Ep. 15 | Reconstructing Alamut: New Approaches to the Study of the Nizari Ismaili Polity in Iran | Dr. Shiraz Hajiani
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Dr. Shiraz Hajiani's research contributes to the scant scholarship on the early Nizari Ismaili community. After a succession crisis in the Fatimid Empire in 1095 divided the Ismailis, the community in Iran accepted the crown-prince, Nizar, as the legitimate Imam and successor to the Imam-Caliph al-Mustanṣir and established a polity in Iran at the fortress of Alamut. While the Nizaris, in Shiraz's view, did not write history qua history, he utilizes of a handful of Nizari doctrinal treatises such as the Ḥikāyat-i Sayyid Nāṣir-i Khusraw and Ilkhanid-era chronicles written by Sunni court-historians hostile toward the Nizaris to shed light on the founder of the polity at Alamut, Ḥasan-i Sabbāḥ, the event of the Qiyāma declared by Ḥasan ʿalā dhikrihiʾl-salām in 1164, and the Nizaris' relations with the Saljuqs and Mongols. Through his novel reading of the limited sources and use of the digital humanities, Shiraz uncovers important developments in the early history of this Shiʿī community usually relegated to a subaltern status in scholarship despite its important role in Islamicate intellectual and political history.
Dr. Shiraz Hajiani is Alwaleed Bin Talal Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University and Research Associate in Transcendence and Transformation at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. He earned his PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in 2019. His forthcoming book is The Life and Times of Our Master: A Biography of Ḥasan-i Sabbāḥ. More information about Shiraz’s work can be found at his website, islamicate.net.
Credits and transcript: islamicstudies.harvard.edu/ep-15-reconstructing-alamut-shiraz-hajiani