Kabul to rebuild birthplace of famous poet Rumi

Kabul to rebuild birthplace of famous poet Rumi
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This photograph taken on June 19, 2016, shows the ruins of the house of Muslim mystic and poet Rumi in Balkh, northern Afghanistan. (AFP/File)
Kabul to rebuild birthplace of famous poet Rumi
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This photograph taken on June 19, 2016, shows an Afghan shepherd walking with his flock of sheep near the ruins of the house of Muslim mystic and poet Rumi in Balkh, northern Afghanistan. (AFP/File)
Kabul to rebuild birthplace of famous poet Rumi
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This photograph taken on June 19, 2016, shows an Afghan child collecting water from a hand pump near the ruins of the house of Sufi mystic and poet Rumi in Balkh, northern Afghanistan. (AFP/File)
Kabul to rebuild birthplace of famous poet Rumi
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This photograph taken on June 19, 2016, shows the ruins of the house of Muslim mystic and poet Rumi in the Khowaja Gholak district of northern Balkh province. (AFP/File)
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Updated 28 January 2021

Kabul to rebuild birthplace of famous poet Rumi

Kabul to rebuild birthplace of famous poet Rumi
  • $7m mosque project will restore 13th-century ‘lost treasure’

KABUL: Afghan authorities are planning to rebuild a 13th-century Islamic teaching complex in Balkh province that once was home to one of the world’s most famous mystics and poets, Jalaluddin Rumi.

Rumi was born in the Balkh complex in 1207. The learning site, which comprised a mosque, monastery and madrasa for hundreds of disciples, belonged to his father, the theologian Bahauddin Walad, known by Afghans as Sultan Al-Ulema.

A few years after Rumi’s family left Balkh around 1210, the prosperous town northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, was destroyed by Genghis Khan’s Mongols storming in from the northeast. 

Work to rebuild Balkh took more than a century and the learning site remained in ruins. Centuries later, when billions of dollars of foreign aid began to reach Afghanistan following the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, the Kabul government came under fire for failing to restore Walad’s center.

However, restoration work is now due to begin in spring with the onset of warmer weather.

“It will be rebuilt in a classic and traditional manner,” Shivaye Sharq, Afghan deputy information minister, told Arab News last week.

“With the revival of the monastery, we hope to introduce people to a lost treasure,” he said. “In addition to the monastery, there will be a museum, a studio for sama dance, a cultural salon, garden and library.”

The whirling dance of sama is associated with Rumi, whose followers practice it as a form of prayer and devotion. 

Since Rumi lived most of his life in Anatolia, Turkey, and was buried in Konya, where his shrine became a place of pilgrimage, the Turkish government years ago pledged to help rebuild his father’s center, but the promise has not been fulfilled.

Matiullah Karimi, head of the information and culture center in Balkh province, said the $7 million cost of the restoration project will be covered by the Afghan government.

“A portion of a massive mud-built dome and four smaller ones are the only things left from the monastery,” Karimi told Arab News.

“Restoring this monastery is important for safeguarding our cultural heritage and learning, and it will be good for the tourism industry as well,” he said.

For Afghan scholars, the restoration of the learning center will also help society at large.

“The advancement of a nation is not gauged by the rising buildings, long roads and wealth that do not promote knowledge and science, but by libraries, knowledge and centers like Walad’s, which was a source of hope for many,” Hashmatullah Bawar, a social sciences lecturer at Kabul’s Dunya University, told Arab News.

The appeal of Rumi, who in the 21st century is still considered one of the world’s greatest and also bestselling poets, reinforces the enthusiasm over the reconstruction of his father’s center. 

“Rumi inherited his mystical thinking from his great father,” Saleh Mohammed Khaliq, head of Balkh Writers’ Union, told Arab News.

“Humanist and mystical thought is badly needed in our current world, which has become a victim of violence and wars.”


At least 3 dead in apparent gas explosion in north China

At least 3 dead in apparent gas explosion in north China
Updated 58 min 38 sec ago

At least 3 dead in apparent gas explosion in north China

At least 3 dead in apparent gas explosion in north China
  • China is replacing decades-old infrastructure, with gas lines an especially dangerous part of the project
  • That blast appeared similar to one that occurred in the northeastern port of Qingdao in 2013

BEIJING: An apparent gas explosion gutted part of a high rise in northern China on Thursday morning, killing at least three people and injuring 30.
It occurred at a hotel in Shenyang, a city of more than 8 million people and a major industrial center that is in the process of renovating and replacing decaying gas lines, state media reported.
Images posted online by news website The Paper and state broadcaster CCTV showed a cloud of dust and debris blowing onto a busy street, leaving the bottom three floors of the building a gutted shell. Concrete blocks were piled in the street and a three-wheeled delivery vehicle lay on its side.
China is replacing decades-old infrastructure, with gas lines an especially dangerous part of the project. In June, a gas line explosion at a market and residential area in the central city of Shiyan killed 25.
That blast appeared similar to one that occurred in the northeastern port of Qingdao in 2013, in which 55 people were killed when underground pipelines ripped open following a leak.
Along with the deteriorations caused by age, weak adherence to safety standards, poor maintenance and corruption among enforcement bodies are all considered contributors to such disasters. Among China’s worst accidents was a massive 2015 explosion at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin that killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and police officers.


Flood deaths in India and Nepal cross 150

Flood deaths in India and Nepal cross 150
Updated 21 October 2021

Flood deaths in India and Nepal cross 150

Flood deaths in India and Nepal cross 150
  • In Nainital, a popular tourist destination in the Himalayan state, the town’s main lake broke its banks
  • India’s federal interior minister Amit Shah is set to survey affected areas on Thursday

NEW DELHI: More than 150 people have died in flooding across India and Nepal, officials said on Thursday, as unseasonably heavy rains across the region led to flash floods in several areas, stranding residents and destroying homes and infrastructure.
The north Indian state of Uttarakhand has been especially badly-hit, with 48 confirmed deaths, SA Murugesan, secretary of the state’s disaster management department told Reuters.
In Nainital, a popular tourist destination in the Himalayan state, the town’s main lake broke its banks, submerging the main thoroughfare and damaging bridges and rail tracks. And rescuers from India’s paramilitary National Disaster Response Force were evacuating residents from communities hit by landslides.
India’s federal interior minister Amit Shah is set to survey affected areas on Thursday.
Some 42 people have died in the last week in the southern Indian state of Kerala, according to a statement from the chief minister’s office.
In neighboring Nepal, at least 77 people have died.
India’s annual monsoon rains usually run from June to September.


France condemns North Korea missile test

France condemns North Korea missile test
Updated 21 October 2021

France condemns North Korea missile test

France condemns North Korea missile test

France expressed “great concern” on Wednesday after a ballistic missile fire test conducted on Tuesday by North Korea landed in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

France condemned the repeated shootings carried out by North Korea in recent weeks, which undermines regional and international peace and security.

France once again urged North Korea to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions to engage in a process of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

A French foreign ministry statement said Paris would meet the U.N. Security Council members Wednesday on the issue.

This story originally appeared in Arab News Japan


Ukraine’s new daily coronavirus cases, deaths hit record

Ukraine’s new daily coronavirus cases, deaths hit record
Updated 21 October 2021

Ukraine’s new daily coronavirus cases, deaths hit record

Ukraine’s new daily coronavirus cases, deaths hit record
  • There were also 546 new deaths, surpassing the Oct. 19 record of 538
  • Ministry data showed 22,415 new cases over the past 24 hours

KYIV: Ukraine registered a record daily high of new coronavirus infections and related deaths, the health ministry said on Thursday.
Ministry data showed 22,415 new cases over the past 24 hours, exceeding the previous high of 20,341 on April 3.
There were also 546 new deaths, surpassing the Oct. 19 record of 538.


India administers its billionth COVID-19 jab

India administers its billionth COVID-19 jab
Updated 21 October 2021

India administers its billionth COVID-19 jab

India administers its billionth COVID-19 jab
  • Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people has had one shot

NEW DELHI: India administered its billionth Covid-19 vaccine dose on Thursday, according to the health ministry, half a year after a devastating surge in cases brought the health system close to collapse.
According to the government, around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people has had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated.