Shi'i Islam, with its rich and extensive history, has played a crucial role in the evolution of Islam as both a major world religion and civilization. The prolific achievements of Shi?i theologians, philosophers and others are testament to the spiritual and intellectual wealth of this community. Yet Shi?i studies has unjustly remained a long-neglected field, despite the important contribution that Shi'ism has made to Islamic traditions. Only in recent decades, partially spurred by global interest in political events of the Middle East, have scholars made some significant contributions in this area. The Study of Shi'i Islam presents papers originally delivered at the first international colloquium dedicated exclusively to Shi'i studies, held in 2010 at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. Within the book are eight sections, namely, history, the Qur'an and its Shi'i interpretations, ?ad?th, law, authority, theology, rites and rituals, and intellectual traditions and philosophy.
Each section begins with an introduction contextualizing the aspects of studying Shi'i Islam particular to its theme, before going on to address topics such as the state of the field, methodology and tools, and the primary issues with which contemporary scholars of Shi'i studies are dealing. The scope and depth here covered makes this book of especial interest to researchers and students alike within the field of Islamic studies. The volume benefits from the diverse expertise of nearly 30 world-class scholars, including Mohammad-Ali Amir-Moezzi, Meir M. Bar-Asher, Farhad Daftary, Daniel De Smet, Gerald R. Hawting, Nader El-Bizri, Etan Kohlberg, Wilferd Madelung, Andrew Newman, Ismail K. Poonawala, Sabine Schmidtke and Paul E. Walker.
I.B.Tauris in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies

Few fields of Islamic studies have witnessed as much progress in modern times as Ismaili studies, and in even fewer instances has the role of a single individual been as pivotal in initiating progress as that of Wladimir Ivanow (1886-1970), whose memoirs are now published here for the first time. The breakthrough in modern Ismaili studies occurred mainly as a result of the recovery and study of a large number of texts relating to the field, which had not been available to the earlier generations of orientalists. The Persian and Arabic Ismaili manuscripts, many edited and published by Ivanow, reflect a rich diversity of intellectual and literary traditions. Ivanow left his native Russia soon after the October Revolution of 1917 and settled in India where he was formally commissioned in 1931 by Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III, the 48th Imam of the Nizari Ismailis, to investigate the history and teachings of the Ismailis. Henceforth, Ivanow began the systematic recovery and study of texts from this tradition of Shi'i Islam, discovered in India, the Middle East and Central Asia, amongst other regions.
He also played a key role in the establishment of the Ismaili Society - the first research institution of its kind with a major collection of Ismaili manuscripts. Ivanow made these manuscripts available to other scholars, thereby contributing to further progress in the field. Ivanow completed his memoirs, entitled Fifty Years in the East, in 1968, shortly before his death. This work, originally written in Russian, is comprised of an autobiography and vivid accounts from his travels. These convey his ethnologist's interest in 'the archaeology of the way of life' and profound curiosity for regional customs and languages. The memoirs, written in Tehran during Ivanow's final years, have now been edited with substantial annotations by Farhad Daftary. They reveal for the first time the circumstances under which modern Ismaili studies were initiated and an eyewitness account of several regions during the early decades of the twentieth century before the rapid onset of modernisation.
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