Articles

The Function of Asbab al-Nuzul in Qur’anic Exegesis This paper presents the extensive and in-depth research of Professor Andrew Rippin on the function of asbab in Qur’anic exegesis. His intention is to answer some very specific questions such as whether sabab (plural asbab) provide history or strict exegesis. In order to hone in on the subject...
Governing Diverse Communities: A Medieval Muslim Illustration The unfolding of the recent, people-led demonstrations across the Middle East brings to the fore the perennial question of what constitutes good governance and how the quest for good order is to be fulfilled. One way to respond to this question is to examine models of authority and leadership...
Avicenna on Matter, The Disobedience of Matter and Evil: Reconciling Metaphysical Stances and Qur’anic Perspective Avicenna generally believed in the traditional Aristotelian analysis of existents divided into the constituent elements of matter (madda) and form (sura) which are joined together to form the substance, which Aristotle called ousia. Avicenna even adopts the Aristotelian definition of substance...
Whose Memory? Re-thinking Orientalist and Occidental Conceptualisations of ‘Islamic Art’. In this reflective piece the author utilises a quote by cultural historian James Clifford to deconstruct the orientalist bias in museums when curating exhibitions of ‘Islamic Art’. He asks important questions about the generic term ‘Islamic art,’ and how narrow or broad this is in scope....
Husayn B. ‘Ali: Life and Significance in Shi‘ism According to most reports Husayn b. ‘Ali was born on 5 Sha‘ban 4/10 January 626 CE; another report mentions the middle of Jomada al-awwal 6/beginning of October 627 CE as his date of birth.
Eternal Cosmos and the Womb of History: Time in Early Ismaili Thought In this article the author grapples with theories of Time in Classical Theology. From this wide lens, he narrows the study down to how Time is presented generally in Muslim thought, and specifically in early Ismaili thought, drawing comparisons between Abu Bakr al-Razi, Abu Hatim al-Razi,...
Historical representations of a Fatimid Imam-caliph: Exploring al-Maqrizi’s and Idris’ writings on al-Mu‘izz Li Din Allah It is a happenstance of history that the two most comprehensive extant sources on the Fatimid era (909-1171 CE) were composed by two 15th Century scholars: Taqi al-Din Ahmad b. Ali al-Maqrizi (d.1449 CE) and ‘Imad al-Din ldris (d.1468 CE). Although they composed their works almost three...
The Sacred Music of Islam: Sama‘ in the Persian Sufi tradition The creation of a specific liturgy, composed of prayer, litanies, singing, music and sometimes dance, known as Sama‘, integrating music into the practice of meditation, is an important aspect of the contemplative life in Muslim Sufism. The essay explores the basic theological and mystical...
Zaydiyya Zaydiyya is a branch of the Shi‘a arising out of the abortive revolt of Zayd b. ‘Ali b. al-Husayn in Kufa in 122 AH / 740 CE. During the preparations for the revolt, a part of the Kufan Shi‘a withdrew their support from Zayd in protest against his refusal to condemn unconditionally the early...
‘Ayn al-Qudat Al-Hamadani ‘Ayn al-Qudat Al-Hamadani, Abu ’l-Ma‘ali ‘Abdallah [or Muhammad] b. Abi Bakr Muhammad b. [Abi ’l-Hasan] ‘Ali b. al-Hasan b. ‘Ali al-Mayanaji [or al-Miyanaji] was an influential Sufi and important author of original works on mystical theology and spiritual practice in both Arabic and Persian;...
Khaki Khurasani Khaki Khurasani, Imamquli, Isma'ili poet and preacher of 17th-century Persia (b. Dizbad; d. Dizbad, after 1056 AH / 1646 CE). He was born in Dizbad, a village in the hills half way between Mashhad and Nishapur, which at the time was the largest dwelling place of the Isma'ilis of northern...
The Ismaili Vocabulary of Creation It has been noted by several authors that classical Greek philosophers operated under the fundamental assumption that the universe consisted of only two realms - the intelligible and the sensible.[i] Many of their philosophical speculations moreover were ultimately based on an attempt to...
The Shi‘a Ismaili Muslims: An Historical Context In this article Professor Azim Nanji provides a brief overview of the history of Islam, tracing the origins of the Shi‘a and the Sunni perspectives. Within this context, we learn of the emergence of Shi‘a Ismaili Muslims and their history, from the foundation of the Ismaili Fatimid caliphate...
Ethics in Action: The Role of Waqf in Early Muslim Society In this article the author references certain key hadiths of Prophet Muhammad, Qur’anic verses and examples from the Prophet’s sunna to highlight the importance in Islam of an ethical standpoint in all walks of life including giving charity, helping the poor and needy, and aiding those who are...
The Sources of Ismaili Law This paper was delivered at the Congress of the American Oriental Society in Santa Barbara in March 1974. In it, Wilferd Madelung presents his exhaustive research into the origins and sources of a monumental document that was considered lost to history; the Kitab al-idah, Qadi al-Nu‘man's...
Contemplation and Nature in the Perspective of Sufism In this article, the author examines the idea of contemplation as a state of being in its own right. He discusses esoteric understandings, particularly in the Sufi cosmology, of Reality and Being, in order to get to the heart of the act of contemplation.   In this regard, the author highlights...
Pluralism and the Qur’an Dr. Shah-Kazemi opens this article with the narration of Prophet Muhammad’s invitation to a group of Christians in 631 CE to perform their rites in his own mosque. This remarkable event was reported by Ibn Ishaq and others. As Dr Shah-Kazemi says “one observes here a perfect example of how...
Pundits, Pachyderms and Pluralism: The Never-ending Debate on Multiculturalism The word ‘multiculturalism’ was coined in the early 1970s, from which time various pundits worldwide have given it differing, often contradictory, interpretations; based on their own socio-cultural contexts. Similar to Rumi’s elephant in the dark house, the pachyderm of the title was...
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and Astronomy This article provides a short informative history of Nasir al-Din Tusi’s life, education and works. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi’s contribution to the post-13th century intellectual history of Islam is monumental, and many of his works became the standard in a variety of disciplines up to modern times...