“Islam in the Contemporary World” Conference, 1990

St Catherine’s College, Oxford, 18-28 August 1990


This residential seminar was organised by the Institute to address the broad challenges and choices offered by modernity to the Muslim world in general and the Ismaili community in particular. Lasting ten days, the seminar was designed to encourage questions and stimulate informed thinking on a broad range of issues significant to contemporary Islam, ranging from scripture, rationality and esoterism to the arts, human rights and economics. The audience was invited to participate actively in exploring ways and means of engaging creatively and critically with the modern world that are true to the Islamic tradition on the one hand, as well as adaptive to changing circumstances on the other.


Keynote Speech

Dr. Aziz Esmail, Dean, The Institute of Ismaili Studies


Muslim Communities in Historical Perspective


Prof. William Graham, Professor of Religion, Harvard University


Scripture, Faith and Practice in Islam: a Comparative Perspective


Prof. William Graham, Professor of Religion, Harvard University


The Rational Tradition in Islam: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives


Prof. Muhsin Mahdiinfo-icon, James Richard Jewett Professor of Arabic, Harvard University


The Esoteric Tradition in Islam: Sh i‘i and Sunni Forms


Prof. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Professor of Religion, George Washington University


Religion and Modernity


Dr. Aziz Esmail, Dean, The Institute of Ismaili Studies


The Image of Islam in the West


Prof. Azim Nanji, Professor of Religion, University of Florida


Islam Yesterday and Tomorrow


Prof. Mohammed Arkoun, Professor of Islamic Thought, University of Paris, Sorbonne


Modernist Muslims in Indo-Pakistan


Dr. K. K. Aziz, Visiting Professor, The Institute of Ismaili Studies


The Span and Scope of the Sufi Tariqas Today


Dr. Rafique Keshavjee, Associate Dean, The Institute of Ismaili Studies


The Concept of State and Human Rights in Islam


Mr. S. S. Pirzada, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, Pakistan


The Arts in Islam


Prof. Oleg Grabar, Aga Khaninfo-icon Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture, Harvard University


The Aga Khan Award for Architecture: Toward a Methodology for a Vision


Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director, Technical Department, Africa Region, World Bank


Economic Challenges and Some Muslim Responses


Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director, Technical Department, Africa Region, World Bank


Islam in Indonesia: Religion and Cultural Diversity


Dr. Nasir Tamara, Director of Research and Publicaions, SUMMA, Exellentia Institute, Jakarta


Mapping Ismailism: a Survey of the Evolution of Ismailism


Prof. Azim Nanji, Professor of Religion, University of Florida


The Contribution of Ismailism to Islam


Prof. Mohammed Arkoun, Professor of Islamic Thought, Sorbonne University


Religious Life and Conceptions:
A Comparative Perspective on Ismailis Today


Dr. Rafique H. Keshavjee, Associate Dean, The Institute of Ismaili Studies


The Social and Constitutional Evolution of the Ismailis


Mr. Zaher Ahmed, Chairman, IPS Kenya


Self-understanding and Self-presentation among Ismailis Today


Mr. Shams Vellani, Executive Officer, The Institute of Ismaili Studies


The Imamatinfo-icon Institutions Today: Overview and a Look at the Horizon


Gerald Wilkinson, Head, Information Department, Aiglemont


Mohammed Keshavjee, Information Officer, Aiglemont


Panel Discussion on Ismaili Thought


Prof. Ali Asani, Associate Professor of Indo-Muslim Thought, Harvard University


Dr. Jalal Badakchani, Research Associate, The Institute of Ismaili Studies


Dr. Faqir M. Hunzai, Research Associate, The Institute of Ismaili Studies


Panel Discussion on the Contemporary Muslim World


Prof. Mohammed Artkoun, Professor of Islamic Thought, Sorbonne University


Prof. Housang Chahabi, Associate Professor of Government and Social Studies, Harvard University


Dr. Aziz Esmail, Dean, The Institute of Ismaili Studies


Dr. Ahmet Evin, Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Aiglemont


Prof. Bruce Lawrence, Professor of the History of Religions, Duke University


Dr. Iftikhar Malik, Senior Fellow, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University


Prof. Azim Nanji, Professor of Religion, University of Florida


Prof. Fred Stambouli, Department of Sociology, Tunis University