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[Reflection] Kiran Ashraf on personal responsibility in creating a fair and just society

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Kiran Ashraf presents a personal account of spiritual inspiration on the importance of individual and collective duty in creating a fair and just society. In her piece she presents what inspired her to take action and calls on others to become aware of  their responsibility to help others.

“This country is a failure”

“I don’t know when the poverty around the world is coming to an end”

“It’s the fault of the rulers. Obviously they are the ones to correct things”

Sounds familiar?

Each and every one of us in our lifetime has either come across or ourselves have been caught uttering such hopelessness. We either blame the rulers, the system, some person and many of the times God as well for such misery surrounding us.

By no means I am suggesting that we are wrong in pointing out the faults of the ones responsible but the question remains that have we ever tried to correct the situations ourselves?

Have we ever even tried a little bit to come forward and take this responsibility on our very own shoulders? I don’t think most of us would be nodding their head in agreement right now.

To tell you the truth, I myself at one point in time was the same sort of a person who would just be critical about the circumstances around. I was circled by cruelty, bias, injustice and other malign practices and all I did was to sit at home and cringe about them.

The best I thought I could do on my part was to post about them on the internet because physically getting into the mess to clear it was nowhere near my mind; it was more of impossibility.

Then came the day when I heard a Hadith of Prophet Mohammed where he declared that, “Your leadership will be a reflection of you [the people].”

It literally shook me from inside.
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[Interview] Absar Kazmi on illustrating humorous comics with a thoughtful message and his take on social media

Artist Absar Kasmi
Talented artist Absar Kazmi

Equipped with a life-long passion for drawing, and an advocate for faith, moral and ethical issues, Absar Kazmi is founder and illustrator of a clever comic series: Life with the Ahmad Family. In the series he explores a variety of issues evident in Muslim societies, as well as stories and messages that appeal to people of all faiths, ages and backgrounds.

All this wrapped in an often times humorous package, Absar says he wanted to create something different with the Ahmad family: “I wanted to show that practicing Muslim families live real lives; no doubt prayer, fasting, reading Qur’an are all extremely important, but Muslims families also joke with one another, we play football, we go on picnics and we like reading regular books too!”

Absar was born in Pakistan, but spent lot of his youth traveling (and sketching) from country to country, from the animals in the wilderness safaris of Kenya to drawings of superheroes. However he soon gave this up, only to renew this passion in later years of university and married life. He then found a way he could sketch that was Islamically permissible and wanted to pursue both his passion for drawing and passion for his faith, “With the popularity of conventional comics and cartoons amongst the Muslim youth – it seemed that there was a real need for Islamically acceptable comics and other media for the youth” he says.

After a few creative pursuits, in late 2011 Absar was given a platform from Hiba Magazine to develop a cartoon for them to attract a wider audience, and thus Life with the Ahmad Family was born. Read my exclusive interview with Absar as he shares his interesting journey, his take on issues surrounding social media and technology, and even tips for the upcoming month of Ramadan.

How did ‘Life with the Ahmad Family’ come about? What led you to create this series, and why?

That’s an interesting story… About seven to eight years years ago while lying in bed trying to go to sleep I had an idea for a story about a boy who has a really bad day. Since I couldn’t go to sleep anyway, I began to type it out. His day starts out bad, gets worse; soon becomes awful, then horrible, and finally downright abominable! I called the story ‘A Bad Time Tale’ and I named the boy Jamal.

A short while later I heard about an international story writing competition to be held by a well-known Islamic books publishing company. I thought this is the perfect opportunity to see how my story does, so I fixed it up a bit and sent it in to the competition. Alhumdulillah, it won first place!

“I wanted to show that Muslim families also joke with one another, we play football, we go on picnics and we like reading regular books too!”

Now I really wanted to have my ‘book’ published; however, I thought to myself, ‘Why in the world would anyone want to read a children’s book by a completely unknown author?!’  So, I just sat on the idea for a few years… not really knowing how to take it further.

A few years later, in late 2011, Hiba Magazine approached me asking me to develop a character or cartoon for them in order to help them attract a younger audience. I agreed to help them, but didn’t really know where to begin. Then it dawned on me… This could be THE opportunity to introduce Jamal to the world. So I developed a comic about Jamal and his family and called it ‘Life with the Ahmad Family’. I was hoping that this comic would allow me to get people accustomed to the Ahmad Family and then soon I could also introduce ‘A Bad-Time Tale’ to this new audience.

Image from Jamal's Bad-Time Tale
Image from Jamal’s Bad-Time Tale

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Announcing: Get a Free copy of our next book on Rumi!

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Yes, you’ve heard it right! How will I get a free copy of  Sufi Comics: Rumi book, I hear you ask?

You’ve been enjoying updates on Sufi Comics – Rumi, you’ll know that the journey and process of creating the book has been an exciting and an a fruitful one to say the least!

So far in our updates we’ve revealed to you:

  • Behind the Scene Sketches
  • Process Thumbnails to illustrations
  • Excerpt of a story
  • Interview with the Artists & Authors
  • Designing the cover page illustration

We’ve  completed around 70% of the book, which will go to print this August with the official launch in September.

There is an exciting opportunity for interested readers like yourself to join an “early-bird” Pre Launch list.

Before the book is released to the public, a digital version of the book will be made available to read online exclusively to those on the list.

That’s not all. Get 1 Copy Free!

By joining the Pre-Launch list, not only would you be the first to read the book, as a special gift you could receive 1 signed physical copy of the book anywhere in the World!

This offer is now closed

Thank you to all you who’ve participated! You still view 3 chapters from the book for free.

Click here to view 3 Chapters from the book

 

Making the Cover Page for Rumi Book. What? How? and Why?

So far in our behind the scenes journey you’ve viewed snippets of the final pages, met multi-faceted researcher and member of the team Tanzil Rahman, and explored the process of selecting and illustrating the comics. What to explore now?

Yes the wait is over. It is time now to reveal to you the illustration of the cover page!

For this I delve into the creative mind of Rahil Mohsin to uncover the inspiration, symbolism and process behind the design of the cover page. I ask Rahil to share some of his artistic imagination and talent with us by revealing the illustration, the process of creating it, and the inspiration behind it.

As always, the posts would not be complete without the sneak peeks just for you – so scroll down and enjoy as Rahil reveals all this: what, how and why?

What is the process of creating the illustration? Can you share with us the rough/draft sketches?

Much to the chagrin of a lot of people I know, I am a purist. Most of my artworks, including the ones I’d done for Wise Fool of Baghdad and more recently, Rumi, are done by hand. Which means, the process of making an artwork is slower compared to work on a digital software (with all its fancy tools). That, and a mild doze of OCD. The processes I am talking about are the penciling and the inking stages (inside the book). Ali Bhai and Gaffur bhai bring life into the otherwise mundane and achromatic artwork by adding colours to them.

While I’ve vehemently professed my love to the process that gets my hands stained with graphite and blackened by ink, there are
however a few shortcomings when these hand-made art works are printed.

Even if a small part of the said artwork is neglected (inspite of the OCD) and printed right away, the flaw, however small will stand out and ruin the artwork. I did not want to take such a huge risk while designing the cover page.

I initially made a rough sketch of what I’d in my mind on a sheet of paper. Given below is a scanned copy of the sketch.

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