Pir Sadr al-Din devised the Khojki script to preserve the community’s sacred literature

Ginan Mal Khajina
Khojki manuscript of the Ginan Eji Mal Khajina copied in 1877 by Bhisan Ratan (Image: The Institute of Ismaili Studies)

According to Ismaili tradition, Pir Sadr al-Din devised the Khojki script as a vehicle for preserving the community’s sacred literature. The script was used almost exclusively by the Ismaili community of the Indian subcontinent. The earliest Khojki manuscripts include works written in diverse languages: Sindhi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Urdu-Hindi, Arabic, Persian, and Gujarati.

The majority of the several hundred Khojki manuscripts that have survived contain Ginan literature (the term ginan is believed to derive from the Sanskrit jnan or ‘knowledge’). The Ginans are a vast corpus consisting of several hundred hymns or religious lyrics which have been a central part of religious life of the Nizari Ismaili community in the Indian subcontinent. They are attributed to Pirs and Sayyids, and were most likely composed from the twelfth century onwards. The Institute of Ismaili Studies has one of the largest collections of Khojki manuscripts in the world.

This manuscript is of the Ginan Eji Mal Khajina composed by Sayyid Ghulam ‘Ali Shah, who was a descendant of Pir Hasan Kabir al-Din through his son Rahmat Allah Shah, a prominent eighteenth century Ismaili dignitary. “Hailing from a distinguished family known as the Kadiwala Sayyids, Sayyid Ghulam ‘Ali Shah continued his ancestors’ exemplary service in the cause of the Ismaili imams. He seems to have been accompanied in this endeavour by his talented wife, Ajan Bibi, and perhaps by a daughter, in whose hand a few Ismaili works are preserved in Khojki manuscript in the possession of the Library.”*

*Eji Mal Khajina, Khojki Manuscripts, The Institute of Ismaili Studies
Manuscript covers, The Institute of Ismaili Studies

Compiled by Nimira Dewji

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