CAIRO—After a rich three-decade-long academic career tracing the history and development of Islamic architecture across centuries, the scholar and teacher Chahinda Karim passed away on August 3.
She was professor of Egyptology and Islamic architecture at the American University in Cairo, and her final book, an extensive study titled “Ottoman Cairo: Religious Architecture from Sultan Selim to Napoleon,” is scheduled for release by the American University in Cairo Press in November.
In an official statement, the university’s Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations, where Karim used to work, lamented her loss, describing her as “a devoted and dedicated colleague who pushed generations of university students to study the material culture of Egypt and the Islamic world through her courses.”
Influenced by her passion for the history of Islamic architecture, Karim’s academic path began with her father, the pioneering architect Sayed Karim, after she obtained her bachelor’s degree from AUC’s Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations. She specialized in studying the Mamluk era and the buildings of the princes of Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad Ibn Qalawun in Cairo, the topic on which she received her doctoral degree from Cairo University in 1987.
‘An Exceptional Academic’
“Chahinda was an exceptional academic in everything she did,” Jehan Reda, a professor of the history of architecture and Islamic art at AUC, said in a phone call. “She combined the qualities of showing permanent passion for her studies, innovation in teaching methods, and a human aspect represented in respecting students, dedicating her time to them with patience and love, and always supporting them in their career paths.”