Dr. Jalaledin Ebrahim’s book review of Daryoush Mohammad Poor’s Authority without Territory: The Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili Imamate (Literatures and Cultures of the Islamic World) ISBN-13: 978-1137428790.
For anyone even dimly interested in Progressive Islam and the hopeful sign of things to come in contemporary Islam, this is a must read in-depth “integral” examination by Dr. Daryoush Mohammad Poor of a contemporary Muslim religious leader, His Highness the Aga Khan. Mohammad Poor elaborates, with a breadth and depth of detail, the mission of “transmutation” of the Living Imam, the 49th lineal descendant of the Prophet of Islam – as a charismatic person of religious authority within the context of Shia Islam – to an institutionalized office of Imamate that has, over the past 50 years, been receiving increasing diplomatic and official recognition by the governments of Western, Asian and African secular states for its exemplary humanitarian and philanthropic contributions, embodying “a cosmopolitan ethic”. Mohammad Poor provides profound insider insights and observations on the work of the Aga Khan Development Network, a global NGO which, through a unique model of private/public partnership in Civil Society, exemplifies the underlying ethical framework and social conscience of progressive Islam. The author examines the leadership style of the Imam within the context of Max Weber’s models of ideal-typical leadership, a framework which he finds inadequate to explain the hybrid leadership approach warranted by the Imamate’s commitments to its own “charismatic” community of interpretation and to the world in which these widely-dispersed transnational minority Muslim communities live and thrive. If you are wondering whether there is any hope that Islam still has a profound global and transformative contribution to make, this would be required reading for the scholar of Islam, serious Islamophile and concerned Islamophobe as well as the general lay public.
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