Does Religion mean to Bind a Nation or Vice Versa?

Does Religion mean to Bind a Nation or Vice Versa?
By Ahmad AmirAli

Yesterday, upon delivering a session on ‘pluralism and diversity’ one participant asked a question ‘Sir, does religion have any relationship with diversity? I questioned him back ‘what do you think?’ He replied, ‘Sir, I think religion divide the nation, but pluralism binds it’. I asked him ‘who taught you about the pluralism/diversity?’ doesn’t every religion convey the same ethics and principles of diversity and La Convivencia (coexist) one society? Well, he agrees, but I somehow questioned myself, does religion means to bind a nation or is it really a vice versa.

History has revealed to us that there were instances when we, people, use religion to segregate and establish differences among us, but then there were instances when religion binds-back the people of different faiths and believes under one society. Whether Islam or Christianity, every religion conveys the same principle and message of deepening the divides and accept the differences. 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 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 …