Dr Abdelwahab El-Affendi spoke at the Institute on 13 May, 2008 on biotechnology’s remaking of the world, and possibly our species, asking how Islamic humanism might respond to the ensuing challenge in what has come to be called ‘postmodernity’. This talk at the Institute was the last in the series on Contemporary Islam(s) and Muslims.
The Institute of Ismaili Studies is delighted to welcome Nuha Al-Sha‘ar and Stephen Burge as Research Associates in the Qur’anic Studies Unit. Both new starters joined in June 2009. They are in the final year of their doctorate research, which they undertook at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and the University of Edinburgh, respectively.
As part of The Institute of Ismaili Studies' Golden Jubilee publications, three new books were introduced at the Scarborough Ismaili Jamatkhana, Toronto, by Professor Azim Nanji and Dr. Fahmida Suleman, on 27 December 2007. This was followed by a similar launch at the Burnaby Ismaili Centre in Vancouver on 1 January 2008.
Dr Nader El-Bizri delivered a talk on 14 April 2010 at the School of Architecture, Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, at the University of Lincoln. This presentation was part of a faculty seminar organised by the East Midlands History and Philosophy of Architecture Network during its Spring Session 2010. This network of ‘architectural humanities’ is supported by a consortium of schools of architecture at British Universities in the East Midlands region, in order to foster advanced academic research in the domains of architectural history, theory and criticism.
The latest IIS publication, Orations of the Fatimid Caliphs: Festival Sermons of the Ismaili Imams by Paul Walker, is the tenth publication in the Ismaili Texts and Translations Series. The book presents texts of several sermons (khutbas) from the Fatimid period, in Arabic and in English translation. Covering a period of about 100 years, these texts provide unique access to a key component of Fatimid public discourse.
The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) in collaboration with the Foundation for Endangered Languages (FEL), The Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan (AST), and the Institute of Humanities, Khorog, Tajikistan, organised the 13th Annual International Conference of FEL, which took place in Khorog from 24 to 26 September, 2009.
The debate on ‘Islam and modernity’ has gained prominence since the events of September 11, 2001, in the West and the Muslim world alike. Issues of pluralist governance, civil society and human rights – as well as of public ethics – have come to be linked more forcefully than ever with secularism, which in turn is felt to be a hallmark of modernity. ‘Yet there is more than one way of being secular, as indeed there is of being modern, or Muslim’, argues the book’s editor, Dr. Sajoo.
Professor John Schoeberlein gave a lecture on the Conceptual Challenges for the Study of Post-Soviet Islam at the IIS on 7 May 2009. Professor Schoeberlein is currently the Director for the Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus at Harvard University and has been studying and visiting Central Asia for over 20 years.
Students from the Class of 2011 of the Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP) and the Class of 2011 of the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH) recently embarked upon an educational trip to southern Spain. This annual trip allows students to experience at first hand the historical roots of Islam in Europe.
The seventeenth colloquium on the history of Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras (10th -15th century) was held at the University of Ghent in Belgium from 14th to 16th May 2008. Dr Shainool Jiwa and Dr Arzina R. Lalani of IIS presented papers at this colloquium.
Dr Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Library of Alexandria and author of numerous books, explored architectural and artistic expressions, past and present, in the Muslim world in his lecture on ‘Modernisation and Cultural Identity in Islam’. This was the sixth in the Contemporary Islam(s) & Muslims (CIM) series of talks, held at the IIS on 14 March 2008.
Since 1997, the IIS has been awarding doctoral scholarships to suitable candidates whose work is relevant to its research interests. The two recipients of this year’s scholarships are Zamira Dildorbekova and Shayesteh Ghofrani.
The IIS is pleased to announce the paperback edition of An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries: Volume I – On the Nature of the Divine. Edited by Feras Hamza, Sajjad Rizvi and Farhana Mayer, the Anthology analyses the works of Sunni, Shi‘i, Ibadi, Mu‘tazili and Sufi commentators on six Qur’anic verses, revealing varied approaches to the scripture and its meaning.
Dr Omar Alí-de-Unzaga, the Academic Coordinator of IIS’ Qur’anic Studies Unit, presented a paper on biblical quotations in Ismaili sources at the 25th Congress of the Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants (UEAI), held at the Università di Napoli “l’Orientale” in Naples from 8-12 September, 2010.
Canada’s Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (ISMC) co-sponsored the launch of the IIS publication Muslim Modernities: Expressions of the Civil Imagination, in Vancouver on July 24. SFU Professor Derryl MacLean and ISMC director Dr. Abdou Filali-Ansary discussed the themes explored in the volume with the editor, Dr. Amyn B. Sajoo.
A Companion to Muslim Ethics, edited by Amyn B. Sajoo and published by I.B. Tauris in association with the IIS, is the most comprehensive English-language book available in this field. It is the second volume in the Muslim Heritage Series, aimed at presenting to the general public as well as to academics an accessible engagement with ideas and subjects of urgent interest to the contemporary Muslim world – including ‘East-West’ relations as they unfold after the events of September 11, 2001.
The annual meetings of the three Chapter Groups of the IIS Alumni Association were held during the past few months. Altogether, one hundred and forty alumni attended the meetings, travelling from nine countries. These meetings are an annual feature of Chapter Group activities, providing opportunities for intellectual development and social cohesion amongst alumni from different countries.
Professor Azim Nanji, Director of The Institute of Ismaili Studies, along with Razia Nanji, have completed a long-standing project that has now been published by the Penguin Reference Library titled ‘Penguin Dictionary of Islam’. This volume is intended to be a source of information pertaining to the history, cultures, and traditions of Muslim societies from the seventh century C.E. to the present.
The third lecture in the Shi‘i Studies Lecture Series at the IIS was delivered by Dr Sajjad Rizvi, Senior Lecturer in Islamic Studies and Director of the Centre of Islamic Philosophy of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at University of Exeter.
The ‘Uyun al-akhbar wa-funun al-athar, by the Tayyibi Musta‘lian Ismaili da‘i, Idris ‘Imad al-Din, occupies a central position in Ismaili historiography. This major publication project is an outcome of collaboration between the Institut Français du Proche Orient (IFPO) in Damascus and The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS).