It has been quite an industrious year for the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) in KL.

Having featured the artistic nature of fashion in Australia, Islamic bookbinding and protection of culture in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia takes visitors now on a journey to the land of the Pharaohs, hosting an exhibition entitled The Aesthetics Of Commemoration: The Mausoleum Of Imam al-Shafi’i Over 800 Years, in memorialising Imam al-Shafi’i’s contributions as a legal theorist and scholar within the Muslim community.

From the Great Pyramids, where the remains of ancient kings lived, to memorial spaces for historical role models, mausoleums have been in Egypt since 350 BC.

This Mausoleum of Imam al-Shafi’i, built initially as an undecorated tomb for the the eminent scholar, was turned into a shrine during the time of Sultan Al-Kamil and stands today, post its embellishment by the Mamluk sultan, Qaytbay, as a decorated domed structure that is now regarded as one of the most beautiful memorials in Egypt.

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The Aesthetics Of Commemoration: The Mausoleum Of Imam al-Shafi’i Over 800 exhibition showcases a selection of historic and contemporary photographs of the mausoleum of Imam al-Shafi’i.

The exhibition at IAMM showcases an array of historic and contemporary photographs of the medieval historical monument, depicting the skills of colourists and photographers’ and their great attention to details.

It features the historical building in its urban setting: standing at an altitude of 27m above the tomb ground, featuring a lead exterior and a wooden interior composed of three honeycomb vaults, each engraved with textural designs of marble decorations.

Prepare yourself to view a grandeur of architecture and artistry in the photography illustrations of the structure’s engraved walls covered in ornate geometrical designs, lettering of Quranic verses and a translation of the life of the imam in both kufi font and Ayubbi script.

Among the highlights of the exhibition is a photograph of an original page composed by the Imam, who is reputable for his eloquence and mastery of the Arabic language, as well as, a photo of a page from the illustrated Turkish prayer manuscript the Du’anami, inscribed by calligrapher Mustafa al-Uskudari and dating back to the 18th century.

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Decorative carvings and art – dating back 800 years – cover the interior walls of the grand mausoleum.

If you are a poet at heart, you are sure to be quite delighted by the showcased well-versed poetry pieces featured in the exhibition, written by travellers who marveled at the Mausoleum’s outstanding dome.

The exhibition embodies a part of Cairo’s heritage within it.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Dr Luqman Abdullah, a professor (of Fiqh and Usul) at the Academy of Islamic Studies at the Universiti of Malaya, will deliver a talk on Aug 11 on the religious and legal legacy of Imam al-Shafi’i. A photography talk exploring various approaches to architectural photography by Wan Fuad (Rupajiwa Studio) will take place on Sept 29. It will introduce the audience to the techniques of contemporary photography of interior and exterior architecture.

IAMM will be celebrating an open day at the museum on July 18, with free admission to all its exhibitions.


The Aesthetics Of Commemoration: The Mausoleum Of Imam al-Shafi’i Over 800 Years is on at the Open Space Gallery, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Jalan Lembah Perdana in Kuala Lumpur till Nov 1. Open daily, 10am to 6pm. Free admission to the Open Space Gallery. Visit: www.iamm.org.my.