Journey Towards the Nur (Light) – An Ismaili Reflection on the Prophetic Tradition “Die Before You Die”

PLEASE CLICK: “Die Before You Die” – Journey Towards the Nur by Shiraz Pradhan

Please click for article "Journey Towards the Nur". Photo: Muslim Harji, Montreal, Copyright.

Please click for article “Journey Towards the Nur”. Photo: Muslim Harji, Montreal, Copyright.

Amidst all this greatness,
this splendour
this glory of Your Majesty
I feel like a poor peasant
as I follow my inadequacy!
I see these Times
and Your Magnanimity
 and look at my humble affordings —
In this phase
and to this Light
all the World’s treasures
 would be a trifling

(From a poem by Laila Lokhandwalla) 

Photo Essay: Welcoming a New Baby in Rural Indonesia @Simergphotos

From birth recovery to welcoming a new baby, post-pregnancy rituals vary around the world. This fascinating set of photos at Simergphotos from Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country with a population of over 200 million, is something you will wish to view and also share with your entire family and friends as you learn about the customs associated with the birth of a new born in that country including the symbolism of the placenta, and the blessings as well as the loving and tender care with which the new baby is welcomed. Please click Photo Essay: A Baby is Born – Customs in a Rural Muslim Community in Indonesia.

Please click for photo essay. Credit: Wellcome Images.

Please click for photo essay. Credit: Wellcome Images.

Photo Essay: Talisman and Amulets in the Muslim World @Simergphotos

An amulet [similar to a talisman] is any object that is imbued with protective powers, and all cultures and faiths have manifestations of such objects. In the world of Islam, they bear Qur’anic inscriptions, and religious narratives. Many Muslims believe that an object that is inscribed with the word of God will protect the person who reads, touches, or sees it and that the word of God has the power to ward off evil…Read More

The Tradition of Amulets and Talisman in the Muslim World

 Wooden Koranic board with two leather amuletic cases, Nigeria.

Wooden Koranic board. Please click on image for photo essay.

“Islam: A Mosaic, Not a Monolith” – a brief but ambitious essay by Vartan Gregorian

“[Vartan] Gregorian is a national treasure, one of the most interesting intellects and
personalities in the United States” – Houston Chronicle

To download essay, please click: Islam – A Mosaic, Not a Monolith

May 26, 1996: His Highness the Aga Khan receives a standing ovation at the conclusion of the Baccalaureate Address at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Next to him is Vartan Gregorian who was then President of the University. In 2010, the Ismaili Imam established the Aga Khan Visiting Professor of Islamic Humanities at Brown University in honour of Vartan Gregorian, who is currently the President of Carnegie Corporation of New York. Please click on image to download his essay "Islam: A Mosaic, Not a Monolith."

May 26, 1996: His Highness the Aga Khan receives a standing ovation at the conclusion of the Baccalaureate Address at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Next to him is Vartan Gregorian who was then President of the University. In 2010, the Ismaili Imam established the Aga Khan Visiting Professor of Islamic Humanities at Brown University in honour of Vartan Gregorian, who is currently the President of Carnegie Corporation of New York. Please click on image to download his essay “Islam: A Mosaic, Not a Monolith.”

ESSAY EXCERPT

“Huntington [author of The Clash of Civilizations and The Remaking of the World Order] and others who write about a clash of civilizations do not recognize that class, tribal, family, personal, ethnic, cultural, economic, and national interests have always defied a unity of purpose that transcends all these divisions….instances when the Muslim world was a unified monolith have been extremely rare. Throughout Islamic history, the gravitational pull of regional, dynastic, and since the nineteenth century nationalist interests has consistently outweighed the spiritual affiliations of some idealized, transcendent, organic umma. If history is a guide, it shows that in Islam, as in most major religions, there is a broad gulf between the ideal of unity and the realities on the ground… Read More

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For a profile of the author, please click Aga Khan Gifts Brown University in Honour of Vartan Gregorian

Readings on Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.): Ismaili Ginanic Literature, Two Songs and a Maulid in Lamu

PROPHET MUHAMMAD IN ISMAILI GINANIC LITERATURE

Supermoon over Toronto, night of March 19, 2011. Photo by Jim Bowie. Copyright.

While the Holy Qur’an describes the Nabi as ‘Bright Lamp’, the Ginans use the symbol of ‘Chandni’ (Moon Light) for the Prophet. Both in the Holy Qur’an and the Ginans, the Prophet is seen as  a Rahemat (Mercy) to mankind.

Please click: Prophet Muhammad is Symbol of Moon-Light, a Mercy to All Nations, and Intercessor

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TWO SONGS FOR MILADUN-NABEE

 The songs introduce us to some of the titles by which Prophet Muhammad came to be known and how the first mosque, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, Masjeedun-Nabee, was built.

Please click: Two Songs for Miladun-Nabee

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EXTERNAL WEBSITE

And a Maulid in Lamu, East Africa, in 2012

….the festivities and events in Lamu lasted for more than a week. Donkey races, dhow races, various cultural activities including the singing of qasidas and a koran memorization contest lent the town a carnival atmosphere, while free medical care and educational workshops represented more serious social aspects of the event.

Please click: Understanding a Diaspora Through Lamu Maulid

Webcasts: Jonathan Lyons, Bernard Lewis and the late Mohammed Arkoun on Islam and the West

“ISLAM THROUGH WESTERN EYES” BY JONATHAN LYONS

Jonathan Lyons, who spent twenty years as a foreign correspondent and editor for Reuters, much of it in the Islamic world, addresses the issues of Islam and modernity, Islam and violence, and Islam and women and proposes new ways of thinking about the Western relationship to the Islamic world.

Please click for presentation by Jonathan Lyons. To bypass preliminaries, please fast forward to to the 9:05 minute mark

Please click for presentation by Jonathan Lyons. To bypass preliminaries, please fast forward to the 9:05 minute mark

Please click: Library of Congress – Islam Through Western Eyes
(note: a transcript is also available)

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“WHAT WENT WRONG” BY BERNARD LEWIS AND MOHAMMED ARKOUN

Bernard Lewis of Princeton University and the late Mohammed Arkoun of the Sorbonne University, who was a member of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Ismaili Studies at the time of his death, discuss relations between the Middle East and the Western nations.

Please click on image to view the the presentations by Bernard Lewis and the late Mohammed Arkoun

Please click on image to view the the presentations by Bernard Lewis and the late Mohammed Arkoun

Please click: Library of Congress – What Went Wrong

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See Simerg’s piece: Professor Mohammed Arkoun: A Courageous Intellectual Who Advocated A Tolerant, Liberal and Modern Islam

Historical Images: The Naad-e-Ali Prayer “Call Upon Ali….Oh Ali, Oh Ali, Oh Ali” in Ottoman Calligraphy @ Simergphotos

Call Ali call Ali call Ali,
the manifestation of marvels
He will be your helper in difficulty
Every anxiety and sorrow will end
Through your friendship.
O Ali, O Ali, O Ali

Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum. Please click for Naad-e-Ali

Photo Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum. Please click for Naad-e-Ali

PLEASE CLICK: Historical Images: The Naad-e-Ali, “Call Upon Ali….oh Ali, oh Ali, oh Ali,” in Ottoman Calligraphy, and Other Shia Inscriptions in the British Museum’s Islamic Collection

The Verses of the ‘Immaculate Conception’ of Jesus in the Qur’an and their Impression on a Christian Emperor by Barnaby Rogerson

Muhammad, who could do nothing to alleviate the suffering of his small embattled community of believers, at last advised some of his followers to leave sacred Mecca and take refuge elsewhere. He said to them: “If you were to go to Abyssinia, it would be better for you until such time as God shall relieve you from your distress.” The Quraysh of Mecca, rather than celebrate their departure, grew irritated by this development. They dispatched a delegation to the ruler of Axsum where the Quraysh delegation planned to slander the new faith in the eyes of a Christian king, and so expedite their expulsion….Read More

The Altar of the Nativity, beneath which is the star marking the spot where tradition says the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus. Photo: Muslim Harji, Montreal, PQ. Copyright. Please click on image for Barnaby Rogerson's piece.

The Altar of the Nativity, beneath which is the star marking the spot where tradition says the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus. Photo: Muslim Harji, Montreal, PQ. Copyright. Please click on image for Barnaby Rogerson’s piece.

America’s Founding Fathers and Islam by James Hutson

The US Library of Congress contains the papers of 23 presidents, from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge. Manuscript Division Chief James Hutson draws upon the papers of Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other primary documents to discuss the relationship of Islam to the new nation.

Please click: America’s Founding Fathers and Islam: A Brief Discussion Based on Documents at the Library of Congress

George Washington's 1785 letter wherein he declared that he would welcome "Mohometans" to Mount Vernon if they were "good workmen. Image credit: Library of Congress. Please click for article

George Washington’s 1785 letter wherein he declared that he would welcome “Mohometans” to Mount Vernon if they were “good workmen.” Image credit: Library of Congress. Please click for article

“I Wish I’d Been There” – Volunteeering at the Dawn of the Age of Imamat by Aziz R. Kurwa

In History in Quotations, which reflects five thousand years of World History, authors M. J. Cohen and John Major write as follows:

“Muhammad said:

‘He of whom I am the Mawla (patron), Ali is his Mawla. O God, be the friend of him who is his friend and be the enemy of his enemy.’

“This became the proof text for the Shia claim that Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, was the Prophet’s rightful successor after the Prophet’s death in 632. The meaning of Mawla here probably implies the role of patron, lord or protector.”

The authors then sum up by stating that through the use of the term Mawla, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) was giving Mawlana Ali (a.s.) the parity with himself in this function. Dr. Aziz Kurwa, a long serving member of the Ismaili community, takes us to the beginning of Islamic and Ismaili history and imaginatively constructs the role he played as a volunteer on that eventful and historic occasion, a day which was described by one of our readers as “an introduction to a new world order”. Aziz Kurwa was among the thirty-one who contributed to Simerg’s highly acclaimed series I Wish I’d Been There.

Please click on image below or: Volunteering at the Dawn of the Age of Imamat

London, 1979: His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismailis and direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) receiving Fatimid Gold dinars from Dr. Aziz Kurwa, a long serving leader of the Ismaili community who was at the time President of the Ismailia Association for the U.K.