One faith community’s reassertion of itself in space and time: The case of the Ismaili Muslims in diverse contexts

Document Type

Book Chapter




Stanley D. Brunn

Publication (Name of Journal)

Geography of Time, Place, Movement and Networks, Volume 3


Office of the Provost; Institute for Human Development



Springer Nature


This chapter considers the location of a religious minority, the Ismaili Muslims which has over the past 1400 years been dislocated, forced to migrate, and chosen to emigrate, explicitly under the guidance of its religious leaders. The chapter presents the development of a self-reflexive journey narrative based on a reconstruction of its history. The earlier history of the community constructed on biased polemics and fanciful accounts of European travellers has been superseded by authentic extant sources that have recently emerged. Next, we explore the current location, identity, and diversity of the community across the globe that is variously referred to as pluralistic. Then we address concepts that relate to physical and meta-physical spaces based on the community’s understanding and the lived experiences of its faith commitments. These include certain geographical locations in addition to sacred spaces, buildings, intellectual horizons, and civil society spaces. The chapter also considers the confluence of the community’s diverse traditions and heritages in the modern era, which relate to different time periods when various traditions developed during and in different cultures, ethno-linguistic groups, and political-economic dispensations. The chapter basically presents a critical innovative understanding of the position of the human condition in the Anthropocene Age and aims to illuminate one community’s navigation in time and multiple spaces that may be instructive to examining humanity at large. We recommend a reconsideration of humanity’s existential position in the biosphere supported by the faith community’s understanding of itself in a diversity of contexts and in consideration of the societies where it resides in the mainstream as a minority.