Aug 20, 2008

Salamieh and Ismaili History

Syrian Ismaili Heritage

Salamieh and Ismaili History“It was from Salamiyya that the Imams secretly guided the activities of their followers from North Africa to Khurasan and Central Asia”. [Daftary, Nanji]

Naif Ghali from Su’un performing on the Rababah, a single string violin-like instrument Photo Credit: Akram Al AiakA comprehensive history of Salamieh (or Salamiyya) is documented in the article by Dr Farhad Daftary who notes that “the early Ismaili da‘wa was organised and led by a number of imams who were descendants of the Shi‘a Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq. It was Imam ‘Abdallah, a great-grandson of Imam al-Sadiq who, after living in different localities in Khuzistan and Iraq, fled to Syria and eventually settled down in Salamiyya at an unknown date around the beginning of the 3rd century AH (9th century CE)”.
Salamieh had been the headquarters of the Ismaili Da’wa for several generations. In 902 CE, Abdullah al Mahdi declared the Imamate for himself and his ancestors, bringing Dawr al-satr or the period of concealment to an end. He subsequently left Salamieh for North Africa.
Daftary notes that “Salamiyya now accounts for the largest concentration of Ismailis in Syria as well as in the Near East. In recent years, the Ismaili community of Salamiyya has benefited from the communal and religious activities of Aga Khan IV, the 49th and present imam of the Qasim Shahi Nizaris, whose father Prince ‘Ali Khan is buried in Salamiyya”
Ismaili CastlesPeter Willey’s Eagle’s Nest is devoted to the Ismaili castles in Iran and Syria. According to Peter, the larger Ismaili fortresses are quite outstanding as examples of military architecture, their strategic position and the skilled use of natural resources to ensure that, despite the difficulties of the terrain, the castles were well supplied with food and water and, therefore, able to withstand a prolonged siege of many months, and even years.
The most important Syrian fortress there was Masyaf, though the castle of Kahf was probably the main residence of the Ismaili leader Rashid al-Din Sinan. This stronghold remained a military post until Ottoman times and was destroyed as late as the beginning of the nineteenth century. Another important Ismaili centre in Syria was the cluster of castles around Qadmus including Kawabi, Rusafa, Qalaat, Maniqa and Uleyqa.
Follow the links for further information on Ismaili Castles:
Nizari Ismaili Castles of Iran and Syria
Nizari Ismaili Concept of Castles
Online gallery of images - Masyaf,
Online gallery of images – Kahf
Online gallery of images - Khawabi AKTC has been working on the restoration of the citadels of Masyaf, Aleppo and Sal EdDin. Their efforts are documented at the AKTC publications site.
Points of interest:Visitors to Syria may consider visiting sites of Ismaili and world heritage. From Salamieh, Aleppo is a day trip. Consider extending your visit to Masyaf with a trip to Tartous to see the Mediterranean.
Mausoleum of Prince Aly Khan at Salamieh Local Council
Tomb of Imam Radiyyidin Abdallah at Imam Ismaili Mosque
Agricultural School, first of its kind in Middle East and North Africa, established by Imam Sultan Mohamed Shah in 1910
Panoramic views of Salamieh and environs from Qalat shamamis and Ein Zirka
Masyaf (70 km from Salamieh, 40 km west of Hama) [Day trip from Salamieh]
Tombs of Imams Wafi Ahamad, Taqi Mohammed, and Dai Rashid al-Din Sinan
Citadel of Masyaf
Qadmous & Kahf (20 km from Masyaf)
Aleppo [Day trip from Salamieh]
Omayyad Mosque
Shrine of Imam Hussein at the Ommayad Mosque
Shrine of Sayedda Zeinab (daughter of Hazrat Ali, sister of Imam Hussein)
Old City: Hamadiyya souk, Azem Palace, restaurants
National Museum (near the Four Seasons Hotel)
Citadel of Salah Ed Din (30 min drive)
Mediterranean Beaches
Krak de Chevalier aka Qalaat al Husn (41 km west of Homs) – Crusader Castle
Palmyra (235 km north east of Damascus) – great site of the ancient world.
Bosra Al Sham (2 hours south of Damascus) – Roman Architecture
Websites:Syria Ministry of Tourism
Recommended reading:
Monuments of Syria – An Historical Guide. Ross Burns, IB Tauris Rough Guide to Syria

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