The Institute of Ismaili Studies was established in 1977 with the object of promoting scholarship and learning of Muslim cultures and societies, historical as well as contemporary, and a better understanding of their relationship with other societies and faiths.
The Institute’s programmes encourage a perspective that is not confined to the theological and religious heritage of Islam, but seeks to explore the relationship of religious ideas to broader dimensions of society and culture. The programmes thus encourage an interdisciplinary approach to the materials of Islamic history and thought. Within the Islamic tradition, the Institute’s programmes seek to promote research on those areas which have had relatively little attention devoted to them in scholarship to date. These include the intellectual and literary expressions of Shi‘ism in general, and Ismailism in particular.
In the context of Muslim societies, the Institute’s programmes are informed by the full range and diversity of cultures in which Islam is practised today. Particular attention is also given to issues of modernity that arise as Muslims seek to relate their heritage to contemporary circumstances. The Institute collaborates with several institutions of learning. For example, the graduate teaching programmes of the Institute have collaborated at various stages with McGill University, The University of London’s Institute of Education, The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), The University of Jordan and faculty-members of a number of universities in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
As a provider of Higher Education, the Institute is subject to external examination by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). The IIS underwent its first Higher Education Review by the QAA in April 2016. The report identified areas of good practice and made a number of recommendations and affirmations (s) the details of which can be found in the full report and can be accessed via the QAA website. Our Action Plan in response to the report can be seen here
Further details regarding the Institute’s programmes and activities are included in Dr Paul Walker’s article on The Institute of Ismaili Studies, originally published in Encyclopaedia Iranica.