All posts in Pax Islamica

AHMED HASSANEIN PASHA (20th Century CE – 14th Century AH): DIPLOMAT AND LEGENDARY EXPLORER

WWII truck

By Islam El Shazly

If anyone deserves the title of “Legendary Explorer” in our modern times it has to be this man, Ahmed Hassanein Pasha. At the very least he would have to be on the top of a very short list.

In his lifetime he had been many things, a writer, diplomat, Chamberlain and the very reason he’s on this list, an explorer. Just like his predecessors from the golden age of exploration, he was a man of many talents, and these talents and insatiable curiosity to discover the unknown is what led him to leave civilisation behind and embark on a journey that would take him across the unforgiving Sahara, not once, but twice, and with none of the modern day comforts of SUV’s. Read more…

IBN JUBAYR (12th Century CE – 6th Century AH): THE FIRST TRAVEL WRITER

Alhambra Palace

By Islam Elshazly

A week ago–and 823 years in the past– the father of the travelogue genre set out on a two year trip that saw him and a friend travel thousands of miles from Granada and back again, this is a glimpse into that journey and the character of the man from whom countless travellers after him based their writings upon his own. There are thousands of travel blogs and modern travellers on the internet today, many of which – including myself – owe him a debt of gratitude, even if some of us have never heard of him before. Personally, I have done some travelling in the past, while the inclination to write about them never occurred to me at the time, the experience it left me with was — and still is — priceless. The genre of travel writing or the travelogue was born on board a ship in the year 1183 CE, Friday 25 February 1183 CE to be precise (30 Shawwal, 578 AH), at the hands of Ibn Jubayr, on his way on a trip that would take him two years around the same time as one of the most dangerous times in history, the build up to Third Crusade. Read more…

AL-IDRISI (12th Century CE – 5th Century AH): GEOGRAPHER AND CARTOGRAPHER

By Islam El Shazly

Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Abdullah Al-Idrisi, also known as AsShareef Al-Idrisi, was one of the greatest geographers and cartographers in the 12th century CE, if not the top geographer of his time, one whose capacity at visualising and putting into words what the world looked like was not matched by any contemporary mind in Europe where he resided at the court of King Roger II of Sicily. His book, Nuzhat al-Mushtaq, would live on inspiring countless future explorers from Ibn Battuta to Marco Polo.
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THE THING ABOUT PALESTINE

By Mahmoud Taji

There are times in one’s life when the official rhetoric no longer satisfies your quest for truth. The overwhelming feeling that you are being duped, tricked, and lied to becomes too insistent to register as merely your day to day paranoia.

As a study of this phenomenon lets take a closer look at the recent “Clashes” between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The word “clashes” in and of itself is misleading. It would give you the impression that these are two armies of equal or near-equal strength deciding to go head to head in a ‘fair’ fight that eventually one of which will emerge as the victor.

Except the Palestinians we are talking about have been under siege in their little 25 mile strip of land by the Israeli government with no Aid, no port, no airport and no permission to go to and from the other part of Palestine, the West Bank. Read more…

UNSEEN EGYPT: LANTERN SLIDES PLACES WEEK VIII

Deserts have always had a mesmerising, almost terrifying, effect on men. It’s vast, well-nigh endless, and very confusing. It is alien in its features, eerily quiet and when a sound ruptures the silence you would think it is screaming at you from all directions at once.

But they are also magnificently serene, and it is hard to beat a desert’s night sky for its glory.

Read more…

UNSEEN EGYPT: LANTERN SLIDES PLACES WEEK VII

Not all who visited Egypt, whether in ancient or relatively modern times, were impressed with the ancient architecture of the early Egyptians. Some, like Herodotus and Diodorus of Sicilia, didn’t think very highly of the pyramids builders, especially Kheops and Khefren, they thought they were tyrants and heretics. Others, like French writer Pierre Loti who visited Egypt in 1907, thought the sight of the Pyramids, the Sphinx and the surrounding desert, looked apocalyptic, awful, and surreal! Read more…

UNSEEN EGYPT: LANTERN SLIDES PLACES WEEK VI

A confession… Irregularity has become part of the publishing process on this blog, a trend that we’re working hard to reverse! We can blame it all we like on the events taking place in Egypt, and though they can deflate the most enthused of writers, they’re not completely to blame for the randomness of postings. Insha’Allah a noticeable change is on the horizon, so we would like to extend our gratitude for staying with us all this time.

In 1867 One of the greatest literary minds in American history along with a group of Americans toured Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Holy Land (Palestine). The writer is non other than Mark Twain, and the trip was aboard a retired Civil War ship called Quaker City, the trip lasted for five months and his humerus chronicles would eventually be published in 1869. Read more…

UNSEEN EGYPT: LANTERN SLIDES PLACES WEEK V

Long before the relocation of Philae, the temple would get flooded, especially in times of a high inundation levels. Travellers would sail through the temples in boats, which is very evident in their inscriptions high up on some of the columns. The temple and the island of Philae have been a source of wonder for millennia; Philae is mentioned by numerous ancient writers, including Strabo, Diodorus, Prolemy, Seneca, and Pliny the Elder.

They would not be the last of the travellers to marvel at its wonders. Read more…

UNSEEN EGYPT: LANTERN SLIDES PLACES WEEK IV

In the 1960s, after the Nasser Regime disastrously insisted on building the Aswan High Dam, Nubia was submerged and with it lost a lot of Nubian heritage and more architectural marvels got buried under water than they were able to save. An international project was initiated by UNESCO in order to save what can be saved. A gargantuan project to say the least! Read more…

UNSEEN EGYPT: LANTERN SLIDES PLACES WEEK III

In the 19th century, with the rise of Egyptology due to the the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon Bonaparte. The subsequent publication of Description de l’Égypte between 1809 and 1829, a race of sorts took shape. It was a race to acquire Ancient Egyptian artefacts and antiquities by national and private collections; a viciously competitive endeavour that eminated from ruthless ambition on all sides involved, particularly among the British and the French. Read more…