The Shah Faisal Mosque: Turkish Architecture Inspired by Bedouin’s Marquee

The Shah Faisal Mosque: Turkish Architecture Inspired by Bedouin’s Marquee
By Ahmad Amirali

Since the past 1400 years, Muslim societies have always been keen on building landmarks or distinct ideas and designs. The inspiration came from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself when he created the very first landmark of Islamic; The Mosque in Medina (Yathrib). The Prophet’s Mosque or Masjid al-Nabwi was first made out of mud, olive tree trunks and leaves. Over time, the architecture evolved with the use of modern tools and ideas resulting in more elaborate and detail architectural designs. The modern architectural designs allow more space for visitors without compromising the majestic and elegant structure of the mosque. Read More …

The Word of God and the Quran – Morgan Freeman

The Word of God and the Quran – Morgan Freeman
By Ahmad Amirali

In Earlier June 2017, Morgan Freeman, a veteran Hollywood actor, visited the Islamic Centre in Washington D.C. to discuss with an Islamic researcher and a calligraphist. Freeman also spends some time in the mosque courtyard, reviewed the Quran and debated its significance and beauty in the light of Arabic Calligraphy. Freeman expressed in the documentary, ‘For Muslims, the Qur’an is the holy revelation of God’s word. The very existence of the words of the Qur’an is proof of god. Drawing these words have become a high form of art a way to invoke the presence of God and all who gaze at them. No matter which language they speak’. Read More …

The Forgotten Crown of Cairo: The Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun

The Forgotten Crown of Cairo: The Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun
By Ahmad Amirali

Cairo (al-Muizziya al-Qahira) one of the oldest cities, founded by the Ismaili Fatimid general Jawhar al-Siqilli making it as the new capital of Fatimid dynasty in the 10th century. The worlds 3rd largest and oldest university and learning centre, The Al-Azhar Mosque University was also founded in Cairo by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah. Blessed with the thousand beautiful mosques, Cairo is the home of the famous ‘Al-Hussein Mosque’ which was built over the remains of the martyred Shia Imam. However, the architecture piece in which I am going to talk about in this article is situated in the most remote and impoverished area of the Cairo city. Read More …

The Rising Voices of Women in Pakistan

The Rising Voices of Women in Pakistan
By Ahmad Amirali

If you search google for Pakistan, you might hear about bomb explosions or terrorist attacks etc. Well, this was the case five years ago. Recently, I read an article on Pakistan Cultural Heritage and the part of women in it. The author, Alice SU, creatively discusses the women’s role in Pakistani society where men once considered as a sole custodian of authority and leadership. This trend is drastically shifted since the past decades. In her article, Alice mainly engages with the context of Northern Areas of Pakistan GBC (Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral) and share her experiences of women empowerment of Hunza valley, Pakistan. Among many stories, the story which fascinated me was the marriage ceremony of a girl who belongs to the Isma’ili Shia community of Hunza valley. I like the story as Alice narrates ‘This bride is marrying for love rather than by family arrangement’. Change of mindset like these become possible when women like Rukshanda Naz raise their voices against racial and gender discrimination which was prevailing since decades in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Read More …

The Original Assassins: Medieval Warriors of Alamut

Picture Source: National Geographic

The Original Assassins: Medieval Warriors of Alamut
By Ahmad Amirali

Recently, I came across an article published on National Geographic magazine website about the Assassins of Iran and their stronghold in a mountainous fort called ‘Alamut’. Since eight centuries, the legends of Nizari Assassins are keeping its well-maintained place in the works of crusaders chronicles and the manuscripts of later Syrian-Sunni Muslims. These legends caught-up its fame when a traveller named Marco Pollo visited the forts and later mentioned these tales in his travelogues. Read More …

Al-Khwarizmi – The Mathematician

A Persian Muslim scholar Muḥammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, also known as ‘Algoritimi’ in Latin, produced works in mathematics, astronomy, and geography under the patronage of Abbasid Caliph Al-Ma’mun in 9th C.E.

Ibn Khaldun – The Muslim Historian

Ibn Khaldun was a leading Muslim historiographer and historian. He is widely recognised as a pioneer of the modern disciplines of historiography, sociology and economics. He is best known for his book, the al-Muqaddima (The Introduction).

The Assassin Legends – Myths of the Isma’ilis – A Review

The Assassin Legends – Myths of the Isma’ilis by Farhad Daftary (I.B Taurus, London, 2001)
Review by Ahmad Amirali

Since centuries the legends of the Ismaili assassins have been told and narrated by many western-eastern scholars in a variety of ways. The most common among these stories are ‘the legends of the old man of the mountain’ and his follower assassins who had a stronghold in the Syrian mountains and northern Iran. These tales, myths or the legends first appeared in the Levant during the time of Crusades. Over the years, after crusades, the legends concluded in Marco Polo’s account who fabricated the new definition of Nizar Assassins. According to Polo’s accounts, the Nizari Assassin describe as a leader known as ‘the old man of the mountains’ who controlled the behaviour and will of his followers (devotees) by using hashish (drug) and the secret garden of paradise. This account became so mesmerised that the word ‘assassin’ entered the English language as a collective noun for the murderer. These tales over the time became legends and portrayed Ismailis as a sinister order of assassin by the western scholarship. Read More …

Memoirs of a Mission: The Ismaili Scholar, Statesman and Poet, al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din al-Shirazi – A Review

Memoirs of a Mission: The Isma’ili Scholar, Statesman and Poet, al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din al-Shirazi By Verena Klemm (I.B Taurus, London, 2003)
Review by Ahmad Amirali

Al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din al-Shirazi (died 1087 CE), was a remarkable and multi-talented Fatimid scholar of Persian origin. He spends his life mostly serving Imam-Caliph al-Mustansir (1036 to 1094 CE) as a chief da’i performing various administrative, diplomatic, military and religious duties. Verena Klemm in her book elaborated a detailed account on the life and achievement of al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din through the lenses of his autobiography Sirat al-Mu’ayyad fi’l-Din. She believes that this Sira is not only an essential historical source regarding the function of Fatimid da’wa during 11 CE, it also provides a brief overview of Islamic military and political leadership during that time, i.e. Fatimids, Buyids, Seljuqs and Abbasids. The significance of al-Mu’ayyad’s Sira has been highlighted in many forms by Klemm in her book.  She considered al-Mu’ayyad’s Sira as “a masterpiece of medieval Arabic literature” that includes “rhymed prose, interspersed with lively dialogues, self-composed poems, dreams, stories and parables” (Klemm, 2003, p19).  Read More …

Hamid Al-Din Al-Kirmani: Ismaili Thought in the Age of al-Hakim – A Review

Hamid Al-Din Al-Kirmani: Ismaili Thought in the Age of al-Hakim by Paul E. Walker (I. B. Tauris, 1999)
Review by Ahmad Amirali

In this book, Paul E. Walker introduces the major works of an Ismaili scholar Hamid al-Din Abu’l–Hasan Ahmad b. ‘Abdallah al–Kirmani. Al-Kirmani from the time of Imam-Caliph al-Hakim bi-amr Allah. (996-1021). He was a cutting edge of the intellectual advances of his time and almost aligned with the famous Ibn Sina, with whom he shared many mystical and philosophical ideas. Al-Kirmani’s ideas on the human intellect and the order of creation are the aperture those expressed by early Ismaili thinkers which he endeavoured to amend, thus providing insights into to initial Ismaili debates about philosophical and scientific concepts. Read More …