BY MOWADA ARIFI
My artwork is entitled Karam, which means Generosity. Although it is a word of three letters in the Arabic alphabet, it has a great and deep meaning for Muslims. It is considered to be the basic element of life for Muslims. Islam has an obvious relation to peace because the ideal behavior that God asks people to follow is based on generosity, peace, and humility.
Muslims believe that everything on earth originated from god and will return to him even their souls. Thus, people have to behave as all of what they possess belongs to God and they have to protect, preserve, and share with others in order to satisfy God and have peace.
Many people attack Islam and describe it as a religion of terrorism. They claim that Islam teaches people to be aggressive and not to help others. However, the main approaches of Islam are generosity and forgiveness that are considered the main principles of peace. Those people have to study and look at the history of Islam and the ideal behavior of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Islam asks Muslims to forgive others even if they hurt them. Islam asks Muslims to forgive and not hurt their enemies. For instance, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) asked Muslims to not kill or hurt the people (his enemies) who the Muslims captured in one of the battles, and he freed them after he asked them to teach Muslims how to read and write.
Islam is the religion that asks people and encourages them to be generous and kind to others without expecting anything back from them. Thus, to be a true Muslim, people have to help others and give and support them freely. Being generous and kind in Islam is not about just giving money to others, but it is more about helping and supporting others by giving them advice, money, and knowledge. In addition, the concept of generosity in Islam includes treating other people nicely and smiling in front of them. The concept of generosity in Islam is not about giving others things that people do not want anymore, but it is about sharing what they have and love with others. As Ibn Abbas said that he heard the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) saying, “the believer is not the one who eats when his neighbor beside him is hungry”. Also, according to another companion who heard the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) saying, “the believer is simple and generous, but the wicked person is deceitful and ignoble”.
Therefore, peace is not a small part of Islam, but it is the main core of Islam. All of what God asks Muslims to do has a good impact on them. He rewards Muslims who adopt generosity as their main characteristic by offering them good life and promises them paradise. God says in the Qur'an that he will reward the generosity of a believer. “And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.” (Al-Baqarah 2:272). That is why one of the names of God in Islam is Al Kareem, The generous. In addition, the best example of generosity is the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) is famous for his ideal behavior and characteristic of being generous and kind. He was the most generous of people especially in Ramadan.
The impacts of being generous on Muslims’ lives are great. It helps them get rid of being selfish. The more they give to others, the better they feel. It gives them a feeling of unity and equality. They all care about each other, and there are no differences between rich and poor or white and black. Moreover, Islam guides people toward peace by asking them to be generous in term of knowledge. Muslims who are well-educated have to help others and declare the wrong concepts of life for them. Generosity in Islam is not limited to the relation between human themselves, but it also includes the good behavior of treating animals and the environment around them nicely because it is gift from god, so people should protect and preserve it.
Furthermore, generosity was one of the factors that helped in spreading the Islam in early times. There were a lot of people, who were fighting against Islam, and became part of it after they saw the generosity and simplicity of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). He was kind to non-Muslims as well and that was what softened their hearts and made them convert to Islam.
Therefore, that is how peace engages in the religion of Islam. Islam is the religion of justice. Muslims do not have to be taught the concept of peace in schools because it is already inherited inside them by their Islamic attitudes. Non-Muslims should not attack Islam and say it threatens the peace of the world due to some Muslims’ wrong behavior. Therefore, my message is that being kind to others enables people to love, respect, and care about each other. Thus, if people adopt the ideal characteristics of Islam that God asks them to follow, peace will be all around them.
I came up with the idea of generosity and Islam that leads to peace because I was inspired by the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and his ideal behavior that attracted most of people to Islam. Then, I did a research on the subject of Islam and peace along with generosity. I found out that many scholars have discussed the relation between generosity and Islam in what they believe Islam is all about peace. As Shaikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah states, “It is certain that the Qur'an insists against murder, the Qur'an equalizes the injustice on one soul to the whole of humanity. Islam prohibits the intimidation of others, even in a joking manner. A Muslim relationship with others is one of friendship and companionship.” (Bin Bayyah). He believed that the relation between people in Islam that is based on justice and kindness is the ideal approach of peace. Also, there are many scholars mentioned that the good deeds and generosity of people make others remember them more than their high position or wealth. Moreover, the relation between generosity and peace is adopted in people’s hearts. For example, Warren Buffet, who is one of the richest men in the world, gave 85% of his fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help the foundation pursue its longstanding goal of curing the globe's most fatal diseases and improving American education. Thus, this shows how the generosity can make people’s lives better and leads them to peace.
For my artwork, I chose to have the word Allah written in Arabic with calligraphy style of Salman Khattak because Al-Kareem (the Generous) is one of the ninety-nine names of Allah. The calligraphy is written on A3 cardboard to give a rough surface that help the colors to stand out. Then, the colors I chose symbolize nature that was created by God. The white color symbolizes purity and peace. The green color symbolizes paradise, and the red color symbolizes passion. The blue color symbolizes heaven for me where the sky and God dwell. Also, I added small pieces of crystals on the calligraphy part to reflect the purity and beauty of Islam. In addition, I added a text that refers to God's generosity and God who loves generosity to emphasize my message that is about the main concept of generosity in Islam.
In addition, I was influenced by Salman Khattak, a contemporary artist who is famous for the combination of the Arabic calligraphy and texts of the names of God and verses from the Qur'an. He is skilled in scripts ranging from copperplate to italic to Gothic styles. He is also interested in Arabic and Western calligraphy.
Furthermore, I am Libyan. I have lived in different countries, but now I am staying in Dubai. I am a student at the American University in Dubai, and I am majoring in Interior Design. I am interested in studying Islamic history, calligraphy, architecture, Design, and art. I believe that Islamic art is one of the most interesting subjects to study due to its deep meanings.
In conclusion, Islam is all about peace due to the precious values and characteristics that Allah and the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) ask Muslims to have.