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Has Kalki Already Appeared as ʿAlī? The Influence of Hindu Beliefs on the Nizārī Ismaili Khojas

Publication Type  Article
Year of Publication  2017
Date Published  2017
Authors  KUTLUTURK, Cemil
Original Publication  Journal of Shi‘a Islamic Studies Winter 2017 . Vol. X . No. 1
Volume  Vol X
Issue  No. 1
Publisher  Journal of Shi‘a Islamic Studies Winter 2017 . Vol. X . No. 1
Key Words  Ginan; Hindu-Muslim interaction; India; imamah; Nizārī Ismaili Khojas; Shi‘a; syncretism.
Full Text  

The Historical Interaction of Hinduism and Islam since the seventh century has witnessed periods of cooperation and syncretism. In this sense the Khojas, who were the main representatives of Nizārī Ismaili thought in India, are a unique model as they were influenced by Hindu customs and beliefs, particularly Vaishnava terminologies. For instance, the Hindu concept of Kalki avatara, the messianic tenth incarnation of Vishnu, renamed in this tradition as Nakalanki, ‘the stainless one’, was identified with ʿAlī, the first Shiite Imam. Therefore, an attempt is made in this article to disclose the influence of Hindu terms and doctrines on the Nizārī Khojas by focusing on their religious texts, Ginans, which were composed by dāʿīs, the so-called propagators of this sect. This paper also deals with the historical development of Khoja community in India where the second-largest Shi‘a population in the world is located.


Has Kalki Already Appeared as ʿAlī? The Influence of Hindu Beliefs on the Nizārī Ismaili Khojas

The Historical Interaction of Hinduism and Islam since the seventh century has witnessed periods of cooperation and syncretism. In this sense the Khojas, who were the main representatives of Nizārī Ismaili thought in India, are a unique model as they were influenced by Hindu customs and beliefs, particularly Vaishnava terminologies. For instance, the Hindu concept of Kalki avatara, the messianic tenth incarnation of Vishnu, renamed in this tradition as Nakalanki, ‘the stainless one’, was identified with ʿAlī, the first Shiite Imam. Therefore, an attempt is made in this article to disclose the influence of Hindu terms and doctrines on the Nizārī Khojas by focusing on their religious texts, Ginans, which were composed by dāʿīs, the so-called propagators of this sect. This paper also deals with the historical development of Khoja community in India where the second-largest Shi‘a population in the world is located.

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