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In Memoriam

Honoring the Memories of Past Members and Yemeni Scholars

AIYS is saddened to hear of the passing of Prof. Abbas Hamdani, who made substantial contributions to the study of the Ismaili community in Yemen, on December 23, 2019.

Dr. Hamdani was Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He was born in Surat, India in 1926, received his B.A. (Hons.) and L.L.B. degrees from Bombay University in 1945 and 1947 and his Ph.D. from the University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies) in 1950, in Arabic and Islamic Studies. He taught Islamic History at the University of Karachi from 1951-62; at the American University in Cairo from 1962-69; and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee until his retirement in 2001.

Dr. Hamdani published widely on medieval Islamic philosophical thought.  His academic honors include a Fellowship from the Fulbright Commission and the American Research Centre in Egypt, and an award for distinction in Teaching, Service, and the promotion of Peace from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He spoke several languages (English, Arabic, French, Urdu, Gujrati) and travelled widely, attending and speaking at conferences in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, North Africa, Australia, and Asia.  He recently donated around 300 manuscripts inherited through seven generations of his family to the Institute of Ismaili Studies, which has been catalogued in the IIS publication Arabic, Persian and Gujarati Manuscripts: The Hamdani Collection.

A full obituary is published by the Institute for Ismaili Studies.


The following individuals are mentioned on this page:

  • Peggy Crawfurd

  • Abdulkarim al-Eryani

  • Abbas Hamdani

  • Mutahhar bin Ali Al-Iryani

  • Mary Ellen Lane

  • Jon Mandaville

Other obituaries on the AIYS blog


The Middle East Studies Center extends our deepest condolences to the family of Dr. Jon Mandaville, who passed away on August 5, 2019. We honor Dr. Mandaville for his 54 years of continuous scholarly service at Portland State University.  Jon Mandaville grew up in an Aramco family complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. After finishing high school in Beirut, Lebanon, he obtained his B.A. in History from Dartmouth College in 1959. He studied Arabic at the University of Edinburgh and under Philip Hitti at Princeton University, and pursued graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh where he received an M.A. in Islamic Studies in 1961. He earned his Ph.D. in History and Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University, NJ in 1969.

Professor Mandaville joined the History Department of Portland State College in 1965 before it became Portland State University in 1969.  His contributions to the Middle East Studies Center were invaluable. He served as the Director of the Middle East Studies Center between 1996 and 2004. He was Professor Emeritus at Portland State University in the History Department and Middle East Studies Center. He traveled throughout the Middle East, and served as the first director of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies in Sanaa, Yemen. 

He thought of history as "more than facts alone", and liked to explore the background of historical events in "live narrative." As an Ottomanist, his research and publications focused on the social and legal history of the Middle East since 1500 with special emphasis on the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. He wrote multiple publications on Islamic and Middle Eastern history, both near and dear to his heart. 

Dr. Mandaville and his family also hosted and befriended numerous local and Middle Eastern students during his tenure.  Many went on to become leaders, scholars, and a few pursued government service. His generous spirit and 54-year commitment to academic excellence has well served by his students and our community.

(from Portland State University)

Mary Ellen Lane, Executive Director of CAORC from 1986-2014, was a long-time friend and supporter of AIYS. For her obituary, click here.


It is with sadness that we at AIYS have learned the news that Dr. Abdulkarim al-Eryani, a guiding force for the creation of AIYS and a constant friend of the institute, passed away on November 8, 2015 while undergoing medical treatment in Germany.  Born in 1935, he went on to receive a doctorate in 1968 at Yale University.  He served in many different offices in the Yemeni government during the periods of several North Yemen presidents and after the unification. I   For an account of his biography, click here:
In honor of Dr. Al-Eryani, AIYS created a special fellowship fund for Yemeni scholars.  This fund is only used to support scholars in Yemen for their research in any field.  Those wishing to honor Dr. Al-Eryani's memory can find information on this fund here.  


The American photographer Peggy Crawford passed away in Santa Fe, New Mexico on April 18, 2015.  There is an exhibition of her photographic work in Yemen archived on Archnet. Below is the description provided on that site:
"Peggy Crawford (1917-2015) was an American photographer, writer, and educator. Between 1985 and 2004 she made nine trips to Yemen, photographing its people, architecture, and landscapes. In 2005, she published An American in Yemen: Travel Notes of a Photographer in English and French. The Peggy Crawford collection of slides is held in the Fine Arts Library, Harvard University. This collection on Archnet highlights a selection from the complete
collection held by Harvard University."


The much-respected historian, linguistic and poet Mutahhar bin Ali Al-Iryani passed away at 83 years. The Ministry of Culture announced his death on Tuesday, 9 February, 2016. On this sad occasion the American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS) extends its heartfelt condolences to his family members. The late scholar was one of the most celebrated historians and intellectuals in Yemen. He was really a man of great intellect and ingenuity. He had distinguished himself as a pioneer researcher and accomplished historian by his creative work on Yemen's ancient inscriptions. He made great efforts to decipher dozens of ancient inscriptions about Yemen's history and civilization.
He also made substantial contribution to Yemen's literature. He authored several books most important of all: "Musnad Inscriptions and Comments", in which he decoded old inscriptions written in Yemen's old alphabetical letters known as Al-Musnad. His second significant book is: "The Yemeni Linguistic Lexicon", which included thousands of vocabulary of different Yemeni dialects that can't be found in other Arab dictionaries.
Al-Iryani also contributed along with the two professional historians Dr Yusuf Mohammed Abdullah and Dr Husayn Al-Amri to verifying two famous Yemeni books. " Shams Al-‘Ulum" by Nashwan ibn Sa'id Al-Himyari and "Feature of Yemen throughout ages, from 7th B.C. to 19th A.D".
The late, Mutahar Al-Irayni has been very famous as a creative poet as well as a historian. He had composed dozens of poems and lyrics considered to be of first-class Yemeni modern poetry. A number of his patriotic and emotional lyrics were put into music by Yemen's most popular singers. These include" Love and Coffee", "Al-Balah" and " He Stood up and Bid Farewell ".
Contributed by Dr. Salwa Dammaj

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