On Contemporary Extremism and Cultural Oppression

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In Medieval times, discrete attempts to diverge from authoritative ideology were tolerated by the Islamic ruling class for art’s sake, fostering a more liberal and independent society of artists. With the emergence of ISIS, we witness the complete suppression of critical thought and freedom of thinking

by Arielle Blattner
Graphic designer and MA Student of Islamic Art

As long as there have been religions, there have been sects. As long as there have been religions and sects, there have been vicious wars between sects. No matter which division, the proclamation of faith written on the flag of ISIS lā ilāha illā allāh (“There is no god but Allah”) is the same phrase written on Islamist medieval coins since the 8th century, and continues to be seen on the flag of ISIS. In addition to spreading Islam being the main goal of these regimes, the suppression of free thought (whether non-muslim…

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The Gazi Scroll of West Bengal

Painted on paper, mounted on cotton, scrolls such as these were used as visual props in storytelling performances in India approximately around 1800 AD.

Handprinted in Murshidabad, this scroll is around 13 meters in length, with 54 frames which narrate the story of Gazi and Manik – two Muslim saints or pirs. 

Patua scroll artists use natural colours borrowed from leaves and fruits to create art work.

More: https://theheritagelab.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/the-gazi-scroll-of-west-bengal/

The Heritage Lab

Gaziscroll_Fotor_Collage The Gazi Pata Scroll, West Bengal; 1800 (circa)

WHAT IS IT?

Painted on paper, mounted on cotton, scrolls such as these were used as visual props in storytelling performances in India approximately around 1800 AD.

Handprinted in Murshidabad, this scroll is around 13 meters in length, with 54 frames which narrate the story of Gazi and Manik – two Muslim saints or pirs. 

Patua scroll artists use natural colours borrowed from leaves and fruits to create art work.

WHAT IS THE STORY?

Through scrolls, legends have been recorded of a ‘pir’, sometimes called Gazi, although this seems to be no more than a generic name for ‘warrior-saint’ or similar. This ‘pir’ not only brought the new faith to the virgin forests of Sunderbans but also settled new converts in these remote areas, cutting down the impenetrable jungle and taming the wild animals, above all the tiger.

The scroll goes on to narrate the…

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During the Anjundan period Nizari Imams took on Sufi names

Interesting facts about History of the Middle East.

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The post-Alamut period in Nizari Ismaili history comprises the first two centuries after the fall of Alamut (1090-1256) and the Anjundan revival from the mid-fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

After the fall of Alamut, the Imams remained in hiding for almost two centuries in order to avoid persecution and to safeguard the community; only a handful of trusted da’is had physical contact with the Imams. Imam Sham al-Din Muhammad for instance, was concealed under the nickname ‘Zarduz’ (embroiderer).*

Illuminated pages from Diwan of Hafiz, late 18th century. produced for the 44th Imam Sayyid Abu'l Hasan. (Image: The Ismailis: An Illustrated History) Illuminated pages from Diwan of Hafiz, late 18th century. produced for the 44th Imam Sayyid Abu’l Hasan. (Image: The Ismailis: An Illustrated History)

The Nizari communities scattered over a wide region from Syria and Persia, Central and South Asia, developing locally and in isolation from one another. The Imams and the community disguised themselves under the mantle of Sufism that was spreading widely in Persia, appearing as a Sufi tariqa, using…

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M. Ali Lakhani: The Timeless Relevance of Traditional Wisdom

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M. Ali Lakhani: The Timeless Relevance of Traditional Wisdom

More than ever, there is an urgent need to rediscover timeless and objective principles in order to confront the issues of our times. In this collection of remarkable essays, Lakhani summons us to rediscover the sacred worldview of Tradition, governed by truth, virtue, and beauty, as he addresses some of the most pressing issues today, including fundamentalism, gender and sexuality, religious diversity and pluralism, faith and science, and the problem of evil.

M. Ali Lakhani: The Timeless Relevance of Traditional WisdomM. Ali Lakhani graduated from Cambridge University before moving to Vancouver where he has practiced as a trial lawyer for 25 years. In 1998, he founded the traditionalist journal, Sacred Web, with the aim of identifying the first principles of traditional metaphysics and promoting their application to the contingent circumstances of modernity. The bi-annual journal has included contributions by many leading traditionalists. In the words of Professor Nasr, “Along with Sophia, Sacred Web is the most important journal…

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Metaphysics and Virtue in Sufism

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Metaphysics and Virtue in Sufism | Ismaili Web AmaanaIn Sufism, Metaphysics is always linked to spiritual realization

by Titus Burckhardt

Sufi doctrine possesses several branches, the two most important of which are the domain of Universal Truths (Haqâ’iq) and the domain relating to the human or individual stages of the spiritual way (daqâ’iq); in other words, metaphysics (the science of principles, or of the Principle) and virtue (the “science of the soul”). Needless to say, these two domains are not in watertight compartments. Metaphysics by definition includes everything, but in Sufism it is always linked to spiritual realization. Cosmology, which is derived from metaphysics, applies to both macrocosm and microcosm. Thus, there is a psychology which has a cosmic application and a psychology which, by analogy, applies to the soul or the inward constitution of man.

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Persian literature was dominated by a sophisticated tradition of poetry

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A manuscript of Rumi's Masnavi dated1652–53. (Image: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford) A manuscript of Rumi’s Masnavi dated1652–53. (Image: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford)

Persian literature is dominated by a highly  sophisticated tradition of poetry dating to the tenth century. Persian poetry can generally be divided into two forms: the lyrical and the epic. The major lyrical forms are the qasida, ghazal, and rubai. The basic form of epic poetry is the masnavi.

The qasida, a long mono-rhyme (aa, ba, ca) similar to an ode, is mostly used as a speech or in praise of somebody as well as for secular or religious moralism. It consists of three parts – a prologue, the actual praise or tribute, and a final appeal to the patron. It was also used to praise of God and the Prophet. The chanted qasida is part of the religious tradition of Arabic and Persian–speaking Nizari Ismailis.

The ghazal, rhythmically similar to the qasida only…

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