UPDATE (June 6, 2020): Al-Khimyah was first aired on June 5. You may view the film by visiting the film website Close to Home and clicking on “Cultural Revitalization Cairo.” We invite you to read our brief review of the film, and then from there click on the film link.
At EDT noon (Toronto, New York, Miami, Montreal) on Friday June 5, 2020, my eyes will be focused on a new film entitled Al-Khimyah written and directed by Prince Aly Muhammad, youngest child of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The film, to be shown on Ismaili TV and Close to Home websites shines a spotlight on the 30-hectare Al-Azhar Park in Cairo whose foundation was laid over a thousand years ago by the Fatimid ancestors of Mawlana Hazar Imam, specifically Imam al-Muizz. The film is part of Prince Aly’s “Close to Home” series, a personal project that the Prince has said is “linked to my travels over the past few years, learning about the work of the Aga Khan Development Network.” It is Prince Aly’s hope that the series will shed light on issues “which I believe are important to young people today.” His previous film in the series can be seen at Close to Home
I have been trying to find the meaning of the term Al-Khimyah from numerous sources, and the closest I have come across is alkimiyah, in Arabic, or khēmia, khēmeia from Greek, which all mean alchemy or the art of transmuting metals. A forerunner to modern day chemistry, in medieval times the natural philosophy of alchemy was concerned with the conversion of base metals such as lead into “noble” metals such as gold.
The term, in my humble opinion, applies to the transformation of a 500-year-old rubbish dump rebuilt into a lush green oasis. Al-Azhar Park has also transformed a very poor and marginalized inner-city district into a thriving community. Al-Azhar has provided much-needed leisure and recreational space to the inhabitants of the city, and is today often referred to as “Cairo’s green lung.”
Date posted: June 5, 2020.
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