Demystifying the Rich Ismaili Tradition of Ginans: Carleton University’s Esteemed Scholar Karim H. Karim to Give Keynote Lecture Organized by the Association for the Study of Ginans, Saturday, December 17, 2022 via Zoom

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT

[Note: The event has ended. A link to a recording of the presentation will be provided when it becomes available; please read background article below — Ed.]

The rich and beautiful tradition of Ginans (Hymns, contemplative or reflective knowledge), sometimes referred to as poetry, that was introduced into the Indian subcontinent by Ismaili dais (missionaries) such as Pirs Satgur Noor, Shams, Sadardin helped gain new converts as well as sustain the faith of their subsequent generations for hundreds of years. The hope and promise given by the Pirs in their compositions that their hereditary spiritual master — the Imam who was at the time based in Iran — would one day make his appearance in the subcontinent (jampu dip) was realized several centuries later with the arrival of the 46th Imam, Mawlana Shah Hassanali Shah, Aga Khan I, in the 19th century.

Memorized and sung in Ismaili homes and religious gatherings, the Ginans remained the most powerful tool for keeping the faith alive. Today, in the western world, the tradition continues to thrive with Ginans being recited by Ismaili children as young as 5 or 6. With the arrival of thousands of Ismailis from the Middle East and Central Asia over the past 30 years, it is inspiring to note that they too have adopted the Ginanic tradition, just as Ismailis, whose origins are in South Asia have adopted the tradition of reciting Qasidas composed in Arabic and Farsi by eminent Ismaili figures and dais such Nasir Khusraw and Shams Tabriz.

Karim H Karim Carleton University, Association for the Study of Ginans, News, Announcement
Karim H Karim

However, how well are Ginans and their meanings understood by the new generation of Ismailis? Why is there so much confusion surrounding the Hindu element in Ginans? For that matter, are Ginans essentially Hindu in nature? And what about the solid Islamic concepts of the Unity of God (Tawhid) and Muslim ethics of compassion, honesty, forgiveness that are enshrined in the Ginans? The Prophet Muhammad himself is featured in many Ginans. Hopefully, Karim H. Karim, will seek to enlighten his audience on Saturday December 17 in his talk entitled “Are Ginans Islamic or Hindu?”

The term Satpanth (true path) was introduced by Ismaili Pirs in their compositions. In his brief synopsis about his lecture, Karim H. Karim notes:

“Satpanth’s core beliefs are founded on Shia Islamic concepts. Its ginans articulate Ismaili principles in Indic languages, music, and symbols. Like other pluralist traditions in India, Satpanth has drawn from mythological and cosmological knowledge that is integral to South Asian spirituality. Ginans flourish at the religious cross-roads of the sub-continent, the Middle East and Central Asia. This liminal space is rich and dynamic: it is integrative of traditions and worldviews, generative of art and thought, and nourishing of spirituality. It is a site of the human quest for truth that narrow notions about religion cannot confine.”

Simerg hopes that all its readers — Ismaili Muslims, non-Ismaili Muslims as well as people of other faiths — will participate in Dr. Karim’s Zoom presentation that will take place as follows:

Zoom connection:
Zoom  ID : 9150118939, Passcode: asg22
Broadcast Date: Saturday, December 17, 2022.
Broadcast times in various parts of the world:
India (Mumbai): 9:30 PM;
Pakistan: 9:00 PM;
East Africa: 7:00 PM;
Syria: 12:00 PM (Noon)
Dubai: 1:00 PM;
UK, Portugal (GMT): 4:00 PM;
France, Spain etc.: 5:00 PM; and
North America: EST (Toronto, Atlanta, New York etc.): 11:00 AM; CST (Chicago, Houston etc): 10:00 AM; MST (Calgary, Denver etc.): 9:00 AM; PST (Vancouver, Los Angeles etc.): 8:00 AM.

Readers in other worldwide cities in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, the Far East well as Australia and New Zealand, should calibrate their time according to the GMT time of 4:00 PM (16:00 hours, Saturday December 17, 2022).

Date posted: December 16, 2022.
Last updated: December 17, 2022.



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Before departing this website, please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought-provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and SimergphotosThe editor may be reached via email at

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