A Semiotics of Infinite Translucence: The Exoteric and Esoteric in Ismaili Muslim Hermeneutics

Authors

  • Karim H. Karim Communication Studies, Carleton University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.22230/cjc.2015v40n1a2861

Keywords:

Islam, Hermeneutics, Semiotics, Public sphere, Private sphere / Islam, Herméneutique, Sémiotique, Sphère publique, Sphère privée, Architecture

Abstract

The complex juxtaposition of private practice and public visibility/invisibility of contemporary Ismaili Muslims has certain parallels with other religious communities, but it exhibits unique features. This community adheres to an esotericism that has shaped its hermeneutic and communication practices. In a seeming paradox, the group is also extensively engaged in the public sphere. However, its communal institutions are limiting the dissemination of texts pertaining to the religious addresses and biography of the group’s leader, Aga Khan IV. He is instead increasingly turning to architecture to communicate the community’s worldview by using design in a symbolic manner.

La juxtaposition complexe entre les pratiques privées et la visibilité/invisibilité propres aux musulmans ismaéliens contemporains a certains parallèles avec d’autres communautés religieuses, mais elle comporte aussi des caractéristiques uniques. En effet, cette communauté privilégie un ésotérisme qui a formé ses pratiques herméneutiques et communicationnelles. D’autre part, dans un paradoxe apparent, ce groupe s’engage dans la sphère publique. Cependant, ses institutions communales sont en train de limiter la dissémination de textes relatifs aux discours religieux du chef du groupe, Aga Khan IV, ainsi qu’à sa biographie. De plus en plus, celui-ci se tourne plutôt vers l’architecture pour communiquer le point de vue de la communauté en utilisant le design de manière symbolique.

Author Biography

Karim H. Karim, Communication Studies, Carleton University

Professor and former Director, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University. Former Director, Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, UK. Former Senior Researcher - Department of Canadian Heritage. Former Canadian correspondent, Compass New Features (Luxembourg) - Montreal correspondent, Inter Press Service (Rome)

Published

2015-02-16