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“Burn me in Hell…” – Rabia al Basri

Rabia's Prayer_colored resized for upload

We have done a couple of comics of Rabia Basri.  One’s titled The Headache and the other is Walking on Water.  Here’s yet another Sufi Comic dedicated to this spiritual lady.  She is an inspiring personality in Islamic history.  Here’s a brief excerpt from her life from the book Destiny Disrupted:

 

“In Basra, lived the poet Rabia Al Basri, whose life is now laced with legend.  As a little girl, she had been traveling somewhere with her family when bandits hit the caravan.  They killed her parents and sold Rabia into slavery.  That’s how she ended up in Basra as a slave in some rich man’s household.  Her master, the stories say, kept noticing a luminous spirituality about her that made him wonder…

One night, when she was lost in prayer, he observed a halo surrounding her body.  It struck him suddenly that he had a saint living in his house, and awe took hold of him.  he set Rabia free and pledged to arrange a good marriage for her.  He would get her connected to one of the best families in the city, he vowed.  She had only to name the man she wanted to marry, and he would upon up negotiations at once.

But Rabia said she could not marry any man, for she was already in love.
“In love?” gasped her recent master.  “With whom?”
“With Allah!” And she began to pour forth poetry of such rapturous passion that her former owner became her first and lifelong disciple.”

 

The above prayer is perhaps inspired from a similar prayer by Imam Ali (as).

 

[Interview] Umm Sultan on creating ‘Sketchy Muslims’ and the art and benefits of sketchnoting

Sketchy Muslims

While written notes can form a good reference in various situations, the art of sketch noting has increased in popularity in recent years. Combined with its visual appeal and informative content, to being the first online space for “sketchnoters” in the Islamic community, Sketchy Muslims is definitely one interesting platform that stands out in developing and popularizing this creative art form.

Developed in 2013 by Umm Sultan, Sketchy Muslims is an online space where its founder and other “Sketchy Muslims”, create and share everything from Islamic lectures and events to personal enrichment and general advice.

I talk to Umm Sultan: sketch noter, idea-junkie and “aspiring mumpreneaur”, about what triggered her interest in becoming a sketch noter, the benefits and challenges associated with Islamic sketch noting, and her interesting plans and aspirations for the future.

Tell us about the inspiration behind Sketchy Muslims. How did it first come about? What have you achieved so far?

“I actually didn’t intend to be a sketchnoter. In October of 2012, I took a class in graphic recording, which is similar to sketchnoting but generally done live on huge 4 by 6 ft paper for groups at strategic planning meetings, retreats, conferences, etc.

This past October, I enrolled in a Seekers Guidance course, and decided that I wanted to practice my visual thinking by sketching my course notes. After taking some notes in the course, I wanted to share them because I thought that other people might benefit from them.

The problem was that there really wasn’t anywhere for me to post them. I didn’t want to use my personal social media profiles, and Islamographic, which I love, is for more polished work generally done by people with graphic design skills. So I decided to create an online space where I and other “Sketchy Muslims” could share our notes.

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Meet Tanzil Rahman from Sufi Comics: Rumi

With his range of impressive studies and creative talents, to being an avid member of the Rumi fan club, Tanzil Rahman is an interesting member of the hardworking team behind Sufi Comics: Rumi. 

From being involved in livelihood support for communities living in urban slums, acting in various plays, to writing powerful poetry on the idea of social justice, Tanzil’s contribution to the new project is inspired and invaluable.

His work with Sufi Comics: Rumi has been around the selection and research behind the poems, as well as sourcing the original Farsi text for the short-listed poems.

Tanzil reveals how the collaboration came about, dispells the view that you can’t be a spiritual activist, as well as us why we should stay tuned for Sufi Comics: Rumi!

Tanzilur Rahman is  researcher for Sufi Comics: Rumi, poet and social activist
Tanzilur Rahman is researcher for Sufi Comics: Rumi, poet and social activist

Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your educational/professional background?

“I come from a village in Darbhanga district of North Bihar. My family later settled in Aligarh in UP. I have studied Electronics Engineering at Aligarh Muslim University and General Management  at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.

Professionally my expertise is in the area of Human Resource strategy primarily advising organizations on how to leverage technology for HR transformation. I am currently employed with software major SAP.”

How did you meet Arif and Ali?

“I met Arif and Ali bhai for the first time at the Quran Study circle of Dr. Taha Mateen in Bangalore. We connected in very first  interactions. I liked their progressive and pragmatic approach to issues and things while adhering to the basics.”

 How did the collaboration with Sufi Comics : Rumi come about?

“I had known and read  Sufi Comics’ earlier editions. Arif bhai has discussed these a few times to get my feedback and reaction as a reader. It was while discussing “The  Wise Fool of Baghdad” that he mentioned about his plans to do next edition of Sufi Comics on Maualana Rum’s poems. He also mentioned that he has short listed some poems from a translation that I had gifted him earlier. Having been an avid member of Rumi fan club , I jumped on the opportunity and requested that I would like to collaborate which he accepted warmly.”

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[Interview] Soner Coruhlu on what makes Prophecy Comics unique and build bridges between faiths and cultures

Soner Coruhlu (right) is the founder of Prophecy Comics
Soner Coruhlu (right) is the founder of Prophecy Comics

Inspired by his faith, stimulated by powerful narratives, and experienced in cross-cultural products, Soner Coruhlu is the founder of Prophecy Comics – an exciting narrative exploring the ultimate battle between the forces of good and evil.

In an aim to bedazzle his audience on a visual level with illustrations of spiritual beings, Soner believes that Prophecy Comics can inspire others to be conscious of their spirituality.

But can tradition and spirituality be explored in an entertaining and universal way?

I talk to Soner about the powerful concepts in Prophecy Comics, the challenges of illustrating Angels and Demons, and how he hopes to build bridges between faiths and cultures.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who/what inspires you?

“I’ve always been a fan of both theology and comic culture. Having read my mother’s edition of Texas comics when I was 5 years old, I was a fan of the genre for life. In latter years, I became more and more interested in theology.

Eventually, I took it upon myself to start a degree, part time, in Islamic Studies and also undertook a separate graduate diploma in Christian Theology at Charles Sturt University.

In addition to theological qualifications I hold multiple post graduate degrees in business including: an MBA from the University of Technology Sydney , currently enrolled in a DBA (Doctorate of Business Administration), and plan to finish a Masters in Islamic Theology as well.

A combination of all these qualifications and experience in the realm of cross cultural projects has helped in conceptualization and production of these comic books.”

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(Last few days left) Enter our Giveaway to win your name in Arabic Calligraphy and Sufi Comics books!

The deadline of 31st Jan 2014 is approaching for our first ever Giveaway. We are giving out some great prizes for those who enter.

  1. Signed copies of Sufi Comics books (shipped anywhere in the world)
  2. Their name in Arabic Calligraphy by Muqtar Ahmed, one of India’s finest Islamic Calligraphers
Get your name written in Calligraphy
Get your name written in Calligraphy
Get signed copies of Sufi Comics books
Get signed copies of Sufi Comics books

To enter, all you need to do is to blog in no less than 100 words on your  favorite Sufi Comic on your blog, with a a link back to the comic.

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[Interview] Alexis Y. Lumbard on what inspired her to write children stories with Islamic themes

Children's Author: Alexis York Lumbard
Children’s Author: Alexis York Lumbard

There was a book Alexis wanted to read to her children, but it did not yet exist. Inspired by her experiences of motherhood and the gap in the market, Alexis Lumbard picked up her pen (or laptop) and began to write!

She has created an interesting range of spiritual and beautiful Islamic books for children including: The Conference of the Birds (Sept. 2012), Angels (Oct. 2013), and a digital app: The Story of Muhammad, based on the life and of Prophet Muhammad.

I talk to Alexis about the principles of good storytelling, how she overcomes challenges with her projects, and how we can tackle misconceptions surounding the Prophet Muhammad.

What inspired you to become a Children’s book author?

“When we were expecting our 2nd daughter and our eldest was ready for storybooks, I couldn’t find any that were Islamic-themed and well done.  So I picked up my pen (or laptop) and began to write.  It was a messy beginning and my first stories were terrible, but a few thoughtful individuals held my hand along the way.”

What are the principles of good storytelling and what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

“Please do not write for children because you think it is easy.  It is not easy and it should not be. Children’s literature has all the same meat as good books for adults—i.e. a tempting beginning, a middle that builds and an end that satisfies. And I’d have to agree with Jane Yolen, children’s books need not rhyme but they must be lyrical.

As far as basic principles go: 1) Less is more. 2) Do not talk down to children when writing. 3) Talk up—children need books that elevate, more now then ever before.  I created a little list on www.childforallseasons.com, perhaps some of your viewers will find it helpful.”

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