Reports from First Ever Ismaili Studies Conference at University of Chicago — Ismaili Gnosis com

Reports and pictures from first ever Ismaili Studies Conference at University of Chicago. Full program of presentation topics is available at the link above. It is recommended that the commentary below be read with the program.


  The handout from a presentation and the Ismaili Studies notebook

The handout from a presentation and the Ismaili Studies notebook

Day 1: Thursday, October 16, 2014


We have several Ismailis here from Canada and USA – including a contingent of STEP teachers from USA, several senior ITREB scholars and wa’zin/missionaries from Canada, IIS scholars, scholars from the Bohra Ismaili community, and members of the academic community.

There are about 150+ people here and they have come from as far as Japan and India.

9:24 AM: Tahera Qutbuddin, Professor of Arabic literature at UChicago is giving her opening address.

9:25 AM: She says that when she studied Arabic literature in Cairo, Fatimid literature was barely covered and dismissed as “heresy”.

9:37 AM: She is now stressing that Ismaili sources must be studied and looked at on their own terms and not through the lenses of their enemies.

10:48 AM: Shumaila Hemani just ended her presentation on the Ismaili Bands with a video clip of Mawlana Hazar Imam in the 1960s arriving in East Africa.

10:52 AM: Now Karim Tharani is talking about University of Saskatchewan’s collecting Ismaili Ginanic literature and the challenges of obtaining Ginanic literature.

11:07 AM: Ginan collection website built by Karim Tharani:

11:49 AM: Now we have Paul Walker speaking about Fatimid Ismaili manuscripts

Lunch Break

1:36 PM: Lunch break is over and the next panel is beginning:

2:10 PM – Warm moment when audience members at Conference start singing along with the Ginan that Karim Gillani plays on the sound system. Karim’s presentation looked at the cultural context of the Ginans and their distinctive tunes.




Day 2: Friday, October 17, 2014


9:20 AM: Shainool Jiwa is speaking about Fatimid governance and its inclusiveness with respect to other religious communities – will be looking at how Fatimid governance was articulated and evolved over the course of their rule.

9:22 AM: The Fatimid investiture was rooted in the divinely-ordained sequence of Prophets and Imams – the allegiance to the Imam as God’s representative on earth was incumbent for the believers. The Imam is authoritative in law and doctrine. The ‘Abbasids sought to realize a similar model but Sunni consensus agreed that the ‘ulama (scholars) not the ‘Abbasid Caliph who had religious authority. Only the Fatimids realized a model of governance where religious and temporal authority is held by the Caliph-Imam.

9:37 AM: “Universal authority remained the rasion d’etre of Fatimid rule”

9:36 AM: Basically Fatimid rule and admin evolved over time from being exclusivist to universalist and pluralist – even still maintaining the universality of the Fatimid Imam’s spiritual and temporal authority.

9:39 AM: The Imam al-Muizz issued a document called the Amaan document that guarantees protection for all Fatimid subjects, especially religious minorities. This document reflects the policies of the Prophet Muhammad in his own time. The Amaan offers a unifying vision of Islam in which ALL traditions – Shia, Sunni, various madhabs, Jews, Christians etc. – are free to practice their interpretations of faith.

9:50 AM: The next paper by Rachel Howes is about how the Ismaili community perceived and dealt with the political and social crisis in Cairo – in the mid 11th century when there was social unrest and a famine. It was also the time when Badr al-Jamali came to put things in order but also effectively took over power over the Fatimid state. Howes refers to Fatimid Majalis literature of al-Mu’ayyad al-Shirazi and al-Maliji – teaching sermons delivered to Ismailis in the Fatimid palace.



Also visit  Teaching Islam com  for detail, report, photos and more

Ismaili conference in chicago University

 Almost all Participants in the Group Photo



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