Lit. ‘elder.’ (like the Arabic shaykh). Spiritual director (=murshid), who may be the founder of a Sufi tariqa. The earliest Qasim Shahi Imams were referred to as pirs. In the post-Alamut period, the term designated the local leaders of Nizari communities, some of whom had a hereditary position (as in Afghanistan, Badakhshan and elsewhere in Central Asia). In Indian (Satpanth) Ismailism, the pirs are the figures who led the Khoja community (from at least the 13th until the 19th centuries) and to whom the ginans are ascribed.