Religious Identity, Dissimulation and Assimilation: the Ismaili Experience

Farhad Daftary

in Living Islamic History

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780748637386
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653218 | DOI:
Religious Identity, Dissimulation and Assimilation: the Ismaili Experience

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This chapter examines the origins of the concept of taqiyya or dissimulation, and its practice among Ismailis through the ages. It also discusses the various geographies in which the Ismailis lived as a religious minority. Taqiyya has two contradictory effects among Ismailis. It helped preserve the Ismailis as a community in their own right, but also fostered assimilation into the larger and more powerful groups among whom they lived such as the Twelver Shi،ites, Sunnis and Sufis. But even when communities were preserved, they also developed syncretistic belief systems, showing hybridities due to acculturation into the beliefs of other communities. Although the principle of taqiyya provided a measure of security against external threats, it also led to internally generated threats through syncretism, and through the hybrid practices and systems of belief it created and fostered.

Keywords: dissimulation; Ismailis; Taqiyya; acculturation; syncretism

Chapter.  6759 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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