New Publication: A Survey of Ismaili Studies (Part 1) by Khalil Andani

Khalil Andani’s latest article is published on Religion Compass, a peer reviewed journal. This article is the first critical survey of Ismaili studies scholarship over the last 80 years. The article is intended to introduce students and professors to the study of the Ismaili Muslims and summarizes the findings of the key research to date.

A Survey of Ismaili Studies Part 1: Early Ismailism and Fatimid Ismailism

Abstract: This article discusses the major scholarly developments in the study of Ismaili Muslim history and thought. Scholarship on the Ismailis, the second largest branch of Shi‘i Islam, once relied on hostile depictions produced by their adversaries. With the recovery of more primary sources over the last several decades, Ismaili studies is now progressing at a rapid pace. The Ismaili movement originated from a schism in the Imami Shi‘i community over the succession to Ja‘far al-Sadiq, the fifth Shi‘i Imam. The Ismailis upheld the succession rights of al-Sadiq’s son and designated heir, Isma‘il, and his lineal descendants. The earliest Ismailis directed a revolutionary da‘wah in the ninth century and established the Fatimid Caliphate (909-1171). Ismaili doctrine during these periods evolved from a gnostic cosmology into a Neoplatonic metaphysics. It also featured cyclical conceptions of Prophethood and Imamat and stressed the distinction between the exoteric (zahir) and esoteric (batin) dimensions of Islam. Major scholarly debates and thematic areas in the study of the pre-Fatimid and Fatimid periods of Ismaili history pertain to the doctrinal character of early Imami Shi‘ism, Ismaili historiography, the origins of the earliest Ismailis, the emergence of the Ismaili da‘wah, the earliest Ismaili conceptions of Imamat, the different facets of Fatimid rule, the genealogy of the Fatimid Imam-Caliphs, and the philosophical dimensions of Fatimid Ismaili thought.

The article can be accessed at the journal link below for those who have instititutional access.

Khalil AndaniKhalil 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 (MTS 2014), specializing in Islamic philosophy and Ismaili thought, from Harvard University.

Khalil’s publications include a book chapter on Nasir-i Khusraw’s philosophical thought in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy, two articles on Ismaili Philosophy in Sacred Web, and an article on Ismaili views of the Crucifixion of Jesus in The Matheson Trust.

He was recently interviewed on CBC Radio about the Aga Khan Museum. He is also a Chartered Professional Accountant (CA-CPA) and has completed Bachelor of Mathematics (BMath) and Master of Accounting degrees at the University of Waterloo (2008). Over the last few years, Khalil has been invited to deliver several guest lectures and conference presentations on various topics pertaining to Islamic thought and Ismaili philosophy.


Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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