Keywords: Modernity, Spirituality, Nature of religious language, Faith, Ideology, Intellect, Formative period, Islam, Interdisciplinary convergence, religious studies, Islamic studies, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, ITREB.


Institutions stand to benefit from a periodic inquiry into, and review of their essential purpose and mission. In the Muslim context, as in that of the other kindred religions, modernity compels a renewal analysis of the place of religious belief and imagination in society. In outlining this analysis, the author explores the nature of religious language, elaborates a distinction between faith and ideology, and considers the relation of intellectual life to these issues. He illustrates these points through the example of Islamic history. After making a case for re-thinking the premises of Islamic historic research, he defines the possible contribution of an institution like the IIS to this endeavour. Lastly, the article describes, in brief, some of the concrete programmes envisaged or in existence at the IIS at the time of its writing.

This is an edited version of an article that appeared in The Ismaili, UK Supplement No. 1, pp. 1-8 in July 1992.