What would it look like to depict Muslim women differently from the stereotypical exotic other?
About the Images
Modern treatment of Muslim subject matter in art and media is closely tied to the political and religious controversy that seems to be pervasive in these “exotic” countries of the East. While much of the conflict is real, oftentimes, visual media and “Muslim art” do nothing to lessen the perception of all Muslims as exotic, “other,” and entirely homogenous. Truly, much art and writing relies on the juxtaposition of the traditional and the taboo within Islam - emphasizing that the East is in exact opposition to the West.
About the Artist
A first generation Pakistani-American woman, I was confronted by my “otherness” from a very young age, being a token of diversity at my private school in North Carolina. As a brown-skinned, big-haired, mosque-going, curry-eating, mustached girl who couldn’t date, eat bacon, or wear shorts, I was the token of diversity at my private school in North Carolina. I envied my blue-eyed, blonde-haired, pop-collared, seer-suckered, church-going peers who vacationed on islands. I assumed that these were the sorts of things that really mattered.For years, I tortured myself trying to blend in, trying to stand out, trying to “find myself” within these little boxes. But it’s impossible. Instead, I make art that is, I hope, less categorized and reductive, reflecting that the boundaries we create between us and inside of us are, in fact, an illusion. So my work is not so much about defining Muslim women, or anyone, but undefining them. About undefining ourselves and connecting to that universal something that exists within all of us. That “something of the eternal.” As I move forward, I am attempting to show this universal something through an increasingly emphasized combination of geometric and organic design, communicating meaning through the use of these flat forms. I feel that this is a further exploration of my heritage, incorporating Islamic art’s emphasis on geometric pattern with the colorful, flowering, curled lines of South Asia, balanced and integrated within a contemporary American context. View Saba's featured content piece, "An-Noor" and visit her website at: www.artbysaba.com
The International Museum of Women asked women around the globe: What does it mean to you to be a Muslim woman today? The museum's online exhibition offers a large and continuously expanding collection of Muslima Stories in words and images. Above and below we offer a small sample, hoping you will go and enjoy the many rich offerings at www.muslima.imow.org. There are so many stories being told, some happy and some sad, some faithful and some doubtful, each unique.
Why feature this work on this website?
Those of us in the JJB community agree with Sarah Drake in the image above. For us, faith in the One in whom we live and move and have our being can be lovingly expressed in artwork. And we believe that pain and sorrow, which are part of faith, can also be lovingly expressed in artwork. We also recognize that the differences in the world, when freed from stereotypes, make the whole of the world richer. The better part of the future lies in the self-empowerment of women all over the world, so that they -- we -- can work together to help create communities that are creative, compassionate, equitable, respectful of diversity, ecologically wise, and spiritually satisfying, with no one left behind. For some of us the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead can be especially helpful in articulating a relational view of the world, amid which differences and similarities are respected, creativity nourished, so that justice can be realized. The value of Whitehead's philosophy is that, in combination with many other factors, it can help us have wide minds and generous hearts, filled with kindness and creativity. One of our authors in Ecuador, Patricia Adams Farmer, calls them Fat Souls. If you are interested in Whitehead's philosophy in relation to Islam, or in the idea of a Fat Soul, you might also enjoy the articles below:
Yes to Similarities and Differences: A Whiteheadian Approach
Muhammad Iqbal and Whitehead
The Holy Qur'an: Oubai Elkerdi
The Coming Arab Renaissance
The Spirit of Process Theology among Women in Saudi Arabia
Faith and Innovation:The Female Entrepreneur in Saudi Arabia
Muslim Women in China and Female Imams, Too
A Whiteheadian Appreciation of Islam
Hip Hop Hijabi
Rumi and Hartshorne
Dhikr and Process Theology
About the Film
Ennem is a monologue recounting the events before and after the death of my grandmother. Grief in a cross-cultural point of view is explored and how time and distance affect the realization and acceptance of loss.
About the Filmmaker
About the Artwork and the Artist Above