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.”