Using Art to Start a Revolution: Muslims Everywhere Are Fighting Back

Just as the Romantics challenged their status quo and social conventions through poetry, literature and paint, is Islam not in need of its own internal revolution? The Jihad that was meant to be? To have the spiritual fight against thyself and not pick up an AK and go to Syria because that’s the real battle?

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The people are the heart of Palestine and they must defend themselves. Resistance art by Ahlam Al Faqih

Use art as a way to say, you know what, we want our culture, no, we want our faith back and we want to celebrate it. Muslims must wake up and do this, because right now they are not in control of their own image.

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Art can be a form of dawah

Whether it’s Daesh in the Sham or Fox News stateside, or the emergence of far right groups over Europe, everyone else seems to able to say what Islam is apart from Muslims. It’s being done through imagery, propaganda and a TV screen. These methods are dropping even more powerful bombs on Islam as a whole rather than just parts of the Middle East.

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An artistic Jihad might come across better than a violent one.

There are no limitations on walls, nor on pens, nor on microphones or pallets, they must now act as a voice, to counter the propaganda against them.  People can’t ignore what’s on a wall when they are walking to the supermarket, it’s in the public domain,  they can however turn the TV off and stop buying the newspapers. So it’s essential that whatever method it maybe to take back Islam, it must strike a chord with all members of society, to show that truth,  and I think Art is a real strong contender in that respect.

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Maybe Banksy was aiming for people to learn the story of Nico Leon and his role in the demise of Romanian dictator Nicolas Ceausescu. I find that this image should really resonate with Islam.

Thankfully though, it is being done in small pockets, whether through inspirational music, art exhibitions from Gaza to London, or even the 7* star mosques that are tourist attractions rather than places of worship, there are some people dedicated to keeping up Islamic art, and protecting its heritage.

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The Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi can sometimes be mistaken for a tourist resort. It’s just missing a bar by the pool. It is also one of the most beautiful buildings around today. Attracting tourists and atleast giving them a glimpse to Islam by means of beauty.

Islamic art isn’t getting the voice it deserves, but that’s okay, neither does art in general, and neither the truth. It is however, responsible for making a change in society, past and present, and it just needs a bit of faith, some moral motivation to get it going.   

Times have changed, being a different day, everyday, so any day the real Jihad, the real revolution, it might just start. If more people use art and Islam together, in a positive way, who know what problems could be solved.

*ahem* Hey Mr. Cameron…

Lets not let others dictate what Islam is, let’s paint that picture ourselves. Let’s revolutionize the symmetry in the Muslim world instead of looking borders and nationalities, and it’s easy too,  just paint one picture.

Gaza on Gaza was an exhibition of work by Palestinian artists in response to the lives devastated by Israels 2014 Protective Edge assault.

Written by Hamza Asghar

Hamza Asghar is a 26-year-old who's currently teaching English in China. He's interested in art, culture and cooking.