Commencing with an overview of Shi‘ism, Dr. Daftary discussed the development of interpretive communities, providing an important context for understanding Muslim history. He then went on to outline the significance of Persians in Ismaili history, providing details of the contributions of the da‘is of the Persian world to Ismaili Muslim thought, as elaborated after Fatimid times.
Dr. Daftary also highlighted the achievements of Hasan-i Sabbah, founder of the Ismaili state and the Nizari Ismaili Da‘wa in Persia, centred at the fortress of Alamut. He concluded the lecture with an overview of Ismaili history in post-Mongol Persia, i.e. from 1256 onwards, when the Persian Ismailis adopted precautionary dissimulation under the mantle of Sufism and developed close relationships with the Persian Sufis.
An accompanying exhibition of manuscripts from the collections at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, “Wellsprings of Wisdom: Persian Contributions to Ismaili Thought”, was also on display for the day at SFU’s Harbour front Campus. A public lecture on the manuscripts was delivered by Alnoor Merchant, Senior Librarian and Keeper of the Ismaili Collections.
Fereidoun and Katharine Mirhady, both active members of Vancouver’s Iranian community, created the annual endowed lecture in Iranian Studies at SFU to promote greater awareness of the region's rich culture and history, in both academic and community circles. Past speakers of the Mirhady Lecture include: one of the world’s prominent Iranologists, Hamid Dabashi, Chair of the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University; and Roy Mottahedeh, Gurney Professor of Middle Eastern History at Harvard University.
Sadly, Dr. F. Mirhady passed away in Vancouver in January 2005.