More than 3,000 participants and approximately 1,000 scholars from around the world gathered in Moscow for the 37th Congress of the International Congress of Asian and North African Studies (ICANAS), held on 16-21 August 2004, under the aegis of the Institute of Oriental Studies (IOS) of Russian Academy of Sciences, headed by Professor Rybakov Rostislav Borisovich. During the opening of the Congress greetings and messages were received from the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin and His Highness the Aga Khan along with a number of other heads of states and world leaders.
In his message to the Congress, His Highness expressed his view that "this gathering will go a long way towards establishing a clear vision and direction for Oriental Studies, such that these may contribute even more meaningfully to the dialogues that recent global developments have inspired." He also expressed his happiness at the participation of the Institute's scholars at that Congress.
The Society of Orientalists of the Russian Empire was founded on 29th February, 1900. Since its inception more than a century earlier, the Society has held its International Congresses in Tokyo, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Budapest and Montreal. Its goal is to represent Russian Oriental Studies in international orientalist organizations as well as widen its scholarly contacts among orientalists from all over the world.
A number of scholars from The Institute of Ismaili Studies participated in this year's conference through the efforts of the Central Asian Studies Unit (CASU) which, in collaboration with the IOS, organised a section on Studies about Pamir and Northern Caucasus. The Section included 25 presentations by Russian, Tajik and Osetian scholars. The major themes of presentations ranged from the fields of Ismaili/Islamic and Religious Studies to Ethnic, Development and Linguistic studies.
IIS scholars who presented papers to the Congress included:
Sultonbek Aqsaqolov Soviet Orientalist Studies of Ismailism: Methods of Research and Interpretation
Elbon Hojibekov Ismaili Pir Sayed Farrukhsho and his role in the cultural life of Badakhshan in 19th century
Ramazon Nazariev “Ikhwan al-Safa” (“Brethren of Purity”) and their ideas on the formation of civil society
Sarfaroz Niyozov Perspectives and Opportunities of Collaboration between The Institute of Ismaili Studies and Russian Academic and Research Centres
Sarfaroz Niyozov also acted as a Section Chair.