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 …

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 …