illustratedhistory.jpgThe IIS has just launched The Ismailis: An Illustrated History which was authored and edited by Dr. Farhad Daftary and Dr. Zulfikar Hirji (Class of 1997). Dr. Hirji is currently Assistant Professor of Anthropology at York University, Toronto. Other IIS alumni who were involved with the book were Dr. Fahmida Suleman (Class of 1997), Dr. Miriam Ali-de-Unzaga (Class of 2000) and Alnoor Merchant (Class of 1987).

The Illustrated History is based on the most recent academic research on Ismaili and Islamic history, and is meant for the general reader. The book has four main chapters that take the reader from the advent of Islam and the formation of the Shi‘a through to the historical developments that led to the formation of the Ismailis and their history up until the present-day. Each chapter contains a synopsis, maps and chronology of key events, as well as special sections devoted to important figures, themes and events in Islamic, Shi‘i and Ismaili history. Many of the beautiful images of manuscripts and objects in the book are found in private and public collections, and some are here published for the first time. The book also narrates the history of the Ismailis using contemporary and historical photographs of places and landscapes.

When Zul was asked about the book he commented that, ‘When I conceptualized the book, I imagined taking the reader on a journey through time, across continents, over valleys and mountains, and between oceans. I wanted readers to imagine themselves walking through the city of Cairo, feeling the isolation and majesty of living in a fort or castle perched on the roof of the world, and sailing across the ocean to a new frontier. Ismaili history for me is very much about constant movement and the ever-evolving understanding of faith and the meaning of life. To capture this spirit of movement, the book often juxtaposes materials from a variety of sources in different formats. The production of the book has itself been a journey of discovery. In the process, we have found new materials on Ismaili history, particularly in terms of manuscripts, objects and photographs, and re-thought the role and place of extant materials.’

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