The aim of the Shiʿi Studies Unit at the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) is to enhance scholarly attention to Shiʿi Islam and promote a better understanding of its history, doctrines and practices. The Unit also has in its remit to examine how these relate to the issues of modernity and contemporary manifestations of Shiʿi traditions in arenas as diverse as culture, politics, economics and law. The Unit also encourages scholarship which intends to enhance an understanding of the plurality of traditions within Shiʿi Islam in both its historical and contemporary contexts and to elucidate common ground among these various traditions based on a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and civilisational approach. This is a natural extension of the Institute’s distinctive and significant work in the field of Ismaili Studies.
The study of Shiʿi Islam at the IIS explores a range of key themes and aims to provide a deeper understanding through high-quality research in Shiʿi history, thought, interpretations of the Qur'an, religious law, intellectual traditions, the role of religious authority, the formation of rites and ceremonies, and the important contributions of Shiʿi communities to the intellectual traditions, arts, music, architecture and literature through the ages.
As part of this endeavour the Shiʿi Heritage Series has been established as an intrinsic part of the publication programme of the Institute and seeks to bring together some of the most significant contributions in the study of Shiʿi Islam through an interdisciplinary approach, making these accessible to a wide audience of academics and non-specialists.
In addition to their research and publication work, faculty members of the Unit offer a core course entitled "Key moments in Shiʿi History, Thought and Society" as part of the Institute's Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH).