Dr Omar Alí-de-Unzaga, Academic Co-ordinator of Qur’anic Studies, was recently interviewed for ‘Belief in a Golden Age’, a two-part series broadcast on the BBC World Service’s Heart and Soul programme. The series focused on Baghdad during its high point in the eighth and ninth centuries, when it was the capital city of the ‘Abbasid caliphate.
IIS and the British Museum co-sponsored the conference, People of the Prophet’s House: Art, Architecture and Shi‘ism in the Islamic World, which took place at the British Museum from 26th – 28th March 2009. The conference was associated with the exhibition Shah ‘Abbas: The Remaking of Iran.
GPISH and STEP students from the Class of 2010 traveled to Spain for an educational visit in February and March, respectively. As part of their courses “Architecture of the Muslim World” (GPISH) and “Religious Education and the Humanities in Secondary Education” (STEP), the two groups visited some of the most notable sites of Granada, Cordoba and Malaga.
The IIS sponsored a panel presentation at the 2010 Middle Eastern Studies Association of North America (MESA) conference held in San Diego, California, USA. The panel entitled, Approaches to Governance in the Fatimid Period, is a continuation from last year’s panel, Formulations of Authority in Early Shi‘i Islam, as part of the Institute’s ongoing endeavour in the field of Shi‘i Studies.
The fifth lecture in the Shi‘i Studies Lecture Series was entitled The Zaydi Reception of Abu l-Husayn al-Basri and Ibn al-Malahimi: Husam al-Din ‘Abd Allah b. Zayd al-‘Ansi (d. 1268 CE) and his Kitab al-Mahajja al-bayda. It was delivered by Professor Sabine Schmidtke, Professor of Islamic Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, in May 2010.
In October 2009, Dr Karen Bauer of IIS’ Qur’anic Studies unit organised a workshop on Theories and Methods in Qur’an Commentaries. The workshop was attended by prominent scholars from North America and Europe, including Andrew Rippin, Walid Saleh, Devin Stewart, Claude Gilliot, and Roberto Tottoli.
Drs. Farhad Daftary and Shainool Jiwa participated in a conference on ‘The Fatimids and the Mediterranean’ organised by the Universita degli Studi di Palermo. The proceedings focussed on the social, cultural and political frameworks and institutions in the Muslim world as well as in the broader Mediterranean region during the Fatimid era.
Dr Shiraz Thobani, a Research Associate with the Department of Curriculum Studies at the Institute, has co-edited a new publication with Dr Gerdien Jonker, entitled Narrating Islam: Interpretations of the Muslim World in European Texts. Dr Jonker is affiliated with the Georg-Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in Braunschweig, Germany.
A live webcast of the book launch event for Living in Historic Cairo: Past and Present in an Islamic City will take place at 8.30pm GMT on Tuesday 14th September 2010.
The fourth lecture in the Shi‘i Studies Lecture Series was delivered by Dr Andrew Newman in April 2010. It was entitled Khilaf and authority between the Buyid and Safavid periods. Looking specifically at the example of khilaf literature, Dr Newman discussed wider methodological issues in the contemporary study of Shi‘i Islam.
In early March, the Department of Community Relations at the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) hosted an event with Professor Farid Esack, currently professor in the Study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. Professor Esack delivered a lecture entitled, Muslims & Islam: Between Powerlessness and Less Power.
Two recent IIS publications were launched at the Ismaili Centre in Dubai. These included The Ismailis: An Illustrated History and An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries – Vol. 1: On the Nature of the Divine. Held on 3 April 2009, the programme marked the Institute’s first major book launch in that region.
Stephen Burge, an IIS Research Associate, presented a paper at the Annual Conference of the British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR). The conference, which took place in Bangor, Wales from 7th to 9th September 2009, was called “Religion, Landscapes and other Uncertain Boundaries”. The attendees heard presentations on subjects ranging from Judaism to New Religious Movements, as well as a number of papers on themes in Islamic Studies.
Since 1997, The Institute of Ismaili Studies has been awarding doctoral scholarships to suitable candidates whose work contributes to the academic mandate of the IIS. The two recipients of the 2010 cycle of the scholarship are Laila Kadiwal and Sorbon Mavlonazarov.
The Qur’anic Studies Unit hosted an occasional lecture by Dr Asma Hilali of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris entitled Pragmatic Aspects of the Religious Text: The San‘a Qur’an Palimpsest in May 2010.
The Institute of Ismaili Studies is delighted to welcome Pamela Swanborough as Academic and Student Services Manager in the Department of Graduate Studies. Ms. Swanborough started at the Institute in February 2010.
Dr Reza-Shah Kazemi presented a paper at the conference: “Al Azhar and the West - Bridges of Dialogue”. Held in New Cairo from 3 to 5 January 2009, the conference was convened by the Rector of Al Azhar University, Dr. Ahmed Mohammed El Tayyeb. Muslim scholars in the West were invited to this conference to serve as "bridges of dialogue" by advising Al Azhar's scholars how to communicate Al Azhar's perspective within the norms of Western discourse.
An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries - Volume I: On the Nature of the Divine was launched at the Institute on 23 April, 2009. The book, published in association with Oxford University Press, is part of the IIS’ Qur’anic Studies series and aims to illustrate the wide ranging diversity of Qur’anic interpretations in the Muslim intellectual tradition.
The Institute launched a new Shi‘i Studies Lecture Series which explores the history, doctrines and practice of Shi‘i Islam. The first lecture of this series, entitled Al-Hasan b. Musa al-Nawbakhti, Shi‘i Mutakallim or Philosopher? was given by Professor Wilferd Madelung, Senior Research Fellow at the IIS and Professor Emeritus, University of Oxford.