Tag Archives: Shiism

Two new articles on Sufism in Sindh and India

Claveyrolas, M. et Delage, R., eds (2016) Territoires du religieux dans les mondes indiens. Parcourir, mettre en scène, franchir. Editions de l’EHESS (coll. Purusartha 34), Paris, 339 p.

In this book dealing with religions and its territories in South Asia and beyond, two articles (French language) focus on Sindh and Sindhis. The first one is about Sufism in Sehwan Sharif (by Rémy Delage) and the second  one about Sindhi Hindus settled in India (by Michel Boivin): Continue reading Two new articles on Sufism in Sindh and India

Workshop: Shi‘i Sufism in Modern Times, Edinburgh University, 20 Octobre 2012

A one-day workshop on Shi`i Sufism has been held at the IMES (Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies), University of Edinburgh, on the 2oth of October 2012. It was co-organised by the CNRS in France (Monde Iranien, Monde Indien; IISMM) and the University of Edinburgh (IMES) in UK. For more information, you can also contact Denis Hermann. Continue reading Workshop: Shi‘i Sufism in Modern Times, Edinburgh University, 20 Octobre 2012

Book: A Modern History of the Ismailis

Farhad Daftary, A Modern History of the Ismailis: Continuity and Change in a Muslim Community, London, I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2011.

“The Ismailis have enjoyed a long, eventful and complex history dating back to the 8th century CE and originating in the Shi’i tradition of Islam. During the medieval period, Ismailis of different regions – especially in central Asia, south Asia, Iran and Syria – developed and elaborated their own distinctive literary and intellectual traditions, which have made an outstanding contribution to the culture of Islam as a whole. At the same time, the Ismailis in the Middle Ages split into two main groups who followed different spiritual leaders. The bulk of the Ismailis came to have a line of imams now represented by the Aga Khans, while a smaller group – known in south Asia as the Bohras – developed their own type of leadership.This collection is the first scholarly attempt to survey the modern history of both Ismaili groupings since the middle of the 19th century. It covers a variety of topical issues and themes, such as the modernising policies of the Aga Khans, and also includes original studies of regional developments in Ismaili communities worldwide. The contributors focus too on how the Ismailis as a religious community have responded to the twin challenges of modernity and emigration to the West. ‘A Modern History of the Ismailis’ will be welcomed as the most complete assessment yet published of the recent trajectory of this fascinating and influential Shi’i community.”

The introduction can be downloaded on the website of the Institute of Ismaili Studies. The table contents and the entire bibliography of the book can also be consulted from there.

“Farhad Daftary is Associate Director and Head of the Department of Academic Research and Publications at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London. An international authority on Ismaili studies, his many acclaimed books in the field include The Ismailis: Their History and Doctrines, The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Ismailis, and A Short History of the Ismailis.”

Shi’ism in Modern South Asia: Online conference audio-papers

An international conference, ‘Contesting Shi’ism: Isna ‘Ashari and Isma’ili Shi’ism in Modern South Asia’, hosted by the History Department, Royal Holloway, was held in London on 9-10 September 2011.

You can listen to all the conference papers on this website.

Here below is the conference programme:

Friday, 9th September

14:30 – 15:00 Francis Robinson, Reflections on the Shia in South Asia and the wider Muslim world

15:00 – 16:30 Session I

Michel Boivin, The Isna ‘Ashari-Isma‘ili divide among the Khojas around 1910: exploring forgotten judicial sources from Karachi

Ian Williams, Shared and disputed symbols within Twelver Shi‘ite and Ahl-i-Sunnat traditions of Islam: an examination of theological constructions and devotional practices among leaders and adherents from nineteenth century South Asia to the contemporary U.K

Tahir Kamran, Sufi shrines, electoral politics and sectarian violence in Punjab: a case study of the dargah of Siyal Sharif

17:30 – 19:00 Session II

Ludovic Gandelot, Isma‘ili Aga Khani religious and social identities, as seen through Sultan Muhammad Shah’s firmans at the beginning of the twentieth century

Soumen Mukherjee, Of ‘religious and social welfare’ and ‘progress of the community’: religious inspiration, leadership and idioms of welfarism among Shi‘a Imami Isma‘ilis in twentieth century South Asia and East Africa

Bashir Damji, The Khoja Isna ‘Ashari communities of East Africa: from newcomers to flag-bearers

Saturday, 10th September

9:00 – 10:30 Session III

Sajjad Rizvi, Establishing the principles of the faith for a new Shi‘ite polity: the theology of Sayyid Dildar ‘Ali Nasirabadi

Justin Jones, Khandan-i-Ijtihad: authority and transition in a family of Shi‘a ‘ulama in Lucknow, c.1850-1950

Ali Khan, Local nodes of a trans-national network: a case study of a Shi‘a family in Awadh, 1900-1950

11:00 – 12:30 Session IV

Simon Wolfgang Fuchs, Third-wave Shi‘ism: Sayyid Arif Husayn al-Husayni and the Islamic revolution in Pakistan

Hasan Ali Khan, The role of the Auqaf Department in redefining Sufi and Shi‘a built heritage in Pakistan

Saleem Khan, The Shi‘a dominance of the legal profession in British India: a study of the lawyer politicians of Bihar

PhD thesis: Shiite Muslim Sub-Sects in South Asia

Mukherjee, Soumen, Community Consciousness, Development, Leadership: The Experience of two Muslim Groups in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century South Asia, Ph. D, South Asia Institute (SAI), University of Heidelberg, 2010. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Gita Dharampal-Frick.

“My Doctoral research makes an intervention in a relatively underworked sub-field of scholarship on Islam in South Asia, viz. the history of (sub-)sectarian traditions. My work studies the political, and social life of the Shiite Muslim sub-sects of (mainly Daudi) Bohras and the Nizari Khojas. It juxtaposes smaller sub-sectarian history and culture with broader social and political questions and deconstructs the role of leadership and the different facets of their public career. From a historical perspective my dissertation explicates the entanglement of community consciousness, political and social identity, of contesting versions of social reformism and their eventual development into religiously underpinned welfarist ventures under politico-religious leaderships. The role of politico-religious leaderships in the process of identification of these splinter sub-sectarian traditions with the broader Muslim community along political lines — a process hinging upon a rhetoric of universal Islamic values and social commitment — even as retaining certain (sub-)sectarian specificities documents this nuanced trajectory of shifting community consciousness (exemplified best by the case of Aga Khan III, the 48th Khoja Imam). This was a complex process in which political and socio-religious boundaries of the smaller sub-sectarian traditions were being continually redrawn, the position of spiritual heads reappraised and the idioms of political and socio-religious negotiations reframed. My dissertation analyses this complex process. In doing so, it: (i) sheds light on the role of politico-religious leaderships in evolving certain religiously informed political culture and consensus, as well as social policies catering to community interests; and (ii) contributes to scientific enquiries into the interconnected themes of religion, various ramifications of socio-religious reformism amounting to welfarist concerns, development (understandably, encapsulating much more than mere economic concerns), the role of religious inspiration in such endeavours, religious revivalism, political mobilisation, and above all visions and functional modalities of politico-religious leadership(s).”

PhD thesis: Shia-Ismaili Motifs in the Sufi Architecture of the Indus Valley

Hasan Ali Khan, Shia-Ismaili Motifs in the Sufi Architecture of the Indus Valley, 1200-1500 A.D., PhD thesis in Religious Studies, SOAS, London, 30 April 2009.

“The relationship between Shiism and Sufism is one of the most unexplored areas of Islamic studies. Its study has traditionally been hindered by the lack of primary sources. This is especially so in the case of Ismailism in the medieval Islamic Era, which is more easily associable to Sufism.

Ismaili associations with early Sufism go back to the Fatimid Era in Egypt of which the Indus Valley was a part. This is in the tenth century when dominant Ismaili and Twelver states ruled the Middle East. After the destruction of these Shia states by the incoming Sunni Turkic dynasties, Ismailism went underground in Iran and its ideas reappeared in the shape of Sufi Orders in Iraq, most prominently the Suhrawardi Order. In this period, Ismailism flourished again in the Indus Valley under missionaries sent from neighboring Iran, who freely worked on the metaphysical commonality between Indian and Iranian cultures for their proselytism. Its zenith was reached under the Ismaili missionary Shams in the thirteenth century, who after a long spate of problems in his host country, perfected a system of metaphysical interlacing called the Satpanth, or true path, setting up ceremonies which tied him to the Suhrawardi Sufi Order which preexisted here. This association led to the falling out of the court patronised order with the Imperial Authorities in Delhi. The Satpanth worked through an astrological framework based on the Persian New Year, and the vice-regency of the first Shia Imam Ali, which is the basis of the Shia faith. The astrological resonances of Ali’s succession or vice-regency to Muhammad were known to Muslim scholars in the Iranian Shia-Ismaili tradition before Shams’s time, but are historically first interlaced by Shams with the local calendar for the benefit of his followers. The Satpanth later found its way as astrological symbolism on the monuments of the Suhrawardi Order. In addition, an unorthodox monument archetype which accommodates Satpanth ideals is common to the buildings associated with Shams, his descendants and Suhrawardi Sufis over three centuries. Evidence suggest that Shams may have been responsible this archetype.

A comparison between extant religious ceremony, iconography and the common monument archetype in the latter chapters shows the covert Shia-Ismaili beliefs of the Suhrawardi Order in the Indus Valley. This complements the critical reexamination of historical sources for the purpose in the first half of the thesis.”

Keywords: Shiism, Ismailism, Suhrawardi Sufi Order, Satpanth, Shams, Indus valley, Pakistan

Book: The Other Shiites. From the Mediterranean to Central Asia

Alessandro Monsutti, Silvia Naef & Fabian Sabah (eds) (2007) The Other Shiites. From the Mediterranean to Central Asia, Bern, Peter Lang.

This collective volume is the proceedings of an international conference, which took place at the University of Geneva in 2002. The « Other » in the title refers to the fact that none of the articles are devoted to Iran. It provides a general perspective on the diversity and multiplicity of Shiism outside Iran during the past two centuries. The word Shia is used here in a wider sense, since one paper is devoted to the Alevis and another to Ismailis. The book brings together thirteen contributions, five of which are devoted to South Asia, particularly Pakistan. Of particular interest is the contribution of Mariam Abou Zahab on the politicization of Shiites in Pakistan in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and that of Alessandro Monsutti on the social organization and the role of `Ashura’ among the Hazaras of Quetta (Baluchistan) .

Michel Boivin

 

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