Sports Illustrated: The Story Behind the Raptors’ First NBA Title Will Be Remembered Forever

TORONTO RAPTORS ARE KINGS OF BASKETBALL

Please click on the following links for articles on Sports Illustrated and The Washington Post

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: “These are the spoils that come with winning a championship. It’s not just money, it’s not just fame. It’s immortality. This Raptors group, from top to bottom, will be remembered forever, both for helping to topple a dynasty and for bringing an entire country its first Larry O’Brien trophy.” ….MORE

WASHINGTON POST: “The Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors, 114-110, in Game 6 on Thursday, sealing the first title in franchise history and claiming Canada’s first championship in a major American sports league since the Toronto Blue Jays won the 1993 World Series”…..MORE

Please click on image to read article on Sports Illustrated.

Date posted: June 14, 2019.
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More than 2,000 Fans Pack Aga Khan Park and See Toronto Raptors win 105-92 in Game 4 against Warriors

AGA KHAN PARK WAS NORTH YORK’S JURASSIC PARK ON JUNE 7, 2019!

It is estimated that around 2,400 Raptors fans gathered at the Aga Khan Park in Toronto to watch the 4th Game of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. The live game was projected on the wall of the Aga Khan Museum on Friday, June 7, 2019. Raptors won 105-92 and can become the NBA Champions for the first time by winning the fifth game to be played on Monday June 10th at downtown Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena. The lighted domed building in the background is the magnificent Ismaili Centre on 49 Wynford Drive. Photograph via Farah Rajan.

By MALIK MERCHANT

The Aga Khan Park became the new Jurassic Park on Friday, June 7, 2019 for the 4th game of the NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors. At the half-way stage, the two teams were almost on par and there was every possibility that the previous strong performances in the 3rd quarter by the Warriors would be repeated and overwhelm the Raptors. Instead, it was the Raptors who came out strong and dominated the quarter, leading them to win with a final score of 105-92, with the superb Kawhi Leonard contributing 36 points. The Raptors are now leading the best-of-seven 3-1, and can close the series on Monday June 10, 2019, at their home court, the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Previous commitments took me to Ottawa and I watched the game with my daughter Nurin at a restaurant in Ottawa’s Byward Market Area, enjoying  macaroni & cheese, burger, salad & fries just before the game.

I was trying to find out what was going on at the Aga Khan Park, and I was excited to learn that the venue was jam-packed with hundreds of basketball enthusiasts. I learn that 2400 fans were at the game. The game was also shown at several Ismaili Jamatkhanas across the Greater Toronto Region, and also at the Ottawa Jamatkhana.

Aga Khan Museum Aga Khan Park Photo Collage of Raptors Game

Spectators watching Game 4 of the NBA Finals between Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors on the front wall of the Aga Khan Museum. More than 2000 excited fans crowded the area in front of the Museum and around the Aga Khan Park to watch the game. The Raptors won the game 105-92 and took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The series continues with game 5 on Monday June 10, 2019 at the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto. Photos: Aga Khan Park/Aga Khan Museum.

Canada’s excitement of the Raptors being in the finals for the first time in their franchise history has reached monumental proportions and  mini outdoor “Jurassic Parks” have sprouted replicating the legendary park outside the Raptors Scotiabank Bank Arena.

One cannot imagine the kind of excitement that will be generated on Monday, June 10, 2019, should the Raptors wrap up the series and become the NBA Champions for the first time in their 24 year history. No NBA finals have ever been played North of the USA Border.

Date posted: June 9, 2019.
Last updated: June 10, 2019.

Aga Khan Park Invites Toronto Community for Live FREE Outdoor Screening of NBA Finals Game 4 on June 7; Raptors Lead Warriors 2-1

NORTH YORK’S JURASSIC PARK!

Simerg rendition of Aga Khan Museum Raptors Game

A NEW addition to the Raptors Legendary Jurassic Park! The Aga Khan Museum and the Aga Khan Park on 77 Wynford Drive in Toronto’s North York region, will be showing Game 4 of the NBA finals between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors on its front wall on Friday June 4th; tip off 9 P.M. Toronto time. Delicious snacks and refreshments will be available for purchase. Please arrive at the museum by 8:30 P.M. Photo: Aga Khan Museum.

By MALIK MERCHANT

The Toronto Raptors have taken a 2-1 lead in their NBA Finals against defending champions Golden State Warriors with a convincing 123-109 victory in Game 3 played on Wednesday, June 5, at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Game 4 will also be played in Oakland, before the series returns to Toronto for Game 5 on Monday June 10.

Across Canada excitement of the Raptors being in the finals for the first time in their 24 year franchise history has reached monumental proportions and  mini outdoor “Jurassic Parks” have sprouted replicating the legendary park outside the Raptors Scotiabank Bank Arena.

A new one Jurassic Parrk will come alive on Friday, June 7, 2019 at the Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park for Game 4. The beautiful Aga Khan Park on 77 Wynford Drive lies between the iconic Aga Khan Museum and the glass-domed Ismaili Centre. The two beautiful buildings attracted more than 8,000 visitors when they participated in Toronto’s recent Doors Open Event.

The game will be projected on the museum’s front wall. Judging from a light show that I attended in December 2018, there will be spectacular unobstructed views from the entire length of the wall as well as from spaces around the front and central ponds of the Aga Khan Park.

RaptorsScreening at Aga Khan Museum

Official announcement by Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park about the screening of the NBA finals 4th game. Photo: Aga Khan Museum/Aga Khan Park.

The tip-off time for the 4th game is 9 PM (Toronto time), and the pre-game show is expected to commence at 8:30 PM. The Museum will be offering delicious snacks and refreshments for sale.

The natural surroundings of the museum and the gentle sounds of the running pond water at the Aga Khan Park offer a comforting and relaxing ambience. However, that spell of stillness will be broken as hundreds of passionate and excited fans converge into the grounds of the Aga Khan Park and throw their full-support behind Toronto Raptors, arguably Canada’s most successful sporting franchise in the past 24 years.

Date posted: June 5, 2019.
Last updated: June 6, 2019.

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  • The Aga Khan Park and Aga Khan Museum are  located on 77 Wynford Drive. It is a short 15 minute walk, from the Ontario Science Centre which is located on 770 Don Mills Road. The Museum offers underground and overground parking for a flat fee of $10.00.
  • For Google map directions to the Museum, please click: https://agakhanmuseum.org/visit/location-parking.html

Eid ul-Fitr Should Foster Brotherhood in the Muslim Umma and Provide Spark of Hope For the Less Privileged

“A Muslim must play an active role in helping his family and the brotherhood of believers. The object is not to achieve status, wealth and power, but to contribute to society’s overall development. This implies moral responsibility to help the weaker, less fortunate members.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Toronto, May 14, 1987. [1]

EID MUBARAK

ISS028-E-20073-NASA Photo

A new Moon occurs when all of the Sun’s light is reflected away from Earth, and the side of the Moon facing Earth is barely visible, as illustrated in the above photo. Sometimes the dark face of the Moon catches Earth’s reflected glow and returns that light. The phenomenon is called earthshine. This Astronaut Photograph was taken on July 31, 2011, on board the International Space Station and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center.

The festival of Eid, also known as Bairam or Eid Ramadan is one of the most joyous days in the Islamic calendar. It is an occasion for celebration and rejoicing for Allah’s Bounty upon mankind for His revelation of the Holy Qur’an during the month of Ramadan. It is also a time for individuals to express their gratitude to Allah for having given them the strength, courage and resilience to complete the fast, and thus fulfilling the duty enjoined upon them by Allah.

On this joyous occasion, we convey our heartiest felicitations and Eid Mubarak to all our readers as well as Muslims around the world, with the fervent hope and prayer that peace and harmony should prevail over many areas of the Muslim world afflicted by horrible conflicts, which are resulting in the loss of lives and contributing to unbearable hardships and struggles. The Islamic ethic of forgiveness, generosity, and peaceful co-existence and unity through dialogue are keys by which conflicts can be resolved, whereby every Muslim can aspire for a life of material and spiritual well-being and happiness.

The excerpts produced in this post from the Holy Qur’an and the hadith as well as from the farmans, writings and speeches of Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and Mawlana Hazar Imam (His Highness the Aga Khan) are foundation blocks for building harmonious societies around the world. The acts of charity and generosity mentioned in the quotes will facilitate those who are underprivileged to manage their own destinies, thereby leading them to a life of dignity, befitting Allah’s greatest creation.

PROFOUND TEACHINGS OF ISLAM

Conceptual image for the holy month of Ramadan and Eid al Fitr.

Conceptual image for the holy month of Ramadan and Eid al Fitr. Photo: Istockphoto

“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteous is the one who believes in Allah and the Last Day, and the angels and the Books and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask and set slaves free.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:177

“And whatever good you may spend on others is for your own good, provided that you spend only out of a longing for God’s countenance.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:272

“You will not enter paradise till you believe, and you will not believe till you love one another. Let me guide you to something by doing which you will love one another: Salute and sundry among you.”  — Tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.)

“A great river is not made turbid by a stone. A religious man who takes to heart an injury is as yet, but shallow water. If any misfortune befalls you, bear with it, that by forgiving others you may yourself obtain pardon. O my brother! seeing that we are at last to return to earth, let us humble ourselves in ashes before we are changed into dust.” — Hazrat Bibi Fatima (a.s.). [2]

“…As the world gets smaller, it is fundamental that people should work together and not against each other, and try to be a little more generous than you have been in the past. If people have made mistakes, forgive them their mistakes. If people have harmed you, forget and forgive. Do not hold grudges. Do not turn around and say, ‘he hurt me yesterday, so I will hurt him today’. This is not the spirit of Islam…” His Highness the Aga Khan, Farman Mubarak, Mumbai, 1969, Precious Gems.

“…when you are studying the Qur’an, when you are studying the history of Imams, when you are studying the history of pre-Islamic Arabia, I would like you to take from this history that which will help you to live within the spirit of Islam. This means to live honestly, to live purely, to know that you are brothers and sisters, to be available at all times when one or the other needs help, to be generous, to be honest. These are the qualities which you can trace throughout Qur’an-e Shariff, throughout the life of the Prophet, throughout the lives of the Imams. And this is something which I would like you to follow, not only in letter but also in spirit, because it is this spirit which cannot be changed, and which I would like my spiritual children to understand fully…” Farman Mubarak, His Highness the Aga Khan, Karachi, November 29, 1964. [3]

“There are those who enter the world in such poverty that they are deprived of both the means and the motivation to improve their lot. Unless these unfortunate ones can be touched with the spark which ignites the spirit of individual enterprise and determination, they will only sink back into renewed apathy, degradation and despair. It is for us, who are more fortunate, to provide that spark.” —  His Highness the Aga Khan, speech, Housing and Development, Mumbai, January 17, 1983.

Date Re-posted: June 3, 2019.

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We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment

References:

[1] Quoted in Ilm, July 1986, page 17.

[2] Ilm, Volume 13, Number 1, July 1990, page 45-46.

[3] Farman Mubarak Pakistan Visit 1964, published by the Ismailia Association for Pakistan, quoted also in Ilm, Volume 13, Number 1, July 1990, page 38.

Photos: Doors Open Attracts Thousands to Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre

PLEASE CLICK: Aga Khan Museum and Ismaili Centre Draw Thousands during Doors Open Event Held in Toronto on May 25-26, 2019

Please click on photo for report and photos.

Date posted: May 27, 2019.

Lailat al-Qadr: The Night of Power

BY KARIMA MAGHRABY
(Additional material compiled by Simerg)

In his Khamsa, Shab-i Qadr (the Night of Power), the renowned Persian poet Amir Khusraw Dihlavi (d. 1325 CE) tells the story of a saint who made a failed attempt to stay awake until the Laylat al-Qadr. This image is taken from a folio in the Aga Khan Museum collection; the Toronto museum is due to open in 2014. Photo: Courtesy of the Aga Khan Museum

In his Khamsa, Shab-i Qadr (the Night of Power), the renowned Persian poet Amir Khusraw Dihlavi (d. 1325 CE) tells the story of a saint who made a failed attempt to stay awake until the Laylat al-Qadr. This image is taken from a folio in the Aga Khan Museum collection; the Toronto museum is due to open in 2014. Photo: Courtesy of the Aga Khan Museum

Laylat al-Qadr is the auspicious night when the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) first received the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, thereby conferring upon him the mantle of prophethood at the age of forty.

The Shia Ismaili Muslims observe Laylat al-Qadr on the 23rd night of Ramadan, in keeping with traditions received through Hazrat Ali (a.s.) and his wife Hazrat Bibi Fatimah (a.s.), and the Imams of the Fatimid dynasty. It is a night of special prayer, reflection and remembrance of Allah. In 2019, this falls on May 27, 2019.

When Prophet Muhammad was 40 years old, he received his first divine revelation from Allah through Angel Jibreel. When Angel Jibreel appeared to him, he said:

“Recite: In the Name of thy Lord who created,
created, Man of a blood-clot.

Recite: And thy Lord is the Most Generous,
who taught by the Pen,
taught Man that he knew not” — Holy Qur’an, Al-Alaq, 96:1-5

The first revelation

Part of Al-Alaq (The Clot) – 96th sura of the Holy Qur’an – the first revelation received by Prophet Muhammad

The night of this first revelation is celebrated as Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power). The following verses from the Holy Qur’an describe the loftiness of this night and articulate the importance of the final revealed scripture to mankind:

“Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Power. What will convey unto you what the Night of Power is! The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels and the spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. Peace it is until the rising of the dawn.” — 94:5

Cave of Hira

A photo of Cave of Hira in the Mount of Light, near Mecca, where the Prophet would come for his devotions and meditations, and the sacred spot where the Holy Quran began to be revealed. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) had just stepped into the forty-first year of his life, when during the 23rd night in the month of Ramadan the first 5 verses of the Surah Al-Alaq (96) were revealed to him. The small cave is about 3.5 meters long and 2 meters wide. Hira was the Prophet Muhammad’s most adorable place for meditation.

“(This is) a Scripture which We have revealed unto you (Muhammad) that thereby you may bring forth mankind from darkness unto light, by the permission of their Lord, unto the path of the Mighty, the Owner of Praise.” — 14:01

“And celebrate the name of thy Lord morning and evening. And part of the night, prostrate thyself to Him; and glorify Him a long night through. As to these, they love the fleeting life, and put away behind them a Day (that will be) hard.” — 76:25-27

Mountain of LightProphet Muhammad (s.a.s) received his first revelation from Allah through Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) in the Hira cave which is on Jabl al Nur (Mount of Light) shown in this photo. The peak is visible from a great distance. The Prophet used to climb this mountain often even before receiving his fist revelation from Allah.

“We sent it down during a Blessed Night” — 44:3

“Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong)” — 2:185

Hazrat Mawlana Murtaza Ali (a.s.) the successor of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) to the throne of Imamat is quoted as having said:

“Do not remember God absent-mindedly, nor forget Him in distraction; rather, remember Him with perfect remembrance (dhikran kamilan), a remembrance in which your heart and tongue are in harmony, and what you conceal conforms with what you reveal.” — quoted in Justice and Remembrance, Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali, by Reza Shah Kazemi, p. 162.

Date posted: July 18, 2014.
Last updated: June 24, 2019.

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Credits:
1. Wikipedia.org

2. Mecca.net
3. English Translation of the Qur’anic verses by Arthur John Arberry.

LINKS TO A SELECTION OF ADDITIONAL ARTICLES ON THE HOLY QUR’AN

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Kawhi Leornard of Toronto Raptors Makes the Greatest Shot Ever in the Last Second in Game 7 of the NBA Playoffs

By ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
Publisher-Editor, Simerg, Barakah and Simergphotos
 

The Toronto Raptors Lapel Pin

The Toronto Raptors lapel pin that I was presented with as I entered Section 307 to watch the 7th and final playoff game between the Raptors and 76ers. Photo: Malik Merchant.

No one, not even NBA players, could recall a shot in any NBA seventh playoff game in the dying second, buzzer beating moment, such as the one Kawhi’s made to lead his team (OUR TEAM) Toronto Raptors to victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Toronto at the Scotiabank Arena. Kawhi had to leap high up in the air to ensure that it would go over Joel Embidd (2.13 m, 6.99 feet) who stood in front of him to prevent him from scoring. The ball flirted with the rim 4 times before sinking into the basket. The two-points that Kawhi delivered are now for history books and will be talked about for ever! Perhaps, a physicist can explain the science of all that took place in lay terms — the flight of the ball as it left Kawhi’s hands, the ball bouncing on the rim 4 times, 2 times on either side, before it sunk into the basket.

During the course of my life, I have attended about a dozen NBA basketball games. I first came into contact with basketball as a young boy in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo). I often escaped with my friends to see local basketball matches played at the court of a college that was just 200 metres from the Jamatkhana. I had no favourite local teams then. A few years later, when our family moved to Dar es Salaam, I would go and watch the nail biting  matches between Azania Secondary School and Aga Khan Boys Secondary School. In 1979, when a computing assignment took me to Salt Lake City,Utah, my colleague, Jim Golluch, took me to watch Utah Jazz play LA Lakers (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson), Boston Celtics (Larry Bird and Archibald) and Philadelphia 76ers (Julius Erving or Dr. J and Darryl Dawkins). Utah was beaten in all the games — the franchise was new —  but one Jazz player who left a mark on me was Adrian Dantley whose shooting was almost perfect. Then several years later when I was in Philadelphia, I went to watch the 76ers on a couple of occasions. Utah, however remained in my heart since 1979, until of course the Raptors franchise was established in 1995!

A view of the basketball court at the Scotiabank arena from where I sat (Section 307, Row 17, Seat 20). The Raptors and 76ers are practicing shooting from close ranges. I would not hesitate in recommending the section. Photo: Malik Merchant

I had never watched the Raptors on their home court. I didn’t want yesterday’s 7th game to happen. After routing the 76ers in the fifth game in Toronto, we lost the 6th in Philadelphia to everyone’s dismay. On Thursday, I decided I would go and watch the final game and obtained my ticket at a premium price from Ticketmaster. I got to the Scotiabank arena very early and the gates to the arena opened 90 minutes before the game. The arena was empty and when I got to Section 307 to locate my seat (Row 17, Seat 20), a  Raptor’s representative welcomed me  by giving me a beautiful Raptor’s team pin, when I told him about my love for the game since childhood. The back rest of every seat was covered with a free Raptor’s tee shirt. He told me they did that for the playoff games, and they came in different shades — the free give away tee shirt yesterday was white with portraits of Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam, and Danny Green adorning the front with the proclamation WE THE NORTH. The arena gradually filled to full capacity by the time the game commenced shortly after 7.

WATCH KAWHI’S WINNER

The noise level though, throughout the game, was not as much as I had expected. I think everyone was, like me very nervous. I could not scream as loud as I had wanted to –  my chocked throat held the screaming back, it was difficult to be really noisy! But then in the final minutes when Raptors scored some important vital points – the game was always close – Gason gesticulated to the crowd to raise the noise level. We then went absolutely crazy and became delirious when Leonard (“God is good, I pray everyday”) scored the winning basket just as the buzzer sounded. We were stunned; no one wanted to leave the arena. It’s fine to watch the excitement at home on TV but there is nothing like being at a live game. The experience was overwhelming.

Yes, Kawhi, God is good – to everyone actually – but the incredible player had availed himself of God’s help by working hard, not being like other players who argue and punch fists, make a show of their talents, and are arrogant. Kawhi Leonard, I have always felt, is a pure soul and the bus driver taking me home told me “I like him for what he is.” A truly humble person who delivers over and over again and carries the team on his shoulders without complaining! Incredible. What a human being, and an example to all other sportsmen. But we do need those fists and fights, and shows of pride and arrogance. Its sports!

Congratulations Kawhi and the Toronto Raptors for making Sunday, May 12, 2019, one of the 3 greatest sporting days in my life. The other two are football related – my favourite team in the world, Tottenham Hotspur, coming from behind to defeat, in midweek, Ajax of Amsterdam, and earlier Manchester City in the UEFA Champions Cup.

I wasn’t in person at the Tottenham games, but I was at the Raptors game and that personal presence gives the Raptors game a slight edge over the Tottenham victories which I watched alone.

Date posted: May 13, 2019.

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Muhammad: An Anticlerical Hero of the European Enlightenment

The inside title page of the Qur’an owned by 3rd US President Thomas Jefferson. It appears that Jefferson purchased George Sale’s translation of the Qur’an in 1765 from the office of the Virginia Gazette. At the time, Jefferson was engaged in his law studies at the College of William and Mary, so it is likely that he purchased the book as an example of Arabic law as his textbooks suggested. Jefferson cataloged the book in his section on “Religion,” where it shared the shelves with early Greek and Roman mythology and the Bible. Photo and caption: US Library of Congress.

By JOHN TOLAN
Professor of history, University of Nantes

Publishing the Quran and making it available in translation was a dangerous enterprise in the 16th century, apt to confuse or seduce the faithful Christian. This, at least, was the opinion of the Protestant city councillors of Basel in 1542, when they briefly jailed a local printer for planning to publish a Latin translation of the Muslim holy book. The Protestant reformer Martin Luther intervened to salvage the project: there was no better way to combat the Turk, he wrote, than to expose the ‘lies of Muhammad’ for all to see.

The resulting publication in 1543 made the Quran available to European intellectuals, most of whom studied it in order to better understand and combat Islam. There were others, however, who used their reading of the Quran to question Christian doctrine. The Catalonian polymath and theologian Michael Servetus found numerous Quranic arguments to employ in his anti-Trinitarian tract, Christianismi Restitutio (1553), in which he called Muhammad a true reformer who preached a return to the pure monotheism that Christian theologians had corrupted by inventing the perverse and irrational doctrine of the Trinity. After publishing these heretical ideas, Servetus was condemned by the Catholic Inquisition in Vienne, and finally burned with his own books in Calvin’s Geneva.

During the European Enlightenment, a number of authors presented Muhammad in a similar vein, as an anticlerical hero; some saw Islam as a pure form of monotheism close to philosophic Deism and the Quran as a rational paean to the Creator. In 1734, George Sale published a new English translation. In his introduction, he traced the early history of Islam and idealised the Prophet as an iconoclastic, anticlerical reformer who had banished the ‘superstitious’ beliefs and practices of early Christians – the cult of the saints, holy relics – and quashed the power of a corrupt and avaricious clergy.

Sale’s translation of the Quran was widely read and appreciated in England: for many of his readers, Muhammad had become a symbol of anticlerical republicanism. It was influential outside England too. The US founding father Thomas Jefferson bought a copy from a bookseller in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1765, which helped him conceive of a philosophical deism that surpassed confessional boundaries. (Jefferson’s copy, now in the Library of Congress, has been used for the swearing in of Muslim representatives to Congress, starting with Keith Ellison in 2007.) And in Germany, the Romantic Johann Wolfgang von Goethe read a translation of Sale’s version, which helped to colour his evolving notion of Muhammad as an inspired poet and archetypal prophet.

In France, Voltaire also cited Sale’s translation with admiration: in his world history Essai sur les mœurs et l’esprit des nations (1756), he portrayed Muhammad as an inspired reformer who abolished superstitious practices and eradicated the power of corrupt clergy. By the end of the century, the English Whig Edward Gibbon (an avid reader of both Sale and Voltaire) presented the Prophet in glowing terms in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-89):

The creed of Mahomet is free from suspicion or ambiguity; and the Koran is a glorious testimony to the unity of God. The prophet of Mecca rejected the worship of idols and men, of stars and planets, on the rational principle that whatever rises must set, that whatever is born must die, that whatever is corruptible must decay and perish. In the author of the universe, his rational enthusiasm confessed and adored an infinite and eternal being, without form or place, without issue or similitude, present to our most secret thoughts, existing by the necessity of his own nature, and deriving from himself all moral and intellectual perfection … A philosophic theist might subscribe the popular creed of the Mahometans: a creed too sublime, perhaps, for our present faculties.

But it was Napoleon Bonaparte who took the Prophet most keenly to heart, styling himself a ‘new Muhammad’ after reading the French translation of the Quran that Claude-Étienne Savary produced in 1783. Savary wrote his translation in Egypt: there, surrounded by the music of the Arabic language, he sought to render into French the beauty of the Arabic text. Like Sale, Savary wrote a long introduction presenting Muhammad as a ‘great’ and ‘extraordinary’ man, a ‘genius’ on the battlefield, a man who knew how to inspire loyalty among his followers. Napoleon read this translation on the ship that took him to Egypt in 1798. Inspired by Savary’s portrait of the Prophet as a brilliant general and sage lawgiver, Napoleon sought to become a new Muhammad, and hoped that Cairo’s ulama (scholars) would accept him and his French soldiers as friends of Islam, come to liberate Egyptians from Ottoman tyranny. He even claimed that his own arrival in Egypt had been announced in the Quran.

Napoleon had an idealised, bookish, Enlightenment vision of Islam as pure monotheism: indeed, the failure of his Egyptian expedition owed partly to his idea of Islam being quite different from the religion of Cairo’s ulama. Yet Napoleon was not alone in seeing himself as a new Muhammad: Goethe enthusiastically proclaimed that the emperor was the ‘Mahomet der Welt’ (Muhammad of the world), and the French author Victor Hugo portrayed him as a ‘Mahomet d’occident’ (Muhammad of the West). Napoleon himself, at the end of his life, exiled on Saint Helena and ruminating on his defeat, wrote about Muhammad and defended his legacy as a ‘great man who changed the course of history’. Napoleon’s Muhammad, conqueror and lawgiver, persuasive and charismatic, resembles Napoleon himself – but a Napoleon who was more successful, and certainly never exiled to a cold windswept island in the South Atlantic.

The idea of Muhammad as one of the world’s great legislators persisted into the 20th century. Adolph A Weinman, a German-born American sculptor, depicted Muhammad in his 1935 frieze in the main chamber of the US Supreme Court, where the Prophet takes his place among 18 lawgivers. Various European Christians called on their churches to recognise Muhammad’s special role as prophet of the Muslims. For Catholics scholars of Islam such as Louis Massignon or Hans Küng, or for the Scottish Protestant scholar of Islam William Montgomery Watt, such recognition was the best way to promote peaceful, constructive dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

This kind of dialogue continues today, but it has been largely drowned out by the din of conflict, as extreme-Right politicians in Europe and elsewhere diabolise Muhammad to justify anti-Muslim policies. The Dutch politician Geert Wilders calls him a terrorist, paedophile and psychopath. The negative image of the Prophet is paradoxically promoted by fundamentalist Muslims who adulate him and reject all historical contextualisation of his life and teachings; meanwhile, violent extremists claim to defend Islam and its prophet from ‘insults’ through murder and terror. All the more reason, then, to step back and examine the diverse and often surprising Western portraits of the myriad faces of Muhammad.

Date posted: May 6, 2019.

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This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

About the writer: John Talon is Professor of history at the University of Nantes and author of  Faces of Muhammad: Western Perceptions of the Prophet of Islam from the Middle Ages to Today published via Princeton University Press (2019). The book shows that Prophet Muhammad wears so many faces in the West because he has always acted as a mirror for its writers, their portrayals revealing more about their own concerns than the historical realities of the founder of Islam. Faces of Muhammad reveals a lengthy tradition of positive portrayals of Muhammad. Talon’s previous books include Saracens: Islam in the Medieval European Imagination and Saint Francis and the Sultan. Twitter @JohnVTolan

The Imam is Always Present and Obedience to Him Makes Our Faith Complete

Recognition of the Imam

By FIDAI KHURASANI

He is always present
a witness with his followers;
but who has seen his beauty
except the blessed?

He who is the cupbearer of
the fount of paradise
is aware altogether of
the hearts of his followers

He is the Imam of the Time
the guide and comforter
the protector of his followers
whether young or old

Like the sun in the sky
he is manifest in the world
but the blind bat cannot see
his luminous face

Source: Shimmering Light: An Anthology of Ismaili Poems, ed. Faquir M. Hunzai and Kutub Kassam, pub. I. B. Tauris in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 1997. 

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Making Our Faith Complete

By IMAM MUSTANSIR BI’LLAH 

Pandiyat-i- Jawanmardi or Counsels of Chivalry is a compilation of the guidance of the 32nd Ismaili Imam, Mustansir bi’llah, who lived in the 15th century. The book contains exhortations to the faithful on the necessity of recognising and obeying the Imam of the Time and on how to live a truly ethical life. The circumstances that led to the compilation of the work are intriguing, and are alluded to in many of the manuscripts copies as follows:

When Pir Taj al-Din passed away, a number of people from the Sindhi Ismaili Community went to the Imam. Upon arrival they pleaded: “Our Pir Taj al-Din has passed away. Now we are in need of a Pir.” The Imam then had the Counsels of Chivalry compiled and gave it to them saying: “This is your Pir.  Act according to its dictates.”

In the following piece from one of the chapters, the Imam enumerates on how murids (those who have pledged their allegiance to the Imam) can make their faith complete. Says the Imam:

“O, believers, O, pious ones!

“Now is the time when you should strengthen religion (din), by helping each other, by trying to gain knowledge, by advancing the religious cause, and striving to make your faith complete.

“Gain safety by obeying the Imam of the time, and become completely obedient to his orders.

“Do unhesitatingly what you are told by the blessed word of the Imam, –- then you will attain (real) salvation.

“Follow the Imam of your time strictly, so that he may take you under his protection, helping you, granting you victory and relief.

“And obedience to the Imam, attention to his word, will bring about the healing of spiritual ailments and lead to soundness and clarity of the heart.”

Reading adapted from The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, a Search for Salvation by Shafique N. Virani, Hardcover – May 3, 2007

Date posted: May 2, 2019.

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The Avicenna Fragment: Translation of Parts of Canon of Medicine is Found in 16th Century Irish Book Binding

Finding Reveals Connection Between Gaelic Ireland and Islamic Worlds

The Avicenna Fragment is an Irish translation of parts of the opening chapters on the physiology of the jaws, the nose and the back in the ‘Canon of Medicine’ by the Persian physician Ibn Sina (980–1037), better known as Avicenna, who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians in the Islamic Golden Age. The existence of this text was not hitherto known in Ireland. University College Cork (UCC) Professor of Modern Irish, Pádraig Ó Macháin, was made aware of a family in Cornwall in possession of a small Latin manual printed in London in 1534/1536. However it was not the book’s content that Professor Macháin was interested in but the binding which contained the fragment. The above image is a digitised version of the binding that was opened out after the binding was removed from the manuscript with the permission of the owners.

By NEWS AND VIEWS, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK, IRELAND

The discovery and digitisation of the text was a scholarly adventure” — Professor Macháin

A previously undiscovered 15th-century Irish vellum manuscript, reveals an enchanting connection between Gaelic Ireland and the Islamic world, and illustrates how medieval Ireland was once at the centre of medical scholarship in the world.  University College Cork (UCC) Professor of Modern Irish, Pádraig Ó Macháin, was made aware of a family in Cornwall in possession of an early printed book, with an exciting connection to medieval Irish learning.

A 15th-century discovery in a 16th-century book

The book, a pocket-sized Latin manual of local administration, was printed in London in 1534/1536 and had been in the family’s possession since that time. What was of interest to Prof. Ó Macháin was the binding of the book. This consisted of a sheet, full of text in Irish, cut from a 15th-century Irish vellum manuscript, that had been trimmed and folded and stitched to the spine of the printed book to form a sturdy binding.

“The use of parchment cut from old manuscripts as a binding for later books is not unusual in the European tradition,” says Ó Macháin, “but this is the first time that a case has come to light of such a clear example of the practice in a Gaelic context.” From photographs of the binding supplied by the owners, Prof. Ó Macháin established that the Irish text was a medical one. “A quarter of what survives of late-medieval manuscripts in the Irish language is medical in content,” says Ó Macháin, ‘an indication of the practical purpose of these books in Ireland of the time.”

The identity of the text was established immediately by Ó Macháin’s collaborator of many years, Professor Aoibheann Nic Dhonnchadha of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, the only living expert on medieval Irish medicine. It is a fragment of a translation into Irish — previously unrecorded — of the ‘Canon of Medicine’ by the Persian physician Ibn Sena (980–1037), also known as Avicenna, considered one of the most significant physicians in the Islamic Golden Age.

The existence of this text was not hitherto known in Ireland

The ‘Canon of Medicine’ was a great medical encyclopedia which, through translation into Latin (from which the Irish text itself is translated), achieved great popularity in Europe, where state-of-the-art medical theory and practice in medieval times had their origins in the Muslim world. The Irish fragment contains parts of the opening chapters on the physiology of the jaws, the nose and the back. The existence of this text was not hitherto known in Ireland.

Medical scholarship in medieval Gaelic Ireland was on a par with that practised on the Continent and was the most outward-looking of all the native branches of learning. There is evidence of Irish scholars travelling to European medical schools, and bringing their learning back to the medical schools of Ireland.

Because of the importance of the manuscript fragment to the history of Irish learning and medicine, the owners agreed that the binding should be removed from the book by John Gillis of TCD, opened out and digitised under the supervision of Prof. Ó Macháin to whom they entrusted the book, and a new binding provided. This was completed and ‘The Avicenna Fragment’ is now available for viewing on the Irish Script on Screen website. 

The discovery and digitisation of the text was a scholarly adventure,” says Ó Macháin, “one of those occasions when many people, not least the owners of the book, were working together towards a common purpose for the cause of pure learning. It was a pleasure to have been able to make it happen and to have been part of it.”

Following the discovery, a public seminar on ‘The Avicenna Fragment’ and on aspects of Gaelic medieval medicine was hosted by University College Cork on Thursday, March 7, 2019.

Date posted: April 23, 2019.

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CREDIT: This piece was reproduced from the website of the University of Cork, Ireland, with the University’s permission. The original piece can be read by clicking on https://www.ucc.ie/en/news/15th-century-manuscript-reveals-links-between-gaelic-and-islamic-worlds.html.