Abdullah Yusuf Ali: Triumph and Tragedy

The year 2021-22 marks the sesquicentennial of Allama Abdullah Yusuf Ali. His remarkable life, caught between many worlds, was chaotic and turbulent, with its triumphs and tribulations, and a lasting legacy.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali (licensed from National Portrait Gallery, London)

In December 1953, six months after Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, London experienced another severe winter. The same time, previous year, the city had suffered the Great Smog. Wednesday, the 9th, was freezing cold. Movement was difficult. In the evening, in Trafalgar Square, Westminster, the police found an old man in tattered clothes, destitute and disoriented, on the steps of a house. He had a suitcase full of papers, but no money in his pockets. They admitted him to the Westminster Hospital, which discharged him the next day. A London City Council home for the elderly, in nearby Dovehouse Street, Chelsea, took him in. The same day he suffered a heart attack, and was rushed to the St Stephen’s Hospital. He died soon thereafter. Continue reading “Abdullah Yusuf Ali: Triumph and Tragedy”

The Victoria Students Hostel

“In great cities, the great buildings tell you things you don’t know and remember things which you’ve forgotten. It’s a collective wisdom, an engine superior to your own intelligence. Architecture is the biggest unwritten document of history.”

—Daniel Libeskind, We mustn’t forget the deep emotional impact of the buildings around us – Special to CNN – 7/1/2015

“One century’s building is another century’s useful aberration.”

— Jane Jacobs, The Life and Death of Great American Cities

When great cities forget their great buildings, it evokes images of falling giant trees, burning libraries, blue whale victims losing their grips over ledges, abandoned parents, distant wails of unborn children, and wasted memories. A visit to the Victoria Students Hostel was one such experience, aberrations from the past. Continue reading “The Victoria Students Hostel”

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