Launch of The Ismailis: An Illustrated History
On July 3, 2008, the IIS launched The Ismailis: An Illustrated History at the Excel Centre in London. The book launch was held during the recent visit of His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Imam of the Ismailis, to the United Kingdom on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of his accession to the Imamat.
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The Illustrated History is the first IIS publication to be written for a non-specialist audience and is one of five publications released in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee.
Co-authored by Dr Farhad Daftary and Professor Zulfikar Hirji, The Illustrated History contains over 400 illustrations, including images of manuscripts, artefacts and monuments, community documents as well as important historical and contemporary photographs. Based on modern scholarship in Ismaili Studies and the broader field of Islamic Studies, the book offers a comprehensive and accessible account of Ismaili history and intellectual achievements, set in the wider contexts of Islamic and world history.
The Illustrated History contains four main chapters that take the reader from the advent of Islam and the formation of the Shi‘a through to the historical developments that lead to the formation of the Ismailis and their history up until the present-day. Each chapter contains a synopsis, maps and chronology of key events, as well as special sections devoted to important figures, themes and events in Muslim history, with a particular focus on Shi‘i and, more specifically, Ismaili history. Many of the manuscripts and objects, depicted through beautiful images in the book, are found in private and public collections, and are here published for the first time. The book also narrates the history of the Ismailis using contemporary and historical photographs of places and landscapes. A number of the manuscripts, objects and photographs from the IIS library collection were also displayed in an exhibition held in London that accompanied the book launch.
Additional book launch events were arranged in Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver in Canada, and in Nairobi, Kenya, with over 2,500 people attending the events in all three countries. It is hoped that similar launch events will take place in other cities around the world over the next few months.