The Department of History and Culture, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) organized a lecture on The Spirituality of the Taj Mahal by Professor Michael Calabria (Bonaventure University, USA) on the 12th of September, 2022 at the Nehru Guest House of the university. JMI Vice Chancellor Prof. Najma Akhtar, presided over the event and gave the presidential remarks. The event was graced by Prof. Nazim Husain Jafri, Registrar, Jamia Millia Islamia and numerous faculty members. It was attended by students in a very large number.
The Vice Chancellor welcomed Professor Calabria and emphasized the importance of opportunities for exchange of knowledge of ideas and between JMI and Universities abroad. She also spoke about the historical backdrop to the making of the Taj Mahal. The audience was deeply moved by the Vice Chancellor’s insights into the death of Mumtaz Mahal. In fact she talked about the History of Emotions in this context.
The lecture by Prof. Calabria was on the language of the Taj Mahal and the spiritual message embedded in it. He highlighted the need to have a deeper understanding of the Taj and to examine its inscriptions. He said that the Quranic texts adorning the Taj Mahal were carefully selected by Shah Jahan. They comprise verses from twenty-two different chapters of the Quran. These verses remind the visitors to be humble, humane, kind and generous but the Professor felt that unfortunately, their meaning and significance escapes most of them. He highlighted the fact that Shah Jahan wanted the visitors to be reminded of their own inescapable end in this world. Through the calligraphy he tried to remind them of spirituality and humanity as the biggest virtues.
The lecture was enlightening and was followed by a discussion with the students. The talk urged the audience to think beyond the immediate and the obvious.