In the autumn of 1998, Professor Nanji became the Director of the IIS. After leading the Institute for ten years, he is now leaving to join the Abbasi Programme in Islamic Studies at Stanford University as a Senior Associate Director. Under his leadership, the IIS expanded its programmes and activities and has emerged as an institution known for its high quality research and publications in areas related to Muslim cultures, particularly in the fields of Ismaili and Shi‘i Studies.
Dr. Anjoom Mukadam and Dr. Sharmina Mawani organised the 2nd biennial Gujarat Studies Association (GSA) conference in Toronto, Canada on 23 – 24 May 2008. The theme of the conference, Identities: Reflections on Global Gujarati Communities, attracted delegates from North America, Europe, South Asia, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.
Dr Nader El-Bizri presented a paper titled: ‘Renewing the Impetus of Philosophical Thinking in Islam?’, at the international conference, Islamic Philosophy and the Challenges of the Present-Day World. The conference was held in Tehran and Hamedan, Iran, between 10th and 13th November 2009.
The Ikhwan al-Safa’ and their Rasa’il: An Introduction, published by The Institute of Ismaili Studies, in association with Oxford University Press, was launched in Nairobi and Mombasa in June 2009. The events in Kenya, which marked the first worldwide launch of the publication, were attended by members of the local academic and Muslim communities.
Professor Omid Safi of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, delivered the third lecture in the ‘Talking Ethics’ series at the IIS on 19 June 2009. What the Sufi tradition brings to the practice of Muslim ethics, Professor Safi argued, is a deep appreciation of the lived nature of what the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet taught.
The Institute of Ismaili Studies in association with Oxford University Press is pleased to announce the publication of An Anthology of Qur'anic Commentaries - Volume I: On the Nature of the Divine. Edited by Feras Hamza, Sajjad Rizvi and Farhana Mayer, this anthology analyses the works of twenty selected Sunni, Shi‘i, Ibadi, Mu‘tazili and Sufi commentators on six different Qur'anic verses, revealing varied approaches to the scripture and its meaning.
Dr Omar Alí-de-Unzaga, Coordinator of IIS’ Qur’anic Studies Unit, presented a paper on the concept of resurrection and the hereafter in the thought of the Pure Brethren or Ikhwan al-Safa' at an international symposium in Göttingen, Germany from 27 to 31 May, 2009.
The Board of the Institute of Ismaili Studies has announced the appointment of two Co-Directors, Dr Farhad Daftary and Professor Karim H Karim. They have assumed overall joint responsibility for leadership and management of the IIS. Their combined scholarship, skills and experiences will ensure that the IIS will continue to develop upon the excellent record it has established as a centre of scholarship and learning on Islam and Muslim societies.
In association with the Oxford University Press, the IIS has published The Ikhwan al-Safa’ and their Rasa’il: An Introduction, which inaugurates the much-anticipated publication of the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’ (Epistles of the Brethren of Purity). As a preparatory volume, it offers a broad overview of this important and influential corpus, detailing conceptual and historical aspects of the work, as well as considering some more technical aspects of certain epistles.
Dr Amira Bennison of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Cambridge spoke on the urban life of three pre-modern cities under Muslim rule, as responses to specific social, political and religious needs. ‘The Umma in the City: Cordoba, Marrakesh and Isfahan’, was delivered at The Institute of Ismaili Studies on 14 February 2008.
Professor Khurshid Kamal Aziz, the distinguished Pakistani historian, passed away recently in Lahore after a short illness. Amongst his numerous acclaimed publications were works on important individuals who shaped the history of the sub-continent around the time of its partition, including books on Chaudhry Rahmat Ali, Syed Ameer Ali and His Highness Aga Khan III.
Dr Karen Bauer, Research Associate in the Institute’s Qur’anic Studies project, presented a paper at the American Oriental Society Conference, which took place 13-16 March 2009 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr Bauer’s paper was entitled “Tafsir and its audience”.
Students of the first cohort of the Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP) recently returned from an educational tour of Cairo, Egypt (February 13–19, 2008). This visit was the second of two field trips that STEP participants take as part of their double master’s degree course. The first such visit, taken in November 2007, was to Cordoba Spain.
The IIS is pleased to announce the publication of Encyclopaedia Islamica by Brill of Leiden. This long-awaited publication is the first of a projected sixteen-volume edited and abridged translation of Da’irat al-Ma‘arif-i Buzurg-i Islami (The Great Islamic Encyclopaedia) by The Centre for Iranian and Islamic Studies in Tehran. Volume one comprises articles from Aba’ to Abu Hanifa and is available for purchase or online subscription from Brill.
Dr Reza Shah-Kazemi, Research Associate at the IIS, participated in the 7th Building Bridges Seminar, convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and held in Rome between 5 and 8 May, 2008. This year’s seminar addressed the theme: ‘Communicating the Word: Revelation, Translation and Interpretation in Christianity and Islam’.
An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia, Vol. 1: From Zoroaster to ‘Umar Khayyam presents a millennial tradition of philosophy in Persia. Edited by S. H. Nasr and M. Aminrazavi, the first volume begins with the period from Zoroaster and ends with ‘Umar Khayyam who died in the early twelfth century CE.
Dr. Karen Bauer, a Research Associate of the IIS, presented a paper entitled ‘Critique and Change in the Interpretations of the Quranic Verse 4:34’ at the Middle East Graduate Seminar, St. John’s College, Oxford University, on January 21, 2008.
The Institute of Ismaili Studies is moving to new leased premises, located at 210 Euston Road in Central London, as of January 2009. These new premises are substantial and offer the opportunity for co-location of the IIS, AKU-ISMC, and AKF (UK) in the same premises.
The launch of the French translation of the book The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Ismailis took place in Paris, on 22 September. The author, Dr Farhad Daftary, Associate Director and Head of the Department of Academic Research and Publications, who has thus far authored 8 books, spoke about the different mediaeval tales that constitute the legends concerning Syrian and Persian Ismailis.
The live IIS webcast has Dr Reza Aslan presenting key ideas from his latest publication, How to Win a Cosmic War: Confronting Radical Islam. The webcast is taking place on Friday 5 June 2009 at 3 pm BST (GMT+1) at the IIS. The book discusses religion, modernity, globalisation and pluralism in contemporary Muslim societies.