Delving into the captivating story of Ismaili communities in the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, Aliaa Remtilla offers a compelling social narrative as seen through the lens of her own family. Across these lands, Jamatkhanas evolved as sacred spaces of piety, practice and social gathering, reflecting the aspirations and communal spirit of the Ismaili Jamat. As the Ismaili diaspora spread, Jamatkhanas remained essential focal points in new lands, providing strength, succour and solace in changing times.
The author charts her rediscovery of the origins of the East African Jamats, the emergence of community infrastructures and the building of Jamatkhanas during the Imamats of Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III, and Mawlana Shah Karim al-Husayni, Aga Khan IV. Recounting journeys of migration, including under the very challenging circumstances of the Ugandan expulsion and Tanzanian exodus, she invites readers to explore the evolving role of Jamati institutions that continue to support the Ismaili community.
This illustrated rendering of East African Ismaili history from the 19th century to the present day spotlights the rich heritage of Jamatkhanas as pillars of the Ismaili community. It will appeal to Ismailis worldwide, weaving together stories of faith, resilience and unity.
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Aliaa Remtilla is an anthropologist and filmmaker who received her BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard University and her MA and PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester. She has spent over a decade serving the Ismaili community, including time with ITREB USA and the Aga Khan Council for Australia and New Zealand. Dr Remtilla has also conducted research examining the confluence of religion, economics and politics in over 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Kenya, Pakistan, Portugal, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Uganda. She is currently the CEO and Co-Founder of StoryTiling, a platform that uses anthropological science to strengthen human connections.