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Architecture in the Ismaili Centre, Dubai.

We congratulate our colleague Dr Daniel Beben who has been invited to lecture at the Annual Meeting of the Asian Chapter of the Alumni of the London-based Institute of Ismaili Studies. The Meeting took place in Dubai on 4-6 September 2016.

Dr Beben was one of the four invited speakers at this event and he gave two lectures on “The Literary Reception of Nasir-i Khusraw in Central Asian Sufism” and “‘The Pillar of Kuhistan’: the Shrine of Nasir-i Khusraw in Yumgan”. The abstracts of the lectures can be found below.

Dr Daniel Beben received his PhD in the fields of History and Central Eurasian Studies from Indiana University in 2015. His dissertation entitled “The Legendary Biographies of Nasir-i Khusraw: Memory and Textualization in Early Modern Persian Ismailism” received the 2015 Best Dissertation Award from the Foundation for Iranian Studies. Daniel is also currently preparing an edition and translation of the memoirs of Imam Hasan ‘Ali Shah (Aga Khan I), titled the Tarikh-i ‘ibrat-afza, to be published with the IIS Texts and Translations Series.


“The Literary Reception of Nasir-i Khusraw in Central Asian Sufism”

In this session we will examine the literary reception and legacy of Nasir-i Khusraw within the predominantly Sunni Sufi traditions of Central Asia. We will examine and compare several accounts of Nasir-i Khusraw and his works written by Central Asian Sufi authors, both favourable and critical, and will explore the reasons why his image changed and evolved within these accounts over time. In particular, we will examine a popular story that first emerged in the fifteenth-century work of Dawlatshah Samarqandi, which portrays Nasir-i Khusraw as a companion of the renowned Sufi master Abu’l-Hasan Kharaqani. Here we will explore the reasons for why this legendary story became so popular and its significance for understanding the relationship between Ismaili and Sufi tradition of Islam in Central Asia.

“‘The Pillar of Kuhistan’: the Shrine of Nasir-i Khusraw in Yumgan”

The figure of Nasir-i Khusraw is today widely celebrated as a composer of Persian poetry and as the author of a renowned travelogue as well as several critical works on Islamic philosophy and Ismaili theology. In this presentation we will explore another aspect of Nasir-i Khusraw’s legacy within the Islamic world which has received far less attention, namely his shrine in the region of Yumgan in Badakhshan. We will examine a number of historical sources from both Ismaili and non-Ismaili authors which attest to the importance of Nasir-i Khusraw’s shrine and to his image as a popular saint within the Sufi traditions of Central Asia. In order to better understand the historical significance of Nasir-i Khusraw’s shrine, in this session we will also discuss more broadly the concept of sainthood and the role of shrines within the Sufi traditions of Central Asia, and will examine the relevance of these concepts for understanding Nasir-i Khusraw’s legacy. In doing so, this session will explore the wider historical relationship and commonalities between the Ismaili and Sufi traditions of Islam in Central Asia and beyond.