Shi’i Islam: Thought, Beliefs and Practice

Shi'i Islam: Thought, Beliefs and Practice

Course dates:
17 - 28 May 2021
Application deadline:
25 February 2021
Programme fees:
Course director:
Dr Shainool Jiwa

About the course

This online course will bring together participants from diverse backgrounds to discuss, in an engaging and enabling environment, some of the key questions about Shi‘i Islam such as: How did it develop from its roots in 7th century Arabia to the highly elaborated tradition with its rich doctrinal, artistic, performative and intellectual heritage? What are the major branches of Shi‘i Islam today, and what are their key figures, beliefs and practices? What are the commonalities as well as distinctive features of Ismaili beliefs and practices vis-à-vis other Shi‘i traditions? Answers to such questions are important to anyone seeking to broaden their understanding about Shi‘i Islam and its past that is intimately linked to its present. Further, Secondary teachers and waezeens will find this course particularly useful. The course will be delivered online by specialist faculty from the IIS using case studies that are relevant to contemporary contexts and will adopt an interdisciplinary and civilisational approach to achieve its aims.

Aims of the programme

  • Introduce participants to sources and structures of religious authority, highlighting commonality of beliefs across major contemporary Shi‘i traditions (Isma‘ili, Ithna ‘Ashari, Zaydi, etc.).
  • Discuss the commonality and diversity of doctrines, practices and law among Shi‘i communities to help participants develop a better understanding of what it means to be a Shi‘ainfo-icon Muslim in the modern world and situate the Ismailis in this context.
  • Explore the rich intellectual and artistic heritage of Shi‘i Islam from its foundational period to contemporary times to enable participants to identify distinctive characteristics of Shi‘i heritage and note how these resonate in the intellectual and artistic heritage of the Ismailis, past and present.
  • Facilitate a nuanced understanding of the status and role of the Shi‘a in the cotemporary world, their geographical placement and some of the challenges ensuing from their minority status in the modern world, including those related to the current sectarian and geopolitical conflicts.

Find out more about other IIS Short Courses.


Applications are now closed