November 23, 2011

A Summary Explanation of the Pronouncements of the Scholars and Theologians

Timbuktu, founded around 1100 as a commercial center for trade across the Sahara Desert, was also an important seat of Islamic learning from the 14th century onward. The libraries of Timbuktu contain many important manuscripts, in different styles of Arabic scripts, which were written and copied by Timbuktu’s scribes and scholars. These works constitute the city’s most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization. In this work, the author examines theologians' and scholars' approaches to various issues in Islamic law and society and offers an explanation of the pronouncements of these learned individuals.

Arena Circus (2001), Khabarovsk, Russia

This photograph of the Khabarovsk State Circus in Gagarin Park was taken in 2001 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Founded in 1858 as a military outpost, Khabarovsk (population over 600,000) is strategically located at the confluence of the Ussuri and Amur rivers near the Chinese border. As one of the most important Russian cities in the Far East, Khabarovsk has a broad array of cultural institutions, but until the early 2000s it lacked a mainstay of Russian popular culture--a year-round circus. In 2001, the city opened a magnificent new circus building, designed by architect Aleksei Kholzinev and associates to the latest technical specifications. The circular plan of the structure encloses an arena with 1,300 seats. The exterior culminates in a golden dome capped with a spire set within a large ornamental ring. The façade of the building is adorned with fanciful lion masks, while the entrance gallery displays ceramic figures of skomorokhi (traditional Russian clowns) sculpted by local artist Shakhnazar Shakhnazarov. The circus hosts international as well as Russian troupes and has become one of the city's main attractions.

Askiyah's Questions and al-Maghili's Answers [al-Maghili's Tract on Politics]

Timbuktu, founded around 1100 as a commercial center for trade across the Sahara Desert, was also an important seat of Islamic learning from the 14th century onward. The libraries of Timbuktu contain many important manuscripts, in different styles of Arabic scripts, which were written and copied by Timbuktu’s scribes and scholars. These works constitute the city’s most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization. This treatise is about the Songhai Empire, which flourished in West Africa during the 14th and 15th centuries. It consists of the answers to seven questions asked of the author by the emperor of Songhai. The author tells the emperor that he is obliged to apply Islamic law strictly in administering the political and economic affairs of the empire. In order to do so properly, he is told that he needs to seek the advice of pious scholars.

Astrakhan Province

This card is one of a souvenir set of 82 illustrated cards–one for each province of the Russian Empire as it existed in 1856. Each card presents an overview of a particular province’s culture, history, economy, and geography. The front of the card depicts such distinguishing features as rivers, mountains, major cities, and chief industries. The back of each card contains a map of the province, the provincial seal, information about the population, and the local costume of the inhabitants.

Hunting near Al-Ain

This 1965 photograph, taken near Al-Ain, a desert oasis located approximately 160 kilometers east of the city of Abu Dhabi in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, shows two huntsmen with a dead gazelle and their falcon. Arab peoples traditionally have hunted the gazelle, and the name Abu Dhabi literally means “father of the gazelle” in Arabic. Falconry is both a sport and a means of hunting for food that developed over centuries in the Arab world and elsewhere. Known as the “sport of shaykhs,” falconry was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. The photograph is from the Colonel Edward "Tug" Bearby Wilson Collection in the National Library, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, and was taken by Wilson. Colonel Tug Wilson (1921–2009) was a British army officer who, in the 1960s, was seconded to the government of Abu Dhabi to help build the national defense force. He was a personal friend of the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Shaykh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918–2004), with whom he shared interests in falconry and horseback riding.

Mosque in Al-Ain

This 1963 photograph shows an early example of a mosque and its minaret in Al-Ain, a desert oasis located approximately 160 kilometers east of the city of Abu Dhabi in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Al-Ain (“the spring” in Arabic) takes its name from the abundant supply of underground fresh water that has been used for centuries to irrigate date groves and small farms. The photograph is from the Colonel Edward "Tug" Bearby Wilson Collection in the National Library, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, and was taken by Wilson. Colonel Tug Wilson (1921–2009) was a British army officer who, in the 1960s, was seconded to the government of Abu Dhabi to help build the national defense force. He was a personal friend of the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Shaykh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918–2004), with whom he shared interests in falconry and horseback riding.