Keywords: Nasir Khusraw, Abu Ya'qub al-Sijistani, al-Mu'ayyad fi'l-din Shirazi, Ismailism
Abstract: This overview article on Ismailism focuses on some of the key concepts, underlying the Ismaili interpretation of Islam governing Ismaili beliefs. The article starts off with a brief historical background. It touches upon the da'wa activities and some of the challenging circumstances under which it operated.
The early literature of the Ismailis is preserved in Arabic and then Persian languages. Some of the major works of the more prominent dai's such as Abu Ya'qub al-Sijistani, al-Mu'ayyad fi'l-din Shirazi and Nasir Krushaw are discussed in some detail in the article.
Ismailism is a part of the Shi'ite branch of Islam whose adherents constitute at present a small minority within the wider Muslim ummah. It refers in particular to the Muslims as a religious community. They live in over twenty-five different countries, including Afghanistan, East Africa, India, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, the United Kingdom, North America, and also parts of China and the Soviet Union.
Professor Azim Nanji serves currently as Special Advisor to the Provost at the Aga Khan University. Most recently he served as Senior Associate Director of the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University 2008-2010 and also lectured on Islam in the Department of Religious Studies. He was previously the of Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies from 1998 - 2008.