Next Ismaili Studies Conference at Carleton University – March 2017

The Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam is pleased to announce that an international Ismaili Studies conference will take place on March 9 and 10, 2017 at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. It will build on the remarkable success of the Ismaili Studies Conference: State of the Field held at the University of Chicago in 2014.

These multidisciplinary gatherings are a progressive endeavour to provide opportunities for the presentation of research as well as for academic discussion and debate on the scholarly endeavour termed broadly as Ismaili Studies. It provides a pluralist locus for scholarship on the various entities and communities that are related to, have emerged from or are associated in other ways with Ismaili expressions of Islam in the past and the present. The conference also addresses these communities’ relations within the wider Shia, Muslim and other societies.

Also of interest are the engagements across religious boundaries and the articulations of thought and faith in between dominantly defined religious and cultural domains. This multidisciplinary intellectual space includes but is not limited to the critical analysis of the histories, migrations, and institutions as well as of social, economic, political and cultural expressions. It is also inclusive of all geographical regions. Such an approach provides for a robust and integral understanding of a broadly situated Ismaili Studies.

Proposals for papers and panels are invited in the following areas, but are not limited to them:

  • Art and architecture
  • Education
  • History
  • Institutional development
  • Inter-faith / inter-cultural relations
  • Khoja Studies
  • Literature
  • Media and communication
  • Migration, diaspora, transnationalism
  • Music
  • Philosophy and theology
  • Politics
  • Policy
  • Religious practice
  • Socio-economic development
  • Values and doctrines

Abstracts should be sent by July 8, 2016 to: Professor Karim H. Karim (, Director, Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam.


Mi‘raj: Spiritual Ascension of Prophet Muhammad in Ismaili Thought ~ Ismaili Gnosis

The night of mi’raj is the one on which the Prophet revisited his original abode … It is not that only Hazrat ‘Ali’s progeny can attain this status. Whoever is determined enough will be able to reach the goal. It can come in stages, through repeated efforts.”
– Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III, (September 29, 1899)

In the traditional, exoteric (zahir) understanding of Mi’raj (ascension), the Prophet Muhammad travels from the Ka’bah in Makkah to the Sacred Masjid in Jerusalem on the winged horse Buraq. In Jerusalem, after the Prophet Muhammad led a prayer of all Prophets, Buraq ascended with the Prophet through the seven heavens, after which the Prophet experienced his vision of Allah. However, in Ismaili philosophy, the mi’raj considers this understanding as symbolic of a deeper, esoteric (batin) explanation, or ta’wil. Read more below.

Source: Mi‘raj: Spiritual Ascension of Prophet Muhammad in Ismaili Thought ~ Ismaili Gnosis

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Ismaili Gnosis to Contribute Book Chapter to Pandeism: An Anthology

Ismaili Gnosis is contributing a book chapter on Islamic Metaphysics to Pandeism: An Anthology alongside numerous authors. The Abstract of the Ismaili Gnosis chapter is as follows:

“We offer a constructive critique of pandeism on philosophical grounds and propose that a Muslim Neoplatonic metaphysics (common to Shia-Ismaili, Sunni-Sufi, and several other schools of Islamic philosophy) best accounts for and explains the existence of the Universe as human beings experience it. We first argue, in partial agreement with the pandeist, that there exists a Creator of the physical Universe, who is above space and time, powerful, intelligent, and rational. We also affirm that this Creator creates the Universe for a rational end or purpose. Our critique then proceeds on two points: first, we argue that the notion of the Creator actually becoming the Universe is logically and metaphysically impossible. This is because the Creator of the Universe must necessarily be an immaterial, personal and rational Soul (or Universal Soul) that continuously creates and sustains the Universe and while also being manifest or immanent within it. Secondly, we argue that the existence of the Universe and its Creator (Universal Soul) can only be explained by a Universal Intellect as the locus of eternal truth, whose existence in turn depends upon an absolutely simple and transcendent God. According to our proposed Muslim Neoplatonic metaphysics, all existents (whether physical or metaphysical) are originated by and continuously dependent upon one single absolutely Unconditioned Reality (the God of classical theism) by the mediation of the Universal Intellect, the grounding source of all truth, intelligibility and essences (Forms), and the Universal Soul, the Creator of the Cosmos and the source of all rational and goal directed activities including humanity.”


Ismaili Gnosis to Contribute Book Chapter to Pandeism: An Anthology

Pandeism: An Anthology is a collection of articles by more than a dozen authors, from all over the world, presenting diverse viewpoints on the theological theory of Pandeism. The book editors invited both Atheist and Theist authors to offer their critical views on Pandeism. Authors who have committed articles to this book include an outstanding group of contributors to a variety of areas of philosophical thought. Ismaili Gnosis was solicited to provide the Muslim Neoplatonist perspective on Theism and is contributing a chapter on Islamic Metaphysics alongside the below authors.

  • Michael Arnheim (barrister and Deist, United Kingdom)
  • Robert G. Brown (physicist and philosopher, United States)
  • Dan Dana (Atheist writer, United States)
  • Alan Dawe (author of the award-winning “The God Franchise,” New Zealand)
  • Orlando Alcántara Fernández (Christian poet, Dominican Republic)
  • Ismaili Gnosis (Muslim Neoplatonist philosopher)
  • Zoltan Istvan (Transhumanist author, United States)
  • Bernardo Kastrup (computer scientist and philosopher of consciousness, Netherlands)
  • William…

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Imam Bearer of Nur

The Imamat Day Story in Pictures and Quotations

Ismaili Gnosis presents the Story of Imamat Day through pictures and quotes from Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah and Mawlana Hazar Imam. On July 11, 1957, Imam Shah Karim al-Husayni Aga Khan IV succeeded his grandfather Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III as the hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. Shia Ismaili Muslims around the world commemorate July 11 every year as Imamat Day or Yawm al-Imamah. Check out the Story of Imamat Day by following Ismaili Gnosis on Instagram – or on the Ismaili Gnosis Facebook Page.

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Ismaili Gnosis Book Club Engages Membership Worldwide


Ismaili Gnosis Book Club Engages Membership Worldwide Image via

The Ismaili Gnosis Book Club is an online platform for Ismailis to discuss a book with a particular interest to Ismailis. We discuss a chapter at a time and bring in relevant pictures, newspaper clippings, articles and other book excerpts to add context to the quote being discussed.

Currently we are reading Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah’s Memoirs. A book that people may be aware of or even read previously but that they are now able to study in detail with the thoughts, ideas and comments of Ismailis around the world.

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Laylat al-Qadr: Qur’ānic Revelation and Prophetic Inspiration

How was the Holy Qur’ān revealed to the Prophet Muhammad?
What is the Holy Spirit sent down in the Night of Power?
What is the relationship between the Holy Qur’ān and the Holy Imāms?

Ismaili Gnosis (Ismailism)

According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muḥammad received the first revelations of the Holy Qur’ān on the Night of Power (laylat al-qadr) which is vividly described in the ṣūrahs below:

Verily, We sent it down in the Night of Power
And how can we tell you what is the Night of Power?
The Night of Power is greater than a thousand months.
The Angels and the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair.
Peace it is, until the rising of the dawn.
(Ṣūrah al-Qadr – 97:1-5)

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Iqrā’ – ‘Read’ or ‘Remember’? Rethinking the First Revelation of the Qur’ān

Ismaili Gnosis (Ismailism)

“The command to recite the Name of the Lord seems to refer to a certain act of devotion… The interpretation…according to which ūrat al-‘Alaq urges the prophet to praise the Name of his Lord, was almost utterly forgotten.” (Uri Rubin)

“Al-Sijistāni holds that prophethood does not suddenly come into conjunction with just any prophet; rather, the prophet must experience significant change in his spiritual status.” (Shin Nomoto)

According to traditional interpretations, the verse (iqra bi-smi rabbika) instructs the Prophet to read the verses of the Qur’ān.  But there is another way of understanding these verses, based on early Muslim tradition and sources, which yields a different interpretation and in turn reveals the spiritual secrets of the prophetic mission.

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Chandraat has always been about checks and balances. My mother would open her accounting log and record my parents’ earnings, deduct the amount for Dasond, and then distribute individual allowances.

If it was the Chandraat after Bakra Eid, then my brother and I would emulate my mom’s accounting practice, each setting aside $12.50 for Dasond and filling out deposit slips for the remaining $87.50. For me, giving Dasond was a joyful dance of gratitude, as it provided an opportunity for me to share the wealth and spend in the way of my Lord.

Du’a and Dasond are both obligatory and inseparable in the Ismaili Tariqah of Islam. Together they constitute the Cycle of Sustenance in the physical world. One without the other is simply incomplete.

Du’a, symbolized by the Whirling Dervish’s upward-facing right palm, is a spiritual gesture to ask for and receive sustenance from the Sustainer of…

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