Download the full-sized PDF of Sound and Recitation of Khoja Ismaili Ginans: Tradition and TransformationDownload the full-sized PDF



Permanent link (DOI):


Export to: EndNote  |  Zotero  |  Mendeley


This file is in the following communities:

Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of


This file is in the following collections:

Theses and Dissertations

Sound and Recitation of Khoja Ismaili Ginans: Tradition and Transformation Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Gillani, Karim Nooruddin
Supervisor and department
Waugh, Earle (Religious Studies)
Qureshi, Regula (Music)
Examining committee member and department
Palmer, Andie (Anthropology)
Asani, Ali (External Examiner, Harvard University)
Gramit, David (Music)
Landy, Francis (Religious Studies)
Frishkopf, Michael (Music)
Department of Music
Religious Studies
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
For several centuries ginans have played an integral part of the Khoja Ismaili tradition. Community members learn, memorize, and sing ginans as part of their daily lives. Thus far, ginans have been studied mostly from textual and historical perspectives, however, it is through hearing, reciting and performing that one connects with spiritual and cultural origins. This is the first detailed ethnomusicological study that situates ginans within the wider context of Muslim piety in general and within the South Asian poetic and musical contexts in particular. The field research employs tools from both ethnomusicology and religious studies. The research is based extensively on dialogical approaches i.e. oral sources, participative observations, performances and interviews. Through musical structure and poetic meter the research shows the close cultural proximity of ginans with other known musical genres like Kafi, Wai, Bait and Dhal traditions of Sind, Punjab and Gujarat. This dissertation also explores the layers of meaning that devotees communicate through tunes of the ginans associated with particular rituals and specific ceremonies. This heightens the experience of individual and communal prayer. Personal encounters in the research show that ginans are not merely devotional literature. For many they are a way of life. Through the tunes and the sounds people are able to connect with the divine. This research also examines the musical journey of individuals and the community, simultaneously examining tradition, transmission and transformation. Challenges and opportunities arise as a result of migration, in this case into Canada. Traditional and innovative approaches of individuals are highlighted. Tensions between new and old become apparent in the re-creation, re-shaping and re-identification of one’s own meaning to the performance. This dissertation highlights that ginan is one of the most significant living musical heritages of Khoja Satpanth Ismaili Pirs and Sayyeds from South Asia.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication

File Details

Date Uploaded
Date Modified
Audit Status
Audits have not yet been run on this file.
File format: pdf (Portable Document Format)
Mime type: application/pdf
File size: 118966223
Last modified: 2015:10:12 19:36:41-06:00
Filename: Sound and Recitation KG.pdf
Original checksum: e75c5cc744f7cf4e1ef56ce64112aa82
Well formed: true
Valid: true
Status message: File header gives version as 1.4, but catalog dictionary gives version as 1.3
Status message: Too many fonts to report; some fonts omitted. Total fonts = 1006
File title: Microsoft Word - Sound and Recitation of Khoja Ismaili
File title: Microsoft Word - Sound and Recitation of Khoja Ismaili
File author: Karim Gillani
Page count: 329
Activity of users you follow
User Activity Date