“Christian and Muslim Perpectives on Jesus” and “Shia Ismaili Islam”

“…the conditions of the dialogue between Christianity and Islam change completely as soon as the interlocutor represents not legalistic Islam but this spiritual Islam, whether it be that of Sufism or of Shi‘ite gnosis.” – Henry Corbin, Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth, Prologue.

Christian and Muslim Perpectives on Jesus

On Thursday, March 15, 2012, the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s College hosted The Christology Symposium – an academic forum featuring presentations on Jesus from multiple Christian and Muslim disciplines followed by a panel discussion. Among the participants was Khalil Andani who spoke on Shi‘a Isma‘ili Muslim Christology. Other lectures were Roman Catholic Christology by Greg Rupik; Sunni Muslim Christology by Shabir Ally; and Evangelical Christology by Dr. Tony Costa.

Khalil Andani’s presentation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2Hy1j7-zCE), titled Shi‘a Isma‘ili Muslim Christology: Jesus in Classical Isma‘ili Thought summarized some of the classical Isma‘ili Muslim perspectives on Prophet Jesus or Hazrat Issa (a.s) that stem from the Fatimid Isma‘ili discourse on the absolute transcendence of God, the Universal Intellect (al-‘aql al-kull), and the Cycles of the Natiqs (Prophets) and the Imams. The presentation concluded by sharing an Isma‘ili ta’wil (esoteric interpretation) of the Christian Cross and the Islamic Shahada as outlined in the writings of Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani and Ja‘far al-Mansur al-Yaman which demonstrate the ecumenical and pluralistic approaches of the Fatimid Isma‘ili thinkers. This lecture is a thoughtful response to the following observation made by Todd Lawson in The Crucifixion and the Qur’an (p.95):

“It remains a question why discussions of the Islamic Jesus have not heretofore stressed the importance of the thought of these Isma‘ili scholars with regard to what is probably the great single obstacle in Muslim-Christian relations not to mention an extremely important feature of Muslim identity.”

Shia Ismaili Islam

Khalil’s talk on Jesus follows a brilliant presentation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcpDOSMDhYM) made late last year at the University of Toronto on the theme of Shia Isma‘ili Islam, which discussed some key topics including the place of Isma‘ili Muslims within the Muslim Ummah, a historical snapshot of the Isma‘ili Imamat and the doctrine of Imamah as well as Isma‘ili esoteric principles. The forty minute lecture was described by many viewers as well articulated and succinct, and covered some very important aspects of Shia Isma‘ili Islam in a short amount of time. One comment made by Al-Karim Walli on the blog Ismailimail is worth quoting:

“I don’t often comment on such items on the Internet, but am making an exception this time because you have delivered what I consider an absolutely exceptional presentation to your UToronto class that brings together the essential elements that define our tariqah in a fashion that is also uniquely accessible for the average viewer. It was wonderful to see that the presentation was well referenced from publicly available and particularly credible sources, while continuing to flow in a digestible fashion and remaining true to the Isma‘ili ideal of building bridges.”


We invite our viewers to see the following web presentations. The Christology Symposium is particularly relevant to this weekend’s holy celebration of Easter which is being observed by Christians around the world.

(1) For complete Christology Symposium click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC4u_pm_2Wk or following image:

(2) For Khalil Andani’s presentation Shi‘a Isma‘ili Muslim Christology click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2Hy1j7-zCE or following image:


(3) For Khalil Andani’s presentation Shia Isma‘ili Islam, click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcpDOSMDhYM


Khalil Andani is Chartered Accountant (CA) and is pursuing a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree at Harvard University. He graduated with Bachelor of Math (BMath) and Master of Accounting (MAcc) degrees from the University of Waterloo. Khalil is a contemporary Isma‘ili Muslim thinker whose areas of focus include theology, philosophy, metaphysics, hermeneutics (ta’wil), and the Perennial Philosophy (sophia perennis) – on which he writes and delivers presentations. Through his literary and intellectual activities, Khalil seeks to revitalize the Shi‘a Muslim intellectual tradition of philosophy and esoteric thought and explore the common ground between Islam and other faiths.


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3 thoughts on ““Christian and Muslim Perpectives on Jesus” and “Shia Ismaili Islam”

  1. I really enjoyed listening to all perspectives on Christology and to understand the plurality of voices/views both in Islamic and Christian Traditions. It is an absolutely fascinating topic and have to compliment Khalil for his explanation on Shia Ismaili views on Jesus, Crucifixation, and shahada/cross. Very pleased to hear his question on death of the Jesus (as body) and death as end of Logos.

    I do have a question though, regarding the comparison between the cross and the Shahada in the 7 points Khalil presented. I could not find the 7 and 12 sides, angles and extremities. I would really appreciate that he’d explain to me as it is a fascinating comparison from this esoteric point of view.

    Best Wishes


  2. Khalil, very profoundly explained the inner meaning of the cross – shahada, relating to the prophets ending to the Ismaili living imam as one light that travelled from Adam to Mohamed via Jesus(Issa) now present in the Ismaili Imam, – should shake the minds of the true believers as mind boggling and very well said. I can’t write a story to explain, but Khalil’s explanation was precise and very clear to the point.

  3. Khalil Andani is magnificent. His discourse of a complex intellectual concept is dissected into a simple explanation of an important subject, that should be understood by peoples of all faiths.

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