Saturday May 3, 2:00 – 3:20, at University of Chicago. Open for public.
As part of the 2014 MEHAT (Middle East History and Theory) Conference at University of Chicago, Khalil Andani will deliver a 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 is a doctoral (Ph.D) candidate specializing in Islamic intellectual history, theology, philosophy, and mysticism at Harvard University and holds a Master of Theological Studies degree (2014), specializing in Islamic philosophy and Ismaili thought, from Harvard University. He is also a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and completed Bachelor of Mathematics (BMath) and Master of Accounting degrees at the University of Waterloo (2008). Khalil’s publications include a book chapter on Nasir-i Khusraw’s philosophical thought in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy and articles in Sacred Web, and The Matheson Trust. Over the last few years, Khalil has been invited to deliver several guest lectures and conference presentations on various topics in Islamic philosophy, theology and mysticism at Harvard University (SCT 2013, HDS 2014), University of Toronto (Christology Symposium, NMCGSA 2013, NMCGSA 2014), University of Chicago (MEHAT 2013, MEHAT 2014), Carleton University, the American Academy of Religion (Midwest AAR 2014, NEMAAR 2014), and the Middle East Studies Association 2013. He can be contacted at Khalil_Andani@mail.harvard.edu
All related: https://ismailimail.wordpress.com/tag/khalil-andani/