Archive for the ‘self’ Category

Temple of Self(or the egocentric nature of blogging)

June 19, 2007

fingerprints2, originally uploaded by asiya2.

My personal observation is that creative people tend to be very egocentric. I don’t mean selfish. Often creativity goes hand in hand with a rich sensitivity that lends towards a kind and gentle nature. The flipside is that it also leads towards introspection and neurotic self-exploration. I have been wondering about the notion of the creative self within the framework of Islam. We are supposed to focus on subduing our egos, not cultivating them. Is there room then for creativity as an expression of self or should it always point to something Bigger?




Am I my image?

June 18, 2007

…., originally uploaded by asiya2.

I recently discovered that a photograph of myself(or the top of my head) that I had published on this blog, had been saved as a favourite by someone on Flickr. So I went and checked out their account and found that my image was one of just hundreds of pictures of women in hijab. Then, to my dismay, I discovered that the person was into bondage and discipline, there were also photos of gagged and restrained women. Obviously this person sees hijab as a kind of fetish, ah such irony! So I was horrified and blocked them from my flickr and removed my photo from their site. But the whole experience has left me wondering about the nature of photographic images.


Initially, I was ready to delete my entire flickr account and even stop blogging. But then I thought about it again and reminded myself that it was just an image, photographs are not real, although we sometimes give them far too much reverence. For years I didn’t put photographs up in my house because of the traditional fiqh ruling that images should not be displayed. We only have to look to most dictatorships to see the role that images play in state propoganda, there is wisdom in this fiqh perspective I think. But on a personal level, I think it comes down to intention. We just have to maintain an awareness that images are just reflections, they are not real and they have no inherent power of their own. We should not invest too much in them. It’s interesting that when most people are asked what item they would rescue from their house if it was burning, they reply, their photo album. It is as if memories can’t exist without the visual reminder, tangible evidence that the event actually happened. Someone that I am close to wants to document everything “special”, if something funny or beautiful happens and it is not recorded, then it is a major dissapointment, a lost opportunity. To me, it seems like a removal of the event from ‘reality’, into the realm of ‘ideas’. Once a memory it is more special than it was when it actually happened.


In Islam we are encouraged to live in the present. It is in the ‘now’ that closeness to God is most possible because we are less veiled by all the mirages of our “selves”, our memories, precious and feared, our hopes and dreams. So perhaps part of the wisdom of the prohibition of images was not just the danger of the image itself being worshipped, but the more subtle danger of what the image represents forming clouds upon our capacity to be receptive. We become absorbed in our created world.


I have to say that I am fascinated by photography and embarrassingly, I love to see photos of myself! But it’s not an expression of vanity, it’s because I feel disassociated from my own image. It’s a kind of detatched fascination. I know that a reflection of my physical self is just that, it is not me. It just interests me to try and see what other people see, how I am from outside myself. But of course, this is impossible, I cannot be an observer of myself.


I don’t think I would be comfortable with posting photograps of myself if I wasn’t a hijab wearer. It is a barrier that I need, it does enable me to have ownership of my body, because whatever you imagine, you perverse individual who stole my image, it remains entirely that, your imagination. And your imaginings have no bearing on me. I have control over my physicality and it is not yours for the taking. Actually I’d like to thank you, because you have reminded me of why I wear hijab in the first place.


the beginning of a painting

June 13, 2007

the beginning of a painting, originally uploaded by asiya2.

 My hands feel so clumsy at the moment, I’m so out of practice.  I can feel this drawing rapidly losing itself into a murky mass. The beginning was promising, but then I added too much blue and now it is too dark. I will try and rescue it, but I may just make the mess bigger, in which case, at least I will have a photo to prove to myself that I have begun the making process again!


Studio Space

June 6, 2007

Self Portrait challenge, originally uploaded by asiya2.


  I have joined Self Portrait Challenge as a means of trying to challenge myself to start doing creative things once more. Yesterday I made myself a studio space in the corner of my bedroom. I am so thrilled with it that I keep just going and sitting there! June’s SPC is to take a photo of yourself in surroundings that express something about yourself. There really could be no better place for me to start than with a photo of myself in my new space.


It is a private, peaceful corner where I can dream and start the process of making again. I have missed drawing. Making this space is almost like finding myself again after motherhood. It sounds corny I know!


Must stop writing and go sit!




May 3, 2007

The keyword when talking about life is always balance. To feel at peace we need to find an equilibrium between the different facets of our selves and our numerous roles and aspirations. This is something that I have always struggled with, never being an all-rounder. I have excelled in some areas and neglected others. Being a perfectionist, I have often only attempted things that I know I can do well. I don’t just have a fear of failure, I have a fear of being average and yet I can only be what I am, fairly competent and (hopefully!) kind and imaginative, but certainly not a genius!

Motherhood, when approached by such a personality is particularly challenging. I want everything to be fantastic and nurturing. I know that it is primarily myself who will guide these little beings and help them blossom to their full potential and sometimes I am daunted by the responsibility.  How do I manage everything, the basic drudgery of household life (yes, I do feel that way sometimes!) but at the same time creating a vibrant and inspirational space for my children to learn and grow? How do I maintain a sense of self in the process?

In Islamic spirituality known as tasawwuf, the ego (nafs, base self) is supposed to be subdued in order to foster a closeness with God, but there is also a saying that “H/she who knows him/herself knows God“. In other words, we must understand our self before we can conquer it. Sometimes, as mothers, we completely lose our selves in the process of looking after everyone else. I have recently passed through a phase of wanting to read and write a lot about “issues”, stimulate myself intellectually because this was an aspect of my life that had been sorely neglected. I wanted to rediscover who I am in that sense. And whilst I feel a little revived, I can honestly say that I don’t necessarily feel uplifted by it…energized perhaps but not motivated spiritually.

Nurturing my family, however, does motivate me spiritually. Responding to my children, thinking about how to encourage them to love learning, imagining creating a dense jungle for them in the backyard (yes, it’s still just in the imaginary stage!), all of this stirs something deep in my being. And so this is the deciding factor for me whilst I try to re-orient and keep hold of myself in the process of motherhood. Because, I’ve found that within the process itself, there is so much room for personal growth and it feeds my soul in a way that academic pursuits don’t. And so I know for myself that at times, although I may question my choice and wonder what I might have/could have been, I am fundamentally happy with what I am and I know that staying at home is the right choice for me (and hopefully, inshaAllah, my family also!).