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Monday, March 28, 2011

A Modern History of the Ismailis

A Modern History of the Ismailis: Continuity and Change in a Muslim Community

I. B. Tauris Publishers in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London 2010.

The second largest Shi‘i Muslim community after the Ithna‘ashari or Twelvers, the Ismailis have had a long and complex history dating back to the formative period of Islam. Subsequently, they became subdivided into a number of major branches and minor groups. However, since the beginning of the 12th century CE, the Ismailis have existed in terms of two main branches, the Nizaris and the Tayyibi Must‘alians, who have been respectively designated as Khojas and Bohras in South Asia. The Tayyibis themselves were in due course split into the dominant Da’udi and minority Sulaymani and ‘Alavi communities. Currently, the Ismailis of different communities are dispersed as religious minorities in more than 25 countries of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America.
Numbering several millions, the Ismailis represent a diversity of ethnicities and literary traditions, and speak a variety of languages and dialects. The majoritarian Nizari Ismaili community now recognises His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV as their 49th hereditary Imam or spiritual leader. The Da’udi, Sulaymani and ‘Alavi Tayyibi Ismailis are led by different lines of da‘is with supreme authority while all the Tayyibi Imams have remained in concealment and are inaccessible to their followers.
Until the middle of the 20th century, the Ismailis were by and large misrepresented with a variety of myths and legends circulating about their teachings and practices. This was due to the fact that they were almost exclusively studied and evaluated, in both Western and Muslim countries, on the basis of evidence collected or fabricated by their detractors. These perceptions of the Ismailis have been drastically revised, however, by the results of modern scholarship in Ismaili studies, based on an increasing number of manuscript sources produced in different phases of Ismaili history. The rich and varied Ismaili literature recovered and studied in modern times, especially since the 1940s, has particularly enhanced our knowledge of the mediaeval history and traditions of the Ismailis.
But the modern period in Ismaili history, covering approximately the last two centuries, has not received its deserved share of benefit from the recent progress in Ismaili studies. A major reason for this stems from the fact that adequate textual sources on the modern history of the Ismailis in various regions have not always been available, while it remains extremely difficult for non-Ismaili scholars who do not have the relevant language skills to tap into the rich oral traditions existing in the regions where the Ismailis have lived for centuries.
In sum, it seems that a suitable modern history of the Ismailis still awaits much preparatory work. Only then may we begin to have a better understanding of the evolution of the Ismaili communities of various regions together with their heritage and literary traditions. A Modern History of the Ismailis represents a first attempt in that direction.
This book contains chapters on the modern history of the Nizari Ismailis of several regions where these communities have traditionally lived. These chapters are mostly written by Ismaili scholars, both young and well established, who have the necessary language skills as well as familiarity with these communities’ oral and literary traditions. There is a chapter devoted to the issue of Nizari settlement in the West, an important phenomenon since the mid-twentieth century. A few chapters also deal with the reforms and institutional initiatives of the last two Nizari Imams, Aga Khan III and Aga Khan IV, and their achievements.
A separate section is devoted to the modern history of the Tayyibi Must‘alian Ismailis, now dominated by the Da’udi Bohras of South Asia. The authors of the Tayyibi chapters too are well placed as young scholars belonging to a prominent family within the leadership hierarchy of the Da’udi Bohra community and, as such, have had access to the sources of information required for approaching their subjects.
These collected studies should not be taken to represent the final word on their subject matters. Several chapters, in fact, may reflect work in progress, as the state of our knowledge on modern Ismaili history is still continuously undergoing revision and enhancement. One main aim here, as with all research and publications at the Institute, has been to facilitate scholarship and to contribute to further progress in the field of Ismaili studies.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ata Abad Lake

The lake which was created on the 4th of January 2010 near Attabad village in Hunza valley due to a massive landslide blocking Hunza River submerged a portion of KKH and caused considerable damage to life and property in the area.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been monitoring this calamity since its inception and has worked incessantly, in coordination with all the stake holders and line departments, to resolve the crisis by dewatering the lake and normalizing life in the adjoining areas. Currently the water level in the lake is at 368 feet and with an inflow of 1200-1400 cusecs and outflow of 3000-3500 cusecs, the level is consistently coming down with consequent reclamation of more submerged land. The depth of the spillway is 28 meters and currently 04 dozers, 12 excavators, 18 dumpers & 24 compressors are deployed for the construction of the spillway. In addition, 150 jawans of FWO have been deployed in the area. The helicopter support and boat service is available for emergencies in the area.



Monday, March 7, 2011


The continuing behavior of "Hunzukutz", contained in the all embracing word "SUCHI", is based on the guidance of Allah communicated through our holy prophet (PBUH) in which he extols people to settle their affairs through mutual consultation and if they do not reach an accord then leave the consequences to Allah and his messenger (rather than taking the matters into their own hands and resorting to 'FASAD'). Furthermore Imam Baqir asked his followers to include "SABR" (Click Patience) as a basic pillar of "IMAN". The continuing guidance of the Imam on these principles for the time is expressed through terms such as "MERITOCRACY", "DEMOCRACY", "Pluralism" and "CIVIL SOCIETY".
It is imperative for the Governance (specially the newly appointed governor) to understand the reasons for civilized (and to others "docile") behavior of 'Hunzukutz' to be this social and religious philosophy rather than interpreting it in terms of weakness and lack of courage. The number of Wartime awards as well as the civil awards for service and achievement earned by "Hunzukutz" are a testimony to their prowess. The Government must as such listen to civilized voices rather than "GHIRAO" "JALOA" and similar violent methods of getting the demands of populations attended. The expectations for dispensation on "JUSTICE" and "MERIT" continue to be advocated verbally as well as through written communication (See the EXTRACTS posted on this blog) to all echelons of governance for the past many decades without any visible impact. As a result I can hear "ANGER" especially from our younger generation and I strongly recommend it to be heard by people responsible for making decisions that affect the present and future of a society. If we study history, be it French Revolution or the Bolshevik revolution, the anger arising from injustice gives rise to "HATE" and in the long run to "TEHRIKS" with uncontrolled consequences. The demand for a second seat for HUNZA in the GBLA is a JUST and MERIT based demand and it must be met as an urgent matter. My presence today and address to populations from a platform of this nature for the first time in my life stems from my devotion and love, like majority of Hunzukutz, for Pakistan, that alone forces me to advocate that such love for Pakistan should not be allowed to decay and turn into "HATE". In the light of what I believe is the right course, and of course as part of example for the country in expression of collective will, notwithstanding existing disappointments and violent methods prevalent in the country, I put forward two suggestions in front of my fellow "HUNZUKUTZ":
First we must on 01 Nov between 11:00 to 12:00 O'clock demonstrate our solidarity in a civilized manner. Towards this end all men, women and children must form a human chain from "KILIK" to "MAYUN" on the roads adjacent to their villages without disturbing any traffic or other forms of violence or improper behavior instead showing a festive look in the usual HUNZA tradition.
Secondly we must choose two representatives through a very transparent and ideal democratic procedure and present to the government as "REPRESENTATIVES" elected by the people as part of democratic expression.

The International Symposium on ‘Karakorum-Hindukush-Himalaya: Dynamics of Change’

The International Symposium on ‘Karakorum-Hindukush-Himalaya: Dynamics of Change’ was held in Islamabad. Pakistan, from September 29th to October 2nd, 1995. Four excursions to northern Pakistan (September l9th-28th, 1995)  preceded the symposium. The impetus behind these events was the conclusion of the Pak-German Research Project ‘Culture Area Karakorum’, which has been active in the Northern Areas of Pakistan since 1989.
The excursions followed four separate routes with slightly different focusses: Chitral, Hunza, Nanga Parbat and Baltistan. At the end of the excursions, the groups  met in Gilgit for joint discussions and seminars before returning to the Islamabad symposium. All participants were invited and encouraged to contribute to the field trips by introducing their own experience from research in the Northern Areas, as well as from other high mountain regions.
The documentation in hand contains two parts, plus organisational information. Part I is identical for all excursions and includes general information on Northern Pakistan, whereas part II refers to the specific regions that were visited. The documentation includes a mixture of already published material from different authors from the Pak-German Research Project ‘Culture Area Karakorum’, and other specifically compiled data. For obvious reasons, data and results from environmental and geographic studies can very often be presented as maps or diagrams. Linguistic and religious aspects, as well as findings related to research in social anthropology, usually refer to extensive verbal presentation. However, most of the maps and tables were further explained during the field trips.
Unpublished material in this excursion guide was placed at our disposal by members of the excursion groups, as well as by numerous other individuals. This generosity is warmly acknowledged. J.-P. Mund and M. Münz compiled and prepared the documentation. They also translated most of the documents originally published in German. R. Spohner and G. Storbeck drafted and redrew many of the maps and diagrams. We are grateful for their tremendous assistance. Finally, we want to thank the ‘Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft’ (DFG, The German Science Foundation) for its generous financial support.
Bonn, September 1995 Matthias Winiger
Since this preface was written in 1995, a lot of research has been done and published on many of the topics mentioned in this preface. I have recently approached Professor Imtraud Stellrecht of Tubingen University to provide an abstract, and possibly the treasure of knowledge about Gilgit and Baltistan that CAK has researched in typical German thoroughness. Meanwhile interested readers can access the material published till 1995 by clicking on this link CAK and get benefitted from this research.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Native American Wisdom

I enjoyed this mail from Prof Salman Ali, may be some others visiting this blog may take it the same way:

Before our white brothers came to civilize us we had no jails. Therefore we had no criminals. You can’t have criminals without a jail. We had no locks or keys, and so we had no thieves. If a man was so poor that he had no horse, tipi or blanket, someone gave him these things. We were too uncivilized to set much value on personal belongings. We wanted to have things only in order to give them away. We had no money, and therefore a man’s worth couldn’t be measured by it. We valued the exchange of love, so we did not deal in fear. We had no written law, no attorney or politicians, therefore we couldn’t cheat. We were in a really bad way before the white man came, and I don’t know how we managed to get along for millenniums without the basic things which, we are told, are absolutely necessary to make a current civilized society.       
-- Lakota Sage Lame Deer (from John Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Assessing high-altitude water resources

 Karakorum–Hindukush–western Himalaya: assessing high-altitude water resources
1.     M. Winiger, 
2.     M. Gumpert, 
3.     H. Yamout
 The high mountains of Central and South Asia provide irrigation water for their adjacent lowlands. The Indus Irrigation Scheme depends on approximately 50% of its runoff originating from snowmelt and glacier melt from the eastern Hindukush, Karakorum and western Himalaya. The Atlas of Pakistan indicates that these mountains gain a total annual rainfall of between 200 and 500 mm, amounts that are generally derived from valley-based stations and not representative for elevated zones. High-altitude snowfall seems to be neglected and is obviously still rather unknown. Estimates derived from accumulation pits runoff above 4000 m range from 1000 mm to more than 3000 mm, depending on the site and time of investigation, as well as on the method applied.
To assess the vertical spatio-temporal distribution of total annual precipitation, a combined approach is presented. This approach links in situ measurements of snow depth and water equivalent (10-year time series derived from automatic weather stations at elevations between 1500 and 4700 m a.s.l.), the spatial distribution and period of snow coverage (remotely sensed data and digital elevation models), and the runoff characteristics of streams originating from snow or snow/ice-covered watersheds (modified snowmelt runoff model, including intermediate snowfall and glacier runoff).
Based on conservative assumptions, the vertically changing seasonal ratio between liquid and solid precipitation is calculated. Using a combined snow cover and ablation model, total annual amounts of precipitation are derived for different altitudinal zones. Amounts of modelled and measured runoff complement the investigation. Horizontal gradients along the Indus–Gilgit–Hunza transect indicate the varying dominance of seasonal precipitation regimes (monsoonal, Mediterranean and continental disturbances) south of Nanga Parbat, between Nanga Parbat and Batura Wall (=West Karakorum rainfall regime: 1500–1800 mm year−1 at 5000 m) and areas north of Batura (=Central Asian rainfall regime: 600 mm year−1 at 5000 m). 
Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd