rahman bin Hamdan al - Laisi Al-Warsinani ar-Razi. In the period of Hazrat Imam Mehdi, he was in the office of "Hujjat-e-Jazira" at the island of Ray. He is supposed to be in the rank of those philosophic Da'is who, through their vast knowledge, intelligence, rhetoric speech and logical interpretation, brought emperors, kings, lords and high ranked government officials of their time into the fold of Ahle Bait, i.e. Ismaili concept.
Just as activities of other Ismaili Da'is being behind the screen their life accounts were in the dark, the account of early life of Sayyidna Abu Hatim ar-Razi is unavailable. However, some historians surmise that he was born in later half of the third century, i.e. nearly 260 A.H., near Ray in the district of Bishawooie.
The period in which he was born was, from the point of view of flourishing knowledge, a golden era of the world of Islam. Everywhere there was a flow of knowledge, literature and philosophy. Ray itself was a great centre of literature and learning, especially in the fields of philosophy, theology and enlightenment on the sayings of the holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Incidentally, it gave him the opportunity of acquiring thorough knowledge of Islamic concept, philosophy and theology in general. Besides, he had good acquisition of the knowledge of all religions, and references of religions like Mani, Zoroastrianism, Mazadaism, Bahafaredi, Judaism, Christianity, etc., could be found in his works. His powerful eloquence and lucid explanation had no match. In view of these qualities, when appointment of skillful workers from the centre of Da'wa was made for reforms in religious esoteric understanding and its prosperity, he was one amongst them. And in this direction Sayyidna Hamid ad-din al- Kirmani, in his Kitab ar Riyad says that Sayyidna Razi was one of those skilful workers of Da'wa whose appointment was made for reforms of religious esoteric understanding, its glory, explanation of lsmaili concept and emphasis upon man's fulfilment of his duties towards God.
In the beginning Sayyidna Abu Hatim ar- Razi worked as Assistant to the Hujjat, Da'i Rayath, of island of Ray. After the death of Da'i Rayath, Abu Ja'far, succeeded him. Nevertheless, this post was afterwards bestowed upon Abu Hatim ar-Razi. Upon taking up the office of Hujjat-e-Jazira, he carried out the work of Da'wat with great efficiency and promptness. Thereupon, ruler of Ray, Ahmed bin Aly, (304 to 311 A.H.), who was the bitterest enemy of lsmailis, was converted by him to lsmaili faith. Because of the great influence and bearing of the ruler of Ray, many a lord and dignitaries of his court embraced the Ismaili faith.
Over and above this, he deputed Da'is to Tabaristan, lsfahan and Azarbaijan. Influence of lsmaili Da'is was so effective in this era that people were embracing lsmaili faith group by group and their rivals, Sunni advocates, could not withstand their reasoning. Therefore, Nizam ul Mulk, in his Siyasatnama', writes: "people of Tabaristan solicited learned help from Baghdad namely, to depute highly qualified authority, so that he could face the lsmaili Da'is."
Sayyidna Abu Hatim had made Ray, Tabaristan, lsfahan and Azarbaijan centres of Da'wa. Besides deputing his subordinate Da'is, he himself used to tour different provinces and according to demands of the circumstance, was changing the centres. In view of this, due to his untiring efforts, apart from the ruler of Ray, Ahmed bin Aly, personalities like Mardavij-ud-Daylami, Governor of Tabaristan; Yusuf bin Abi as-Saj, Governor of Azarbaijan; Asfar bin Shiroya and many other embraced lsmaili faith.
These ruling and governing authorities, through their own delegates, submitted offerings to the lmam of the time, Mowlana Abdullah al-Mahdi, and wrote to say that if the Imam would be so pleased to command, - they would be prepared to be present before the Imam with their own army. However, the Imam wrote to them at the back of their own letters: "Azzamu marakizukum li kulii ajalin kitab" i.e. to remain at their own centre, for there is a specific ordinance for a particular time.
Famous orientalist, Paul Kraus, on behalf of great deeds and achievements of Sayyidna Abu Hatim ar Razi, writes that he was from among the great Da'is of lsmaili Da'wa, playing a vigorous role in the politics of Tabaristan, Azarbaijan, Daylum and particularly of lsfahan and Ray, and brought governing authorities like Asfar bin Shirova, Mardavij al-Quaid etc. into Ismaili fold.
As aforesaid in his own era he was one of the great philosophers, theologians and learned personalities. He was eminent not only in Ismaili Da'wa but in the propagation of Islamic understanding in general. This highly qualified status of his has been narrated by lbn Nadeem, Nizam ul Mulk Baghdadi and lbn Hajar 'Asqualani.
The most famous of his works is the Kitab 'azzina'. In this book he has dealt with the literary and terminological explanation of the apparent terms of attributes of God, Quran and Hadiths, as well as jurisprudence and theology. It is also explained as to for what purpose and intent these terms have been established. This book is very significant in view of the knowledge of jurisprudence and Arabic literature. Therefore, he himself writes about this work that it is that book which is indispensable for jurisprudents and that literary persons cannot do without it.
According to Sayyidna ldris lmadad-din, when this book was presented before Hazrat lmam Mowlana Qa'im, it was highly appreciated and Hazrat lmam awarded it to his son, Hazrat Mansoor, as a gift and commanded him to keep it secret. It is said about 'Kitab az-zina' that it is comprised of 1,200 pp. Its two parts have been printed in 1957 at Cairo.
His another famous work is, "Kitab A'lam an Nubuwwat." This book is the collection of his impulsive arguments made with Muhammad bin Zakariya Razi at the court of Mardavij ad-Daylami. His contemporary, Zakariya Razi, was a famous physician, but his ideas and conceptions were against the religion. For him, the only source of deliverance of human race was through philosophy. He was a disbeliever in religion and prophethood. Therefore, Sayyidna Razi had many discussions with him and, by his own absolutely enlightened reasoning, contradicted his conceptions and beliefs.
Paul Kraus published some portion of A'lam an Nabuwwat' under the name and style of 'Al-Munazirat Bain ar-Raziana' in 1939 from Egypt.
Besides these, Abu Hatim ar-Razi produced the works of two other books entitled 'Al-Isiah' and 'Al-Jami'a'. In the former book, reforms of the view points mentioned in the book' Al-Mahsool' by Sayyidna an-Nasafi, have been made, whereas, although lbn Nadeem, in his book 'Al-Fihrist', has made a mention of the latter one, the book itself has disappeared.
Due to the day to day progress in Ismaili Da'wa, Sayyidna Abu Hatim
was a eyesore of the enemies of the Ismaili faith and thereby had been
the target of the opponents in faith. Ultimately, when the enmity grew
vast, he had to conceal himself in Daylam and in this condition, according
to lbn Hajar Asqualani, he died in 322 A.H.
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