Professor Schimmel, who passed away in January 2003, was one of the foremost experts on Persian poetry and Sufism. Her publications included hundreds of articles and books on Islamic art, theology, poetry, calligraphy and mysticism, as well as translations of Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu and Sindhi poetry into German and English. In accordance with her wishes, her voluminous library was divided amongst scholars and institutions with which she had a professional and personal relationship. The University of Erfurt in Germany, the city of her birth, received a large donation of books, as did a museum in Berlin, the city in which she completed her first doctorate. Her books on Indo-Muslim culture and civilisation were left to her successor at Harvard University, Professor Ali Asani, who has donated the collection, in her memory, to The Institute of Ismaili Studies.
Professor Asani selected the Institute primarily because of Professor Schimmel’s close relationship with the Ismaili community and its institutions, but also because of its location in London, where there are significant communities of Muslims from the Subcontinent.Over the course of her long career, Professor Schimmel has given presentations to Ismaili communities all over the world as well as taught and lectured at The Institute of Ismaili Studies and the Aga Khan University in Karachi.
Several of her articles and publications dealt with the poetry and life of the Fatimid da‘i, Nasir Khusraw (d. ca. 1077). In addition to her academic relationship with Ismaili history and culture, Professor Schimmel also advised and nurtured many Ismaili PhD scholars, both formally and informally.More details about the Annemarie Schimmel Memorial Reference Collection will become available in due course.