Pyarali Jiwa (Chairperson)

Born in Uganda in 1931, Pyarali is an Ismaili and a businessman now retired. He has devoted the past fifteen years to the subject of Ginans, and has one of the finest collections of books and CDs. He has made numerous presentations to jamati Institutions, conferences, and others.

He has served in various Imamati and non-Jamati Institutions in Uganda and the UK and supports the Senior Clubs, Ginan classes and Ginan mehfils world-wide. He is the founder member of the Association for Study of Ginans and its current Chairperson.
He has dedicated years to preserve the Ginan collection electronically for the benefit of present and future generations. He developed the first version of the Ginan database in 2001, and the web-based edition was introduced in 2009 with the support of Mr Zahir Virani. Updates with enhanced features have been added regularly. The Ginan Library is unique as it comprises all published books, with transliteration, translation, electronic copies and audio recordings -with search facilities. He has developed the Khojkijiwa computer font.


Professor Amy Catlin Jairazbhoy (Joint Vice-Chairperson, USA)

Amy (B.A. Vassar College 1970; M.M. Yale University 1972; Ph.D. Brown University 1980) is a visiting faculty member in the Department of Ethnomusicology at UCLA, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on classical and folk music of South, Southeast and East Asians and Asian-Americans, field methodology, ethnographic film, music and the sacred, and applied and public sector ethnomusicology. Amy's research, writing, teaching, curating, and multi-media publications often have an applied focus aimed at community development of minority traditions, especially in diasporic settings. Her applied research includes projects with Cambodian-American refugees and the Hmong-American tribal minority of Laos. She and UCLA historian Edward Alpers co-edited Sidis and Scholars: Essays on African Indians (New Delhi: Rainbow Publications, 2004) concerning the African-Indian Sidi community of India. Her recent writings address the impact of international touring on the sacred traditions of Sidi Sufis. Her most recent video/DVD documentary, Music for a Goddess concerns musical tradition and modernity among Dalit (untouchable) devadasis of the Deccan region of southern Maharashtra and Northern Karnataka (Van Nuys: Apsara Media, 2008). She is currently an affiliated professor at the University of Visual and Performing Arts in Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Professor Françoise Mallison (Consultant, France)

Françoise is Directeur d’Etudes emeritus at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Section des Sciences Historiques et Philologiques, Paris. She specialises in medieval religious culture of northern India and Gujarat. She studies devotional literatures of Vaishnavas, Sants and Muslims in Gujarati language, and published translations of Narasimha Maheta and Swaminarayan lyrics, and articles on the Indian acculturation of Ismaili vernacular poetry. Her books include Au point du jour: Les Prabhatiyam de Narasimha Maheta (1987), and, as editor, Littératures médiévales de l’Inde du nord (1991), Constructions hagiographiques dans le monde indien :Entre mythe et histoire (2001).

She is a founder member of the Association. She was its first Chairperson, then the Vice Chairperson, and has been Consultant since.

Mohamed Moledina (Joint Vice-Chairperson, UK)

Mohamed has been in the travel business for many years. He owns and operates the well-known Jubilee Travel based in London.  He is an active member of the jamat, and has a long history of service to the jamat. He has a keen interest in arts, music and Ginans.


Dr Diana Steigerwald (Academic Research, USA)

Diana is an expert in the History of Islamic Thought specialising in theology, philosophy, and Shi’ism. She has a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from McGill University (Montreal). She has lectured at various universities in Canada and United States. 

Her first two books analyzed the works of al-Shahrastani (1086-1153), a Nizari Ismaili, who is recognized as an influential Muslim theologian and as an historian of religions.  Her second book is an annotated French translation of a work written in Persian Majlis by al-Shahrastani, which reveals particularly the esoteric and mystical facets of his thought. L’Islam: les valeurs communes au Judéo-Christianisme is her third book which was reviewed through Les Éditions Médiaspaul (Paris).  Her book develops different themes of Muslim ethics and explores concepts that Islam shares with Jewish and Christian traditions.

Her most recent book Imamology in Ismaili Gnosis was launched at the Ginan Seminar at London in May 2015. The book analyses the concept of Imama developed by Ismailis in different historical and cultural contexts. It attempts to bring light on the evolution of Nizar? Ismaili Imamology from Imam Ali to the present Imam.

Diana has more than thirty published articles in academic publications and various encyclopaedias. She speaks a number of languages including French, English and Spanish.


Islamshah Rahemtulla (Treasurer)

Islamshah is a Fellow of The Institute of Management Accountants and runs his own accountancy practice. Previous to that he was European Financial Controller for Domino’s Pizza and Head of Finance & Admin at the IIS.

He is a founder member of the Association and has been instrumental in organising the Ginan conferences and seminars. He has served the United Kingdom and European jamats in various capacities and for 6 years on the Executive Board of the HREC. He has a keen interest in Ginans.


Professor Balvant S. Jani (Member, India)

Balvant is Professor and Head, Department of Gujarati Literature, Saurashtra University, Rajkot. He is a specialist of medieval Gujarati literature with reference to Khoja and Bohra communities. He also contributes to the study of Bardic, Oral and folk literature as well as of hagiography and hymnology of traditional saints and he has published extensively on classical medieval Gujarati.

He organised the Ginan Conference at Rajkot in 2004 and is a founding member of the Association. His book on Ginan Raja Goverchand was published by the University of Mumbai.


Zahir Virani (Web master and Member, UK)

Zahir has graduated in Computer Studies and operates his own technology venture, Imadz. Graduating in 1985, he has spent over 23 years in the Financial Markets in London, managing large IT systems, primarily in Equities Operations and Back Office.

Zahir has held senior management positions as Head of Department, with prestigious Investment Banks such as Phillips & Drew, UBS, Donald Lufkin Jenerette, Credit Suisse First Boston, HSBC, Cazenove and Bear Stearns.

He is a keen volunteer and has served in various Imamati institutions, since 1979, holding positions such as Major of the Ismaili Volunteers Corp covering UK and Europe and presently serving as Chairman of the South London Facilities Management Committee.

He is currently leading the Technology efforts for the Association.


A Ramantoulah (Member, France)

Dr Rahmatoulah established the Société d’Etudes Ismaéliennes in France and organised the first Ginan Conference in 2002 in France. He has been taken active interest in the Ginans and is a founder member of the Association.


Jaferali Surmawalla (Member, Canada)

Jaferali has extensive knowledge of Ginans and has been teaching Ginans for many years. He has organised Ginan Mehfils and was key oraganising team member for the Edmonton conference.


Professor Fateh-Ali Ladhani, (Member, Australia)

Fateh-Ali has attained MBChB,  FRACGP,  FACPsycheMed,  Ph.D  He is the Professor of the Health Sciences & Spiritual Sciences School of Consciousness, Rutherford  University and a Senior Lecturer Medicine at  the University of  New South Wales, Australia. He is the founder and Director of Ulul Albaab & Qauman Ya’qiloon Spiritual Psychotherapeutic Research Library & Laboratory.


Parin Somani, (Member, UK)

Parin obtained B.Com degree from the University of Gujarat, and completed Chartered Accountancy and a degree in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge, and attended the Higher Religious course.

Parin has a background in media. She presented poems in English and Gujarati and programs on religious festivals on radio and television; was a freelance writer to a variety of newspapers in India; and wrote recipe columns and poems in Gujarati and English. She has published a cookery book entitled Ras Ranjan in Ahmedabad, India.   
She attained the Shield Award for excelling in the Home Life and Personality Development Course at Nav Gujarat College. She supports the Rotary Club in a voluntary capacity.

She has served as a volunteer in various Jamati and Imamati institutions, and has completed the Waezeen training program serving as a waezeen for many years.


Nadya Datoo (Secretary, UK)

Born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, Nadya works as Accountant for a Charity Company that supports Adults with learning disability within the community.  She is a Baitul-Ilm teacher at South London for some 20 years. She has a keen interest in Ginans and ASG member for past 3 years.


Dr. Mohan DevRaj Thontya, PhD (Member, Pakistan)

Mohan is Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Greenwich University, Karachi and a Research Associate, member on the Research Development Centre, and on the Selection Board of Department of Humanities and the Department of Mass Communication & Media Studies.

Mohan is Assistant Editor of the two research journals Journal of Business Strategies and New Horizons Journal at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Greenwich University Karachi. He speaks a number of languages and his expertise includes Modern Research Methodology and Techniques, South Asian History and Literature, and Social Science.

Books: Shrines of Maheshvari Meghwar Saints in Sindh published by Sindh Archives 2012

History and Culture of Meghwar-From the Earliest times to the Modern Age printed by the Culture Department, Government of Sindh was PhD thesis at the University of Karachi in 2012.

Research Articles and Projects published include Mamoi Fakiran Ji Haqiqat (Sindhi) published in the journal Kalachi - Karachi 1999,  Sammatri ‘Samman Ji Tarikh (Sindhi) published in Kalachi, Karachi 2000, The Research Project entitled Identification of the Shrines of Maheshvari Meghwar Saints’ Samadhis in Sindh - Karachi 2007, Some Ginans Common to Barmati Panthi and Sat Panthi Traditions -Tazim R. Kassam & Francoise Mallison, Ginans Texts and Contexts 2007, and  Origin of Meghwar and Megh Rikh. 2010.


Jaferali Surmawalla FCA, MBA (Member, Canada)

Jaferali holds a B.Com degree, an MBA, and is a Chartered Accountant (FCA), currently President of 4U Consulting Inc., a financial consulting firm in Edmonton, Canada. Previously, he was CFO at Acrodex Inc an IT Company in Canada, worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Finance Manager at IPS Tanzania, and Chief Internal Auditor at Savings & Finance Bank Tanzania.

He has been active in Jamati service. He was a religion teacher for 12 years in Karachi, the Conductor of HRH Prince Aga Khan Garden Orchestra Karachi, Member of Aga Khan Garden Council Karachi, a National Board Member EPB Tanzania, a Baitul-Ilm Ginan Teacher in Edmonton, and is currently responsible for organising Ginan recitation at Edmonton.

He was instrumental in organising the Ginan Concert at our conference at Edmonton in April 2011, attended the conference at London in October 2011, and has organised with ITREB a number of Ginan mehfils at Edmonton.


Aziz Kurbanali Sadiwala, (Member, India)

Aziz holds a B.Com degree from Bombay University and a number of qualifications in alternative health techniques. He is a partner in an Import/Export business, and has served the jamat in various capacities, as well as in civil society. He is an active proponent of self-improvement programs and holds a franchise in that field. Aziz has been assisting with the Association’s work in India for a number of years.


Farid Sherali Meghji, (Member, UK)

Farid was born in Zanzibar, moving to Mombasa and then to the UK. He graduated from Edinburgh University with a B.Sc degree in Electrical Engineering, became Member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (MIET) and Member of British Institute of Management (MBIM).

In 1971 he moved to London and started a business with his brother, the business expanded into export, and into Nursing home and manufacturing. After the businesses were sold, he began working from home dealing in exports and property brokering.
He has a long history of jamati service, including FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, Audio/Visual, Seniors clubs and Baitul Ilm.

Farid is known for his unique collection of Fatimid coins and has exhibited his collection and given talks in the UK as well as overseas.


Musa Sheikh, (Member, UK)

Musa was born in Uch Shariff, Pakistan, the resting place of Pir Sadrudin and Pir Hasan Kabirdin.  He is a gemmologist by profession (specialising on diamonds) and a keen linguist. Over the last few years, Musa has explored his interest in Ginanic literature and tradition through his involvement with the Association.

He has worked with various Jamati institutions and is currently a Board member for the Central Region Council for Pakistan (Punjab, Islamabad and Peshawar) and is the UK and European Coordinator for the Council.


Professor Nazlin Howell, (Member, UK)

Nazlin was born in Kenya, and obtained a First Class (Hons) degree and PhD from the University of Nottingham, UK. After eight of years of research experience in industry in the UK, she joined the University of Surrey and is Professor of Food Biochemistry in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Her research, which relates to the improvement of nutritional quality and safety of food to enhance health and food security, has been supported by major grants from the EU, Research Councils, industry and governments. She has collaborated with some 27 institutions in 19 countries, including AKU, Karachi. She has supervised over 50 PhD students and research fellows from Europe, Asia and Africa. She has over 250 publications in refereed journals, book chapters and invited papers at international conferences. She has been Director of degree programmes and has held many teaching posts. She has won several awards and was a finalist in the UK Asian Women of Achievements (Professional of the Year) awards in 2007.

She has a passion for singing that was instilled in her by her mother at a very early age, and recites ginans at various Jamatkhanas. She has studied the theory and practice of multicultural music including Hindustani vocal music, Sufi poetry and different languages. She has served in various jamati institutions.

Dr Urvashi Manuprasad Pandya, (Member, India)


Nadia Valliani, (Youth Member, UK)

Nadia graduated with B.Sc Honours from the University of Leeds and is a Hearing Aid consultant.  She is an active member of the Ismaili community serving on committees including Social Welfare, Woman’s, Seniors Clubs and working with youth members. She has a keen interest in Ginans and won Ginan competitions in the past. She has assisted with the Ginan conferences and seminars.


Liza Merchant, (Member, UK)

Liza came to the UK in 1972 from Uganda. She has a degree with honours in Family Health.

She is currently working as an Infant feeding co-ordinator for West Hertfordshire Trust where her role is to implement the UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative. Liza has travelled extensively with husband Karim and two children. Liza has worked with AKHS and UNICEF in Pakistan as a Maternal and child health consultant between 1999 and 2003.
Liza has been part of Baitul Ilm team at North West London and currently teaches ginans at North London Baitul Ilm. She has a keen interest in both Western and Indian classical music, and recites ginans regularly.