Beside a short paragraph on the “spiritual life” in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries (pp. 402-4), this new collective History of Badakhshan, by authors originating from this mountainous region of present-day Tajikistan, offers a paper on the developments on the regional history of Isma‘ilism, from Nasir-i Khusraw’s predication to the present. This study begins with the evocation of Nasir’s successors and their posterity, with paragraphs on the genealogical origins of modern rivalries between the supporters of traditional pirs and the Khujas (locally called panj-bahayis) in nowadays Tajikistani Badakhshan. The paper goes on with a short description of the existing international bibliography on the history of the Isma‘iliyya, with a critic of the ignorance by Farhad Daftary (whose classical works have been recently translated into Russian) of Badakhshani sources and realities—a neglect that is commonly shared by most international specialists of Isma‘ili studies. Special paragraphs are devoted to an overall description of the Isma‘ili faith, of the main grades of the Isma‘ili religious hierarchy, and of the main institutions of the Isma‘ili community. The paper ends with a series of short biographies of the Isma‘ili Imams up to Agha Khan iv.
Sometimes considered by his young and witty colleagues from Khorog a cabinet scholar usually rebuked by the (real) hardships of fieldwork in the Pamir, the author has made use of a limited number of primary sources registered for long (mainly those described by Bertel’s and Baqoev in the early 1960s). Consequently, his considerations—notably on the Isma‘ili hierarchy—keep a normative character, sometimes remote from modern and contemporary practices. K. El’chibekov also shows no big interest in the history of the sharp conflicts between traditionalists and “panj-bahayis” as they have been determining the cultural and political climate of Badakhshan from 1895 to 1925, and again since 1995. Last, it must be deplored that only the Tajikistani part of Badakhshan has been taken in consideration in this paper, as well as in the whole volume in which it is included: An enlargement of perspectives to Afghan Badakhshan and, to some extent, to Hunza would have provided a more coherent historical basis for this study. However, it remains to be said that this paper provides the readership with one of the very few existing and well-informed syntheses, to this date, on the history of the Isma‘iliyya in the Pamir—a region traditionally absent from the main available works on the Isma‘iliyya.