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Creative Exploration

Islam Through Art

Islamic Mosque Décor

Filed under: Uncategorized — sgee at 8:30 am on Tuesday, March 22, 2016


For this post, I chose to focus on the theme of arts in mosques discussed in week 6. I chose to color in a design I found on online that resembled what I thought could be considered Islamic art from Frishmann and Khan’s, The Mosque, and the film, Islamic Art: Mirror of an Invisible World. The piece that I found had elements of “arabesque” with the overall flower and leaves design. It also had elements of geometry as the piece is symmetric along multiple axes and the pattern was created with multiple repeating shapes. As my hand got tired while coloring these shapes, I realized that this geometry can go on for infinity just like the reach of God. I chose to color with marker because the color comes out brighter with marker than color pencils or crayons, and I thought that a piece that would be in a mosque should be decorated in vibrant and attractive colors considering that Islamic art is viewed as highly decorative.

Through coloring this design, I also tried to engage with the debate between Necipoglu and Nasr on Islamic art. I certainly felt that even though this piece was purely geometric, it felt like I was creating art and being artistic. Through this experience I would have to agree with Nasr’s view on Islamic art. Nasr argues that there is an Islamic soul and spirituality behind the art is what makes it Islamic art. There is an inner meaning associated with Islamic art that would not be understood if one were not Islamic. Through this week’s project, though I felt like I was creating art, I did not feel like my art was Islamic. I did not have the divine driving force that overwhelmed me to make it seem like I was creating an artwork that made it distinctive from any other patterned design. Thus, while I feel like it is important to recognize the reflection of changes in Islamic cultures and societies over time influences the art produced by Muslims at that time period, as argued by Necipoglu, I think what makes art Islamic is the spiritual guidance one obtains when making the art.

External Rules of Quran Recitation for kids

Filed under: Uncategorized — sgee at 8:27 am on Tuesday, March 22, 2016

IMG_20160322_084924 IMG_20160322_084943 IMG_20160322_084956


I chose to reflect on the theme of Quran as God’s sacred sounds and the importance of recitation in Islamic culture in week 3. Particularly, I chose to focus on the reading from Ghazali, “External Rules of Qur’an Recitation.” Ghazali looks at Quran recitation through a legalistic lens rather than a mystic lens, which is different from the other readings for this week. For example, in “The Sound of the Divine in Daily Life,” Nelson explains that the Quran is “the miracle of Muhammad’s prophethood,” its sounds transcend the words, and it reflects the divine “moment of revelation”. These descriptions are similar to other author’s portrayals of the feelings one gets while listening to the Quran. Ghazali on the other hand systematically broke down the exact posture, the pace of reading, the state of the reciter, and more, rather than focus on the mystic powers of the Quran. Because it was so different, Ghazali’s text stood out to me.

For my artistic creation, I made a cartoon for each of the ten rules Ghazali proposed in his work, and switched the audience from adults to children. I got the idea to make it a guide for kids from his ranking system of what was the best, praiseworthy, or just okay. This seemed like it could be used to teach a lesson to a child. The cartoons were meant to be simple and easy to understand by looking at them. They could be put together in a booklet to be given to a child who is starting to read the Quran.

The Quran and Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — sgee at 8:24 am on Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Quran and Me (Haikus)


On my mother’s lap

I repeat the sounds Bismil

I was five years old


Her warmth was traded

For the cold madrasa, whack

I was nine years old


A deep connection

Formed for the text out of love

For god and his words


I begin to ponder

But others passively read

As adolescence


Be patient and read

With discontent in present

I was now older


With time the meaning

Changes, a timeless book with

A meaning in time


For week 2, I was really attracted to Reading the Qur’an by Ziauddin Sardar because it gave me a personal perspective of what it meant to be a Muslim and read the Quran. Author explains his process of learning the Quran from when he was little to him as an academic, and I try to reflect his thoughts with haikus. Each stanza represents a different time period in his life. From the beginning he has a deep love for the sacred text from the experience with his mother, though he does not completely understand the meaning of the words. This love for the text is still present even though he begins to go to religious schools, where the madrasas are not as personable. He also states that as people get older they read the Quran passively just to perform the act of devotion, but that’s not understanding. He says that a “complex text such as the Quran requires patience, and reveals and unfolds itself with multiple readings, diligent scrutiny and continuous and constant contemplation.” Thus with time, his views and understandings of the passages of the Quran change. Different life experiences that cause discontent with the present will also influence the how someone interprets the verses, and that is why the book has meaning in time.

This was a great read for me as this is the first time I’ve had engagement with religion. I really love that something you’ve been around since you were young can develop with you as you grow and change. Even though the relationship you have to the meaning changes, the deep connection and love that blossomed from childhood can still underlying the study of your religion. I can’t think of anything else that can transcend through time and the life of a person other than religion. From this week, it seems that the construction of Islam and Muslim culture begins from a time when someone is very young and it persist throughout adulthood. The Quran was designed to grow with the person and be more complicated in layers as the person learns more of the verses. It is really interesting that this was built into the structure of the Quran.

Hello world!

Filed under: Uncategorized — sgee at 11:08 pm on Monday, March 21, 2016

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