Have you ever found yourself taking for granted the simple blessings in life? Sufficient food, clean water, education, or even a roof over our heads. The month of Ramadan was a month to rethink, revalue and reflect on one’s blessings. As we bid farewell to the month of Ramadan for another year, Eman Eid reflects on these blessings in life and what we can learn from the challenges we face.
This Sufi Comic: The Headache, made me realize how great our life really is. It describes how a man has a bad headache and how he questions why God has done this to him. But what he doesn’t take into consideration is how God has kept him well for 30 years, still he hasn’t thanked Him for doing so. Instead the man complains rather than thanking God for all He does for him.
In today’s society we are often blinded by other peoples luxuries that we cannot see and be thankful for what we have. We complain over small things when others would kill to live the way we do. We complain because we don’t have the best clothes, yummiest food, or even that we might have the most homework. What we don’t realize is that some people are less fortunate than we are and might not even have clothes on their back, or food to eat, or even a book to read. We are showered with treasures and only crave more.
How foolish we are that we complain and never even stop to think that we have it all and should be thankful for all we have. God has given us so much and if only we can realize that He does what He does for the benefit of us. We might go through situations that seem unfair and we ask God why has He done this to us but it is actually to cure us. Read more
On September 30 1207 a boy was born to Bahā ud-Dīn Walad and Mu’mina Khātūn, in the City of Balkh in Afghanistan.
Little did they know what extraordinary and influential personality, the boy would grow up to be.
There is no question that Rumi has inspired and influenced millions of people across the world with his spiritual legacy. His writings about the spiritual journey have resonated with people from all walks of life, transcending national, cultural and ethnic borders.
But how did Rumi become Rumi? What were the events in his life that caused an out pour of such spiritual wisdom?
We didn’t just want to include Rumi’s poems in the book, but also introduce his renowned character behind the universal pearls of wisdom.
Below you can find out the answers by reading his story in thumbnails.
The final artwork will be in the book. Do let us know what you think!
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”
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].”
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.
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.
Sometimes when I’m set to begin a task my mind races with other things and it can be hard to focus. What’s more with the distractions from technology to social media, it can be quite challenging to ensure and maintain the most productive, focussed and even spiritual state of mind.
So when I was introduced to the talented sister Nur Fadhilah Wahid and came across all her creative projects, not only was I impressed with her passion for life and learning, but also her great ability to consistently strive to stay focused, productive and inspired!
Nur is currently at university studying a bachelors degree in Communications (with a minor in Islamic knowledge). From articles on staying productive and focussed, to interesting stories and theories, she finds writing to be the most effective way of expressing her faith: “I read a lot, I think a lot, and I reflect a lot, and I guess writing just becomes a natural way for me to express my faith.”
Her passion for inspiring and helping others reach their potential in all aspects of life led her to conduct a ‘Deans List Podcast’ “to inspire students to achieve As in both Dean and Deen (faith).” These consist of interviews with top dean’s list students from various schools in the International Islamic University of Malaysia. In these interviews she digs out their stories, finds out what inspires them, what failures they have gone through, and more. Nur says: “One of my best interviews is with a sister from Kyrgyzstan, sis Bermet, who made me cry on air!” To find out why be sure to keep reading.
In my interview with the talented sister Nur she shares her useful tips, everything from overcoming writers block to finding inspiration. You don’t just have to be an (aspiring) writer, blogger, or radio producer to find this interview useful. Continue reading for inspiration on living a productive, healthy and spiritual lifestyle and more!
How do you stay productive & motivated during the day? What tips can you share?
“I live and breathe the simplest and yet most overlooked productivity tip: begin your day with a great morning routine.
The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said in a hadith that the blessings are in the mornings, and nothing can be further from the truth. By beginning your morning a certain way, you are essentially setting the tone of your entire day.
If you are finding it hard to wake up early, in this article, I share 5 tips I implement in my life so that I can begin my day right and be productive and motivated throughout the entire day.”
What’s the secret to balancing your time with your projects?
“I’ve only recently discovered that the secret to balancing time with my different projects is to say “no” to projects that matter less.
By saying “yes” to all the projects that came my way, I drove myself to exhaustion, took longer to complete my daily responsibilities, and lost my heart for each project somewhere along the way. My time for work slowly devoured my time for spiritual activities, relationships, and my personal time to indulge in creative pursuits.
“My smart phone is silent throughout the day, enabling me to concentrate on the task at hand or situation I am in without any disruptions to my focus – to be in flow and to be mindful.”
So how do I know which projects to say no to? I ask myself these questions, in order:
(i) How many projects do I have on my plate right now? Do I have enough time to take on another project without sacrificing my spiritual/relationships/creative pursuits?
(ii) Will doing the project benefit others, and thus make me happy?
(iii) How do I stand to benefit and grow by taking on this project? Will the experience / knowledge / financial gains be worth investing the time?
If my answer to any of the above question is a “no”, then I say “no” to the project. This way, I get to eliminate lots of projects that come my way, and focus only on those that matter. Balancing my time between projects thus becomes easy when I have only the important, most beneficial projects, to dedicate my time to.” Read more
This post is by one of our readers, Maya Hussein. Inspired by spiritual readings and the Sufi Comic above, she explores the concept of the lower self and asks these vital questions: what does it mean exactly? How do you master the self? Her reflection leads to an insightful conclusion about using our bodies for a higher purpose and re-examining the actions we do to strive to reach a higher-self.
I have always been fascinated by the concept of the annihilation of the lower self, or nafs. What does it mean exactly? Does it mean that we don’t follow our desires when they contradict Islamic law? Does it mean that we deny ourselves all enjoyment? How far does it go?
Imam Ali (a) has said many, many things about this subject among his spiritual writings, which is one of the reasons that almost every Sufi school of thought is traced back to him. The mastery of the self is a fundamental part of Islamic spirituality, and a part of every other spiritual tradition. One quote that I feel gives some perspective on the nafs is from his sermon describing the God-conscious: “He killed his nafs and enlivened his heart.” So the heart and nafs also have an inverse relationship. Feeling is enhanced when the lower self is diminished. Our senses are given to us by our Creator, but their purpose doesn’t lie in their fulfillment.
A profound spiritual text suggests:
If we reflect in a rational manner for a moment, we shall realize that the aim of imparting to us all these graces and endowments is something else, superior to and higher than what is visible. This world is a stage of action and its aim is a higher and more sublime sphere of existence. This lower and animal existence is not an end in itself. Read more
Introduced in January 2011, Buraaq emerged on the scene as the new and unique Muslim superhero, ready to counteract negative perceptions of Muslims and make the world a better place.
Buraaq is “Yusuf Abdallah” a regular guy who happens to be practicing Muslim. From his mission to tackle injustice in the world, his role as director of a large relief organisation, to his ability to fly, Buraaq does not fall short of incredible abilities and fascinating adventures.
So as the first ever Muslim Superhero by Muslim artists, how is Buraaq making his mark in the entertainment/news industry?
I talk with talented co-founder and artist Adil Imtiaz, to answer all your burning questions. Adil’s life-long fascination in comic books and art, as well as witnessing negative portrayal of Islam/Muslims in the entertainment industry, triggered his inspiration to create Buraaq. Read on as he reveals the ultimate goal of his work, intriguing insights, plus exclusive secrets about seeing Buraaq on the big screen!
Tell us a few interesting facts about yourself? What are you passionate about?
“I’ve always enjoyed sketching and drawing. Especially comic book characters. Even as a kid in 5th grade, I used to draw my own stories and characters. Just a natural passion.
As a matter of fact, back then, I had drawn over 20 issues of a superhero series in a period of a few years. These were stories drawn on simple notebooks, and each notebook was an issue/episode.”
What inspired you to create Buraaq and why?
“Over the past few years, Kamil and I began to realize that the Muslim world did not have an alternative to the secular narrative and heroes produced by the entertainment industry.
In addition to that, there was a growing pattern in the mainstream media of portraying Islam and Muslims in a negative light. We thought there was a need to counter this, and the best way was to use our God given skills.” Read more
Hands up if you have heard about The Wise Fool of Baghdad?
It is the second book from Sufi Studios containing a wonderful collection of amusing and insightful stories from the life of Bahlool Dana.
For the first time, the book is available on Amazon Kindle, and you can get it for free!
A quick favour
If you liked the book, it would be great if you could drop in a review on Amazon.com page. In today’s “recommendation age”, online reviews really help in spreading the word! The offer is available till 14th April 2014 – so grab it as soon as you can!
More about the book
The book is richly illustrated in the Turkish-Iranian miniature style, and each story followed by sacred verses of the Quran and traditional sayings inscribed in Arabic By Muqtar Ahmed, one of India’s finest Islamic calligraphers.
One of our readers shared this feedback after reading the book:
“For those of us who have been brought up hearing the wonderful stories of Bahlool’s wisdom, this book truly brings them to life in a way unlike ever before. And for those who have not yet heard, trust me you are in for a treat. Reflect on what is inside, and I promise you, you will never think the same way again.“
Check out some eye-catching snippets of the book here. What do you think?
Spreading the word
It would be great if you can forward, email, tweet or Facebook this amazon.com link so that your friends & family can also benefit from this offer.
Have you read and enjoyed the book already? Do drop a quick review and let us know what you think.
This offer ends on the 14th April 2014. Don’t miss out and get reviewing!
Thanks for your support! Till next time- keep smiling 🙂