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Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam$
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Delia Cortese and Simonetta Calderini

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748617326

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748617326.001.0001

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Working the Propaganda Spindle

Working the Propaganda Spindle

(p.14) Chapter 1 Working the Propaganda Spindle
Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam

Delia Cortese

Simonetta Calderini

Edinburgh University Press

As it transpires from the sources, early Isma'ilism consisted of a number of splinter groups entangled in debates and rivalries over religious-political leadership and messianic expectations. In time, one faction succeeded in polarising ideas and energies towards the belief that Isma'il's son and successor, Muhammad, had not actually died but, rather, had gone into physical and spiritual occultation as a safety measure to escape from his opponents. According to the Isma'ili tradition, by the middle of the ninth century, the activities of this faction had evolved into a da'wa (missionary movement or propaganda) operating in areas as diverse as Central Asia, Persia, Yemen and Syria. This chapter first presents a historical overview of the da'wa and then looks at women and da'wa in the pre-Fatimid period, focusing on trade and family, marriage, and female loyalty and guile. It also discusses women and the ‘Shi'itisation’ of Egypt.

Keywords:   Isma'ilism, propaganda, women, da'wa, Shi'itisation, Egypt, Syria, trade, marriage, missionary movement

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