Chiragh-i Roshan: Prophetic Light in the Isma‘ili Tradition

MIR BAIZ KHAN

Abstract


Light as a symbol has been used throughout history, both in religious and secular contexts. In this paper it is presented as a core metaphor in an Isma‘ili Muslim religious ceremony called Chiragh-i Roshan (lit. shining light) referring to the Prophetic tradition of divine guidance. For centuries, this religious practice has been a critical means for Isma‘ili Muslims in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China and northern Pakistan including Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan to preserve and protect their religious identity, and to express their devotion through a series of ritual acts through this ceremony. The text of the ceremony is called Chiragh Nama which, besides being an historical ritual text, also has been a primary source for teaching and preaching in religious gatherings related to death in family or private devotional congregations for spiritual purposes. It also examines how this shining light symbolically continues to brighten the intellectual and spiritual path of its devotees.

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