The Intellectual Tradition of Shia Ismaili Islam by Nadim Pabani

FATIMID APPROACHES TO KNOWLEDGE

Within the Islamic tradition, the pursuit of knowledge, the patronage of learning, the promotion of education, and the desire to seek out the truth in all its multifaceted forms was prevalent from the very earliest times. Within this milieu, the Shia Ismaili community of the Fatimid times excelled and achieved a level of literary output far beyond their relatively small size and minority status. According to Heinz Halm, the Fatimid period was “one of the most brilliant periods of Islamic history, both politically and in terms of its literary, economic, artistic, and scientific achievements.”

Please click on image to read article

Please click on image to read article

For the Ismailis, knowledge was not merely ancillary to their tradition but at the very heart of it — to the extent that their entire religio-political mission (the da’wa) revolved around the idea of knowledge as the single most important factor in their journey towards the knowledge of God in his absolute oneness (Tawhid). This paper explores the Fatimid approach to knowledge and demonstrates the courageous approach which the Ismaili thinkers like Abu Yaʿqub al-Sijistani took towards the new knowledge which was being encountered from Greek and Hellenistic traditions….Read more

The Imamat: By His Highness the Aga Khan, the Ismaili Constitution, Azim Nanji and Abbas Hamdani

“…The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet…”His Highness the Aga Khan, February 2014

His Highness Aga Khan signing his book "Where Hope Takes Root" for the Premier of British Columbia during his 2008 visit to the province to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. Ismailis will be celebrating his 57th Imamat Day on July 11, 2014. Please click on image for Imamat article. Photo: With permission of The Vancouver Sun. Copyright.

His Highness Aga Khan signing his book “Where Hope Takes Root” for the Premier of British Columbia during his 2008 visit to the province to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. Ismailis will be celebrating his 57th Imamat Day on July 11, 2014. Please click on image for Imamat article. Photo: With permission of The Vancouver Sun. Copyright.

Please click: On the Imamat and Ismailis: By His Highness the Aga Khan, the Ismaili Constitution, Azim Nanji and Abbas Hamdani

In Photos: The Magnificent Aga Khan University, its Symbolic Logo and the Elegant Jamiapoash Worn by His Highness the Aga Khan for the University’s Convocation

THE AGA KHAN UNIVERSITY

An aerial view of the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan. The University was chartered as Pakistan's first private international university in 1983 during the reign of President Zia ul-Haq. Photo: Aga Khan Development Network.

An aerial view of the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan. The University was chartered as Pakistan’s first private international university in 1983 during the reign of President Zia ul-Haq. Photo: Aga Khan Development Network.

When the Charter of the University was first granted in 1983, His Highness the Aga Khan concluded his speech on the occasion with the words, “In everything we do we must look to the future, seeking always to think creatively, to innovate and to improve.”

In 2003, on the 20th anniversary of the University’s founding His Highness the Aga Khan said in his convocation address, “My great hope and prayer is that, in time to come, Aga Khan University will be only one of hundreds of universities in the Muslim world that are on the frontiers of scientific and humanistic knowledge, radiating intelligence and confidence, research and graduates, into flourishing economies and progressive legal and political systems.”

The Aga Khan University World. Photo: Aga Khan Development Network.

The Aga Khan University World. Photo: Aga Khan Development Network.

During his 2006 convocation, the 49th Ismaili Imam, spoke about the Knowledge Society, and urged the Muslim Ummah to “become full and even leading participants in the Knowledge Society of the 21st century. That will mean embracing the values of collaboration and coordination, openness and partnership, choice and diversity – which will under-gird the Knowledge Society, learning constantly to review and revise and renew what we think we know, learning how to go on learning. The spirit of the Knowledge Society is the spirit of Pluralism – a readiness to accept the Other, indeed to learn from him, to see difference as an opportunity rather than a threat.

“Such a spirit must be rooted, I believe, in a sense of humility before the Divine, realising that none of us have all the answers, and respecting the broad variety of God’s creation and the diversity of the Human Family.”

A depiction of the Aga Khan University's future campus in Tanzania. The Arusha campus will not only be comparable to Karachi’s campus in size and scope, but it will also be the University’s first permanent campus serving students from all across the East African community. Photo: Aga Khan Development Network.

A depiction of the Aga Khan University’s future campus in Tanzania. The Arusha campus will not only be comparable to Karachi’s campus in size and scope, but it will also be the University’s first permanent campus serving students from all across the East African community. Photo: Aga Khan Development Network.

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 THE SEAL OF THE AGA KHAN UNIVERSITY

The Seal of the Aga Khan University

The Seal of the Aga Khan University

The Seal of Aga Khan University is a visual representation of the principles which underlie the founding of the University. The circular form of the Seal, with its different levels of imagery contained in concentric circles, has its visual roots in the rosettes of early Islamic periods. The circle also symbolises the world and reflects the international presence of the University. 

At the centre of the Seal is a star, or sun. Light is a universal symbol for the enlightenment that education provides.The light emanating from the star is also symbolic of Nur (Divine light).

The Aga Khan University Seal on a banner flying to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the University in 2008. Photo: Aga Khan Development Network.

The Aga Khan University Seal on a banner flying on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the University in 2008. Photo: Aga Khan Development Network.

The star incorporates 49 points to commemorate the University’s founding by His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the forty-ninth Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.

The outer ring circumscribes a Quranic Ayat rendered in classic thuluth script and reads as follows: 

“And hold fast, All together, by the rope
Which God (stretches out for you),
And be not divided among yourselves,
And remember with gratitude
God’s favour on you:
For ye were enemies
And He joined your hearts
In love, so that by His grace
Ye became brethren” — Sura 3, Ayat 103

THE CHANCELLOR’S ELEGANT  JAMIAPOASH

His Highness the Aga Khan in the Jamiapoash which comprises comprises a Khila’at, or  “robe of honour” and a Sirpoash meaning  “headwear” in Persian. Photo: Aga Khan Development Network.

A close up of His Highness the Aga Khan in the Jamiapoash which comprises a Khila’at, or “robe of honour” and a Sirpoash meaning “headwear”. Photo: Aga Khan Development Network.

The academic regalia of the Aga Khan University (AKU) worn during convocation, such as the one that is expected to take place on Thursday, December 19, 2013, is called Jamiapoash.

Jamia is from the Arabic meaning ‘institution of higher learning’ and poash is from Persian meaning ‘apparel.’ The Jamiapoash comprises a Khila’at, meaning “robe of honour” in Arabic and a Sirpoash, meaning “headwear” in Persian, with a tassel on the right.

Aga Khan IV Portrait Chancellor Robe 1989

The Khila’at for the Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, who built the University, is distinguished by its very elaborate and intricate gold embroidery on the upper part of the robe both back and front, but is also unique for its white colour.

White and gold were the colours of the coat of arms of the Fatimids of Egypt, who founded al-Azhar University in Cairo, one of the oldest institutions of higher learning. The foundation ceremony of the Aga Khan University was performed one thousand years after the founding of the al-Azhar University in 970 by His Highness the Aga Khan’s ancestor, Caliph-Imam Mawlana al-Muizz, during Fatimid rule.

Another magical photo of the 49th Ismaili Imam, the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) in the Aga Khan University regalia during a convocation ceremony. Photo: The Aga Khan Development Network.

Another magical photo of the 49th Ismaili Imam, the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) in the Aga Khan University regalia during a convocation ceremony. Photo: The Aga Khan Development Network.

The Sirpoash for the Chancellor is white in colour and richly gold-embroidered with a 5.5 cm band and a 2 cm secondary green band with a green and white tassel.

Date posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013.

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IMPORTANT NOTE TO OUR READERS: We urge ALL our readers to view and download the excellent Aga Khan Development  Network publications by clicking on AKDN Publications.  The publications are outstanding, and will illustrate the vastness of the work of the Ismaili Imamat in all areas of human endeavour. They are also very well explained and illustrated, and will prove useful for educational projects and presentations.