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The Ismaili "Ginan" Tradition from the Indian Subcontinent

Publication Type  Article
Year of Publication  2004
Date Published  2004
Authors  Gillani, Karim
Original Publication  Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, Vol. 38, No. 2 (December 2004), pp. 175-185
Alternate Title  The Ismaili Ginan Tradition from the Indian Subcontinent
Publisher  Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA)
Key Words  Ginans Ismaili Jamat Khana
Full Text  

Ginans are devotional songs rooted in the musical and poetic matrix of Indian culture. The term "ginan" carries a double significance: on the one hand, it means "religious knowledge" or "wisdom," analogous to the Sanskrit word jnana
(knowledge).2 On the other hand, it means "song" or "recitation," suggesting a link to the Arabic ghanna and the Urdu/Hindi ghana, both verbs meaning "to sing."3 For the past seven hundred years, Ismailis from the Indian subcontinent
(Satpanth Khoja Ismailis) have been reciting ginans as a part of their daily religious devotions at the congregational hall (Jamat Khana).


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