Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Artistic Jihad Art Exhibition

Today was the exhibition for the 'Artistic Jihad competition at St Martins Art  Design College in London. The competition was launched a couple of months ago and was open to all students (or graduates up to 3yrs) in the UK and Ireland. You had to send in a picture of your artwork (or the work itself), the art was to be different to the traditional Islamic Art, and different they were. SubhanAllah the pieces were AMAZING mashaAllah, congratulations to all the winners of the competition!

There was a brilliant talk by sister Sara Joseph editor of Emel magazine as well as a brother from FOSIS (Federation of Islamic societies) and the team leader of Artistic Jihad.

My friend and I made our way to the exhibition from Uni (which was quicker than we expected) so we got there early. We walked in and asked the security guard how to get to the exhibition and he asked for ID (it was open to the public -_- ) and when we explained that we're not students of St Martin’s he looked a bit confused but said he'd let us go through and explained (in a very looong roundabout way) how to get there, when he could have just said ' Follow the signs' . We figured he just wanted us to think he was doing us a favour and maybe he'll do that with everyone lol. We followed the signs, up some stairs and then down some stairs, through narrow corridors until we got to the exhibition, it felt like a little treasure hunt (= oh the suspense and anticipation of seeing some genius pieces of Islamic art (ok so it wasn't that dramatic especially because we were too early and they were still setting up =S )

Anyway, I took some pictures of the artwork on display (although the pictures are not great =S ) I will try to explain a bit about the art from what I can remember inshaAllah. To see the picture bigger click on it.

This first piece I looked at was indeed very intricate and beautifully made, but I didn’t really understand it, (I did think it looked a bit like something out of transformers) but it is supposed to be the infusion of technology and humanity in the modern world (or something along those lines)

Next was this piece of Arabic & Hebrew scripture, it is talking about the life of Musa AS (Moses pbuh) and is to show the importance he has in the Quran and in the Bible.

This artwork was made from ceramics (to be honest I didn’t read the description) but to me it looks like figurines of Afghan women (due to the traditional blue burqa’s worn by women in Afghanistan) I’m not sure how clearly you can see it but there are some beautiful floral patterns on the sculptures. I think I can get in touch with the artist that made this and if I do I’ll get an explanation of what this piece is supposed to be about inshaAllah.

This next piece is made up of different sized floral patterns and is supposed to show a bigger picture when you look at it from far. I stared at this one for absolutely ages! And still couldn’t figure it out, but I heard a woman behind me say she can see a mother and baby...hmmm what do you think?

This photograph is of an early morning sky and pier in some part of the UK can’t really remember where it was, but SubhanAllah it’s beautiful, I just love the colour and how the sea looks like it goes on forever.

This next piece was soooo pretty! You have to see it in person to get a true feel of this piece because it has many different materials that were used to make it. I’ve included a description of this piece because it had a lovely poem to accompany it.

This set of 4 photographs speak 4 million words (= Islam and its art in your everyday life.

This is piece is batik on fabric; the vibrant colours do really stand out. It’s bright, bold and colourful, reminds me of the traditional clothing and head wrap worn by African women.

This next piece was carved out of natural wood. I’ve included the description for this one so that you can read how meaningful the art really is.

I can’t really remember what this one was about, but it does look brilliant mA. I love the texture created in the picture. I’m guessing it has some verses of the Quran written on it as well.

This is a photograph of a young boy in Lahore (Pakistan) the photographer explains that he was fiddling with his camera and so into taking pictures of everything around him, when he saw this young boy looking at him, this picture speaks a thousand words, his simplicity and innocence mA is just so beautiful.

For all of you that know sister Farah form Farah Visual Arts (facebook page) will have seen this amazing trio. We’re so happy for you sis, you definitely deserved to be amongst the winners. Sister Farah explained her work in an interview iHijabi did a couple of weeks ago, to read that interview click here.

This is a spectacular piece made using spray cans. It is an image of yin yang with two aerosols in the centre with the words hayaat (life) and maut (death) written on the cans. Without one there cannot be the other, life cannot be without death just as death cannot come without life.

This set of photographs is to represent the issue of niqaab especially in the media and the negativity towards is. It represents the struggle women who wear it face. (Apologies for the flash).

I don’t really know what this piece is about, (my friend seems to think it has an illuminatiness about it lol, I don’t know if I really believe all the illuminati stuff [maybe to some extent] but we both agreed it’d be scary to have that in a bedroom with images of all those heads with hair and no faces) I can tell it took ages, you have to look really closely to see how much effort went into this one.

This is supposed to be a jilbab made out of newspapers to represent the negativity women who wear it face. I’ve included a description because it explains it quite well.

This is a chair. With Islamic patterns on it. ‘?’

So that's it, what did you think of all the art? Will this encourage you to take part in more Islamic Art?
Leave your feedback below inshaAllah!

If you would like to see a picture in more detail e-mail ihijabi@gmail.com and I’ll send you the big version.


  1. as salaam alaikum. hi im the artist who made the blue figurines. thanks fot taking a picture of my work, put a big smile on my face. alhamdulillah. there is some nice artwork there masha allah.

    was there not a little description near my work explaining what it was about??? hrm strange anyways. heres the statement for it:

    Title: Womanhood, modesty, community & reflection

    My spiritual journey to Islam has inspired my latest creative works. I wanted to visually portray my Reversion in a sequence for people to see and more importantly, for me to step back and understand. The idea of a welcoming infiltration running through each figure symbolizes how Islam as a religion and way of life, has worked its way into me, gradually over time.
    My interest with the human form has been combined with my new experiences as a Muslim to produce notions of womanhood, modesty, community and reflection. It has also been the main focus of research for this body of work. The challenge I faced has been aimed at making my figurative work permissible. My early research was based on finding out what was allowed and how to work around it to still produce figurative final pieces. I have just used the gesture of clothing to suggest the figure, but in fact the figure is absent.

    The blue colour is homage to my Muslim sisters in Afghanistan who wear the blue burqa.
    The Handwritten engraved sentences on them are from my diary of personal quotations of what I’ve felt, what I feel and what Islam positively advises.

    The negative offensive statements that are on the pieces, “Oi Ninja”, “get off the bus” and “paki” are the some of the things i have been called due to fact of being a Muslim and wearing Islamic dress.

    The pieces are placed in a circle looking outward representing community and unity within Islam. But also protecting what we all hold dear our deen (Islam).

    The gold leaf inside them is highly symbolic of my spiritual awakening.


  2. JazkAllahu khairan sister for that beautiful description. It might have had a description but I don't think I read it.

    Your work is so inspiring and truley amazing MashaAllah, May Allah bless you and grant you eternal bliss in Jannah.

  3. That was an awesome opening night! My sister sofia displayed her colourful batik! :-)

  4. Yes it was! mashaAllah and congrats to your sister, you must be so proud of her (=

    It'd be good if you can get your sister to write a description of her work and post it here so people know what the piece is about as I didn't take a picture of the description.

  5. Salaams,
    my name is Juma Harding- Dimmock Jzk for putting my work on your blog but, you have totally misunderstood the picture and have misrepresented the meaning. In my description it states

    “I have begun to explore different forms of geometry, landscape drawing and an exploration of hijabs being a substitute for the figure.”

    the structure of the picture is based on sacred geometry and this form of geometry is found within Islamic architecture and has been throughout history, although there is clearly a triangle but this shape cannot help what conations come with it, the triangle is a symbol for humans, the circle for heavens and the square for earth, within these shapes I have drawn a satellite picture, trees, foliage, and a cluster of hijabs, it states

    “It was important to me to understand the role that the woman plays within the Islam, the power and wisdom that comes from these women is immense, and although one may look at a woman in a hijab and think that they are all the same, they are far from the truth the individuality in how she wraps her scarf around her head is so unique but more importantly it is a personal act of worship and submission to Allah (SWT).”

    I stay away from drawing faces, this may seem like a ‘foreign’ concept to some people, however, as this is an area that I have researched for quite some time, and is a very grey area in Islam, thus I believe it’s best to be avoided.

    My work has been referred to as “scary” before and ‘dark’ however there is a beautiful meaning behind it and that it IS called

    Ba'eidan an Al-dalam
    Out of the darkness

    One more thing, would be great if you attributed the work to the artists so it gives them a chance to further explain what ‘their true meaning’ of their work is.

    Jzk , and inshallah you get this in good health.


    My e-mail is –

    if yourself or anyone has any questions about my work.

  6. Jzk for the description, mashAllah it's a very deep explanation and I would have totally never understood it without it =O

    I get the thing about drawing faces not being permissible in Islam.

    I didn't actually take down the names of the artists (not all of them anyway) but if any of the artists are reading this do post an explanation about your piece inshaAllah, it's great to hear what the artists have to say about their work.

    Again Jzk for the reply, May Allah swt bless you in your work and bring you great success through it =D


  7. Salaam did you get my comment?
    I painted gild the lily posted it up yesterday ? Bushra

  8. Wsalaam sis, I didn't receive it, please re-post that comment inshaAllah (=

  9. Ok well it just said what a great event and opportunity artistic Jihad is for all aspiring artists.

    JazakAllahkhair for posting my art work up :) However, each artist should begiven some sort of recognition. It would have been nice if you had added a watermark with their name on the photo. Also, please don't send copies of my art work to anyone.

    Jzk Bushra Abdulrahman

  10. Sister you do realise your work is in an exhibition for the public to go and see and for anyone to take pictures of, it will also be travelling around the UK. I mean yours was one that I did actually take a picture of the name and description.

    To be honest I didn't read all the descriptions and I didn't write all the names of the artists. The blog post is covering the competition, event and my thoughts & opinions of the art.

    The artists are more than welcome to comment and let us know which is their piece and talk a little more about it, I don't know what more you'd like me to do? =S

    The post clearly states these are the pieces that won the artistic jihad competition, which is why it has the artistic jihad watermark, the iHijabi watermark is just for who took the actual photogragh of the work, if someone requests a bigger version it wont have any watermarks on it and is purely for those who want to see the pieces more clearly but could not attend the event so I really don't see what the problem is =S sorry.

  11. Wasalaam, Purely for copyright reasons.

  12. Salam jzkAllah for posting my work,

    My piece was that Titled Saad, and yes you are correct, my piece is of the 38th chapter of the holy quran title 'Saad'. Ive added 6 verses of this chapter around the main focal letter which serve as an invitation for people to ponder and reflect on. Whilst the surrounding floral designs are inspired from a british artist. This has been my humble attempt in incorporating a traditional islamic art form (calligraphy) with something that is traditionally non-islamic in order to reflect the complementary relationships these 2 identities can have as opposed to a conflicting one in order to produce something beautiful. I see this as representing the beautiful contrast between carrying a muslim and british identity but which can be truly inspiring at the same time rather than clashing. Ive used various techniques to produce the textured effects, but i think ill keep these to myself and keep you guys guessing :P

    Marwa Al-Najjar


  13. Wsalaam jzk for the explanation, It's really amazing to read what the artists say about their pieces it makes you look at the art in a way that you may not have seen it. The textured part in the background to me looks like you used tea/coffee and cling-film, mA great piece of art! =D