Taj al-Din Abu l-Fath Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Karim al-Shahrastani (1086-1153), i.e. “Shahrastani”, was the famed author of the famous Muslim doxography titled al-Milal wa l-Nihal and regarded as a foremost Sunni Ash‘ari theologian with Shi‘i sympathies. But a great deal of research over the last few decades by Jalali Na’ini, Danish-Pazuh, Monnot, Madelung, Steigerwald, and Mayer has succeeded in demonstrating how Shahrastani in fact adhered to and expounded several theological, philosophical, and hermeneutical positions that match contemporary Ismaili theology and doctrine.
Whatever his precise religious affiliation, Shahrastani must have acquired knowledge of the Ismaili doctrines presented in his own writings from somewhere. My paper is a contribution to this question: I submit that Shahrastani derived his knowledge of Ismaili doctrine in large part from the writings of Nasir-i Khusraw (d. ca. 1070-1088), the eleventh century Persian Ismaili chief da‘i of Khurasan and Badakhshan.
Khalil Andani 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).