Perhaps the most enduring achievement of his period at the Institute is the creation of a community of scholars resulting in a large number of publications from some of the best names in Shi‘i and Islamic Studies.
The Institute’s fellowship programme ensured that many young and upcoming scholars would work with well-established names in the field.
During Professor Nanji’s tenure, the Institute also hosted many innovative conferences and seminars, such as Word of God, Art of Man: The Qur’an and its Creative Expressions; Muslim Pluralism; Civil Society in the Muslim World; Nasir Khusraw: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, and Contemporary Islam(s) and Muslims.
The Department of Community Relations, the Quranic Studies Unit and the Central Asian Studies Unit were established under his leadership while the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities grew from strength to strength and the new Secondary Teacher Education Programme was launched.
Professor Nanji was also pivotal in furthering the Institute’s intellectual support to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the Ismaili community the world over. The secondary curriculum materials are now in an advanced stage of publication; a series of training programmes are well established and the IIS supports various AKDN activities on a regular basis. Initiating closer co-operation between the Institute and various organisations in Europe engaged with the educational activities of Muslims was yet another feature of his period.
He leaves his imprint not only through programmes but also through his personal style of leadership that valued empowerment, decentralisation and responsibility. It was during his tenure that the Institute celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary. Asked about his experience of working with the Institute, Professor Nanji said: “An opportunity to lead and build further an institution like the IIS is a rare privilege. In this case, also, there was a happy coming together of a moment in history, committed colleagues, as well as Imamat and Jamati support. My stay here will remain for my wife Razia and myself, a period full of fond memories and lasting friendships.”