Dr. Karim Gillani

Instructor, Ethnomusicology
BBA (Hamdard University, Pakistan), MBA (Hamdard University, Pakistan), Graduate of Islamic Studies and Humanities (The Institute of Ismaili Studies, UK), M.A. (Music and Religious Studies, University of Alberta), PhD (Music and Religious Studies, University of Alberta)

Dr. Karim Gillani obtained his PhD in Music and Religious studies at the University of Alberta in Spring 2012.  His PhD dissertation entitled “Sound and Recitation of Khoja Ismaili Ginans: Tradition and Transformation” is a pioneering ethnomusicological research that situates ginans hymns within the wider context of Muslim piety in general and South Asian poetic and musical contexts in particular.

Dr. Gillani is an accomplished vocalist, composer and songwriter.  He has received training in Hindustani classical and Sufi music from various renowned musicians from India and Pakistan. He released his first album titled “Jhoom Jhoom: Celebration of A Lifetime” in Canada, 2008, which was very well received by young and old alike. He performs various genres of music including QawwaliGhazals, KhayalKafiNashid, and Indo-Pakistani cinema songs. Karim regularly performs in North America and some of his performance highlights include spots on CBC Television, CJSR and CKUA radios. One of Dr. Gillani’s greatest honors was to perform with the Canadian National Ismaili Musical ensemble (NIME) in front of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and His Highness the Aga Khan at the opening ceremony for the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa, 2008, and the foundation ceremony of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, 2010.

Dr. Gillani teaches world music courses at the University of Alberta, which include Indian Music Ensemble and Popular Music of Bollywood (Hindi Cinema). Apart from that his areas of interest include, music and Islam, Sufism of South Asia, popular music and literature of Pakistan and India, music and religion, faith and practices, Muslim migration, Diaspora and transmission. He regularly presents papers at national and international conferences and has done an extensive field research on devotional and contemporary popular music both in South Asia as well as in western Diaspora.

Before beginning his PhD, Karim has completed an MA in Music and Religious Studies at the University of Alberta and submitted a thesis titled “Ginan: A Musical Heritage of Ismaili Muslim from India and Pakistan”. He is a graduate of The Institute of Ismaili Studies, UK where he was awarded a degree in Islamic Studies and Humanities. Dr. Gillani has received various awards and scholarships for his academic research and contributions. He has also completed an MBA from Hamdard University in Pakistan, and worked with the largest media company Jang Group of Newspapers.

Selected Works 

Musical Recordings:

"Aatish-Ishq: The Power of Love" A collection of original Sufi music compositions based on the poetry of classical Sufi Poets from South Asia and Central Asia, will be released in March 2014.

"Jhoom Jhoom: Celebration of A Lifetime!" Released in Canada, 2008.


Gillani, Karim, December 2004, “The Ismaili Ginan Tradition from Indian Subcontinent” Middle East Studies Association, Volume 38, Number 2.

Gillani, Karim, December 03, “Comparing Sufi Performances in Multan, a City of Saints” Islamic Culture, Hyderabad, India.