Scholars recall Allama Shibli’s role during critical period

Updated 24 December 2014

Scholars recall Allama Shibli’s role during critical period

Allama Shibli Nomani was an iconic figure who heralded the new age with spiritual intellect in a critical and formative period of the Muslims in the Indian sub-continent, said scholars at an international seminar in Riyadh to mark his death centenary.
The seminar entitled, “Shamsul Ulema Allama Shibli Nomani — a bridge between tradition and modernity,” was organized by Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema Old Boys Association, Riyadh chapter, which was attended by expatriates from the sub-continent.
Addressing the seminar, Ajmal Ayyub Islahi, an Islamic scholar and ex-faculty member of Madinah University, said: “Shibli was a rising star during the decline of Muslim rule in undivided India with scholarly work to revive the glory of Islam and respond to the queries of Western scholars.”
“His life, ideology and above all his scholarship collectively testify to a searching mind to encourage and inspire the Muslim ummah, which was facing scathing attack from the Christian missionaries, western scholars and their publicity bureau,” Islahi pointed out.
He added that the great scholarly works of Shibli which include his magnum opus work, Seerat-un-Nabi (Biography of Prophet Muhammad-peace be upon him) and other masterpieces like Al Farooq, a well-researched work on the life of Holy Caliph Omar Farooq.
The work has been translated into many languages and included in the university syllabus. His Sher-ul-Ajam on the history of Persian poetry was described by E G Brown in his four-volume literary history of Persia as the best critical estimate of leading Persian poets from the earliest times to the latter part of the 17th century.
These are all testimony to his spiritual intellect and literary contributions which helped create great interest in the Muslims of his time and helped restore pride in their legacy.
Riyadh-based educationist, Hussain Zulqarnain, echoed the sentiment saying that the western scholars have done great damage by engaging in propaganda against Islam such as blaming Muslims for destroying the famous library in Alexandria.
“One must hold Allama Shibli in high esteem for his scholarly refutation of the false allegations. He proved with logical conclusion that the library was burnt down by Christian rulers much before the entry of Muslims in Egypt,” said Zulqarnain.
Speaking at the session, Indian diplomat Dr. Hifzur Rehman highlighted Allama Shibli’s rich contributions saying, “The world he lived in and worked was entirely different from today, but his dynamic scholarship paved the way for the revival of the great legacy of Islam.”
“If we really wish to cherish those noble dreams, we have to be tolerant and visionary,” he underlined.
“We need to work in close co-ordination with the people from our pluralistic society and it is only then that our good work will influence them positively,” said Rehman.
Rashid Ali Sheikh, a prominent NRI businessman in Riyadh and a philanthropist, came forward to lead an initiative to promote Shibli College, founded by Allama Shibli in 1883, to the status of a university, saying it will be a real tribute to his visionary leadership.
“Shibli founded the college in Azamgarh to achieve a unique blend between traditional and modern education. Many colleges of those times have become universities, so it is logical that this college too becomes a university. I hereby announce to lead the initiative to make this college a university,” he said.
Akhtar-ul-Islam Nadwi moderated the seminar sessions, wherein young scholars including Ahsan Nadwi, Zakir Azmi Nadwi and Daanish Anwar Nadwi made presentations on various aspects of Allama Shibli’s life and ideas. They also highlighted Shibli’s efforts for Urdu prose and poetry and his courage with which he attempted to reform the conservative scholars of his time while at the same time striving to make the Western-educated Muslim less apologetic.
Earlier, Imtiaz Ahmad, president of Nadwa Alumni Association welcomed the audience consisting of a fine mix of Ulema, professionals and some businessmen.

Saudi entrepreneur aims to revive Al-Balad

Saudi entrepreneur Abdullah Al-Hodaif has been passionate about art all his life. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 37 min 4 sec ago

Saudi entrepreneur aims to revive Al-Balad

  • Abdullah Al-Hodaif’s passion for art has led him to invest in a wide range of cultural projects

JEDDAH: Thirty-two-year-old Saudi entrepreneur Abdullah Al-Hodaif has been passionate about art all his life. He started collecting paintings in his warehouse when he was only six years old. By the time he was 16, his warehouse was filled with vintage art pieces.
After attaining his master’s degree from abroad, he was inspired by Saudi Vision 2030 upon his return to the Kingdom.
Today, Al-Hodaif has redecorated four buildings in Jeddah’s popular tourist attraction, Al-Balad.
They house Bait Al-Hodaif, a non-profit art organization, and include a small museum that consists of 14 rooms and displays items from the 1910s to the 1980s: artwork, photographs, newspapers and magazines, and nostalgic games such as Carrom, currencies from different Arab countries and more.
“It displays old Hejazi interiors, visitors can see how kitchens used to be, an old Majlis and games, televisions, newspapers. People can even host events there,” Al-Hodaif told Arab News.
Bait Al-Hodaif creates annual campaigns to redecorate the streets of Jeddah with graffiti and different artwork. Last Ramadan, they created eight projects in districts such as Al-Karantina, Al-Petromin and Al-Aziziyah.


• Bait Al-Hodaif’s mission is to promote Saudi art culture.

• The buildings of his projects are over 200 years old.

• Values: beauty, peace, kindness, giving, persistence and love.

• Bait Ziryab was named after Iraqi composer Ziryab.

• 90% of Bait Ziryab’s students are female.

“In the poorer areas, we created artwork in different districts and held recycling workshops for children. The aim of the artworks on the wall is to create a cheerful image for the children, for them to see one of their favorite cartoon characters on the wall,” Al-Hodaif told Arab News.
“We worked under seven values: Beauty, peace, kindness, giving, persistence and love. We paint the language of love and peace on the walls.
“This year, we created a project called Arbab Al-Jamal to beautify areas in Al-Balad — as seen on the roof of Al-Hodaif Museum — for all of Ramadan. The goal is to complete 11 artworks by the end of Ramadan.”
Al-Hodaif Museum consists of six floors and is one of the tallest buildings in Al-Balad.
“It offers weekly art workshops and classes for pottery, sketching and other forms of art. It also hosts events on a monthly basis, be they cultural, poetic, cinematic or musical.”
The museum also houses contemporary art. “I want the youth to come to historic Jeddah, not to see something old. Visitors have seen plenty of that. What I want to do is bring them through modern art and something new. The youth don’t want to see an old car or an old radio, they want to see art, but I want to show them art in a historic site.”
Al-Hodaif’s goal is not to bring back the past.


• Provide a service that supports the thriving art scene in Saudi Arabia.

• Discover and support local artists and showcase their work locally and internationally.

• Provide the space and equip the artists with the appropriate resources to work.

• Instill values of peace through art.

• Offer educational workshops and courses to develop the skills of young talents.

“We combined the modern with the old. We are very much with the present times,” said Al-Hodaif.
Bait Ziryab is a music school that teaches Arabic music and promotes Arabic music culture. It offers lessons in Arabic instruments such as the oud, qanun and ney, and also offers lessons in Western instruments such as the piano.
“It was named after the most famous musician in Andalusia, Iraqi composer Ziryab, who migrated to Andalusia and was the first to open a music school that teaches the oud in Andalusia, and he taught the daughters of kings,” he told Arab News
Al-Hodaif established Arbab Al-Heraf, a platform that promotes the art and culture of Saudi Arabia, with a branch in Al-Balad and another in Al-Basateen district.