Applying esoteric interpretations (ta’wil), characteristic to Ismaili Muslim theology, Fatimid Ismaili thinkers developed truly creative and ecumenical perspectives on the theological status and spiritual role of Jesus, while staying true to the shared Abrahamic heritage of Christianity and Islam.
Khalil Andani’s lecture, Jesus in Esoteric Islam: Ismaili Muslim Christology, delivered on March 1 2013, before the Society of Comparative Theology at Harvard Divinity School, summarizes various interpretations of Jesus put forward by these and other Ismaili philosophers.
Khalil explains classical Ismaili Muslim perspectives on Prophet Jesus, or Hazrat ‘Isa, arising from the Fatimid Ismaili doctrines on the absolute transcendence of God, the Universal Intellect (al-‘aql al-kull), and the Cycles of Natiqs (Prophets) and Imams. His presentation concludes with Abu Ya’qub al-Sijistani’s and Ja’far al-Mansur al-Yaman’s Ismaili esoteric interpretation of the Christian Cross and the Islamic Shahadah, highlighting the ecumenical and pluralistic disposition of Fatimid Ismaili philosophers.
The lecture covers the following:
- An introduction to the Ismaili Muslims.
- Shi’a Imamology and Christian Christology Compared.
- Ismaili Cosmology and Theology of Religions.
- An esoteric perspective (ta’wil) of the Christian Trinity.
- An esoteric perspective (ta’wil) of the Christian Eucharist.
- An esoteric perspective (ta’wil) of the Crucifixion of Jesus.
- An esoteric perspective (ta’wil) of the Christian Cross.
About the Presenter
A doctoral (Ph.D.) candidate specializing in Islamic intellectual history, theology, philosophy and mysticism at Harvard University, Khalil Andani holds a Master of Theological Studies degree, specializing in Islamic philosophy and Ismaili thought, from Harvard University. He also holds Bachelor of Mathematics (BMath) and Master of Accounting degrees from the University of Waterloo, and is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).
Khalil has been invited to deliver several guest lectures and conference presentations on various topics in Islamic philosophy, theology and mysticism at Harvard University, Boston College, Boston University, University of Toronto, University of Chicago, Carleton University, the American Academy of Religion and the Middle East Studies Association. His publications include a chapter on Nasir-i Khusraw’s philosophical thought in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy, a two part paper in Sacred Web (link below) and an article featured by The Matheson Trust.
His papers and presenations can be found, here at Harvard, and he can be reached at Khalil_Andani@mail.harvard.edu.
Video: Khalil Andani
Further readings by Khalil Andani
Other articles and presentations by Khalil Andani discussing Ismaili Muslim perspectives of Jesus (recommended sequence):
- The Common Word: Reflections on Muslim-Christian Dialogue.
- Ismaili Muslim Perspectives on Jesus (video).
- With Shabir Ally, Tony Costa and Greg Rupik: The Christology Symposium: Multiple Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Jesus (video).
- They Killed Him Not: The Crucifixion in Shi’a Ismaili Islam.
- The Metaphysics of the Common Word: A Dialogue of Eckhartian and Ismaili Gnosis, Sacred Web Journals 2011; Part 1 here; Part 2 here.