Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Suleyman The Magnificent, His Wife Roksolana Of Ukraine, Composer And Humanist Wojciech Bobowski Of Leopolis, And Sultan Mehmed IV Of Constantinople

"Leaders from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds on Monday announced a United Nations initiative to resolve the conflict between the West and the Muslim world.

They issued a framework for their effort, prepared over the past year, that singled out the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a primary source of the deepening split.

“No other conflict carries such a powerful symbolic and emotional charge among people far removed from the battlefield,” Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, said at a news conference. “As long as the Palestinians live under occupation, exposed to daily frustration and humiliation, and as long as Israelis are blown up in buses and in dance halls, so long will passions everywhere be inflamed.”

The report was drafted by 20 scholars and other leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Mohammad Khatami, the former Iranian president, and others from many nations. It calls for collective action on issues of education, youth and immigration.

Members of the panel and Mr. Annan emphasized their view that the causes of tensions are primarily political, not religious.

The secretary general will appoint a representative to oversee the follow-up of the recommendations, which, Mr. Annan warned, will have little impact if Muslims in violent places — whether Iraqis, Afghans, Chechens or Palestinians — continue to perceive their situation merely as a case of being made victims by non-Muslims.

“If these conflicts or difficult situations can be resolved, it will have a positive impact on the work we are doing here,” Mr. Annan said.

The host of the event, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, emphasized the symbolic importance of holding it in Istanbul, which bridges East and West and is the leading city in a predominantly Muslim country taking steps to join the European Union." ...

Sebnem Arsu "World Leaders Release Plan for Resolving East-West Rift" New York Times November 14, 2006



"Tomorrow the English-language news channel of Arab TV station Al Jazeera starts broadcasting. With four studios around the world, and presenters including Sir David Frost, Dave Marash and Darren Jordon the new service has summarised its ambitious plans as ‘building a bridge between cultures’ and ‘a forum for the West to speak to the Muslim world’. Impressive sounding rhetoric, but it is worth telling the story of how a 17th century scholar achieved exactly these aims using music instead of satellite broadcasts.

Wojciech Bobowski was born a Pole in 1610 in Lwów, then part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and now part of the Ukraine. He was raised as a Protestant and trained as a church musician. These were times of great instability, with Lwów suffering frequent raids from Crimean Tartars. In one of these the eighteen year old Bobowski was taken prisoner by the Tartars, and his musical training meant he was sold to the court of Mehmed IV in Constantinople, whose reign saw the first flowering of Ottoman-Turkish music. Bobowski was a particularly valuable property as his enslavement in the sultan’s seraglio coincided with the growth of Calvinoturcism, a religious movement which is now forgotten, but interestingly stressed the common elements of Islam and Protestantism in opposition to the Catholicism of the Habsburg Empire.

The sultan (portrait below) provided an excellent education for Bobowski, with the result was that the Pole converted to Islam and took the name Ali Ufki. He learnt fourteen languages including Arabic, French, Greek, Hebrew and Latin, translated the Anglican catechism and Bible into the Ottoman, and wrote a Latin explanation of Islam. But today he is remembered primarily for his music" ...

Bob Shingleton "Ali Ufki - a 17th century Al Jazeera" On An Overgrown Path November 14, 2006


Photo credits: Wikimedia. With thanks.


Perhaps the most beautiful European and Muslim Renaissance-era painting of Roksolana of Ukraine is in the collection of the Lviv History Museum. It is presently believed to be an early reproduction of a lost work by the famous Danish/German [Flensburg] artist Melchior Lorichs [1527 - aft 1594] who stayed at the court of Suleiman the Magnficent and painted portraits of the Sultan and his retinue, as well as a grand panorama of Constantinople. The director of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, in Washington, D.C., Dr Julian Raby, an Islamicist art and architecture historian, is currently assisting the Lviv History Museum in efforts to determine the authorship of the Lviv Museum's famous portrait of Roksolana.


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