I.B. Tauris in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies
Ecstasy and Enlightenment is a comprehensive examination of the devotional and mystical literature of the Nizari Ismailis in the Indian subcontinent. The book focuses on the ginans, a large corpus of hymns and poems composed in a variety of Indic languages and attributed to a series of preacher-saints who propagated Ismaili Islam in the subcontinent over several centuries.
Exploring the origins of this literature in the larger historical, cultural and religious contexts of the Sufi, Bhakti and Sant movements in medieval India, the author examines the history, themes, prosody, melodies and other characteristics of the gināns, the unique Khojki script in which they were recorded and the continuing vitality of this poetic tradition in the religious life of contemporary Nizari Ismaili communities of South Asian origin.
Professor Annemarie Schimmel, the eminent authority on Islamic mysticism and literary traditions, notes in her Foreword that ‘Ali Asani’s book is a treasure-trove for everyone who is interested in Ismaili history and thought. It offers important material not only to the members of the community but also to scholars from various branches — be they Islamicists, Indologists, sociologists or historians of religion.
Illustrations and Tables
Foreword by Professor Annemarie Schimmel
1. Introduction: The Nizari Ismaili Tradition in South Asia
2. The Gināns as Devotional Literature: Their Origins, Characteristics and Themes
3. Bridal Symbolism in the Gināns
4. The Gīt Tradition: A Testimony of Love
5. Reflections on Authority and Authorship of the Gināns
6. The Khojki Script: A Legacy of Ismaili Islam in the Subcontinent
7. The Khojki Script and its Manuscript Tradition
Appendix: Translations of Selected Devotional and Mystical Gināns
Index of Gināns
Ali S. Asani is Professor of the Practice of Indo-Muslim Languages and Cultures at Harvard University. A scholar of Islamic civilization in South Asia, he is also a specialist in Ismaili literary traditions of the region. He is the author of The Būjh Niranjan: An Ismaili Mystical Poem (1991), The Harvard Collection of Ismaili Literature in Indic Languages (1992), and co-author of Celebrating Muhammad: Images of the Prophet in Popular Muslim Piety (1995), as well as numerous shorter studies on South Asian languages and literature.