Halm, Heinz 1942–

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Halm, Heinz 1942–


Born February 21, 1942, in Andernach, Rhein, Germany; married Christa Guédé. Education: University of Bonn, Germany, Ph.D., 1967; University of Tübingen, Germany, habilitation, 1975.


Writer, educator, university administrator, Islamist, and historian. University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany, professor, 1980, dean of faculty of cultural sciences, 1994-95, studiendakan faculty, cultural sciences, 1996-2000, currently professor of Islamic studies; University of Paris IV Sorbonne, associate professor, 1987-89. Guest professor, Leiden University, 1993.


European Union of Arabists and Islamists.


Die Traditionen Uber Den Aufstand Ali Ibn Muhammads, Des "Herrn Der Zang"; Eine Quellenkritische Untersuchung, (Bonn, Germany), 1967.

Soldaten in Bruckeburg, Grimme (Buckeburg, Germany), 1971.

Die Ausbreitung Der Safi'itischen Rechtsschule Von Den Anfangen Bis Zum 8./14. Jahrhundert, Reichert (Wiesbaden, Germany), 1974.

Kosmologie Und Heilslehre Der Fruhen Ismailiya: Eine Studie Zur Islamischen Gnosis, Franz Steiner (Weisbaden, Germany), 1978.

Aegypten Nach Den Mamlukischen Lehensregistern, Reichert (Wiesbaden, Germany), 1979.

Die Islamische Gnosis: Die Extreme Schia Und Die Alawiten, Artemis Verlag (Zurich, Switzerland), 1982.

Die Schia, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (Darmstadt, Germany), 1988.

Das Reich Des Mahdi: Der Aufstieg Der Fatimiden (875-973), C.H. Beck (Munich, Germany), 1991, published as The Empire of the Mahdi: The Rise of the Fatimids, translated by Michael Bonner, E.J. Brill (Leiden, Germany), 1996.

Shiism, translated by Janet Watson, Edinburgh University Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1991, 2nd edition, published as Shi'ism, with new material translated by Marian Hill, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Der Schiitische Islam: Von Der Religion Zur Revolution, C.H. Beck (Munich, Germany), 1994.

The Fatimids and Their Traditions of Learning, I.B. Tauris/Institute of Ismaili Studies (New York, NY), 1997.

Shi'a Islam: From Religion to Revolution, Markus Wiener Publishers (Princeton, NJ), 1997.

Der Islam: Geschichte Und Gegenwart, C.H. Beck (Munich, Germany), 2000.

Geschichte Der Arabischen Welt, C.H. Beck (Munich, Germany), 2001.

Die Kalifen Von Kairo: Die Fatimiden in Aegypten, 973-1074, C.H. Beck (Munich, Germany), 2003.

The Arabs: A Short History, translated by Allison Brown and Thomas Lampert, Markus Wiener Publishers (Princeton, NJ), 2007.

The Shiites: A Short History, 2nd updated and enlarged edition, translated by Allison Brown, Markus Wiener Publishers (Princeton, NJ), 2007.

Contributor to books, including the Encyclopaedia of Islam and the Encyclopaedia Iranica. Contributor to scholarly journals and periodicals.


Heinz Halm is a professor at the University of Tübingen in Germany, where he is a prolific Islamicist and a specialist in Ismaili studies. His numerous books cover topics related to Islam, Arabic history, the Shiites, and the Shi'a religion, and other areas of Islamic culture, religion, and history.

Halm explores the many facets of learning and education among the Fatimids, the early Ismaili Shi'a group that conquered Egypt in 969 and founded the Egyptian city of Cairo, in The Fatimids and Their Traditions of Learning. The book is a "comprehensive account of the traditions of learning among the Fatimids, written by a distinguished scholar and an authority in Fatimid/Ismaili studies," commented Ismail K. Poonawala in the Journal of the American Oriental Society. The Fatimids, who claimed to be descended from Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, were well organized, closely connected, and educated, and were aided from within by scholar-missionaries called Dais. Within the book, Halm looks at the Dai and their leader, and in particular examines the group's "training, education, and accomplishments," Poonawala stated. "Halm has succeeded in his task of illuminating the many-sided personality of the dai," Poonawala concluded.

Similarly, with The Empire of the Mahdi: The Rise of the Fatimids, Halm provides an "integrated, comprehensive, and persuasive narrative of early Isma'ili activities," culminating in the Fatimid conquest of Egypt, noted Richard W. Bulliet in the Historian. He recounts the battles over the inheritance of religious authority, the development of Fatimid power through propaganda, revolts that arose and failed, tribal armies of the Berbers who helped extend the Imam's power, the rise of militant movements throughout the Middle East, and more. "Against this background, Halm's achievement looms large. Specialists will disagree with him on details, but they will applaud the flow and liveliness of his narrative," Bulliet concluded. Reviewer Farhad Daftary, writing in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, stated that Halm's "treatment of the complex issues of early Ismailism fully reflects the state of modern scholarship in the field, to which he himself has made valuable contributions over the last two decades." Daftary also concluded his review with high praise for Halm's work: "All in all, Halm's The Empire of the Mahdi is a masterly treatment of a crucial and complex early phase in the long history of the Ismailis and as such it represents a major contribution to modern Ismaili studies in general and Fatimid studies in particular."

In Shi'a Islam: From Religion to Revolution, Halm seeks to "lessen the reader's confusion about the bewildering events in the Middle East," noted James F. DeRoche in the Library Journal. Halm recounts the history and doctrine of Shi'a and its belief that it represents the true imams and the only legitimate heirs and successors to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Halm carefully describes numerous rituals of the Shi'a that demonstrate grief and penitence over the martyrdom of successive imams. Thirdly, the author covers in depth the history and development of the Shi'ite religious hierarchy of mullahs and ayatollahs. Relevant to modern issues in the Middle East, Halm describes how the mullahs and ayatollahs came to represent Shi'a and how they gained their religious and political power, and the religious doctrine that they use to justify and retain their strict rule. DeRoche called the book an "excellent source," while Booklist reviewer Gilbert Taylor observed that Halm gives "fair treatment" to the "origins and tenets of Shi'ite Islam."



Asian Affairs, June, 1998, Francis Robinson, review of The Fatimids and Their Traditions of Learning, p. 203.

Booklist, March 15, 1997, Gilbert Taylor, review of Shi'a Islam: From Religion to Revolution, p. 1207.

Choice, May, 1997, review of Shi'a Islam, p. 1516.

Historian, spring, 1999, Richard W. Bulliet, review of The Empire of the Mahdi: The Rise of the Fatimids, p. 651.

International Journal of Middle East Studies, May, 1999, Said Amir Arjomand, review of Shi'a Islam, p. 276.

Journal of the American Oriental Society, April 1, 1998, Farhad Daftary, review of The Empire of the Mahdi, p. 298; July 1, 1999, Ismail K. Poonawala, review of The Fatimids and Their Traditions of Learning, p. 542.

Library Journal, April 15, 1997, James F. DeRoche, review of Shi'a Islam, p. 86; October 1, 1998, review of Shiism, p. 62.

Muslim World, January, 1998, Abdulaziz Sachedina, review of Shi'a Islam, p. 102.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 1997, review of The Empire of the Mahdi, p. 30; November, 1997, review of The Fatimids and Their Traditions of Learning, p. 33.


Institute of Ismaili Studies Web site,http://www.iis.ac.uk/ (October 3, 2007), biography of Heinz Halm.