The Zahid Ali Fellowship was established in 1997 by the IIS in the name of Professor Zahid Ali, a pioneer of modern Ismaili Studies, at the bequest of Professor Zahid Ali's son, the late Professor Abid Ali, and his family.

The fellowship, in the amount of £5000, is awarded once every five years to an internationally renowned scholar working in the field of Classical Arabic Literature who will use the award to publish research on a topic of relevance to Ismaili Studies.

Belonging to a prominent Daudi Bohra Ismaili family of India, Professor Zahid Ali (1888-1958) was educated at Oxford University, and later taught at the Nizam College in Hyderabad. He produced the first modern studies of Ismaili history and Ismaili doctrines, based on primary Ismaili sources; these works were published in Urdu in 1948 and 1954.

Professor Zahid Ali also inherited an important collection of Ismaili manuscripts, which was acquired by several generations of his ancestors. This collection was bequeathed to the Institute by the late Professor Abid Ali and his family.