Friday, May 20, 2016


By Esra AlHashimi

I am Esra AlHashmi, a 20 years old architecture student. Studying architecture for 3 years taught me that buildings are frozen periods of time in the form of an object because only through buildings that you can capture how people lived through history.  I would have loved to design a structure that would tell a story since I believe that architecture is another form of art but designing one would have taken a semester on its own. Since buildings tell stories and hold memories just like pictures; I have decided to use photography as a media to my project instead.

As for my art project, I have been inspired by Julien Breton, a french calligraphy artists that creates shapes choreographed with light sticks, to produce an artwork that combines both calligraphy and photography. Taking in granted the darkness of the night while using a high intensity light, like a flashlight for example, and a low shutter speed on the camera settings, we can guide the camera to focus on the only source of light which is in my case a white flashlight. Therefore, whatever kind of movement the light makes can be well captured by the camera. The artwork project resulted in a A3 size picture titled “Iktub” which means “write” in Arabic. The picture depicts faded strays of light looking more like a candle light spelling the word “Iqra’a” in Arabic meaning “read”, the evident message of the artwork. Between almost every other letter lies a shadow of a hand in the form of a writing position symbolizing the hidden message behind the artwork which is the concept of writing.

The word “Iqra’a” meaning “read” was the first word revealed to the Prophet Mohammad from the Quran. “Proclaim ( or Read) In the name of your Lord and Cherisher, Who created..” 96:1.
So the first word God sent to us in the form of a command was Read. As a result, I was wondering why was the first word is Read instead of Al Shahada, or the command of prayer or Hijab. Wouldn’t it make more sense? But God chose to unveil first the simple task of reading or gaining knowledge by reading, which are the vital keys to human development.

Did you know that the best and highest type of worship is by seeking knowledge.
“ Allah will raise up to ranks, those of you who believe and who been granted knowledge.” 58:11 Meaning, if you only read a book for the sake of getting information you are worshiping God. But if that is true, no Muslim should be ignorant. But are they?
This is why I chose to raise this issue in the artwork. Most Muslims are looked at nowadays as ignorant people. But why is that? If the first command unveiled was read. In addition to that, most of those Muslims who are educated do not read for the sake of gaining knowledge but only for the sake of going through what is in front of them. By that I mean, most of those young adults in colleges and universities do not read for educating themselves in a field other than their owns. They only go through what is assigned for them to read by their professors.

How can we read something that isn’t written? Which is the second hidden message of the artwork symbolized by the hand. There is a surah in Quran names “Al-Qalam” meaning “pen” of which God vows by the pen.
We can come to a conclusion that there is some kind of reference to the tool used to write and its impact on the human life.
Also, writing verses of Quran is a form of worship; like calligraphy for example; which is the writing style that inspired this project; yet it’s only an inspiration as I wasn’t able to master the style.

As a conclusion, I have combined these 2 concepts in order to convey that there is more to Islam than fasting and praying. Islam is a way of living and guidance to life.


"Knowledge and Action." Ahl AlQuran. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

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