Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III was known and revered as the 48th hereditary Imam of the Isma‘ili Muslims. He was also an important Muslim reformer who championed the cause of socioeconomic progress and the status of women. His politico-religious career was marked by a prominent position in international affairs and dedication toward the advancement of education among Muslims. As a prominent Muslim leader, Aga Khan III favored a “this-worldly” interpretation of Islam, inspired by ethico-religious principles. His interpretive tendency was also influenced by the Sufi concept of wahdat al-wujud. A closer examination of Aga Khan III’s legacy and efforts further contribute to understanding the broader Muslim reformist debates of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Read more at the source: Shi‘a Isma‘ilis, Aga Khan III, and the Broader Discourse for Islamic Reform
Sahir Dewji received his Ph.D. from Wilfrid Laurier University in Religious Studies, specializing in Islam in North America. His dissertation entitled Beyond Muslim Xenophobia and Contemporary Parochialism: Aga Khan IV, the Ismailis, and the making of a Cosmopolitan Ethic situates the Aga Khan’s cosmopolitan ethic within a broader theme of human connectivity and understanding ‘the Other.’
His research demonstrates how key initiatives of Aga Khan IV promote a cosmopolitan ethic, helping to foster a moral sensibility among the Ismailis and communities at large and how this concept is manifested within three institutions of the Imamate in Canada.
He received the SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship for his research. Sahir also holds an M.A. from Harvard University specializing in the History and Culture of the Islamic world, with a focus on the study of Indo-Muslim Culture. Sahir has also completed the Graduate Program in Islamic Studies and Humanities from the Institute of Ismaili Studies and holds a B.Sc. from the University of Waterloo.
Sahir’s publications include an article in the Studies in Religion Journal, entitled The Aga Khan’s Discourse of Applied Pluralism: Converging the “Religious” and the “Secular” and a book chapter entitled Being Ismaili in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Identity Maintenance among Gujarati Ismailis in Kinshasa. Sahir’s broader interests lie in the study of Ismaili ethics and history as well as Muslim identity and expressions in the North American context.