Item(s) for the ‘Ismaili News’ Category

Thursday
Nov 1,2012

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is restoring this unusually structured tomb in Nizamuddin Basti, dome by dome.

Tucked in the narrow lanes of Nizamuddin Basti, a seventeenth-century monument — Chaunsath Khambha — is in the process of regaining its lost glory.

Under the careful ministrations of a group of engineers, architects and craftsmen, this unusually structured tomb is gradually ridding itself of its many “wounds” sustained in the course of four centuries.

Built around 1623-24 AD, the building houses the tomb of Mirza Aziz Kokaltash — son of Shamshuddin Atagh Khan, Prime Minister of Emperor Akbar. Mirza Aziz Kokaltash was also the governor of Gujarat, during the reign of Jahangir.

“Since it is considered auspicious to be buried near a saint’s grave, seven centuries of tomb building in the vicinity of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s dargah have made this area the densest ensemble of medieval Islamic buildings in India,” Ratish Nanda, Project Director, Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), said.

The trust is carrying out the restoration at Chaunsath Khambha, which is being co-funded by the Embassy of Germany, following an agreement between the two in 2011.

With 64 pillars supporting 25 domes, the monument has been constructed entirely in marble. Conservation experts said the building plan may have been inspired by that of Iranian garden pavilions such as Chihil Sutun (Hall of 40 Pillars), which also influenced the design of Diwan-i-Aam and Diwan-i-Khas at the Red Fort.

Conservation experts involved in the project said the monument had suffered severe damages because of excessive water seepage.

The funding of the project is a precursor to the Indo-German Mela, which is being held across the country this year.

In 2009, a team of AKTC’s conservation architects did a condition assessment study here, which revealed that the building needed complicated conservation to prevent the collapse of certain sections. Each stone was documented in the process using a 3D laser scanning technology introduced to India as part of this project.

Experts said an intensive craft-based approach was being adopted for conservation of the site. Each of the 25 domes is being dismantled and the stones are being repaired by craftsmen using techniques and tools used during the construction of the monument in the seventeenth century. “Once, the stones are repaired, the domes will be reset, ” one of the engineers working on the project said.

“The first dome alone required eight months of work as we were trying to develop the most appropriate conservation method as there is a risk that the structure could collapse,” Rajpal Singh, chief engineer, AKTC, said.

“The pieces of marble in the structure had been held together using iron dowels. So the water seepage led to rusting, corrosion and expansion of the iron dowels. The monument was further damaged due to the “patch work” carried out some time ago — white cement was used to cover areas where the stone had broken off because of the pressure exerted by the iron dowels,” he said.

Elaborating on the work, Neetipal Brar, Project Conservation Architect, AKTC, said, “Once the first dome was fixed, it was important to ensure that no further damage occurred due to rainwater penetration. So the entire roof was relaid using traditional materials. All iron dowels are being replaced with non-corrosive stainless-steel ones.”

Craftsmen selected for the renovation work were given a year’s intensive training. They were then divided into three groups and are currently working simultaneously on three domes. These master craftsmen will take at least six years to complete the restoration work, Brar said.

K K Muhammed, former Chief Superintending Archaeologist of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) (Delhi Circle), said the work at the site has been quite challenging. “When the initial plan was put in front of me, I had expressed my reservations about the feasibility of the project.”

AKTC — along with the ASI and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi — has been working on a major urban renewal project in the Nizamuddin area since 2007.

By linking conservation with socio-economic development, the project includes sanitation, health, education and vocational training initiatives.

As part of the urban conservation effort, urban housing improvement programmes are also being implemented in the area.

The pillars of history

Dating back to 1623-24 AD, Chaunsath Khambha is the tomb of Mirza Aziz Kokaltash, son of Shamshuddin Atagh Khan, the Prime Minister of Mughal Emperor Akbar and Ji Ji Anagh, the emperor’s nurse.

The monument derives its name from the 64 pillars which support the building’s roof. The 64 pillars divide the building internally into 25 bays — each bay surmounted with a dome. However, the tomb, when viewed from the outside, appears flat-roofed.

Located behind Mirza Ghalib’s tomb, it contains graves of Kokaltash and his wife which carry Quranic inscriptions.

While the other graves present in the building are uninscribed, they are believed to belong to the members of the Kokaltash family.

Mirza Aziz served as Jahangir’s governor of Gujarat and built Chaunsath Khambha, his own mausoleum, during his lifetime.

He died in Gujarat and was temporarily buried at Sarkhej, Gujarat. His remains were shifted to this site.

Catherine Asher, a specialist in Islamic and Indian art from 1200 to the present, has written about Chaunsath Khambha. “This tomb, perhaps more than any other surviving example of late Jahangir-period architecture, serves as a transition to the style associated with Shahjahan’s period.”

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/chaunsath-khambha-to-stand-tall-again/1024863/4

Wednesday
Oct 31,2012

VANCOUVER, Oct. 28,2012/ Troy Media/ – The festival of Eid al-Adha on October 26 coincided for many Muslims with a pilgrimage, the hajj, to Mecca. Media coverage of the event in Canada focused on the pilgrimage and on the animals bought and eaten to commemorate the holiday. A Vancouver Sunreport mentions that the meat of the animal purchased by a Muslim family is divided into three parts – with one given to friends, another to the poor.

Traditionally, goats and other livestock serve to commemorate the episode, well known to Jews and Christians, when Abraham is tested by God. He is asked if he is willing to sacrifice what is dearest to him (his son), though ultimately God only requires him to sacrifice an animal.

With all this talk of meat, you might be eyeing your Muslim neighbours suspiciously, expecting to see them heading out the door with bags of freshly slaughtered flesh. This is highly unlikely. The point of the holiday is not the meat: it is the emphasis on charity. While this is highlighted during Eid al-Adha, and Eid al-Fitr (which ends the month of Ramadan), it is a reminder of what’s supposed to happen all year.

Because they don’t live in agricultural societies, Canadian Muslims have developed different ways to give.

Last December, as the scandalous housing conditions in Attawapiskat made headlines, a Toronto-based organisation called Islamic Relief Canada put together a caravan and headed up to the reserve. After consulting with Chief Theresa Spence, they brought heaters, blankets, jackets and other winter clothes. These items were donated by Canadian Muslims who felt a duty to reach out to fellow citizens in distress.

The same organisation raised funds earlier that year to help pay the rising rent costs of Toronto’s largest food bank in Flemingdon, which had been established and run by the Red Cross. It is now run by a coalition of Christian and Muslim groups. Food banks are often the recipients of large donations from community mosques during Ramadan, as the daily fast raises awareness of and solidarity with those who go hungry.

These time-honoured practices even find expression in the dishes on the table. “Generosity is not just giving money from excess, but rather sharing with the poor” reads an inscription on a 10th-century Samanid bowl from Central Asia. The same sentiment was behind the soup kitchens (imaret) in Ottoman Istanbul, which served roughly 1,500 people twice a day, notes Professor Amy Singer in her book Charity in Islamic Societies.

Singer recalls the motivation for this in the Quran itself: “True piety is . . . to give of one’s substance, however cherished, to kinsmen, and orphans, the needy, the traveller”.

Here in Vancouver, Ismaili Muslims host a walk each September which has raised tens of thousands for civic charity. This year they backed the YWCA Cause We Care House which will provide shelter for single mothers and their children, as well as medical, employment, and literacy services. The Ismaili Walk has previously aided Vancouver’s Crisis Centre – which offers 24-hour support to those in emotional distress – and the Women’s Health Research Institute at the BC Women’s Hospital, among others.

But Canadian Muslims have reached out to communities far beyond our national borders. Retired UBC Professor Muhammad Iqbal and his wife founded the Maria-Helena Foundation to provide educational facilities and free schooling to children in Pakistan, especially girls.

A similar initiative was taken by Froozan Jooya. An Afghan-Canadian, she founded the Beacon of Hope for Afghan Children Society, which provides medical supplies to a children’s hospital in Kabul, and food and education for street children.

It’s about the ethics of a faith in which charity is one of the pillars. Yet, unlike the pilgrimage or even Eid, this is hardly an occasional activity. You wouldn’t know it from the news headlines, in which Muslims are frequently paired with terms like “rage”, “violence”, and “terrorism”. Those are but a small part of the story – too often, and uncharitably, taken for the whole.

Troy Media columnist Eva Sajoo is a Research Associate with the Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. She has a graduate degree in International Development and Education from the University of London. Her published academic writing focuses on the rights of women and minorities. She has contributed widely to publications on Islam and the Muslim world. Eva has taught at the University of British Columbia, and the Beijing University of Science and Technology. She currently teaches at SFU. Website: http://www.ccsmsc.sfu.ca/about_us/faculty/eva_sajoo. Follow Eva on Twitter @esajoo

Source: http://www.troymedia.com/2012/10/28/moslem-charity-too-often-overlooked-in-todays-news/

Monday
Sep 24,2012

convenor Ali Sachedina; Dave Majeski; Eric Newell; Anne McLellan and Angus Watt.

EDMONTON – A creative surgeon made sure Eric Newell could play last week in a golf tournament that raised a Canadian record of $534,400 to fight global poverty.

The Aga Khan Foundation’s World Partnership in Golf is played in eight cities across Canada and was this year held at the Derrick Golf Club.

“Doctors said I wouldn’t be able to play golf again when I fell on ice and broke my right wrist last year,” said Newell, a former University of Alberta chancellor and CEO of Syncrude Canada.

The usual treatment for a broken, arthritic wrist is to insert a metal plate.

“But when I was out cold on the operating table, Dr. Mike Morhart knew I loved golf and that a plate wouldn’t give me enough movement to play,” Newell said.

The innovative surgeon make a workable wrist for Newell using a combination of a spare knuckle, a tendon from his arm and a screw.

“Dr. Morhart was grinning like a Cheshire cat when I came around,” said Newell. “He’s a true artist.”

Newell said he’s driving the ball about 20 metres less, but was delighted to play in the tournament.

“Global poverty is one of the most pressing issues of our times,” tournament convener Ali Sachedina said. “Some 25,000 people die every day of hunger or hunger-related diseases. We are delighted Edmontonians have raised the most funds in the country to help.”

Funds quadrupled

The funds will be quadrupled by grants from the Canadian International Development Agency and will be used to improve the quality of life in several countries, mostly in Asia and Africa.

“Among some 44 projects, we will teach girls in Afghanistan, help farmers in Mozambique and help train entrepreneurs in many countries,” Sachedina said.

Former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan is dedicated to helping the foundation, too. She played eight holes, dashed off to attend a Royal Alexandra Hospital Charitable Foundation meeting and returned at 7:15 p.m. for the tournament’s dinner and auction.

Stockbroker Angus Watt, another veteran supporter, said: “I like the fact the foundation is keen to improve the lives of thousands of women by giving them micro-loans to help them start their own businesses.”

On the bucket list

RBC’s Dave Majeski and his guest Phil Wiedman, the Focus Equities real estate developer, were the biggest spenders at the auction. They paid $38,000 to take four people to visit Nairobi, Dar-es-Salaam, Arusha and Zanzibar and three game parks during a two-week African safari. “This has always been on my bucket list,” Wiedman said.

A one-week stay at C.J. Woods’ luxury villa in Cabo San Lucas sold to Todd Bish for $21,000.

Two tickets to Paul McCartney’s concert went for $2,100.

A golden occasion

Canada was one of many countries wondering after the London Olympics if it had done enough to support its athletes, Majeski said.

“Canada’s goal was 22 medals and we won 18,” he said. “Are we doing enough to support our athletes on the world stage? Generally, no.”

Majeski, who attended the Olympics, is a driving force behind this year’s Gold Medal Plates Dinner and says the Oct. 18 event at the Shaw Conference Centre is sold out.

“If Canada wants to do better on the world stage, we have to support out athletes,” he said. “Net proceeds from the dinners across the country are handed to the Canadian Olympic Foundation, which supports athletes and high performance programs such as Own the Podium. To date, more than $6 million has been raised at Gold Medal Plate dinners.”

Adam van Koeverden, a multiple medallist in kayak, will emcee the event, supported by Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies and Canadian musical icon Barney Bentall.

A new auction item is an eight-day South African trip with singer-songwriter Jim Cuddy, his rock counterpart Sam Roberts and Olympic gold and silver triathlete Simon Whitfield.

Another hot item, pun intended, will be a trip to Chile led by Steve Podborski, chef de mission for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games and former “Crazy Canuck” downhill skier.

A helpful ear

Hairdressers hear everyone’s story, but Irish-born Joseph Scully was particularly moved by one. “When I heard school teacher Lana Pol tell of the dreadful plight facing abandoned young children, or children orphaned when their parents died of AIDS, I knew I had to do something practical,” he said. “Weeping wasn’t an option.”

He is helping Pol back the work of Dr. Mark Kumleben, an Edmonton doctor who returns home to South Africa for six months every year to help The Clouds of Hope non-denominational orphanage near the cattle community of Underberg in KwaZulu Natal. “Funds are needed for beds, bedding and appliances,” Scully said. “But primary concerns are school fees and housing.”

He is helping to screen an award-winning BBC documentary about South African orphans on Oct. 4 at the Paramount Theatre on Jasper Avenue. Tickets ($20) are available at Scully’s salon in the Sawridge Hotel, or by calling 780-708-3892.

Source: http://goo.gl/qcXkL