Keywords: History, Past, Present, Future, Facts, Interpretations, Identity, Community.
Abstract: In this short but important article, the author asks the question "What is History?" and how does the study of history benefit a community at a particular time? By moving beyond a definition of history as simply facts about the past, the essay attempts to show how interpretation and the historian themselves affect the writing of history.
The essay concludes with an attempt to show the value of history in the lives of a community and how history itself helps to foster a sense of understanding and identity.
In a few places, the author appeals to the experience of the Ismaili communities as the article had been solicited by an Ismaili magazine. More generally, he quotes examples from Islamic history. But these references are illustrative rather than primary, and the aim of the article is to illuminate the significance of all history as such, and the issues of interest and concern to all historians who reflect systematically on their craft.