EDITORS’ NOTE: While we agree with most of the views expressed in this presentation, there are a few key points we disagree with. However, notwithstanding these, the talk is excellent.
On March 11, 2016, Daryoush Mohammad Poor, author of Authority without Territory, delivered an engaging presentation to the Shia Ithna Ashari Community of Middlesex at the Salaam Centre, Middlesex, about the Ismaili Imamat and its institutions. His talk covers three areas:
- The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the current institutions of the Ismaili Imamat.
- Authority, leadership, and Imamat as it has been understood in the Ismaili community historically and how it is understood today.
- Contemporary issues the Ismaili Imamat is focusing on.
Speaking to a lay, not academic, audience Mohammad Poor expands on the functions and role of the AKDN, rather than delving into the readily available history of the institutions. This and his other insights make his talk intellectually engaging and undeniably relevant.
The Ismaili Imamat’s position to modernity is not at all like the Euro-centric or an orientalist approach to modernity. The orientalist approach to modernity is very simple, very straight forward. You can only become modern if you behave like Europeans. If you follow exactly the same history that the Europeans have had. You’ve got to relinquish religion. You’ve got to give up tradition. You’ve got to become completely modern. Do everything they do. That is precisely what the Ismaili Imamat has preached differently … [where it] has acted differently. That, we have to do it in our own way, in our own language. We have to look at our own history, our own community, our own settings. We cannot just completely copy anything which is Western. You cannot lose your own values.
About the presenter
Dr Mohammad Poor completed his PhD in Political and Social Studies, in 2012, at the University of Westminster’s School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages. He received his MA in International Relations and Contemporary Political Theory from the University of Westminster’s Centre for the Study of Democracy, and he also holds an associate degree in Mathematics from Ferdowsy University of Mashhad, Iran.
He joined the IIS in 2002 and since then has served in various departments, contributing as translator and editor. He has also contributed, as an editor and translator, to the Encyclopaedia Islamica project. In his capacity as a Research Associate in DARP, he gives lectures to students enrolled in the IIS’s Graduate Programme.
Image: Portrait (Bill C-11, Section 29.21 http://bit.ly/1yRu6UZ)