Have you ever heard of the Ismaili’s? If so, do you understand their place within Islam? If your answer is yes to each of these questions you can be considered within the minority in the West. A fact which I consider mind boggling, especially when coupled with the knowledge that they constitute the second largest Shi’a community, after the Twelvers, in the Islamic world. Although this figure translates to under 10% of the world’s Shi’ite population, that still constitutes over 15 million people. Although not having had political leadership of a state since the 13th century they can be found within 20 countries across the globe and continue to have political and religious significance. The reason for their anonymity may have been understood if they remained confined to one area, however, they can be seen across the modern world as substantial and integral communities within over twenty countries.
With the animosity and misrepresentation which have been shown, it is no wonder the community have remained on the side lines of political significance, since the 13th century. Able to survive peacefully as a community only through relative obscurity. Although, not necessarily at the forefront of contemporary Islamic issues, their blighted history makes for fascinating study and their continued misinterpretation or omission from the consciousness of modern scholarship only enhances that interest.
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