The Beginnings of my Interfaith Dialogue

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This work came about while I was not only trying to bridge the gaps between myself and others from different religious backgrounds or positions but also to find the similarities between my past and my present. I truly strive to respect, honour and uphold the true morals and kindness we can find within one another no matter what religion, faith, or spiritual opinion may be of. I believe interfaith dialogue to be the key to our success in all aspects of life and I see it providing hope for those around us and the future generations of our children! Salaams, Peace, Shalom!

Nostalgia Continued

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These are more photos from the same sketchbook (2009/ 2010). I believe as an artist, writer or if you’re a dancer, animator, musician it is important to look back on those ideas we’ve had from before that might not have seemed like good or developed ideas and to reconsider them again. I don’t the bond between the things you imagine can ever be broken, sometimes these ideas just need time to mature!

Although these pages seem to not be connected, they have all sparked further ideas whether in writing or artistic projects I am currently working on or thinking about.

 

Nostalgia

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I am uploading some photos of pages found in my sketchbooks. This post is from the most recent completed sketchbook ie 2010. So below there is lots of sarcasm, imagination and attempts at finding joy!

Every Place But Here

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And there’s no room
left for anything,
but you inside
of me.

And the movement
disturbing the dead of night
calls out to what I’m doing,
who I’m doing, and how it’s being done

Flip flopping between tenses
while hip hopping, we can’t
help ourselves, there ain’t no stopping,
So       just        come        home.

No kisses,
but you, you travel down to me toes
finding every place
that he didn’t even know

you came into me
knowing my restraints
knowing my complaints
my secrets and sins

you came into me
disturbing the dead of night
brining forth the pale sight
a reflection you say, mimics the light of the moon

wrapped in one
one wrapped in two
with no room left
except for you and me

he finds his fingers
tip-toeing up my back
around to my neck
and down my front

the moments begin
to balance, begin
to silence, begin to
breath, begin to suffer, begin to heed

the moments
that disturbed the dead of night
no longer cuts into
her worship of the moon

but with its light
seeping into the pores
across her face
she does not forget.

Chicken Soup for the Revert’s Soul

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As I am a Muslim and I ask God to preserve my in this state of iman (faith) and thikr (rememberance) of Him, I have a story to tell that may not reflect the potential or beauty of the ummah (Muslim community).

Although I used to wear hijab for sometime and as may hijabis can attest, it can be an incredibly difficult act of faith no matter where one lives, I took it for granted that I was identifiably Muslim. I made the decision to remove my head scarf for many reasons I won’t discuss in this blog. Long story, short, I found myself in mid May looking in the bathroom mirror, hair no longer in a bun on top of my head without the promise of colourful fabrics soon to twist themselves around my face, ears, nape and neck before I walked out the door.

August 2011, Ramadan, commenced with a sincere du’a (prayer) to God asking Him to simplify my life so I could find rida (contentment in what has been given to you by God). During this Ramadan I attended a fundraiser dinner aimed at sending its proceeds to a Muslim country in need. I sat at a table waiting for a friend to join me when I was ubruptly interrupted while waiting to break the day’s fast.

Him ” Excuse me, could I ask you something?”

Me “Urmm… okay?”

Him “Since you’re obviously not Muslim, why are you here?”

Puzzled, I sat there wondering how to answer this question with class. My ears began to burn and I am sure I had that look on my face, inherited from my father -the one that says about 40 expletives before getting to how he really feels look. I am Muslim and I wanted to remember this while responding to him.

Me “I am Muslim”

Him “Oh, well then you must be a convert?!”

Although a lesson in social etiquette was necessary, I thought, I nodded a Yes hoping he would get the hint and move on… He proceeded to ask me about how I came to Islam, but I cut him off to ask why he assumed I wasn’t Muslim and how he would have dealt with me if I hadn’t been a Muslim… he didn’t answer. But I began to question what his assumptions could have been about me and how I may have appeared.

Are only Muslims considered charitable?
Are girls like me or dare I say “W.A.S.P.” not charitable? into this kind of thing? Conscious of the world around themselves?
Although this may seem harsh on the Lad, I was very upset at the assumptions. But this got me thinking about my intentions for why I am in solidarity for Palestine, freedom of any religious expression, my love of the Arab spring that had begun to influence the Youth around the world, those things I cherish and advocate for as a Global citizen.

My answer is this: I don’t need to be a Muslim, Arab, Black, Brown, Indigenous, Franco, Anglo, Chinese speaking to have a conscience. My understanding of Islam and my upbringing dictates that colour, age, race, gender doe not, should not and cannot matter when it comes to showing acts of solidarity. I refuse to believe that I am voiceless because of the actions my European ancestors initiated and facilitated  in places they thought they were “civilizing”. This is another form of oppression: rendering someone’s opinion and actions moot because of their origins, gender, skin colour or outward appearance of their faith. It is my sincere hope that we, not only Muslims but everyone, can encourage one another, dignify our thoughts and respect that not one of us can be fully represented as a unique individual standing before another stranger, assuming about them what they may indeed be assuming about you!

The Pilgrims and Almond Eyes Meet

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And Allah gave me the pilgrims. He placed them on the tips of my fingers and squeezed them out. I made them homes within the pages of a notebook, on cardboard allowing them to explore the soul that birthed them.

Now the almond eyes that have begun to wander into these pages walk with the pilgrims into the future. To the places my creativity can’t let me imagine and place themselves within the hoods of the travelers. They guide them in the direction towards the centre where everything can rest and everything is forgotten.

The Pilgrims, Their Homes and History

The kindness of the Almond Eyes have the Pilgrims surprise as my thoughts are fixated on their colour, and their gentle curves. The Pilgrims show no jealousy, but an understanding seems to prevail as they become partners on this journey, but they know how I feel. I wish for their home to be with me and to be with us the way they have met and guided the followers, but my inability to find myself in the right place and time . But does one amount this to the Most High, Gracious and Merciful taking something away in order to have something better. Will I still find my answers in the Pilgrims? Am I safe to let the Almond Eyes guide them?