“Civil Society in Comparative Muslim Contexts”, a new seminar series organised and hosted by the Institute of Ismaili Studies, will engage leading scholars in a consideration of civil society, both in principle and in practice, from Iran, Central Asia, and the Maghreb to Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The seminars will address the interplay of ethics, law and culture in Muslim contexts and the range of broad issues related to civil society, and will culminate in a volume of essays to be published by the Institute.
Project Tajikistan of the Institute of Ismaili Studies has released Expressions of the Pamir: Music and Song, a double multimedia companion CD to the Expressions of the Pamir: Culture and Heritage of the Ismailis of Tajikistan programme, which toured 12 North American cities in 1999. The CDs contain 25 tracks, including a 13 minute extract of a soon-to-be-released video documentary.
One of the important components of study for students of the Institute's Graduate Programme is a foundation in Classical Arabic to be able to study the Holy Qur’an and other historical texts. This year an intensive Arabic summer programme was developed to offer IIS students an opportunity to improve their competence in the Arabic language as well as to study classical Arabic texts, and to learn about the culture and traditions of the Fatimids in Cairo.
The Institute of Ismaili Studies is participating in the 34th Annual Meeting of the Middle Eastern Studies Association of North America (MESA), one of the world's leading academic organizations promoting research on the Middle East and the Muslim world. This year's annual meeting, held from November 16 - 19, 2000 in Orlando, Florida, expects to draw more than 1,500 participants.
Produced by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in collaboration with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, Reflections of the Fatimids is a film based on the exhibition “Treasures of Fatimid Cairo” which recently toured at L'Institut Du Monde Arabe (Paris) and at the Kunstlerhaus Museum in Vienna. The exhibition brought together a diverse range of Fatimid artefacts from around the world for the first time.
Professor Azim Nanji, Director of the IIS, was interviewed on the theme of “Paradise as a Garden” by the BBC in the roof garden of the Ismaili Centre in London. The interview discusses the important symbolism of the garden in the Islamic tradition. Especially important in this context are the natural elements of a garden: water, flowers, trees and shrubs, and birds. All of these are to be found in the roof garden of the Ismaili Centre.
In March, the Institute held a book launch to celebrate the publication of Ismaili and Other Arabic Manuscripts by Delia Cortese. This important work forms a supplement to the 2 volume catalogue of Arabic manuscripts produced by Adam Gacek in 1984 and 1985. Delia Cortese’s catalogue lists a further 188 manuscripts. The majority of these belong to Fatimid and post-Fatimid Yemeni literature including manuscripts by significant and hitherto unknown authors from Syria.
In May 2000, the IIS’ Project Tajikistan organised seminars in Tajikistan on “Ethics in Islam”, bringing together scholars from the IIS as well as from Tajikistan and the USA. From the IIS, Professor Azim Nanji, Drs. Jalal Badakhchani, Alice Hunsberger, and Mr. Arif Jamal presented papers. They were joined from USA by Professor Abdulaziz Sachedina of the University of Virginia and, from Tajikistan, by Drs. Adelov, Komilbikzodeh, and Arabzadeh, as well as Mr. Gharibshoev from the Khorog State University.