Harvard University Course on Ismaili History and Thought in Spring 2014

Harvard University is offering a university course called Ismaili History and Thought for the Spring 2014 semester beginning in January. The course is designed and taught by Professor Ali S. Asani (Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures) and is open to Harvard undergraduate and graduate students.

The Ismā‘īlī Muslims constitute the second largest branch of Shī‘ī Islam and recognize the continuation of the spiritual and religious authority of the Prophet Muḥammad through his cousin and son-in-law ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib – whom they recognize as the first in a series of hereditary Imāms who are the sole legitimate authorities for the interpretation of Islam. This course deals with the history, doctrines, philosophies, rituals and devotional traditions of three major Shī‘ī Ismā‘īlī Muslim communities – the Nizari Ismā‘īlīs, the Tayyibi Ismā‘īlīs (Dawoodi Bohras), and the Druze. 

1) Introduction to the Ismā‘īlīs
2) History of the Ismā‘īlīs
3) Conceptions of Imamah
4) Messianic Doctrines

5) Theology, Philosophy and Exegesis
6) Ritual Practice and Devotional Traditions
7) Ismaili Communities in Contemporary Contexts

Course readings include the latest books, articles, and literature in the field of Ismaili studies and shed light upon many important issues such as the Ismā‘īlī doctrine of Imāmah – its evolution through history and articulation in different contexts, Ismā‘īlī philosophy, Ismā‘īlī ritual practice, the diversity of Ismā‘īlī devotional traditions, and the experience of Ismā‘īlī communities in modern times.

Click Here to see the official course description on Harvard’s website.

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