Photo Essay: Ismailis in China


Thursday, May 15, 2014

The rich history and literary traditions of the Ismaili community in China have been inadequately studied in modern times, and so it was a distinct honour for this website and its sister blog,, to feature and publish, at the beginning of January 2014, the essay and photographs about the Ismailis in China by Kenyan-based Ghulam Panjwani. Ghulam’s piece is an outstanding eye-witness account of his many visits to Xinjiang, and vividly presents a ‘living’ community. During the last four and a half months, this essay has been viewed by thousands of readers from around the world (over 80 countries) and elicited a large number of comments, all very positive.

Unfortunately, and with much regret, I inform readers that the author, Ghulam Panjwani, has asked me to retract his essay and accompanying photos. Ghulam was most pleased with the presentation I had edited on Simerg and Simergphotos, and he has assured me that his decision to withdraw the photo essay is entirely personal. As Ghulam holds the copyright to the essay and the photos, I am obliged to follow the author’s personal request. I am hopeful that Ghulam will, in the future, contribute essays to Simerg of his travels to various regions of Central Asia.

Ghulam Panjwani’s photo essay, with its delightful anecdotes and unique insights, on the lives of the Ismailis in China cannot be replaced. Readers may wish to read the essay titled “The Nizari Ismailis of China in Modern Times”, by Amier Saidula, which is included in the volume A Modern History of the Ismailis: Continuity and Change in a Muslim Community, edited by Farhad Daftary, and published by I. B. Tauris (in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies) in 2011. Saidula’s essay provides an overview of the history, beliefs, practices and life-cycle rituals of the Ismailis in China.

I apologize to all our readers for the disappointment in not being able to view Ghulam Panjwani’s essay and accompanying photos on this photo blog and any more.

Thank you.
Abdulmalik J. Merchant
Ottawa, CANADA