Lifelong Learning Articles

The selection of articles presented in this section is aimed to facilitate access to secondary literature on Islam, and the related fields, by a general non-academic readership, with particular focus on students and individuals who may have personal or professional interest in studying aspects of Muslim cultures and societies.

These articles reflect the views of individual authors on the basis of their research, reflection, and experience and should not be seen as necessarily reflecting the Institute's thinking or perspectives.

Pluralism: Beyond Ethnic and Sectarian Identities
Many societies of the Muslim world, for all their rich traditions of diversity and generosity, have lately fallen prey to ugly sectarian division. Communities that have long been part of the larger Islamic world and its heritage — Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and various minority Muslim...
Muslim Values
Drawing on an excerpt from an address made by His Highness the Aga Khan in 2006, the author explores the links between faith and ethics, and how human virtue can help to achieve social harmony. 
Social Legislation in Surat al-Ahzab
In this article the author examines Surat 33 of the Qur’an, al-Ahzab, in the context of circumstances in Prophet Muhammad’s life at the time of its revelation. Pivotal issues such as the roots of the Muslim perspective on adoption, succession of women, and who was referred to by the term ahl...
Governing Diverse Communities: A Medieval Muslim Illustration
The unfolding of the recent, people-led demonstrations across the Middle East brings to the fore the perennial question of what constitutes good governance and how the quest for good order is to be fulfilled. One way to respond to this question is to examine models of authority and leadership...
Whose Memory? Re-thinking Orientalist and Occidental Conceptualisations of ‘Islamic Art’.
In this reflective piece the author utilises a quote by cultural historian James Clifford to deconstruct the orientalist bias in museums when curating exhibitions of ‘Islamic Art’. He asks important questions about the generic term ‘Islamic art,’ and how narrow or broad this is in scope....
Ethics in Action: The Role of Waqf in Early Muslim Society
In this article the author references certain key hadiths of Prophet Muhammad, Qur’anic verses and examples from the Prophet’s sunna to highlight the importance in Islam of an ethical standpoint in all walks of life including giving charity, helping the poor and needy, and aiding those who are...
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and Astronomy
This article provides a short informative history of Nasir al-Din Tusi’s life, education and works. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi’s contribution to the post-13th century intellectual history of Islam is monumental, and many of his works became the standard in a variety of disciplines up to modern times...
The Philosophy of Mediation: Questions and Responses from Diverse Parts of the World and Especially from the Islamic Tradition
In this paper, the author highlights the fact that the concept of mediation exists in many cultures and traditions in the world and that, unfortunately, its centrality as a dispute resolution mechanism in Islam is obfuscated by a negative image of the faith shaped largely by media images...
Striving Towards Leadership
The attributes of modesty, patience, humility, knowledge, forbearance and consultation are highlighted by His Highness the Aga Khan as attributes for good leadership, following a saying by Imam Ali. This article expands on the theme of successful leadership as a fine balancing act, where...
Pundits, Pachyderms and Pluralism: The Never-ending Debate on Multiculturalism
Abstract   The word ‘multiculturalism’ was coined in the early 1970s, from which time various pundits worldwide have given it differing, often contradictory, interpretations; based on their own socio-cultural contexts. Similar to Rumi’s elephant in the dark house, the pachyderm of the title...

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