Islam Meets Ancient Egypt: The Mosque Located Inside Luxor’s Iconic Temple

WhatsApp-Image-2020-01-05-at-14.57.29-768x576When visiting Luxor, the average traveler is spoiled for choice. However, one attractive and evident site to visit is none other than Luxor temple.

The icon of the Upper Egyptian city, arguably one of Egypt’s oldest towns on which the modern-day Luxor is built on, is the temple.

An ancient structure

In truth, the ‘temple’ is the wrong title for the impressive archaeological giant as it comprises of several temples and archeological features built by different pharaohs in the New Kingdom (1550 – 1069 BC).

Two kings essentially build the temple, Ramses II and Amenhotep III (the grand-father of Tutankhamun) with the boy king himself having commissioned features of the Luxor site, including the fourteen colossal columns. There is also a small worshiping space – a chapel dedicated to the goddess Mut – inside the enclosure.

Karnak Temple Entrance 1920 (Luxor)

The art style of the temple can be difficult to date for the average tourist, but the New Kingdom influences of the human figures are clear: smooth, slender figures, fluid movement and flowing clothing are some of this period’s typical characteristics, distinguishing itself from the older, more ‘rigid’ form of Egypt’s Old Kingdom. Finally, deep in the shrine and in the back of the temple are the clear markings of the Ptolemaic period, as they are ‘fuller figures with softer facial features and alternative fashion.


Trump’s ‘peace plan’: The farce, the fraud and the fury

trump planThe Trump administration has finally lifted the curtains on the final act of its Middle East diplomacy by revealing the long-awaited, ahem, “peace plan” in a surrealistic White House celebration.

I will admit from the outset that I cannot write about it with a straight face, considering the absurdity of the last three years of Trump policies towards Israel and Palestine.

To call it a “peace plan” is to do injustice to the infamous “peace process” and its many failed “peace plans”. It is so much worse, that a better term for it would be an “assault on peace”.

Everything about the plan is farcical.

Its pompous name, the “Deal of the Century”; its unfit author, Jared Kushner, a fanatic Zionist supporter of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land; its premise, “when humiliation does not work, more humiliation will”; its bizarre framing as a lovefest between the American and Israeli right; and its absurd substance, which punishes the victims and rewards the aggressors.

In the three decades of the American-led “peace process”, successive administrations at least pretended to engage, consult or listen to the Palestinian side, even when doing Israel’s bidding.


Ethiopia: A Nation With Interfaith Harmony – Religious Leaders, Theologians

girlsTheologians and religious leaders from different countries said that Ethiopia is a model nation in terms of peaceful coexistence and harmony among followers of different religions since ancient times.

The leaders came to the country to attend the Interfaith Harmony Week recently held at the African Union.

Speaking to The Ethiopian Herald Daryl Anderson, an American Theologian and an attendee in the conference, said that unity among religions is paramount importance to live in harmony among different religions and to promote peace and tolerance to human kind.

The Theologian, who studied Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other religions, underlined that all faiths have common stances of upholding unity, love, compassion peace and cooperation. Hence, he emphasized, religious institutions and their leaders should enhance mutual understanding and need to foster intra and inter-religious harmony through creating open dialogue platforms.

The Word as Image: On “How to Read Islamic Calligraphy”

By Emily Neumeier


THE ISLAMIC WORLD boasts an incredible diversity of art production, from the elegant tile mosaics of the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain, to South Asian Mughal manuscript painting. Yet, within this diversity, it is impossible to deny the enduring and ubiquitous presence of calligraphy — the art of beautiful writing — throughout Islamic art and architecture. In the recent volume How to Read Islamic Calligraphy, Maryam D. Ekhtiar introduces her readers to this unique visual tradition. The book almost entirely draws upon the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which is one of the most extensive in North America.

Ekhtiar’s volume is part of a wider How to Read series of handbooks produced by different departments at the Met, designed to equip readers with the essential tools and background to appreciate an entire class of materials ranging from Greek vases to Oceanic art. While the series in general promises to prepare its audience to “read” all kinds of art objects, the resulting title for this specific installment is particularly apt, because it points to the most fundamental (and fascinating) characteristic of Islamic calligraphy: that it is an art form meant to be seen as well as read.


The Muslim World’s Question: ‘What Happened to Us?’

Ayatollah Khomeini Returns to Iran During Iranian RevolutionUnderstanding the events of 1979 is crucial for those trying to figure out a better future for today’s Middle East.

What happened to us? The question haunts us in the Arab and Muslim world. We repeat it like a mantra. You will hear it from Iran to Syria, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, and in my own country, Lebanon. For us, the past is a different country, one not mired in the horrors of sectarian killings. It is a more vibrant place, without the crushing intolerance of religious zealots and seemingly endless, amorphous wars.

This article is an adapted excerpt from Ghattas’s upcoming book.

Though the past had coups and wars too, they were contained in time and space, and the future still held much promise. What happened to us? The question may not occur to those too young to remember a different world, whose parents did not tell them of a youth spent reciting poetry in Peshawar, debating Marxism in the bars of Beirut, or riding bicycles on the banks of the Tigris in Baghdad. The question may surprise those in the West who assume that the extremism and bloodletting of today have always been the norm.

There are many turning points in the region’s modern history that could explain how we ended up in these depths of despair—from the end of the Ottoman Empire to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. None, on its own, paints a complete picture. Instead, I look to 1979, when three major events took place: the Iranian Revolution, which culminated in the return of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Tehran in February; the siege of the Holy Mosque in Mecca by Saudi zealots in November; and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, the first battleground for jihad in modern times and an effort supported by the United States. These acts occurred almost independently of one another, but the combination of all three was toxic, and nothing was ever the same again. From this noxious brew was born the Saudi-Iran rivalry.

Indian Christians protest against ‘anti-Muslim’ law

indian christiansMore than 8,000 people from the Christian community took to the streets in eastern India Monday to protest against a citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims.

Hindu-majority India has been gripped by widespread street demonstrations that have sometimes turned deadly, with the march in West Bengal state’s capital Kolkata believed to be one of the biggest rallies by Christians.

Carrying banners calling for the citizenship law and proposed nationwide “register of citizens” to be ditched, the demonstrators marched for several kilometres (miles) from a church to a life-sized statue of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi.

One of the protest organisers, Herod Mullick from the Bangiya Christiya Pariseba, said the new legislation was “divisive”.

“We want to express our solidarity with the people who are protesting against CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) and NRC (National Register of Citizens) in different parts of India.”


The white nationalist fantasy of ancient Christian-Muslim conflict would get an ‘F’ in history class

Crusade_thumbnail-1280x640When I first heard the tragic news of the shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, I was preparing a lecture for my Introduction to Western Religions course on Jesus in the Qur’an. This lecture asks a deceptively simple question: How was Islam different from Christianity in the 7th century? As a historian of religion, I like to use questions like this to challenge my students to interrogate the definitions of religion that we use and how we understand the borders between religions like Christianity and Islam. Who built these borders, and when did they first appear?

The terrorist charged with waging a calculated, hateful attack on Muslims in their place of worship fancies himself a historian, but it will come as little shock to learn that, given his writings, it’s clear that he’s never really read the texts of ancient Muslims and Christians or studied the artifacts they left behind.
His 74-page manifesto, “The Great Replacement,” parrots the deeply flawed historical claims of white nationalist pseudo-intellectuals and their trolling internet henchmen. The manifesto smacks of white fragility. It spews vitriolic rhetoric about the malleable Other who seeks to invade and replace; the non-white bogeyman who threatens white identity. In this case, the Other takes the shape of Muslims, with devastating consequences.

As has been widely reported, the shooter’s firearms were bedecked with the graffitied names of a veritable who’s who of white supremacists’ heroes. These men represent the Christian West in a clash of civilizations with the Muslim East. There are references to the Crusades, of course, but also to lesser known skirmishes between European Christians and Muslims such as Charles Martel’s campaign at the Battle of Tours (France) in 732. A power-hungry duke, Martel won a minor victory over Arabs who sought, at the urging of the Spanish Christian Duke Eudo of Aquitaine, to reclaim land Charles’s uncle seized from them. Tours was, in fact, a power struggle between Christian aristocrats.


Muslim world leaders visit Auschwitz in ‘strong signal’ of interfaith support

Few Muslims have visited the notorious site of some of history’s worst atrocities. But high-ranking leaders of Muslim and Jewish communities are coming together to mark 75 years since the concentration camp’s liberation.

45018907_303In 2013, the leader of Berlin’s Social Democratic parliamentary group, Raed Saleh, visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site with a group of pupils. The fact that Saleh, who was born in the West Bank and came to Germany as a 5-year-old, made his way to the site of a former Nazi concentration and extermination camp garnered national attention. At the time, he was Germany’s most prominent Muslim to ever visit the site where Nazis murdered more than 1.1 million people, most of them Jews, during the Holocaust.

“There was this pupil called Mustafa, a really big guy, standing in front of a vast pile of children’s shoes,” said Saleh, recalling the visit to bloc 5 of Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. “Each pair had once belonged to a child obviously, and suddenly I noticed how this realization did something with Mustafa.” The lawmaker says the pupils in his group had “diverse, multi-religious backgrounds” in Berlin and that “anti-Semitism among young Muslims is not uncommon.”

Read more: How safe are Jews living in Germany?

A group of people visits the Auschwitz memorial (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Skolimowska)Though millions visit the Auschwitz every year, few Muslims are among them

Few visitors from Arab world

According to the director of the memorial site, Piotr Cywinski, more than 2.3 million people visited in 2019. Yet he said among these “were only a handful of people from Arab world.” Last year, the museum’s ticket reservation system registered some 3,200 guests from Arab-majority countries, though visitors’ religious affiliations are not recorded. Cywinski said the site also receives Muslims among groups of French, Norwegian, German and other visitors. He is “certain that for all of them, coming to an authentically preserved site of a former camp is an important personal and universal experience.”


Muslims to gather Wednesday at Kentucky (USA) Capitol


Muslims from across the state will gather in Frankfort on Wednesday for the inaugural Muslim Day at the state Capitol.

People of the Islamic faith will tour the Capitol building, meet and speak with legislators who represent them, receive training on how to advocate for issues affecting the Muslim community, listen to guest speakers, including state legislators and national representatives of the Council on American Islamic Relations, and have a silent prayer in the Capitol rotunda.

The free event starts at 9 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m. It’s sponsored by the Kentucky Chapter of CAIR and multiple city partners in respective Muslim communities. Lunch will be provided by the Islamic Center of Frankfort.

Ashiq Zaman, president of the Islamic Center of Frankfort, says he’s “very excited about the first statewide Muslim gathering in our capital city.”

“Muslim communities have organized locally in almost all corners of Kentucky for a while,” he said. “We find Muslim-owned businesses and restaurants serving halal (permissible) food pretty common.

“Muslim communities run Islamic centers, charitable organizations and even Islamic schools are becoming common in major cities in our state. However, I am not aware of any attempt to organize Muslims statewide.”