The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) was established in 1977 as an academic institution of higher education dedicated to the study of Islam, with a particular focus on its Ismaili and broader Shi‘i traditions. A core part of our mission is to preserve and study the intellectual and literary heritage of these traditions. We harness the extensive expertise of our own scholars as well as those of partner institutions to foster collaborative research and to identify and address pressing ethical and intellectual questions faced by Muslim communities around the world.
Our programmes are informed by the full range and diversity of cultures and geographic regions in which Islam is practised today. This civilisational approach to the study of Islam is part of a tradition of seeking knowledge that encompasses a wide breadth of disciplines, from the humanities and social sciences to Islamic theology, jurisprudence and the study of the Qur’an and its commentaries through the ages. Over time we have gained an international reputation as a leading reference point for Ismaili studies. Our specialist units work in areas as diverse as Shi‘i and Qur’anic studies, and Central and South Asian studies.
We publish original academic works by our own scholars and external academics, in keeping with the themes of our research mandate. Our publications embrace a multiplicity of approaches, disciplines, expressions and interpretations of Islam and Muslim cultures.
Our research and education mission is supported by a magnificent collection of rare manuscripts, coins, artefacts, photographs and audio-visual archives in the Ismaili Special Collections Unit, as well as the printed collections in the Aga Khan Library, London. The preservation and study of items that elucidate the heritage of Ismaili communities is an integral part of our work. These manuscript and rare book collections are in the process of being made more accessible via a programme of digitisation.
We offer two master’s-level taught programmes: the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH) and the Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP). Our graduate programmes, as well as our range of short courses, doctoral scholarships and fellowships, bring together Ismaili and other students from diverse cultural and social backgrounds globally, creating a thriving environment for learning.
We respond to the educational needs of an increasingly dynamic and globalised Ismaili community by developing and producing early childhood, primary and secondary curricula materials, and training future scholars, teachers and leaders.