A new Job has been posted by Malika Pallaeva in the The Institute of Ismaili Studies online community:
Consultant, Ismaili Heritage (IH) Project – India Sites, The Institute of Ismaili Studies
London, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Job Description and Person Specification
Job Title: Consultant, Ismaili Heritage (IH) Project – India Sites
Location: The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London
Reports to: Fayaz S Alibhai, Co-ordinator, Ismaili Heritage Project
Hours per week: 35
Contract type Consultancy
Length of contract Fixed term – 4 months (1 Sep 2019 – 31 Dec 2019), renewable if mutually agreed
Job Description: Brief Description of the Role
Recent PhD graduate, current PhD candidate or Master’s graduate with a background in history or anthropology, and Islamic Studies and Humanities, with a particular emphasis on the Ismaili heritage of India. The postholder will undertake research to create, as well as compile and collate content and material relating to the Ismaili heritage of India, for the Ismaili Heritage Project’s database. S/he will also make recommendations on the identification and preservation of this heritage, especially as it relates to sites, and work closely with other researchers and staff on the project
Main Duties and Responsibilities (or deliverables where self employed)
1. Review the project’s current lists of Ismaili heritage sites, identifying duplications, correcting errors, filling in gaps, and compiling new entries from existing research both within and outside of IIS, as well as inputting these results onto a database
2. Make ongoing contributions to the development of an annotated bibliography relating to Ismaili heritage, e.g. of historical studies, monument restoration, archaeological surveys, case studies of use, ethnographic research, etc
3. Identify and compile related resources such as books, research papers, articles, images and videos
4. Identify sites at particular risk and make recommendations for their preservation and/or reuse
5. Work closely with other researchers and staff on the project
6. Undertake any other work relevant to the project as identified by the Project Co-ordinator
The role holder is required to participate in quality assurance procedures to maintain and develop standards of ‘best practice’ in all the areas of the department’s activities. S/he is also required to implement the outcomes of reviews and evaluations
Continuous Professional Development
The role holder is expected to maintain and improve the quality of his/her role through continuous professional development within the available time and resources.
Equality and diversity
The role holder is expected to commit to the principle of equality of opportunity for all staff and students and to providing an environment where respect is shown to all. The post holder is expected to familiarise himself/herself with the diversity policies of the IIS and required to uphold the principles and follow the procedures described.
Health, Safety and Environment
The post holder is responsible for ensuring that all activities of the IIS are managed so that the work environment is supportive of staff and students’ health, safety, dignity and well-being.
The post holder is responsible for ensuring that workplace responsibilities, within the team or department are carried out in compliance with the requirements of the current Data Protection Act and the Employment Practices Data Protection Code, especially concerning confidentiality, treatment of personal information and records management.
The role holder is expected to commit to the principle of cross-functional working and agree to working on projects or other work that may involve close working with other departments in the Institute, or be led by them.
Management and leadership
The role holder is expected to act as a leadership and managerial role model within the unit or department and to act as a mentor and coach in support of their team members, upholding corporate decisions, financial and non-financial, where necessary.
Section 2: Person Specification
A weighting figure should be given to each separate requirement according to its relative importance to the overall job:
Low Importance = 1
Medium Importance 2
High Importance = 3
Experience and qualifications required
Recent PhD graduate, current PhD candidate or Master’s graduate with a background in history, anthropology, cultural studies, and/or Islamic Studies and Humanities, with a particular emphasis on the Ismaili heritage of India. - 3
Familiarity with databases - 2
Working within an institution of higher learning - 2
Research data management - 3
Computer literacy and proficiency in programs such as Microsoft Office -2
Familiarity with cloud-based collaborative platforms, e.g. Dropbox, Slack, Trello and Drive - 3
Expert knowledge on any aspect of the history and culture of India - 3
Knowledge of the records, institutions and religious and related practices of Ismailis in India. - 3
Background in history, anthropology, cultural studies and/or Islamic Studies - 3
Fluency in at least one Indic language Knowledge and application of a variety of academic research methods Evidence of solid research and writing - 3
Main Skills and Abilities
Strong interpersonal skills - 3
Ability to work on own initiative - 3
Ability to collaborate with others and within academic teams - 3
Capacity to work within a diverse cultural and linguistic environment - 3
Ability to prioritise tasks and effectively manage one’s time and resources- 3
Personal attributes required
Passion for the subject - 3
View Job Details
The Institute of Ismaili Studies
Aga Khan Centre 10 Handyside Street • London, England N1C 4DN • 0207 756 2700
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Authoritative specialists in the modern history of Iran explore approaches to the Qur’an in new IIS publication
Persian culture has had a long-standing engagement with the Qur’an since early classical times, and this has been visible in various forms from their poetry, calligraphy to Qur’anic exegesis. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, technological advancements made it easier to disseminate information to a larger pool of intellectuals who occupied the middle ground between the traditional learned clerics and a nascent civil society. These intellectuals were able to create accessible discourses which helped to facilitate deeper conversations and enhanced engagement in even more arenas.
Approaches to the Qur’an in Contemporary Iran by Dr Alessandro Cancian, explores the importance of the Qur’an in the religious, intellectual, political and artistic discourses in modern and contemporary Iran, from the nineteenth century to the present. The publication was developed as a result of the Qur’anic Studies Colloquium held at the IIS in September 2013 and discussions at the Ninth Biennial Iranian Studies Conference in Istanbul in August 2012.
Touching upon different aspects of the impact, understanding and use of the Qur’an, the seventeen chapters included in this volume have been written by some of the most authoritative specialists in the modern history of Iran. Their contributions span a wide range of subjects and themes, covering varied ground from, the examination of the trends in Qur’anic exegesis that are currently prominent in Iran; Sufi mystical interpretations of the Qur’an; the concept of revelation as the basis of diverse political trends; approaches to ritual prayer by women in Iran; the use of Qur’anic themes in contemporary Iranian cinema; the Qur’an as a living scripture in specific intellectual and social circles, and case studies of individual intellectuals.
Reader in Islamic Studies at the University of Glasgow, Dr Lloyd Ridgeon, reviewed the book and commented:
“This essential work, composed of chapters authored by some of the world’s leading academics in Islamic and Iranian studies, provides a comprehensive analysis of how the Qur’an is received in modern Iran. The collection’s range of topics has been carefully considered, shedding light on modern hermeneutical problems, mystical ways of perceiving the sacred text, and its significance in modern cultural forms including cinema and music, among others. The chapters have been researched with meticulous care to detail. Approaches to the Qur’an in Contemporary Iran looks set to become a classic work.”
Approaches to the Qur’an in Contemporary Iran provides readers with two centuries of reflection on revelation and scripture in the Persian speaking world. The collection will provide academics working in the fields of intellectual and religious history of modern Iran and Qur’anic Studies with a comprehensive overview of the richness and plurality of Iran’s engagement with the Qur’an. It achieves this by bringing together different approaches from theology, mysticism, exegesis, reformism, cinema, music, and visual and popular culture.
To learn more or to read Dr Alessandro Cancian’s introduction to the book, visit the publications content.
Moral Approaches to Bio Medical Issues
The rhetoric of pro-life and pro-choice have polarized the public understanding and response to biomedical issues. A much more nuanced approach to understanding is required before any deliberation can be made on these issues. This session will shed light on why and how we need to think about moral approaches to biomedical issues such as abortion and euthanasia. We will explore the approaches from the realm of rights, laws and customs, and compare these with the approaches within the moral realm. At the end of the session, we should be able to see how moral approaches are best suited for a civil society.
Rafiq R. Ajani
Rafiq R. Ajani is coordinating the Constituency Studies Unit’s Muslim Biomedical Ethics project. He is a graduate of the IIS’s GPISH programme, as well as a recipient of the Doctoral Scholarship programme. His specialisation is in the area of moral philosophy and literature. He is also the module convener for the GPISH course on Law, Ethics and Society.
Cycle 13 of STEP: Secondary Teacher Education Programme begins in London, UK in September 2020.
An information webinar for Canadian prospective candidates is planned as follows. Registration is required.
Thursday, September 5, 2019
STEP Faculty in Canada
Register for the Webinar
Join the webinar to learn about:
The admissions requirements and process
The application requirements and process
The Requirements for ITREB Canada to support your application to the IIS
Other information directly related to Canadian prospective candidates
Are you a graduate who wants to develop your skills to become an inspiring teacher that can nurture and teach students the Institute’s Secondary Curriculum?
An undergraduate degree is required. A B. Ed or IB Teacher certification, French language fluency, Farsi language fluency are assets. IELTS is required if you are not a Canadian national.
New book, Understanding Sharia, receives praise in popular and specialist press around the world
In recent times, there have been a number of misunderstandings and misconceptions around Sharia or Islamic law in both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds. Understanding Sharia: Islamic Law in a Globalised World is helping to bridge this knowledge gap and to make a positive contribution to the much-needed conversations on understanding the origins and evolution of sharia in the context of the history of the Muslim peoples. The authors, Raficq S. Abdulla and Mohamed M. Keshavjee, with a good degree of reason, clarity and understanding, have approached complex topics — from Islamic finance, human rights and corporal punishment, to FGM, crimes of honour, forced marriage, and issues associated with bio-medical ethics. A review by David Gardner, International Affairs Editor of the UK’s Financial Times described Abdulla and Keshavjee’s work as “rich and important” and “lucidly argued and accessibly written.”
The book takes readers on a journey from pre-Islamic Arabia to the present, pointing out that even though less than ten percent of the Qur’an contains verses of a strictly legal nature, there has been a body of law evolving over the course of centuries since the time of the Prophet. In her book review in the South African Mail and Guardian, Zubeida Jaffer, a respected journalist, author and activist wrote: “The book drew me in like I never expected. It allowed me to learn about the ethical underpinnings of sharia flowing from the Qur’an and the myriad of twists and turns the laws took in different countries over the past 1400 years since the birth of Islam. It also helped me understand the interplay between local customary law and Sharia and how adjustments were made to accommodate the good functioning of different societies.”
Throughout the book, the authors raise a number of relevant questions that require thought-provoking and pragmatic debates. One such debate is whether Muslims need to initiate a new approach to an understanding of law combined with ijtihad (reflection and contextualisation in legal matters) in order to fully appreciate and value Sharia’s wider remit in society today. Writing about the book in the ADR Institute of Canada's prestigious Canadian Arbitration and Mediation Journal, Vol. 28, No. 1, Max Blitt, QC, states: “The authors discuss Sharia and human rights and make the point that Islamic scholars working in Western academic institutions of higher learning are able to critique Western notions while developing a human rights discourse from an Islamic point of view which highlights the higher purpose of Sharia (maqasid)... Finally, the authors argue, that Sharia contains a degree of flexibility, supported by doctrines such as maslaha (public interest) maqasid (purpose), and darura (necessity) but emphasize that ongoing interpretation of texts lies at the heart of all religions as well as laws –secular and religious.”
As a purposeful, clear and accessible publication, Understanding Sharia: Islamic Law in a Globalised World, has resonated with a diverse range of audiences across the world. It has received positive reviews and commentary in influential, popular and specialist press, helping to generate conversations about difficult topics whilst situating sharia within the context of the history of the Muslim peoples, as well as within the interfaces between Muslim, Western and other countries today.
To learn more about the book or to read the international reviews in full, visit the publications page.
Academic alliance leads to ground-breaking conference in memory of Wladimir A. Ivanow
Wladimir A. Ivanow (1886–1970), the celebrated Russian academic who paved the way for modern scholarship on Ismaili and Iranian linguistic Studies was the inspiration behind many of the papers presented at the flagship conference entitled Intellectual Traditions of Ismailis and Sufis, held at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Manuscripts in St Petersburg, on 10 - 11 October 2019.
Since the 1930s, Ivanow was the moving force behind the modern progress in Ismaili studies. He devoted his attention to the study of Nizari Ismailis, and to date, his work continues to be the foundation for further studies in almost every major field of Ismailism. Ivanow’s recovery and analysis of previously unavailable Ismaili manuscripts was a major breakthrough in the study of this often-misrepresented Shi‘i Muslim community. He identified, recovered, edited, translated and assiduously studied a good portion of the extant literature related to the Nizari Ismailis.
It was therefore befitting that The Institute of Ismaili Studies partnered with the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts to host this academic conference in honour of Wladimir A. Ivanow. During the two day conference, both Russian and English speaking scholars examined aspects of Sufi and Ismaili traditions and the emergence of rich devotional, literary and artistic expressions as a result of the interactions of these traditions.
Dr Farhad Daftary, Co-Director of IIS, delivered the keynote address and spoke about the importance of the ground-breaking research conducted by Ivanow and its impact on modern day scholars. He remarked:
“Very few fields of Islamic studies have seen so much change in such a short period of time as Ismaili studies. The role of Ivanow was uniquely outstanding in terms of bringing about this change. Through his pioneering research and numerous contributions, the Nizari Ismailis of the Alamut period are no longer judged on the basis of mediaeval Crusader legends. Ivanow not only recovered, collected and published research on Ismaili manuscripts, but he also made these manuscripts available to other scholars, who were becoming interested in this new field of study and wanted to gain new knowledge. Ivanow can truly be regarded as the founder of modern Nizari Ismaili studies – a field that owes its genesis, to a very large extent, to his pioneering work."
In addition to Dr Daftary’s keynote address, a further three scholars from the IIS presented their papers at the conference, sparking positive discussions amongst the academics in attendance. Dr Hakim Elnazarov, Coordinator of the Central Asian Studies Unit at IIS, showcased his research on Sufism and Central Asian Ismailism. His paper traced the ritualistic aspects of the traditional practices of the Central Asian Ismailis back to the pre-Islamic period and how these rituals have taken on Islamic forms, Islamic beliefs and interpretations over time. Dr Janis Esots, Research Associate in IIS’s Shi‘i Studies Unit, presented his paper Wladimir Ivanow on the Relationship of Sufism and Ismailism: The Case of Laʿl Shahbāz Qalandar. Through his case study, Dr Esots explored Ivanow’s interest in Sufism and how he believed that many facets of Sufism could be explained through Ismaili influences. Dr Daryoush Mohammad Poor, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Academic Research and Publications at IIS, presented his work on Nizari Ismailis and Sufis before the Mongol Invasion. In this paper, he made a comparative assessment of the Nizari doctrine of qiyāmat alongside similar views of ʿAyn al-Quḍāt Hamadānī. A close examination of both texts revealed that the almost identical nature of these expositions made it difficult to recognise one from the other.
A number of other interesting research papers were also presented, by Aleksey Khismatulin, from the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, who discussed Devices of Anti-Shia and Anti-Ismaili Ideology in the Administrative Literature of Saljūqs, while Leila Dodykhudoeva from the Institute of Linguistics, presented her paper on the Confessional and Regional Aspects of Meaning of the Term ‘Pir’.
The conference culminated with a book launch of the Russian edition of Wladimir Ivanow’s memoirs entitled, Fifty Years in the East, edited by Dr Farhad Daftary. Fifty Years in the East is a translation and commentary on Ivanow’s memoirs written in 1968. This work, originally written in Russian, comprises of an autobiography and vivid accounts from his travels. The memoirs, written in Tehran during Ivanow’s final years, have been edited with substantial annotations by Dr Daftary. They reveal the circumstances under which modern Ismaili studies were initiated and an eyewitness account of life in several regions during the early decades of the twentieth century, before the rapid onset of modernisation. The memoirs include 60 illustrations of Ivanow’s associates and the places that he visited, as well as a comprehensive bibliography of 160 works by Wladimir A. Ivanow.
Alongside the conference and book launch, an exhibition of photographs related to the life and work of Ivanow was also curated for the delegates at the House of Nationalities in St. Petersburg. Learn more about Fifty Years in the East here.
Sacred spaces come alive in new publication, Beyond the Mosque: Diverse Spaces of Muslim Worship
The second publication in the Institute’s new World of Islam series, Beyond the Mosque: Diverse Spaces of Muslim Worship, is a first person exploration of sacred spaces across the breadth of the Muslim world. The author, Rizwan Mawani, describes how his interactions with both well-known spaces of worship as well as those off-the-beaten-track have religious significance for their Muslim communities, from countries ranging from Senegal to China.
Part travelogue and part anthropological study, this book will appeal to readers interested in lived Islam and Muslim cultures, in travel and architecture, as well as those with an appreciation of the diversity of religious space and practice. In many people’s imagination, the mosque has become synonymous as the site of Muslim piety, just as the church is synonymous with Christianity and the synagogue with Judaism. Mawani, notes:
“Once upon a time, when people thought of Islam, its religious practice, their minds automatically associated Muslim spaces with domes and minarets. Now, architecture, like religious acts, provide avenues in which Muslim communities can give form to their values and beliefs, allowing them to express and articulate them through the spaces they build and use.”
This book broadens the Muslim religious landscape by re-inserting diverse spaces of Muslim worship such as the husayniyya, jamatkhana, khanaqah, and zawiya, among others, into our spectrum of Muslim religious spaces. Mawani introduces us to a variety of spaces, modest and elaborate: their distinct structures, the rituals practised within them, and the purposes they serve as community centres and markers of identity.
The book begins by exploring the mosque’s early history, its use and evolution during Islam’s formative years, moving on to regional and contemporary mosques and their architecture. The author extends his journey and shares his insights into Shi‘i sites of practice and explores spaces used by mystically-inclined and Sufi groups, as well as those who choose to define themselves outside the boundaries of Shi‘i and Sunni Islam. By using space as his entry point, readers are given a window into lesser known places of worship across several countries from Iran and Pakistan to Lebanon and Turkey, as well as contemporary examples from Muslim communities in Europe and North America.
The book highlights the diverse and shared ideals within Muslim communities across borders and buildings and helps readers to reflect on whether spaces of worship and ritual practices can be labelled as representative of Islam, or whether we should be considering a multiplicity of practices that speak to Islam’s regional cultures, gender, geography and traditions.
Beyond the Mosque, is an easy and engaging read with colourful photographs showcasing the plurality of Islam’s living traditions. Commenting on the accessibility of the book, Professor Robert Hillenbrand from St Andrews and Edinburgh Universities remarked:
“This book offers a compelling insight into Muslims’ worship in different kinds of buildings around the world. The author introduces readers to the basic historical, religious and architectural backgrounds, enlivened with eye-opening illustrations. Drawing upon vast first-hand experiences, he outlines in fluent, accessible prose the wonderful variety of sacred rituals and spaces that Islam espouses.”
The ethos of the World of Islam series is to help readers better understand and appreciate the multiple facets and subtle nuances of Islam, as a living faith with many diverse communities of interpretation and traditions, and Islam as a civilisation and of Muslim cultures. The more we understand the beliefs and customs of our global neighbours, as well as our collective past, the greater our chances are of living together harmoniously.
Discussing the ethos of the series, the General Editor, Dr Shainool Jiwa, commented:
“Through this series, we hope to engage and inspire general readership with informed narratives on diverse facets of Muslim life – their history and heritage, culture and beliefs, art, architecture and literature, to link the past and present, and develop an appreciation for the cosmopolitan world of Islam.”
Aimed at general readers, Beyond the Mosque: Diverse Spaces of Muslim Worship is available in paperback, e-book and audio book formats. To learn more about this book, visit the publications page. The next book in the series on Prophet Muhammad and prophecy, will be published in 2020.
New cohorts arriving at IIS will be awarded their MA by world renowned university SOAS
Dr Laila Halani, Head of the Department of Graduate Studies, described what the incoming students can look forward to over the next two years:
“The next two years at the IIS will be an intellectually stimulating and humbling journey which will open up new ways of thinking for our students on STEP and GPISH. The students will benefit from a ‘Connected Curriculum’ approach where faculty, involved in the construction of new knowledge, will make students co-constructionists by engaging students in their research through their teaching”
The Head of Graduate Studies also reminded us that:
“The validation of the MA for both programmes by SOAS University of London, the only higher education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East, recognises IIS’ own invaluable contributions in the field of Islamic Studies and cements a long standing relationship based on shared ethos and research interests”.
STEP prepares students to deliver the Institute’s Secondary Curriculum, which has been specifically developed for the religious and humanities education of Ismaili Muslim children worldwide. Graduates of STEP receive an MA in Muslim Societies and Civilisations, taught at IIS and awarded by SOAS University of London and a PGDip in Teaching and Reflective Practice, awarded by University College London. Having trained as secondary-level teachers, the graduates will go on to take up teaching positions with the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Boards (ITREBs) in their home countries.
New student Altaf Somani, from India, described his aspirations of studying at the IIS, and his first experiences as a STEP student:
“It has always been my ambition to serve the Imam of the Time and the Jamat. Also, it has been my endeavour to take secondary education beyond religious education, to help students develop a critical understanding of their faith and the contemporary world. So, what would be better than shaping the future of our next generation by being a STEP teacher? It is inexplicable how great a feeling it is to be studying at the Aga Khan Centre. , It is most beautifully built, and holds an intellectual institute with people of many different backgrounds and disciplines. One gets to experience pluralism in its real essence here.”
GPISH is a three-year graduate programme, the first two years can act as preparation for a research degree or a stepping stone to a variety of career opportunities. Past graduates have pursued careers in a wide range of fields, including academia, media, education and development. The new GPISH students will be the first cohort to have the first two years of the programme as an MA accredited by SOAS University of London. GPISH continues to be a cutting-edge programme in the field of Islamic Studies and Humanities, while remaining true to the original vision that guided its launch over 25 years ago.
Speaking about her motivation for joining GPISH, new student Anum Ameen Hossain, from the USA, remarked:
“When initially accepted into GPISH, I was extremely excited about the potential career opportunities post graduating as being an AKDN employee is an aspiration that I have eagerly been working towards for some time now. I was also enthusiastic about being able to explore London and to live on a new continent. Over the next few years I aspire to develop myself spiritually and professionally and contribute to the wellbeing of my community. Specifically, I want to decide what field I'd like to work in, and potentially pursue a PhD.”
During their first few weeks at the IIS new students have undertaken Arabic or Persian language courses, to either introduce them to the language or help them to improve their existing proficiency. As part of their introduction to the UK, new students visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Canterbury Cathedral and its medieval town centre. The group also went to Leeds Castle, where they had the opportunity to explore the castle and its extensive grounds.
Applications for GPISH are currently open until 10 January 2020. To learn more, visit the graduate programmes page.
Authority and Plurality in Muslim Legal Traditions: the Case of Ismaili Law
13th November 2019
Aga Khan Centre
10 Handyside Street
Islamic law is often said to be very pluralistic due to its interpretational variations. At the level of sources, however, accounts of Islamic law have generally emphasized the reliance on a set of major ‘roots’ of law, with other lesser sources. This paper discusses on the case of Nizari Ismaili law in historical as well as contemporary terms, elaborating its authority structure, especially the concept of Imamat and role of the Imam, as well as using it to strengthen the case that plurality in Islamic law can and should be extended to a plurality of sources as well as of rules.
In September 2019, 40 new students joined The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) for post-graduate study, arriving from Canada, India, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and the USA. They have embarked on a journey that will expand their horizons, create lifelong friendships, and become part of a global network of alumni that share the unique experience of studying at the IIS. In this photo essay, we meet some of them to learn more about their first impressions and their individual and collective aspirations.
Embarking on a post-graduate degree in a city far from home can be a daunting experience. Students embarking on this journey at the IIS, are often coming to London for the first time, from all corners of the world.
So why have these students chosen to study on the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH) or the Secondary Teachers Education Programme (STEP), so far from home? Here, we learn of the unique experiences that GPISH and STEP offer to students looking to forge a career with an education rooted in an understanding of Islam.
Exhibition in honour of the late Wladimar A. Ivanow in St. Petersburg marks a new phase of progress in Ismaili studies
To mark the advancement of Ismaili studies in the Russian Federation, an exhibition in memory of the great Russian scholar of modern Ismaili studies, Wladimir A. Ivanow, was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 11 October 2019. Dr Farhad Daftary, Co-Director of IIS; Dr Stanislav Prozorov, Head of the Academic Activities at Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, and Alla Dydymova, Advisor to the Director of the House of Nationalities in St. Petersburg, formally inaugurated the exhibition.
The exhibition showcased the outstanding journey of Ivanow’s pursuit for knowledge and his exploration of people of the East, particularly their cultures, religions, architecture, and the advent of modernisation in traditional societies. Through his scholarship, Ivanow eloquently captured these developments, and strongly emphasised the value of Russian scholars studying the Muslim heritage of their Eastern nations.
The exhibition was a visual representation consisting of around 70 images with English and Russian captions that illustrated the life, travels and works of the Russian orientalist. The display included photographs of scholars from diverse backgrounds who influenced Ivanow’s own intellectual development; the places he visited; the sites he studied, and his own handwritten notes in Russian and Persian. The exhibition also presented images of the Aga Khans – as it was the Ismaili Imam, Sultan Mahomed Shah (Aga Khan III), who commissioned Ivanow in 1931 to study the Ismailis on the basis of their own literary heritage.
Representatives from other partner institutions highlighted the importance of celebrating Ivanow’s life and work. In her opening remarks, the Advisor to the Director of the House of Nationalities in St. Petersburg, Alla Dydymova, commented:
“Celebrating the life of the Russian orientalist in the House of Nationalities is timely and remarkable because St. Petersburg is home to various cultures and traditions and the merger of these cultures presents us with an enormous bouquet which we are proud to have in St. Petersburg.”
Andrey Frolov, Member of the Committee on Interethnic Relations and the Implementation of Migration Policy of St. Petersburg remarked:
“The atmosphere in St. Petersburg helped to create a scientific milieu which gave rise to many great scholars, such as Wladimir Ivanow. But now there is a reverse process, where the network of academic institutions, such as the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts are helping St. Petersburg to create dialogue and establish relations with external institutions and harmonise interethnic and inter-confessional relations in new conditions when people from different countries, including Central Asia choose St. Petersburg as their second home”.
Dr Stanislav Prozorov, Head of the Academic Activities at Institute of Oriental Manuscripts began his comments by thanking Dr Farhad Daftary, Co-Director of the IIS, and Dr Hakim Elnazarov, Coordinator of the Central Asian Studies Unit at the IIS for “their reverent and respectful attitude towards the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Russian orientalists.” He further added:
“The Asiatic Museum which was a predecessor of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts was established by the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences to collect, study and propagate the culture and traditions of the people of the East. From the very beginning Russian academia carefully and attentively treated and studied anything which was related to the East. One of the founders of this tradition was Wladimir Alekseevich Ivanow.”
Dr Hakim Elnazarov elaborated on Ivanow’s interest in Eastern culture and traditions, highlighting that:
“Despite his 50 years abroad, Ivanow always remembered his homeland, maintained relations with Russian scholars, wrote his memoirs in Russian and wanted them to be published in Russia. His wish has finally been realised.”
Among other speakers, Davlat Khudonazarov, a renowned cinematographer, public figure and historian, spoke of the origins of the Ismaili Imamat’s relations with Russia, which date back to the early 20th century. He spoke about Imam Sultan Mohamed Shah’s visit to Russia in 1911, his appreciation and patronage of Russian culture and his close relations with Russian artists and the Russian royal family.
The exhibition has received interest from various audiences, from the academic community who are specialists in history or Islamic studies to young Ismaili students studying the IIS primary and secondary curriculum, who came with their parents and teachers to learn about Ivanow and his contributions to Ismaili studies.
Organised by The Institute of Ismaili Studies, the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, the Regional Public Organisation ‘Representatives of the Pamir Diaspora’ and the House of Nationalities in St. Petersburg - this partnership demonstrates the importance and the progress of Nizari Ismaili studies.
IIS now accepting applications for series of short courses
Applications are now open for a series of eight short courses offered by the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) in 2020 as part of its continuing education programme.
The short courses, which are open to members of the Jamat with an undergraduate degree and proficiency in English, are designed to introduce participants to a social, cultural, and civilisational approach to the study of Islam and Muslim societies, with a particular focus on Ismaili contexts.
The courses offer participants an academically rigorous curriculum, accessible resources, and expert faculty members, drawn primarily from the IIS and, where relevant, from external academic institutions.
“This is a learning opportunity open to all members of the Jamat and is particularly relevant to leaders and professionals, teachers, educators, and waezeen working with Ismaili community institutions,” said Dr Farhad Daftary, co-director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies. “We are confident that participation in the IIS Short Courses will be a rewarding and enriching experience.”
Khalil Hashim, a strategy analyst from Dallas who participated in one of the short courses, acknowledged the benefits of an academic understanding of Islam.
“A lot of times we tend to bring our own biases in the way that we’ve been raised and what we’ve learned over time in our various professional and educational settings,” Hashim said. “The ability to step back and take a neutral approach allows you to remove bias from the conversation and I think that’s really helpful when you’re talking to other individuals who may not have the same understanding of our faith.”
Course subjects include Understanding Culture, Introduction to Islam, The Qur’an and its Interpretations, Shari‘a: Development of Fiqh and Ethics in Muslim Contexts, and Exploring Ismaili History.
Shazia Rahim, a teacher in Karachi, said of her experience with the course: “I was mainly interested in Ethics of Islam because that’s what we deal with in daily life. The topic was well-covered; it gave me the paradigms and frameworks to look at different situations and different perspectives.”
For more information, view the IIS Short Course Catalogue 2020:
The Institute of Ismaili Studies is pleased announce the second PhD Seminar.
Since 1997 the IIS has granted 48 Doctoral Scholarships. Out of these 33 of the recipients have already graduated. This seminar aims to bring together most of the IIS Doctoral Scholarship recipients who are still graduate students. The objective is three-fold:
- Presenting: allow the speakers to present their own work in its most up-to-date form;
- Mingling: a chance for all of them to discuss each other’s work and to engage with each other, thus forming a feeling of the IIS PhD “community”; and
- Connecting, in two ways: creating a space where the PhD students can hear about the IIS’s vision and current priorities; and giving a chance to talk about future career plans. To this effect, the Heads of departments and units have been invited to attend, present, and interact with the students.
To attend in person or view the live webcast, please register here
Digital Education Officer- The Institute of Ismaili Studies
Digital Education Officer- The Institute of Ismaili Studies
Located in London, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Digital Education Officer
Salary £35,000 - £39,000 (dependant on experience)
Based London King’s Cross
The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) in London, UK, seeks to recruit a Digital Education Officer to work in the Department of Curriculum Studies. The officer will work on a phased project, beginning with the conversion of existing curriculum materials into ebooks, incorporating in the next phase relevant links, multimedia resources and interactive pedagogy in the ebooks, and progressing towards the development of a Virtual Learning Environment on the Moodle platform, intended for use by teachers, students and parents. The curriculum materials produced by the IIS for the primary and secondary age-groups are based on the study of Islam and the Shia Ismaili tradition, approached from civilisational, humanistic and normative perspectives.
Salary £46,000 to £52,000 (dependent on experience)
Based London King’s Cross
The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) was established in 1977 to promote scholarship and learning about Muslim societies and to encourage a better understanding of their relationships with other cultures and faiths.
The Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities is a three-year postgraduate programme encouraging a perspective on the study of Islam which is not confined to its theological and religious aspects, but seeks to explore the relationship of religious ideas to broader dimensions of society and culture. The first two years are spent at The Institute of Ismaili Studies pursuing a Master’s in Islamic Studies and Humanities (awarded by SOAS University of London) while the third year is spent at an accredited UK university, studying for a Master’s degree of student’s choice. The programme includes intensive Arabic language training with language immersion in an Arabic speaking country, as well as educational field trips to Spain. The programme’s interdisciplinary approach seeks to avoid a division of pertinent disciplines – e.g. history, anthropology, political science, philosophical analysis, linguistic and literary criticism – in the study of Muslim societies, and promotes an approach in which the disciplines are intertwined at their roots.
The IIS invites applications for the role of GPISH Programme Leader. The successful applicant will take responsibility for the day-to-day management of all programmatic activities of GPISH within the IIS and liaise with partner institutions, including SOAS, ISMC (Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations), ITREBs (sister agencies in the field), AKDN (Aga Khan Development Network) agencies, as well as with other areas across and beyond the IIS. With a strong background in both academic and professional leadership – and holding a doctorate in a humanities or social sciences discipline with a specialisation in historical or contemporary aspects of Muslim societies or civilisations - the post holder will support the educational and human resource capacity building goals of GPISH. Holding an excellent record and reputation as a lecturer and researcher, the post holder will have a thorough understanding of the UK Higher Education (HE) system, strong communication skills in working with people at all levels in HE as well as within the community. The post holder will collaborate closely on shared initiatives and programmatic activities with the STEP Programme Leader and train and mentor existing and new staff, offering them requisite support structures.
Advanced qualifications such as a Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education; a course in Higher Education leadership, will constitute a distinct advantage. A background in Islamic Studies and Humanities is essential. Due to UK immigration regulations we can only accept applications from candidates who have a legal right to work in the UK.
Please apply online with CV and covering letter at www.iis.ac.uk (‘Job Vacancies’ link) where you can also download the job description and person specification.
The Central Asian Roots of Islamic Intellectual Traditions - Conference
24th February 2021
Call for Papers
The Institute of Ismaili Studies is delighted to invite proposals for individual papers, or whole panels, for its forthcoming international conference The Central Asian Roots of Islamic Intellectual Traditions. Papers and panels may be proposed by senior and junior scholars.
Conference Dates: 24 - 26 February 2021
Conference Venue: Aga Khan Centre, London, UK
Abstracts Submissions: 30 April 2020 (midnight GMT)
New Publication Explores Intellectual Interactions in the Islamic World
In a well-known Sufi tale, a group of people are trying to describe an elephant in a dark room. Each of them touches a different part of the animal’s body and therefore their opinions differ: one touches the trunk and thinks that the elephant is like a water pipe, another touches the ear and imagines a fan-like animal, the third one touches the leg and is convinced that the elephant resembles a mighty column. Although each of them is right concerning one particular area of the elephant’s body, none of them can actually see the elephant as a whole. Intellectual Interactions in the Islamic World: The Ismaili Thread, edited by Dr Orkhan Mir-Kasimov seeks to focus not only on the complex body of Islamic civilisations, but on the interactions and the links between different groups, in an attempt to better understand the whole.
In the introduction, Dr Orkhan Mir-Kasimov, speaks about the approach taken in this publication:
“The fundamental idea that informs the approach of this volume is that Islamic civilisation is not and has never been a monolith. In fact, it consists of various groups and movements, which, throughout the centuries, have enjoyed complex relationships with each other. These relationships have various aspects – social, political, commercial, spiritual, intellectual, artistic and so on – and every aspect gives us a specific point of view regarding the place of any given group within the whole.”
The intellectual history of the Ismaili traditions of Shi‘i Islam is the central thread around which the fabric of this book is woven. In spite of the impressive progress that Ismaili studies has made in the last few decades, no edited volume has previously systematically addressed the intellectual interactions between the Ismailis and other Islamic groups.
Most of the papers in this publication were originally delivered at the Intellectual Interactions in the Islamic World: The Ismaili Thread conference at the IIS in October 2016. The book is divided into six thematic sections which bring together contributions from different disciplines and areas of Islamic studies, including polemical and doctrinal literature, law, mysticism, rituals and philosophy. Written by some of the foremost scholars in the field, the volume contains chapters which are accessible to readers with a minimal background in Islamic studies, as well as in-depth research papers. The book discusses most of the main Ismaili groups, such as pre-Fatimid Ismailis, Fatimid, Nizari and Tayyibi Ismailis, as well as lesser known and still largely under studied Ismaili traditions such as those associated with the mountain region of Badakhshan in Central Asia. Through the examination of a broad range of primary sources, the volume covers various historical periods and geographies. It contains chapters that address interfaith interactions and syncretism’s, particularly in the Indian subcontinent and in Yemen, alongside interactions reflected in the circulation of books in the Fatimid markets, and various literary and mythical traditions.
As part of the Shi‘i Heritage Series, Intellectual Interactions in the Islamic World: The Ismaili Thread aims to provide a holistic and interdisciplinary perspective of the infinite richness, diversity, and interconnectedness of the intellectual traditions of Islam.
To learn more about the publication, visit the publications page here.
IIS publication on Sharia receives award for outstanding academic title from the American Library Association
At the end of every year, Choice publishes a list of Outstanding Academic Titles that have been reviewed during the previous calendar year. This prestigious list reflects the best in scholarly titles reviewed by Choice and brings with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community.
In reviewing the publication for “Choice 2019 Outstanding Academic Title,” L. J. Alderink, Emeritus Professor, Concordia College, who was part of the awarding committee said of the publication:
“This collection appears at an opportune time, a time when the societies that produced Islamic jurisprudence have given way to secular, modern nation-states with their institutions, boundaries, passports, and, above all, coercive power. The book, as a whole, argues against the views that Shariʽa is a state function to regulate the behaviour of a populace or that Shariʽa is divine law that is uniform across Muslim societies.
In the introduction, Sajoo states that the theme that runs throughout the volume is that Shariʽa is ‘the good life as a daily pursuit … an ongoing human quest to grasp the substance of divine guidance in the conduct of devotional, social, and economic life, including how one relates to the natural environment.’ The contributors discuss, among other things, the foundations of Shariʽa, ethical theory and practice, spiritual refinement, gender equality, finance, bioethics, and Muslim societies in Ottoman Turkey, democratic Indonesia, and the West. Each essay includes helpful suggestions for further reading. This book opens the way to a new inquiry: Shariʽa as the linking of divine will and human good. It makes for excellent reading and thinking.”
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