Sunday, May 29, 2016

Agia Sophia

By Zeina Khawaja

This is two-selection piece of artwork made by me of a representation of a mosque, which is inspired by the Hagia Sophia Museum. The big main canvas is an A3 canvas and the smaller one is the size of an A4. The materials I used to compose this selection are Acrylic paints for the colors, acrylic pens for the outlines, and textiles for decoration.

After my first visit to Turkey, one of the most inspiring places I have visited over there was Hagia Sophia Museum, knowing that it was a church that turned into a mosque that is presently a museum inspired me and made me wonder how could one place like that, embrace two religions in a one lifetime. In my opinion, I interpret that as unity of multiple religions in one single place but at different timings. So having this project, the first figure I could think of is the Hagia Sophia Museum to represent peace among all religions.

Unity in Diversity

Zeena Abu Al Saad


            My name is Zeena Abu Al Saad and I am a Jordanian student studying journalism at the American University in Dubai. Despite being fully Jordanian, I have lived in Qatar for the full 20 years that I have been alive; I arrived in Dubai 3 years ago when I got accepted to AUD, and I am currently living here temporarily with my twin sister until we both graduate. Dubai being the great cosmopolitan city that it is, during the past three years it has not just introduced me to a great number of cultures different to mine, but it has also introduced to me a great number of opinions and perspectives on Islam much different to mine. As cliché as this may sound, my decision to become a journalist was initially greatly influenced by my need to defend my peaceful religion, Islam. The media to me is on of the most powerful creations of mankind, if not the most powerful; while I greatly believe that the media is super beneficial, I also believe that it is one of the strongest destructive forces on our planet earth.

            The title of the artwork that I have produced for my Islamic Art and Architecture course goes by the name Al Wihda Fi Al Tanawo’, which translates in English to The Unity in Diversity; despite being short, in my opinion, these two words capture the absolute essence of Islam and its Art.
            Why call it The Unity in Diversity? This project could not have come in a better time as we are currently in the midst of all the negative stereotyping against Islam and Muslims around the world. Through this artwork, I want us to come together to understand how imperative it is for Muslims to come back to the pluralistic vision of the Quran before anything. Islam-related issues in the media have changed significantly in the past 10 years, both in amount and quality. The occasions of September 11, 2001, pushed Islam into the worldwide media forefront: not just did coverage of Islam definitely increase, especially in news and entertainment media, however the way in which Islam is framed worldwide has also changed. The past couple of years and events have resulted in Islamic unfortunately being framed as a religion that is not accepting, not diverse, and not unifying. As a Muslim, I constantly feel the need to express the beauty of my religion and to help those who have been misguided, to see it for what it really is.

            Contrary to what is portrayed in the Media, Islam is actually a religion that shows that all individuals are totally equivalent in God's sight; Islam and the Quran are unmistakably accepting to diversity - in creation, society, and convictions inside of the human world. Disposing of the pre-Islamic tribal society instilling tight groupings in light of family and genealogy, the Quran portrays every single individual as a major aspect of one super unit, which is humankind. It addresses the totality of humankind as 'Bani Adam' (offspring of Adam). For instance the accompanying verse from the Quran supports the notion of diversity as a crucial component of the plan of creation. In verse 99 of Sura Younus, the Quran clarifies that on the off chance that it had been God's Will to not to give the freedom of choice to mankind, he could have made all humanity alike and all would then have Faith. Thus, the Quran endorses diversity and acceptance as a major aspect of the Divine Will. The Quran sees questions in the matter of religion as purposeless and urges its disciples to discover regular grounds of conviction through politeness, sympathy, and sincerity.

            There is a history of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and individuals from different beliefs living respectively in congruity in a pluralistic culture under the Muslim rule; furthermore, it is important to take into consideration the remarkable ethnic and religious differences that existed in the early hundreds of years of Islam. This was obscure to different civilizations of those times. All Muslims from different origin used to live in flawless amicability with everyone else, as the Jews and Christians stayed faithful to their confidence and were completely free to satisfy their individual religious commitments. In fact, they wouldn't face any pressure regarding their faith or pressure to embrace Islam. The Prophet, for example, would take his partners and his hosts (of different religions) under his wings and would not permit anybody to embarrass them or to treat them cruelly. Furthermore, Jews and Christians embraced Arabic dialect and adequately added to the way of life of the Islamic culture.

            Back when Caliph Umar landed in Jerusalem after the success of the city by the Muslims in 638, the Christian Patriarch of Jerusalem gave him a voyage through the locales. As the timing for prayer approached, Umar requested a spot to pray. The Patriarch offered Umar the chance to pray where he stood in the Church of Holy Sepulcher. Umar turned down the offer saying where he, the main Muslim ruler in Jerusalem, would pray, his supporters would assemble a mosque and that he couldn't let that happen out of respect for the church and its worshippers. Therefore, he prayed outside on the street and today a mosque, called the Mosque of Umar, still stands opposite the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This demonstrates Umar's admiration and respect for Christians and their religion.

             I could go on for days about stories from early Islam that demonstrate its compassionate nature if given the opportunity. Islam is a religion that encourages all Muslims to draw in sympathy, obtain learning, and acclimatize wisdom no matter the origin or creed. In its initial hundreds of years the Muslim civilization was the vanguard of human advancement since it was not hesitant to recognize truth and to secure learning from whatever source - Muslim or non-Muslim, past or present (House of Wisdom in Baghdad is a great example). Ali, the fourth Muslim Caliph and a profoundly worshipped figure by all Muslims, said that one ought to assess a talk in view of what it says and not who says it.

            As for Islamic Art, I could also go on for days. Islamic Art is of great importance to me because I come from a family of artists who have instilled the soul of Islamic Art in my upbringing. When many of us think of Islamic Art, we think of The Dome of The Rock, The Taj Mahal, and maybe bowls or silk carpets, but these are just examples; what exactly is Islamic Art? Through this brief description of Islamic Art that I will be presenting, I will also further emphasize just how diverse and unifying our religion is, even in its art.

            Islamic Art is a concept put together by art historians in the nineteenth century to order and study the material initially delivered under the Islamic groups of people that rose up out of Arabia in the seventh century. Today Islamic Art depicts the majority of human expressions that were created in the grounds where Islam was the prevailing religion or the religion of the individuals who ruled. Unlike the terms Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist workmanship, which allude just to religious craft of these beliefs, Islamic Art is not utilized only to portray religious art and architecture, yet applies to all fine arts created in the Islamic World, both religious and secular.

            Therefore, Islamic Art alludes not just to works made by Muslim specialists, artisans, and designers or for Muslim supporters; It incorporates the works made by Muslim craftsmen for a supporter of any faith, including Christians, Jews, or Hindus, and the works made by Jews, Christians, and others, living in Islamic lands, for patrons, Muslim and so on.

            A standout amongst the most popular landmarks of Islamic Art is the Taj Mahal, situated in Agra, India. Hinduism is the prevailing religion in India; nevertheless, due to the fact that Muslim rulers, most broadly the Mughals, dominated extensive regions of current India for a considerable length of time, India has a boundless scope of Islamic art and architecture. Furthermore, another example of the diversity of Islamic Art is The Great Mosque of Xian, China. Initially developed in 742 C.E., the mosque's present structure dates to the fifteenth century C.E. Moreover, it takes after the arrangement and engineering of a contemporary Buddhist sanctuary.

            Islamic Art is not a monolithic style or development; it traverses 1,300 years of history and has mind boggling geographic assorted qualities—Islamic domains and administrations controlled regions from Spain to western China. In any case, few if any of these different nations or Muslim realms would have alluded to their craft as Islamic Art. An artisan in Damascus would have thought about his work as Syrian or Damascene—not as Islamic.

            While taking other courses in AUD such as Arts History, I have come to realize that in a few ways, Islamic Art is somewhat like the Italian Renaissance. Amid the Renaissance, there wasn’t a one unified Italy; it was a place of many independent city-states. Nobody would have thought about one's self as an Italian, or of the craftsmanship they delivered as Italian, rather they perceived themselves as a Roman, a Florentine, or a Venetian. Every city created its very own local and astounding style; In the meantime, there are sure hidden subjects or likenesses that bind together the craftsmanship and design of these urban areas and permit researchers to talk about an Italian Renaissance.

            The artwork I have produced is highly influenced by a painting called diversity that belongs to a contemporary Muslim artist Siddiqa Juma. According to her website, as her style has developed, she has become focused on Hajj, the journey that each Muslim attempts to perform in any event once in their lifetime. Juma has not yet made this voyage herself, thus her work conveys not the experience of journey or the procedure of performing the Hajj, however a longing to leave on that trip, with every one of the components on each canvas floating overwhelmingly towards the heavenly city. This longing has given her work another focus, moving her far from impersonation of exemplary Islamic art and towards a more individual style, one that conveys at the same time the closeness and the separation between Juma and her religion. One of her paintings, named diversity, which stood out to me the most, portrays the Kaaba surrounded by small blotches of many different colors, representing the diversity of Islam and its followers. I wanted to create something that, similar to Juma’s work of art, represents the diversity and unity of Islam, but in a different way. 

My artwork was created using acrylic paint on a simple white rectangular canvas. I began by first using a paintbrush to paint the entire canvas black, and then I proceeded to add handprints, using my own hands, in many different colors. The handprints on my canvas in different colors are there to symbolize the diversity of Islam as a religion, its acceptance to diversity, and the diversity of Islamic Art (Islamic Art is marked by handprints of people of all colors, religions, and cultures.) Furthermore, I also used this technique to emphasize the notion of unity in Islam; the different colored handprints, which are meant to represent a variety of humans, are united together on one canvas. The colors I chose to place on my canvas are symbolic in Islam; for example, I chose the color green because it is the dominant color in Islam and it represents the notion of paradise, I chose to include red because it symbolizes passion, white symbolizes purity and peace, and finally blue symbolizes the sky (where god and heaven meet). Following this, I outlined my handprints in colors different to those they are in just to create the illusion of contrast to add a wider range of colors to the canvas. Furthermore, I also added blotches of different colors of paint by gentling dabbing a small sponge on empty areas of the canvas. I chose to add calligraphy because it is an essential work of art in the Islamic World. The Qur'an, written in rich scripts, speaks to Allah's (or God's) divine word, which Muhammad got specifically from Allah amid his dreams. Furthermore, Quranic verses, executed in calligraphy, are found on a wide range of types of workmanship and design; Islamic calligraphy can be found on everything from fired dishes to the dividers of houses. Calligraphy's inescapability underscores the quality and importance that Islam places on dialect, particularly Arabic. I chose to write the word Salam in white; Islam is directly linked to the word “salam”, which translates to peace in English. By using the color white, I wanted to further emphasize the meaning of the word and its importance in our religion.

            In conclusion, through this artwork I feel the need to shed light on three of the most fundamental parts of Islam, which are peace, unity, and diversity. Islam is not about war and slaughter and scorn like what the vast majority thinks, due to images shaped by the media. Islam is not about murdering and lying and doing repulsive things "in the name of Allah." Islam is not about telling the world that non-Muslims shouldn't be alive. Our religion is about both internal and external peace, accepting diversity, and uniting the world and creating one Uma (community).

Al Salam Alaikom

Tasnim Al Sayed

Al Salam Alaikom is a Muslim greeting in Arabic that means "Peace be upon you". The greeting is a standard salutation among Muslims and is routinely used whenever and wherever Muslims gathered and interacted, whether socially or within worship and other contexts.
Prophet Mohammad used to always tell people to greet each other whenever they meet and that’s actually because greeting among people spread a kind of respect, love, and peace. Prophet Mohammad always wanted people to love each other, to care about each other and to ask about each other. According to prophet Mohammad "The rights of a Muslim upon another are five: returning greetings, visiting the sick, following the funeral procession, responding to invitations and offering 'Tashmeet' for one who sneezes." (Bukhari and Muslim) this Hadith shows in general how the relationship between muslims should be. The Prophet also said:
"The best of the two persons is the one who begins with salaam." (Related by Nawawi in his book Al-Adk). There are plenty of Hadith by Prophet Mohammad that show the importance of the salam or greeting between the Muslims and that to know the importance of salam and the power that it has on effecting people’s hearts.
According to a Hadith related by Bukhari and Muslim, this form of greeting was ordained by Allah from the time of Prophet Adam (peace be upon him). And that was when God asked Adam to go and greet the angles.
There are many verses in the Quran also that shows the importance of the salam “But when you enter houses, greet one another with a greeting from Allah, blessed and good...."
(Qur'an, An-Nur 24:61)

These verses that I just mentioned and the hadiths are just nothing to the amount of verses in the Quran and in the hadiths the call people for greeting and to spread salaam and love. Those are proofs that Islam is the religion of Salam (Peace) and it is so sad how this religion which is all about peace and love is now the symbol of terrorism and aggression. Not only for non Muslims, but also to some Muslims who believe that this religion has been distorted because of some people who want to kill under the name of religion, who pretend to be following this peaceful religion and its prophet who used to always call for love and peace. I chose the phrase “ Al Salam Alaikom” not because it is an Islamic greeting but because I used to use words like hi or hello or Marhba to greet people because I never thought about the phrase Al Salam Alaikom. But when I once stopped for a second and thought of its beauty “peace be upon you” I felt that it has a deep meaning, the meaning of our existence, the meaning of the messages of all the religions, the message of Peace. Peace, which we all seek for, what we all aim to, what we all dream of. Peace. Starting from ourselves to everything that surrounds us.
And the beautiful thing is that when I stopped that moment and thought about the phrase of al salam alaikom was when my mom answered her phone and said wa alaikom al salam, which is the typical response of al salam alaikom. And I still remember that the reason that made me stopped and think about al salam alaikom was when my mom told me that her Christian friend is the only one who says al salam alaikom instead of Hi or Good morning. I wondered back then what is the meaning of al salam alaikom? Why does a Christian use it? Why don’t I use it? I honestly used to hate to use this word, but when I realized how beautiful its meaning and how important it is between people to spread love and peace.
This greeting appears in greatly abbreviated forms in many languages from Malagasy to Urdu as some variant of salām 
Not only Arab use the salam but also many different countries use it with some difference such as shaking hands, hugging or putting a hand on the heart.

I can see nowadays that Islam has many misconception and only Muslims can change these misconceptions and show the world the true meaning of Islam and peace.

I chose to write the phrase itself Al Salamu Alaikom in Arabic in  Al Diwani font in a very simple way yet using a beautiful Arabic font to represent the simplicity of this phrase and I chose to leave the background white because I couldn’t find any other color that represent simplicity and peace more than white. I draw peace dove on the side with the blue color because blue represent peace. By looking at the phrase itself with its white background you will definitely feel comfort. I wanted to spread salam and peace in a very simple way because I believe that simplicity is the key to all hearts. 

Heaven الجنة


All muslims want to attain the pleasure of Allah SWT and enter His Jannah.

"O soul who is at rest, return to thy Lord, well-pleased with Him, well-pleasing Him. So enter among My servants, and enter My garden." (89:27-30) 

The Arabic word Jannah is a shortened version meaning simply “Garden" 

This artwork is inspired by eL Seed the ‘calligraffiti’ artist. He has blend of the historic art of Arabic calligraphy and  the modern art of graffiti, mixing street  culture  from  Paris  and Arabic  history to poetic effect. El Seed  uses  intricate  composition  in  his  work  to  call not only on the words and their meaning, but also on their movement, which ultimately lures the viewer into a different state of mind. EL Seed’s art reflects the reality of mankind and the world we live in today.
I used The Ruqʿah style of handwriting which is the most common type of handwriting. It is known for its clipped letters composed of short, straight lines and simple curves, as well as its straight and even lines of text. 

This piece is 42cmx30cm, medium grain moyen A3. I used graphite pencil “2H” to outline the calligraphy, went over it with the black charcoal to get a smooth surface. I used sanguine powder to cover the background, I wanted to obtain a bright color to lift the word “jannah” in the center. I then coloured the calligraphy with a black topic marker to make it stand out.  

Pray for Muslims

By Samer Arwani

I called my piece of art “Pray for Muslims” following whatever we had to see on Facebook after Paris terrorist attack on the 13th of November 2015. We all feel sorry about that bloody Friday that broke our hearts especially the ones who visited Paris before and they do have unforgettable memories over there. On the other hand, at that day I personally got offended seeing “Pray for Paris” everywhere while my country, Syria, is being bombed every day since five years. Over these five years, I did not see this much attention toward the people who are getting killed there with no mercy. Over these five years I did not see a lot of people posting about Syria and about the misery life Syrian people are living over there. This paper is dedicated to describe my piece of art “Pray for Muslims” explaining my ideas and thoughts about the influence of media on the Islamic world.
            The message behind the piece of art “Pray for Muslims” is to represent the contradiction of the global media whether its social or visual media. I personally believe that the global media is redirected to serve the desires of a selected class of people who really want to destroy the peaceful image of Muslims. This controversy starts with including all Muslim countries in the list of what is known as the “third world” countries which means the poor and backward countries; however, we can clearly see that most of the Muslim countries do have an acceptable, if not a good, economical level which other “first world” countries do not have. For the sack of this argument, let us assume that we are “third world” countries. Does not this mean that we need special care from the rest of the world? Is not this a part of the equality the world is pretending to follow? Equality does not only mean to treat all people in the same way instead, it means that we should treat each person according to his or her needs in order to ensure that all people are at the same level. “Pray for Muslims” piece of art represents how the global media focuses on the smallest terrorist attack that was POSSIBLY done by Muslims and pays a huge attention toward it, while on the other hand, hundreds of Muslims are getting killed every day in different regions either because of a terrorist attack or because of army forces bombing them. I am not saying that whatever happens in the western world is something easy, and I am not saying that the number of people getting killed over there is relatively small so I do not care; I am trying to deliver the message that the value of a human soul worth too much there compared to the value of a Muslim soul getting killed over here in the region. The global media is influencing the public opinion by focusing and exaggerating the news of 30 or 40 people getting killed in the western world, while on the other hand, the media barely focuses on the hundreds of people getting killed every day in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, and other Muslim countries. Now while I am writing this paper on Microsoft Office Word I just realized that Islam and Muslims in not even a world in the dictionary of Microsoft Office. I believe this is an insult to Muslims and it is a shame for Humanity.           
            describing the piece of art “Pray for Muslims”, the piece of art is a Photoshop picture that was created by taking some pictures from the internet and combining them all in one frame in order to deliver my message. The board is an A3 board (594mm X 420mm) and it was printed using the Matt technique. The reason behind choosing the Matt technique is that it provides a better visual representation especially for dark colors which were used intensively to represent the destructed building on the right side of the board. An A3 size was chosen to ensure the best quality in terms of printing to prevent any pixelated pictures. Concerning the colors choice, I intended to choose dark colors on the right side of the board to better represent the destruction and the misery lives Muslims are living in their countries. In addition, bright colors were used on the left side of the board to represent the luxurious life that does not really need to be focused on its limited needs. The left side also shows a camera lens showing how the global media is focusing on the single bomb coming toward the western world, while ignoring tens of bombs destroying cities on the right side of the board. Another message I tried to show is the fact that all the bombs in the picture (on the Eiffel tower and on the Buildings on the right side) are all coming from one direction which is the direction of the common enemy of the world who is the enemy of peace. Finally, I hope that the piece of art “Pray for Muslims” would make a difference and would make people look at the issue from a different perspective.
            I was asked to mention the artist who influenced me; however, I really had no one influencing me except Facebook pages that are full of pictures that can be of a great influence without us knowing. I do remember that I have seen something similar to my piece of art over the internet; however, I tried my best to look for it but I could not.

            I also was asked to write a short biography about myself and I would say: my name is Samer Arwani and I am a Civil Engineering Syrian Student who is studying at the American University in Dubai. I am Currently in my last year and I will be graduating in May 2016. My fields of interest include reading political and historical books and articles especially those related to my country Syria.          


By Saeed Kargar

During the blessed month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world abstain from all food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours (such as smoking or sex). Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking; it is a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self-discipline and sacrifice.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is considered one of the 5 Pillars of Islam-- five activities that shape a Muslim's life. Prayer occurs on a daily basis; pilgrimage is done once in a lifetime; charity and professing one's faith are both ongoing. Fasting the month of Ramadan is an annual observance; every year, Muslims take an entire month out of their lives to observe this strict fast and rededicate themselves to worship and faith.
Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance.
And how Ramandan is related to peace?
We are to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends, do away with bad habits -- essentially to clean up our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings. The Arabic word for "fasting" (sawm literally means "to refrain" - and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts, and words.
The physical effects of the fast are felt by Muslims as a reminder of those who suffer throughout the year -- those who are poor, homeless, refugees -- and who cannot meet their basic needs. It reminds Muslims not to be wasteful and to feel empathy for those who face hunger on a daily basis. We should feel gratitude for the bounties of Allah: clean water, sufficient healthy food, comfort of a home, health of our family members. There are so many in the world who must survive without these basic needs, and Ramadan is a time for us to give thanks and reaffirm our commitment to helping those in need.


Saeed Al Hefaiti

      My artwork project is an art piece for humanity and for all people in the world whether they are Muslims or non Muslims. It's a piece for all religions and nationalities. It's an artwork that represent peace and against racism. I called it " Just Hair" . Just Hair as shown in the picture above; the picture above is a clip art represent just a beard and mustache. My artwork will be something similar to this. It will be a long beard and mustache without a round face that is abstracted . What I mean with abstract is that this round face will not show any face features like " eye, nose, or mouth" . It will be a plain face with  just a beard and mustache . In the middle of the face will be a question mark. This question mark will gives a space for the audience to think and choose what kind of man will be in that face. Then, depend on this decision , they will judge the beard. The point from the artwork is racism. Recently, for the past ten years , Muslims have been criticized for their beards . And each person who had a beard has been criticized and called terrorist. This started to be a signature for terrorism when an Arab man had it. Each person had a long beard from the Middle East called terrorist from western perspective. Even in western movies when they view Arabs , they viewed them with long ugly beards. In addition, this is not the case only in west. In the Middle East after Arab Spring people started to be scared from beards. A lot of people shaved their beards especially who are in the levant because they are afraid to be caught or considered as a part of ISIS " Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" . And on the other side there are some people who were afraid to shave their beards in Syria and Iraq , so ISIS do not accused him that they are not religious . Thus, beards was a crucial point in the recent years . But surprisingly last year , the beard was the trend and the style of the year for all people in the east and the west. Most of the men were having beards and not any beard. They keep their beards to grow longer and longer. Most of models and celebrities went with the beard trend. Maybe this started in the middle east after the Turkish series released " Hareem Sultan" , men started to imitate Sultan Sulaiman. And also there is another Arabic series " Saraya Abdeen" where Qusai Khoule " a Syrian actor did a big role and men started to imitate him. And maybe this trend extended to the west. The point from the name "Just Hair" that it's just hair that did not represent any terrorist action that's why people took it as a style later . It's like a hairstyle that varied each season. It's just a hair growing on the face nevertheless associated with racism.
        "Just Hair" will be done on A3 carton paper and the paint is water colors and markers. The technique is drawing. 

          There is a drawing which is a cover book called " The Gigantic Beard That was Evil" by Stephen Collins. This book showed that even if you grow a beard you will not change your personality. The man in the book when he grew a beard , people thought that he is evil. But the author stated that the beard has never has links with any evil actions as well as terrorism. In the drawing the beard man sits behind a desk, he is posing holding a pen preparing himself to write. The whole painting drawn with pencil by Collins. The man's face features almost are not shown because of his giant beard that it reach the ground. I chose this picture as a reference because it sent the same message that I wanted to send through my artwork project. Racism has not been mention in any religion or culture, and it should not be existed.

        My name is Saeed Al Hefaiti. I started university in 2011, my major was business but I change it to international studies. My interests are Football. I like playing and watching Football, and watching movies. 

Smile !

By Roudha Bin Desmal

Islam is more than just a religion of worship; Islam is a way of life. Islam teaches Muslims how to behave in their daily lives, and those rules are basic and easy that they become part of the Muslim’s life naturally. Islam focuses on the tiny details that make a drastic difference, for example smiling. A smile has the capability to free the load a person has, and make him or feel actually feel better and brighter. The prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him advised Muslims to smile at each other, and he said that a smile in the face of your brother is considered charity. The theme of the art project is the relation between Islam and peace, and since smiles bring happiness to people, it also brings peace. Through smiling inner peace can be achieved, it is a silent dialogue between people that brings them to a state of happiness and peace.
            My art project was inspired by positivity, and hence the smile. I believe that in today’s world, there are so many wars and so many depressing events that are going on. We are showered with news of bombings, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and many more. People are exposed to such negativity, and this is disregarding what each individual is facing in his or her own life. The accumulation of negativity on a person or in a society can be dangerous or damaging, so we need to find a way to make ourselves and each other feel better. I believe that smiling is the simplest thing a person can so to spread positive vibes to the person who himself or herself who is smiling, because he or she will feel the negativity leaving his or her body, and the person that is receiving that smile, is not only receiving positive energy, but also he or she will be receiving happy vibes. It is like the positivity is being transferred from one person to the other. To demonstrate, my painting involved the word “smile” in Arabic Kufic font. I used three colors to paint the word smile, and they are a mixture of orange, yellow, and white. When a person sees the painting her or she will feel confused if the color is yellow or orange, and that is my aim because I want to say that positivity is a result of different emotions and thoughts that sometimes cannot be differentiated or separated, or even understood. The color black to represent negativity or the negative vibes dominates the background color. The background also includes dark shades brown, green, and blue again to symbolize that darkness or negativity is not uniform. From the word “smile” that I wrote in the Kufic script, it seems that there is an explosion of yellow radiance coming out of the word, I also used gold paint at the very inner part. Some of the implications of the gold color are success, achievement, and triumph; these are things that cannot be accomplished without having a positive view on things. I personally do not believe that prosperity and success can be attained in the darkness, because we cannot see well in the dark; therefore, we will not be able to function properly. Lastly, the explosion of positivity that is being emitted from the letters into the darkness is actually a struggle between positivity and negativity. It looks like the blackness and they yellow are fighting each other to gain dominance. The majority of the painting is black, because I want to say that it is easy to let darkness and negativity consume a person, and it is challenging to overcome the darkness, but it is worth it because your life will be filed with light and positivity.

            There has been scientific research that proves that smiling is actually good for the person smiling and the people around him or her. According to the British Dental Health Foundation, A smile really can make you feel better, and make others respond more positively to you. With a smile you are more likely to succeed in what we do, from relationships to careers.  We can use a smile to show our positive feelings or mask our more negative ones. A smile really is one of man’s greatest gifts!” Islam is all about peace, and this is why it told Muslims to smile, because it helps to transport harmony between people, and bring internal peace to the people. 


By Riya Berri

The title of my artwork is "Salat" which means "Prayer". I chose this title because it represents my painting as there is a silhouette of man shown praying in front of a mosque. This title is also very symbolic as it is the first pillar of Islam. The style I used is free hand drawing and painted it with oil paints. I used the “stroking” method in which I used a thin brush and kept stroking it to give a strong impact for the blue sky. I also used “knife painting” to show the rusty beige effect for the mosque with a pink base to add color.  The knife used has a pointed tip, and a lowered trowel which suited my painting on canvas. The blade can be of different lengths and shapes: triangular, rectangular or more diamond like. I also tried to give the floor a marble impression by painting it grey and using a sponge to make it realistic. I intentionally used the blue sky as “blue” is depicted as peace for me. I did not give my figure an expressions or facial features as I wanted my audience to concentrate on the bigger picture rather than the smaller details.


My statement:


We were asked to draw anything related to 'Peace and Islam" which actually mean the same thing. The first thing that came to my mind was praying because that’s the first thing you do to devote yourself to God. The importance of the prayer in Islam cannot be understated.  The importance of the prayers lies in the fact that no matter what actions one performs in his life, the most important aspect is one’s relationship to God, that is, one’s faith (imaan), God-consciousness (taqwa), sincerity (ikhlas) and worship of God (ibaadah).  This relationship with God is demonstrated and put into practice, as well as improved and increased, by the prayer.  Therefore, if the prayers are sound and proper, the rest of the deeds will be sound and proper; and if the prayers are not sound and proper, then the rest of the deeds will not be sound and proper, as the Prophet himself stated.
Praying makes me feel at peace, it makes me feel at ease. It helps me talk to someone and let out all my feelings. It helps me realize that there is a greater being in this world that is looking out for us and that is God.
The artist who influenced me:
Vancouver-based artist Mohamed Somani is an artist that inspired me to paint this piece. Somani finds inspiration in the Qur'an and Muslim history, and evokes some of these stories on canvas.  I loved the simplicity of each of Somani’s paintings; it has a powerful message even though it’s quite simple. That’s what I look for in an artist, someone to inspire you to draw and paint better in the most beautiful ways. I looked at a few artists who drew the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal would be significant as I tried to replicate the tarnished look for my mosque in the painting. A few artists had mastered “knife painting” really brilliantly and I was truly inspired to try it out.
My biography:
My name is Riya Berry and I am originally from India but born and brought up in Dubai. I’ve grown up and evolved with Dubai itself, I have seen it change drastically and become bigger and better each year. Being such a multicultural society, Dubai has taught me how to respect each one’s culture. Being in this class reminded me of how much I love the culture here and how much it has influenced me as a person. Since I am Indian, I do not know much about Islam and neither so much about art but being here and actually drawing and painting about “Peace and Islam” really brought the best out of me.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

To Come

By Reem Sabobeh

My final art project was going to be a mix medium artwork tackling the central idea of diversity of women in Islam. Despite my enthusiasm as well as deep interest in this issue, I delved into a more intense theme that has been on going for many years. My switch is still very relevant to women and feminism. Therefore, I made sure my final art project holds true meaning and virtues that are present and relatable to everyone in today’s world.     
Coming from a heavily cultural background that is of Palestinian and Jordanian origins, I decided to incorporate my roots into my work. Even though it has become a cliché to say so, nonetheless, my strive and goal was to simply try to portray the state of every Palestinian woman living on the occupied land. Whether it was during the Nakba, the house raids, or a casual walk on the street, Palestinians are under constant watch and danger. The women of the houses, whether it was the grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, or even neighbour, each Palestinian woman has felt some sort of fear to the people amongst her. Specifically towards the men of the house, who are regularly humiliated, captured, or abused for even the most trivial reasons. The woman is always in fear that her man might not make it back home. She is always yearning for the second she hears his footsteps at the doorway. Only then, she is relieved... almost.            
After ample research on the Internet, I also went back to my own family photo albums where I had more personal, more emotional insight at certain family member I haven’t even met. It was a fusion of emotions that ended with me ruining some photos because of the tears that had been shed on them due to my high level of sentiment.
I will be photographing portraits of women who do and don't identify with the typical stereotype of a Muslim woman.

But perhaps a novel, along with its cover art, captivated me the most. After studying both thoroughly, I decided to recreate this image as my final project.

            I recreated the cover page of the book. I titled it, “To Come”, referencing the wait that is to come for the Palestinian woman. Or the anticipation that is to come as she eagerly longs for his return. It can even be the news that is to come of her man’s state. It can be interpreted in many ways, but it is all hinting to the wait this woman is going through as she patiently sits and waits. I focused on showing the Koofiyeh in the back, as well as the embroidery of the dress, or Thob.  The artwork carries the theme of patience amongst turbulence.            
For this piece I used Acrylic paint of various colors. I ended mixing ample of them. As the avid lover and student of arts, as well as frequent painter I am, I seek refuge in painting since it is liberating. The strokes of the brush become extremely soothing and relaxing through out the process. The dimensions of the canvas are 40x40 cm.

References and Links:


By Raveena Kriplani

According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘Islamophobia’, is defined as dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force. The uprising of extremist terrorist groups fighting in the name of Islam, have led to dire consequences for the rest of the world. The direct, or most obvious, are the lives lost in the wars waged by such groups. However, the indirect consequences are more threatening to the Muslim world since people who instigate such terror, tarnish the name and reputation of the Islamic religion. This leads to stereotyping and generalization of Islam, and through this generalization a fear of Islam and Muslims arises.
My piece was inspired not so much by a particular artist, but in fact by a recent event that took place in Texas, United Sates. It occurred soon after the Paris terror attacks; a group of individuals referring to themselves as the “Bureau of Islamic Relations” protested the influx of Syrian refugees into the U.S outside a mosque in Texas. The protestors were dressed in facemasks and carrying loaded guns. They felt that such an anti-Islamic initiative was necessary to show force and, quote, ‘was a solution to Islamic terrorism’. The juxtaposition of the modestly dressed Muslim woman in a picture that was taken at that time, and the veiled man carrying the gun, both infuriated and inspired me. This picture highlights the irony of how such people have begun to associate the hijab with oppression or terrorism, meanwhile they are confidently wielding firearms and covering their face – doing exactly what they are supposedly against. Imagine the height of ignorance and fear that exists about Islam, only then would rational human beings consider threatening people on their way to worship, a holy place, where one comes to find inner peace, and defiling the concept of Islam in such a derogatory manner.
            The West, and the United States in particular, advocates the first amendment as being so crucial and giving their people the right, and the freedom to live the life they choose. Hence, my artwork is titled “ikhtiyari” which translates to “my choice” in English. Everyone, should have the right to live and dress as they wish, this definition cannot be restricted to everyone except Muslims, but must include them as well.
            In my painting I chose to depict a woman wearing the hijab, with her eyes looking out at the word “my choice”. The word is inscribed in a circle, which in Islam is a key geometrical shape since it represents God’s infinite nature. In addition, the circle is shaded like a purple sky, because I wanted to highlight that a Muslim individual’s choices are a reflection of the all mighty above (thus heavenly) and not influenced merely by material things. Moreover, I wanted to portray how the hijab, at the root of Islam, is nothing but a sign of modesty. I focused on her eyes to show her courage and defiance - I wanted to display an independent woman who will not bow her gaze down to anyone but God, and that is why her eyes are a prominent feature.
I am not a native Arabic speaker, though one of the reasons I painted the word my choice in Arabic instead of English it is the language of the Qu’ran which makes it a more powerful choice of language to use to convey my message. Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoyed the kufic calligraphy sessions we did, and that also motivated me to try searching for a slogan in Arabic. I used both oil and acrylic paints in this piece and I chose incorporate the colour gold in it due to the religious symbolism associated with it; it is one of the colours of Paradise.
I have been born and resided in Dubai all my life and I wanted to include something in my piece that is representative of the Islamic region that I live in, hence I chose to sieve through some sand from the desert, and used this technique to complete the background as a spiral of gold and sand.

List of references:


The Other’s Others

Conceptual photography series by Rasha Al Shaar

            “Orientalism” is a way of looking at the differences between Arabs and their culture and the Western countries such as Europe and the United States of America. During the European Enlightenment and colonization of the Arab World, when “Orientalism” came about, it was artistically depicted with imagery that emphasizes, exaggerates and distorts reality of the Arab word in order to portray it as a world that is so different or unusual. This act or perspective is described as “othering”. “Othering” is when characteristics are fixed to a certain group of people that are different. I related this movement in history to modern day human behavior and judgment in the Arab world internally. My final artwork represents this concept of “othering” from a different perspective. Rather than “othering” a society or culture outside of your own in order to compare the two, I portrayed the “others” within my Kuwaiti community that has been labeled as “the other” by the West. With my conceptual photographic series, “The Other’s Other”, I show the different “others” within the Kuwaiti society specifically in regard to marriage or romantic relations.
            Although I believe that “Othering” and “Orientalism” lead to several negative misconceptions and stereotypes that were far from the realities of the Arab world, I believe that “othering” is a great example of natural human behavior. As an Arab, learning about Orientalism in history was upsetting, as it explains a lot of current misconceptions, it also puts several different acts of “othering” into perspective, both in religious or secular settings. Technically, “othering” is something we do everyday. As human beings, it is in our nature to judge what we see that is different than what we perceive as acceptable or normal. What usually happens when we see or perceive something of this sort is we tent to share, and when we tend to share we tend to exaggerate in order to tell an interesting or persuasive story. A discipline that they do this often in is advertising. Similarly, in the history of “Orientalism”, French entrepreneurs advertised the region through the production of postcards. Although they were meant to depict women in their every day lives, the scenes were set up in a studio. This form of advertising or propaganda that circulated France were published in Malek Alloula’s book, The Colonial Harem. As a Creative Advertising student with a love for psychology and human behavior, this was very interesting to me.
            As a student in the Visual Communications department, the effect that visuals have and the messages that they communicate attracted me to the visual representation of the Arab world in “Orientalism”. What pushed this interest further was my interest in human behavior, which is evident in most of my social awareness campaigns that aim to make a positive change in the community regarding both social and psychological issues. Lastly, the fact that I am an amateur conceptual photographer, I was motivated to show a different perspective to “othering” using the same exaggeration that is evident in my personal artistic style.
            “The Other’s Other” is a piece that looks at one community and shows that even in an Arab community, which is labeled the “other” among many other countries in the region, in one community itself there are many “others”. The same way the region was looked at and judged in a specific way for its differences, I decided to look at those sub groups of different or judged people in Kuwait. So I asked myself, what topic or situation is there the most controversy in Kuwait that leads to judgment and forming subgroups that go against the norm from the older generation, in this case “the others”. This led me to the concept of relationships/ marriage. As a Lebanese Kuwaiti born in Thailand with some Saudi Arabian, Egyptian, and Palestinian heritage, I never felt like I belonged to one country, nationality, or mentality. Growing up in Kuwait I witnessed how the traditional mentality lead to expectations and criteria that society needs to follow in order to be accepted by “the rest” (or those who have not been “othered”). I thought that it would be interesting to portray the most common different or unacceptable decisions that go against the norm regarding marriage or relationships that separates our community. This piece shows the reasons people are excluded and indirectly labeled as the “other” when it comes to marriage, and the different ways “the rest” of the Kuwaiti community judge them.
            Considering the visual style of “Orientalism” as well as my personal style in the arts, “The Other’s Other” photography series plays with exaggeration in its social satire or commentary on the Kuwaiti society to communicate a strong message about “othering”. The photographs were taken with a Canon D550 outdoors with natural light in a secluded and isolated area. Another consistent theme of my creative work other than exaggeration that I felt fit this project well is the use of mixed media, or specifically the use of text and image. After shooting, I added the layer of text into the images using Adobe Illustrator. Each sentence is written in the modern Arabic English keyboard in the Kuwaiti dialect and written from the voice of “the rest” of the Kuwaiti society who are judging these common unacceptable or different behaviors.  
            An artist who had an influence on this photographic series is Shirin Neshat. Shirin is an Iranian artist who works with photography, film, and video. The subject of her work reflect on the contrast between Islam and the West, femininity and masculinity, public life and private life, and antiquity and modernity. One of her specific photographic series photographed by Cynthia Preston that highly interested me is "Women of Allah". It examines the complexities of women’s identities in the Middle East as it is continuously changing. One of the obvious similarities between our works is the representation of Muslims in the modern world through photography. Another one is the use of text and image. I found the way Shirin Neshat merged text into the image very interesting. She overlapped the text on the women’s skin as if it were engraved or tattooed on.

            “The Other’s Other” communicates that  “othering” or judgment within a community only separates us. In an Islamic country or society one should not only put efforts in stressing globally that this is a religion that represents peace in order to deconstruct the stereotype of terrorism and violence; but more importantly it represents peace internally within the community. Peace is about non-violence as much as it is about the unity and brotherhood.

Works Cited

Chrabieh, Dr. Pamela. "What Is Orientalism?" MEST 329 Islamic Art and Architecture       (2016): 1. Print.

Chrabieh, Dr. Pamela. "Introduction to Islam and the Arts." MEST 329 Islamic Art and     Architecture (2016): 23. Print.

"Gladstone Gallery." Gladstone Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.

LeMoon, Kim. "Shirin Neshat." Signs Journal of Women in Culture and Society. N.p., 10   Oct. 2012. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

"Shirin Neshat." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.