As part of the New-England Maritimes Regions American Academy of Religion Conference (NEMAAR), Khalil Andani will deliver a conference presentation on the theological views of Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III.
Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III (1878-1957) is well known for a number of reasons: his spiritual leadership as the hereditary Imam of the Nizari Isma‘ili Muslims; his role as a Muslim leader through his involvement in Pakistan’s independence movement; and his international political career which culminated in his being President of the League of Nations. However, there has been less attention given to his theological and philosophical views and his role as a Muslim thinker. This study explores the Aga Khan’s theological views on the concepts of God, Creation, Spirit, Soul, and Nature as presented in his public speeches, interviews, and writings.
The study argues that the Aga Khan’s theological views, as articulated in his Memoirs and other public writings, constitute a synthesis of the Sufi concept of wahdat al-wujud (from Ibn al-‘Arabi and his interpreters) and Fatimid Isma‘ili Neoplatonic ideas (of Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani and Nasir-i Khusraw) which he employs in response to certain Western theological concepts that were prominent in his lifetime such as pantheism and deism. In particular, the Aga Khan’s concept of God as “Monoreality” and the Universe as a reflection of God follows Ibn al-‘Arabi’s doctrine of God as Absolute Being – what later became known as wahdat al-wujud. His metaphysical ideas – of Creation as the continuous manifestation of God’s Will, God’s creative power as the “womb” or “matrix” for all existents, the Universal or Holy Spirit as the intelligent source of the laws of nature and spiritual illumination and the Universal Soul as an all-pervading spiritual reality that sustains and embraces the Universe – resembles the Neoplatonic concepts of the Universal Intellect and Universal Soul from Fatimid Ismaili thought and the Akbarian doctrines of the All-Merciful Breath and the renewal of creation. Thus, the Aga Khan’s theological views draw upon the rich intellectual heritage of Fatimid Ismaili philosophy and Akbarian Sufi mysticism.
Khalil Andani – https://www.khalilandani.com – is Ph.D candidate (ABD) and an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow (2014-2019) at Harvard University studying Muslim intellectual history with a focus on Islamic theology, philosophy, and mysticism. His dissertation in progress focuses on how Muslims understand the nature and revelation of the Qur’an, with special attention to the concepts of scripture (kitab), revelatory inspiration (wahy), and hermeneutics in the Qur’an, classical Sunni exegesis (tafsir), classical Sunni kalam theology, and Shi’i Ismaili thought. His focus area in Ismaili thought is the theology and philosophy of Nasir-i Khusraw (d. ca. 1088).
His publications include articles in the Oxford Journal of Islamic Studies, Religion Compass, The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy, forthcoming chapters in A Guide to Sufi Literature and Global-Critical Philosophy of Religion, and two articles in Sacred Web. He has also taught several courses in Islamic studies and religious studies as a Graduate Teaching Fellow. His recent conference papers and academic talks are featured on his Research Blog.
Khalil holds a Master of Theological Studies degree (2014), specializing in Islamic philosophy and Ismaili thought, from Harvard University. He is Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and articled with KPMG Canada and also completed Bachelor of Mathematics (BMath) and Master of Accounting degrees at the University of Waterloo (2008).
- Khalil Andani: Video- Ismailism as a Scholarly Category in Islamic Studies Shi’i Studies Symposium 2018 Chicago
- Khalil Andani- Ismaili Interpretations of Shariah: Between Affirmation and Abrogation
- UChicago Shi’i Studies Group Symposium: Sectarian Identity and Community Formation in Islam- Oct 26-27, 2018
- Khalil Andani’s Paper on Nasir Khusraw & Shahrastani at Iranian Studies Conference
- Harvard & IIS scholars present on Nizari Ismaili Thought at Iranian Studies Conference
- Khalil Andani – Teaching and Learning Guide on Ismaili Muslim History and Thought
- Khalil Andani Reviews “Beyond the Qur’an” by David Hollenberg
- Khalil Andani Presents on Ismaili Hermeneutics (Ta’wil) at Quranic Studies Conference
- New Publication: Al-Ghazālī’s Appropriation of Ismaʿili Cosmology by Khalil Andani
- Branches of Shia Islam: Ismailis, Twelvers, and Bohras
- 60 Years of Muslim Leadership: The Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee
- Understanding Ismaili Muslim Theology and Practice
- A Brief History of Ismaili Muslims
- “The Speaking Qur’an: Revelation in Sunni & Shia Islam” – Academic Lecture by Khalil Andani at UT Austin – Friday April 7
- New Publication: A Survey of Ismaili Studies (Part 2) by Khalil Andani
- Khalil Andani Published in the Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy
- New Publication: A Survey of Ismaili Studies (Part 1) by Khalil Andani
- Khalil Andani & Shiraz Hajiani to organize Ismaili Studies Panels at 2016 MESA Conference in Boston
- Harvard Islam Course (Day 7): Sufi & Ismaili Esoteric Interpretation of the Qur’an and Islamic Art
- Harvard Course on Islam: Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad, Shi’a Muslim Tafsir and Muslim Devotion
- Khalil Andani Presents on the Ismaili Ta’wil of Hajj at 2016 Medieval Congress
- Khalil Andani and Faraz Alidina to present on “Modern Ismaili Imamat” at the American Academy of Religion Conference in Boston
- Khalil Andani’s Review of Amir-Moezzi, The Divine Guide in Early Shi’ism
- Event – April 1 | Islamic Studies at Harvard University: Khalil Andani’s Presentation: “From Divine Word to Prophetic Word: Revelation in the Thought of Nasir-i Khusraw”
- Event: March 21 | Boston College School of Theology | Khalil Andani: Shared Theologies between Islam and Christianity
- Event – February 26 | University of Toronto – Ismaili Influence on al-Ghazali: Khalil Andani’s Presentation
- The Neoplatonic Qur’anic Exegesis of Nāṣir-i Khusraw – Khalil Andani’s Presentation at MESA 2014 Conference in Washington, DC
- Khalil Andani’s Presentation in Chicago: Revelation in the Thought of Nasir-i Khusraw
- Scholars from IIS, Harvard, and Indiana host panels on Ismaili History and Philosophy at MESA 2014
- Khalil Andani’s Upcoming Presentation in Chicago: The Theology of Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III
- Event – Monorealism: The Theology of Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III by Khalil Andani
- Khalil Andani’s Presentation on the Delegation of Ismaili Imamat: Esoteric Thought in Physical Form
- Khalil Andani’s Presentation on the concept of Tawhid in the Isma’ili & Sufi Thought, at the University of Toronto
- Book Review by Khalil Andani: Pearls of Persia: The Philosophical Poetry of Nāṣir-i Khusraw
- IIS Scholars and Khalil Andani present papers on Isma’ili history/thought at 2013 MESA Annual Meeting
- Ismailis: An Understudied Minority | A Little View of the World
- Isma’ili Muslim Thought on Knowledge (‘ilm)
- Video: The Concept of Knowledge (‘ilm) in Nasir-i Khusraw’s Philosophy, by Khalil Andani
- Attend Khalil Andani’s Presentation at University of Toronto: The Concept of Knowledge (‘ilm) according to Nasir-i Khusraw
- Visions of Jesus in Esoteric Islam: Shi‘i Isma‘ili Christology: A Student Presentation and Discussion Forum at Harvard Divinity School
- Video: Presentation on the Isma‘ili Thought of Nasir-i Khusraw by Khalil Andani
- The Metaphysics of the Common Word: A Dialogue of Eckhartian and Isma’ili Gnosis Part Two: Intellectual and Emanative Reality, by Khalil Andani
- Sacred Web Journals – Article by Khalil Andani: The Metaphysics of the Common Word: A Dialogue of Eckhartian and Isma’ili Gnosis