Professor Shafique N. Virani: What do the Sphinx, the Mayan Temple, and Navroz have in Common?

Some five thousand years ago, the ancient Egyptians built one of the largest single-stone statues on earth—the Great Sphinx of Giza. Because of its precise positioning, on the very day of the Navroz, this majestic colossus gazes directly toward the rising sun.

Great Sphinx of Giza, monument, Giza, Egypt

On the opposite side of the globe, a thousand years ago, the Mayans built an architectural and scientific marvel—the Temple at Chichén Itzá in Mexico. People from around the world travel to see it on Navroz, because on this very day, the day of the vernal equinox, the setting sun casts a dramatic spectacle of undulating light and shadow on the northern stairway.

Temple at Chichén Itzá in Mexico

The Quran also speaks in awe-inspiring words of the coming of spring in Surah Fatir: “God is the One who sends forth the winds to stir up the clouds; then We drive them toward barren lands, giving life to the earth after its death. Thus is the Resurrection.”

The Institute of Ismaili Studies has recently published an article written by Professor Shafique Virani about the spiritual meaning of Navroz. Professor Virani was transfixed studying the Pirs’ and Da‘is’ explanations of this festival’s meaning. The Arabic poetry of Prince Tamim, Imam al-Mu‘izz’s eldest son, the evocative verses of the Ginan Navroz na din sohamana, the Persian Ornament of Assemblies by Da‘i Husayn ibn Ya‘qub Shah, and so many other writings bear witness to the profound esoteric meaning of Navroz in Ismaili thought.

Sayyidna Husayn writes, “I have penned these testaments to explain that the true Nawruz is not the apparent, zahiri one, marked by the Cusp of Aries. For the faithful, the actual New Day (the actual ruz-i naw) is the day they mend their ways, transforming their behavior and their very existence.”

Professor Shafique Virani is an award-winning author and internationally recognized public speaker who has addressed people from over 50 countries and audiences of over 15,000. Describing him as “a visionary,” the United Nations honored him for dedicating his efforts “to the cause of extending the frontiers of knowledge and the welfare of humankind.

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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