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Title: Shia-Ismaili motifs in the Sufi architecture of the Indus Valley, 1200-1500 A.D.
Author: Khan, Hasan Ali
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2009
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The study of the relationship between Shiism and Sufism is one of the most unexplored areas of Islamic studies, which has traditionally been hindered by the lack of primary sources. This is especially so in the case of Ismailism in the Indo-Iranian world, where that denomination held sway in the latter medieval Islamic era. Fortunately, in the case of the Indus Valley, certain religious ceremonies and a number of monuments common to the medieval Ismaili da'wa (mission) and the associated Suhrawardi Sufi Order, have survived. The comparison of the religious ceremonial at the shrine of the renowned Ismaili missionary Shams, with the iconography found on contemporaneous Suhrawardi monuments yields the covert connection that had existed between them. This was through an astrological framework based on the Persian New Year, and the vice regency and succession of the first Shia Imam Ali, as declared in the last sermon of the Prophet according to all Shiism. The nature and use of this framework is necessarily Ismaili in the Indus Valley. The astrological resonances of All's vice regency and succession to Muhammad were first intercalated by Shams with the local calendar for the benefit of his followers, and subsequently used to create a transcendental multi-faith Islamic system called the Satpanth, or True Path. The application of the Satpanth is found as astrological symbolism on the monuments of the Suhrawardi Order. In addition, an unorthodox monument archetype which is common to the buildings associated with both Ismaili missionaries and Suhrawardi Sufis endorses this connection further. A combination of extant religious ceremonial and iconography, the common monument archetype and a critical re-examination of history with local sources constitutes the methodological process which shows the covert Shia-Ismaili beliefs of the Suhrawardi Order in the Indus Valley. In the present day, these monuments are at risk of being destroyed by the Pakistani state apparatus, which traditionally sees Suhrawardi Sufi heritage in a Sunni light. This pressure has been accentuated in the aftermath of the Afghan War when puritanical elements made inroads into the official bodies which manage these monuments and shrines.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral