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Of Bridging Gaps

October 29th, 2015

Version 2


The concept of the conflict between East and West has been presented to us many of the texts. The Saint’s Lamp, the Children of the Alley, Iqbal’s poetry, Ambiguous Adventures all deal with the popular notion that Islam is considered at odds with the West, or is incompatible with the ideals of the West. As we saw in the Saint’s Lamp as well as in the other texts, the one way to bridge this vacuum of misconception is through gaining knowledge. This also disproves the idea that Islam opposes the pursuit of science. In my piece, I have used the White House is used as a symbol that represents the West and the mosque is symbolic of Islam. The bridge has a symbol of ‘enlightenment’, not knowledge, and that distinction is very important to me. Enlightenment signifies a learning of sorts. On the West’s side, learning about Islam and dispelling the negative notions about it is contingent on the success of this bridging. On the side of Islam, a pursuit of knowledge should be a priority and learning the real essence of Islam that is absolutely compatible with progress and science.

Of Worldlessness

October 29th, 2015

IMG_7415 (1)

Learning about the spiritual aspect of Islam has been my favourite part of the seminar. The idea of spiritual uplifting involves a lessening of the self and distancing the self from the material world. However, many a times, as we saw in the Beggar’s Strike, this spirituality was misused for material gains. Again, we saw this in the Suns of Independence. However, we also had examples such as Haneen from the Wedding of Zein and Arafah, to some extent, from the Children of the Alley. Their spirituality was validated by their removedness from worldly things. Here, in my art, I have used a dervish because I love their message of give and take as represented by their hands and I have shown that the dervish has found an exit from the world by ways of his spiritual journey. And, indeed, it is a beautiful thing to remove yourself from a world that will otherwise consume you.

Of Silenced Sexuality

October 27th, 2015


In most of the areas we encountered thus far, some narrative of the female was ever present. The woman is presented as the impure, the deviant one. Eve was the one that provoked Adam. In the Children of the Alley, we see that this is portrayed by the wife of Adham in the Children of the Alley. Mahfouz, the author, tries to correct this interpretation through Adham’s admittance of the blame. The foundation of humankind is based on the idea that woman leads astray. How do we, then, even begin to think about the mutilation of women or rape (that we see in Suns of Independence), and the inheritance of wives as well the traditions of polygamy when the entity of woman is considered the one that causes sin, and therefore, sinful? Moving on to We Sinful Women, we have writers from Pakistan that discuss the same concept. This piece is mostly inspired by the Pakistani poetry by women that we read but applies to many of the other writings as well. It depicts the human body, of female gender, and the social interpretation of the parts of the body. I’m not saying the social stature of woman/women because it is important to note that the inherent differences emerge from difference in biology. But, why is that so important or sinful? Why must women cover their heads, why must there be excision, why must bare chests of women are an atrociously sinful sight while men can go around bare. Here, I am only trying to point out the differences. It is poignant that we think of these things. Because precedent entails, or religion prescribes are reasons not enough to satiate the mind. Many a times, we ended up concluding that somehow, somewhere along the way, the interpretation of women’s status in Islam became inundated with cultural practices and withered from its true approach of the position of women. If the female body is so sexualized, why must we undermine female sexuality? Yet, we see that happening. Even today, in Africa, excision as well as the ironing of breasts is a common practice. The ‘clitoris is impure, evil’ says Suns of Independence. Women sexuality is unalloyed and unacknowledged. In the poems of Fahmida Riaz, I received the greatest literary shock of my life to discover that women in Pakistan were addressing topics such as sexuality in their work. The uber strong poem, ‘Chador’, is a counter narrative to the covering of the female body. It reverses the argument and inflicts it on the enforcer. The Hudood Ordinance in Pakistan saw great detriment to the standing of women in society, but yet, we have women standing up and saying no to enforcement of anything. The art piece depicts the rejection of the female body in many cultures. The baring of legs and arms is an offense against God knows who. The rest of the body is sexualized to such an extent, and for such unnecessary purposes. The hair is also apparently a powerful sexual tool. Even the eyes are covered too in some cases. Yet, the female sexuality remains ignored. It is not a thing befitting women, but only men. God only knows why.

Of the Hijab-O-Meter

October 24th, 2015

IMG_8946In Persepolis, there were many instances where the main character or other girls were asked to ‘correct’ their Hijab. Countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia also specify a legal code for the Hijab. This made me think of what the hijab is judged against or how it is decided. Is there a Hijab-O-Meter that decides these things? Should anyone decide these things? What would the variations on it look like? Even after an approved state of the Hijab, are there degrees even after that to measure who’s hijab is better?




The title of this post is self explanatory. Selective presentation and selective interpretation can both lead to chaos; something that came up in the seminar recurrently. It is indispensable that we observe things in context, especially when it comes to written texts and the Quran is no exception. In this piece, I have shown the perils of selective portrayal. In one slide, one may assume Islam to be a barbaric religion while the other proves for it to be nothing but good. Both are misinterpretations for they lack balance and operate with the agenda of portraying Islam at either extreme.

Of Othered Voices

October 24th, 2015

I am the Other:
I have no voice.
Because kids don’t interfere,
When adults are talking,
Or when the adults decide,
Who dies tonight,
Miles, and miles, away,
Target locked;
Missile launched.

It is mostly the Other,
Who perishes under the weight,
For crimes he did not commit,
For death that was not sent for him,
But for someone else,
Who got instead to live.
From the sky i once loved,
The sky that now terrifies me.

I am the other.
And that makes me an enemy of people I’ve never met.
I don’t know who it is that wants us dead,
Because they never bring death themselves,
I am told I am not worth even that,
Only send it by way of the sky,
The sky i once loved,
The sky that now terrifies me,

I am the Other.
It is not by choice that I am,
I suppose I was born into it,
They say it’s just for the bad guys,
But my friend Aziz was always nice,
He let me share his toys,
After mine were destroyed,
When destruction came from the sky.
The sky i once loved,
The sky that now terrifies me.

I am the Other.
parents gone, and friends have left,
the sky is merciless.
I ask, O God, what is our fault,
Why the skies rain drones tonight,
And why death sent down to us,
From the sky I once loved,
The sky that now terrifies me.

“Drone, Drone”, the Others cry,
Muffled breaths, a smoke eclipse,
the moon of our hometown,
replaced by the stamp of death,
as the sky i once loved,
and the sky that now terrifies me,
turns into an enemy:
an enemy of the Other.





The first piece I read for this seminar, Following Muhammad, introduced me to an interesting concept of the ‘Other’. This concept became fundamental to our understanding of many aspects along the course of the semester. The theory, in my comprehension, relates to the need of one entity to have an ‘other’ present. The Other is someone that is different from you. Maybe the differences are of a harmless nature, but they are exaggerated to the extent where the Other becomes a scary, threatening entity. In this piece, I used that concept to internalize the thoughts/feelings of a child caught amidst drone attacks in Pakistan. The attacks have been going on for quite a long time without the government prioritizing the issue for whatever reason. It is unfortunate, and saddening, indeed to see the loss of innocent lives under the banner of eliminating enemies of peace. The contentions between the East and the West are ever present, and have become more of an assumed characteristic of the modern world, where, in reality, the contentions are empty sentences. This ‘Othering’ occurs on both ends and often leads to devastating results with uncalled warfare and fundamental misconceptions that start with religion and pervade an understanding of culture, customs, and traditions. The concept better helped me understand the strife between the East and West, but I felt as if the topic I chose to pen verses about is often lost amidst greater, more pressing problems. This is, for many, a small version of the Othering when compared to bigger giants such as ISIS and Boko Haram.

But, for me, it is a voice unheard.

A voice marginalized.

A voice othered.