Area of Focus:

The Hermeneutics of Ismaili Esoteric Interpretation (taʾwīl) in the works of Nāṣir-i Khusraw and Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī.


Current Research and Forthcoming Papers:

The Encyclopaedia of the Ismailis:

  • Abū Yaʿqūb al-Sijistānī
  • Kitāb-i Kashf al-Maḥjūb

The IIS forthcoming conference on Ismaili Studies, Autumn 2022:

  • The Semiotics of Nāṣir-i Khusraw's Ismaili Esoteric Interpretation (Taʾwīl)

The paper will examine the semiotics of the sign (ẓāhir) and the signified (bāṭin) as expounded by Nāṣir-i Khusraw. The focus of the essay is on the hermeneutical significance of the following verse in which the Quran states: ‘We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their souls, till it is clear to them that He is the Real. Suffices it not as to thy Lord, that He is witness over everything?’ (Arberry, Sūrat Fuṣṣilat, Quran 41:53, tr. edited). This reciprocal dialectic between the outer and inner signs leads to a gradual verification of the truth and reality of each and every sign, be it in the horizons or in people themselves. In other words, the aim of the esoteric interpretation of the signs of the Creator — whether in nature as the creation without (the Act of God), or in people’s souls as the creation within (the Word of God) — is the illumination and realization of the reality of the outward and inward signs, even though the inward signs of the scriptures may appear symbolic and ambiguous in their one-to-one relation with the outward signs of the creation.

The taʾwīl of the scriptures is in fact the learning of the knowledge that the outward sign and the inward sign, in spite of their seeming duality, have their source in one reality. Therefore, the task of the esoteric interpretation of the holy scriptures consists in the systematic discovering of the true realities underlying the semiotics of similitude employed within the taʾwīl literature.