Perhaps the only humbling thing about religion in my opinion is religious architecture (and here, I’m not only talking about Islamic religious architecture, but religious architecure in general). In fact, nothing has ever made me feel as spiritual as stepping into the vast openness of a great mosque, such as the Sultan Hassan mosque in Cairo or the Ummayyad Mosque in Damascus. When we visited Mecca a few years ago, the beauty of il-Haram almost brought me to tears.

So today, as I was looking at pictures of the bombed out Islamic monument the Askariya Shrine in one of the capitals of the Islamic Civilization, Samarra, I got really depressed. The dome has basically collapsed and an adjoining wall was heavily damaged.

Unbelieavably depressing! I will echo the thoughts of Tareq Kahlawi (who has a superb blog on Islamic art and architecture), “Why such architectural treasures, that should be not only Iraqi treasures but also international treasures, why should they suffer from the political struggles?!”

Read more on the Askariya Shrine here.
Also, check out this post by Prometheus(Arabic).

And while we’re on this, here’s a cartoon by the late Naji il-Ali (via The Damascene Blog),


-Are you Muslim or Christian? Sunni or Shiite? Druze or Alawite? Coptic or Maronite? Greek Catholic or Greek Ortho…
-I am Arab, jackass!