Journeying to the Soul: Stories Of Ramadan

11 young Muslim creatives reflect on Ramadan, the Holy month of fasting, through their art

13:28 (2020) by Demi TsioumanisIslamic Museum of Australia

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Lunar Islamic calendar and the Holy month of fasting. It is the most sacred month in the year when Muslims worldwide observe it as a month of introspection, prayer, reflection and charity. Ramadan is a Holy month which seeks to increase the observer’s God-consciousness or taqwa. During Ramadan, Muslims not only fast and refrain from food or drink but also from sexual activity and immoral behaviour, including impure or unpleasant thoughts.​

Mountain of Light (2020) by Nasyeetha Mohd IsmailIslamic Museum of Australia

Journeying to the Soul

The purpose of a Muslim’s very existence is to come to know God and His Divine Beauty, so that she or he may worship The Beloved.

Co-curated with presenting artist Beray Uzunbay, this exhibition comprises diverse works by 11 different artists. Accompanied by the artists' own insights, it seeks to inspire persons to get to know God through the meanings of Ramadan, in all of its beauty. 

Interview with Beray Uzunbay

Listen to Beray Uzubay share her story in this artist interview, then explore all the artworks and stories of Ramadan.

Blue Mosque (2020) by Beray UzunbayIslamic Museum of Australia

Blue Mosque

by Beray Uzunbay

"The Blue Mosque is a famous mosque in Turkey. To me, the mosque is a symbol of Ramadan, a place where people worship and gather as a community for Iftars. It’s a central hub. Obviously in this particular social climate, it’s a little different because we don’t have access to mosques but nonetheless we can still bring that to our homes. We can still bring the festivity and that spirit to the places we live." 

Field of Hope (2020) by Beray UzunbayIslamic Museum of Australia

Field of Hope

by Beray Uzunbay

"Field of Hope comments on the beauty of Laylatul Qadr (Night of Power), when you look at this fie’s very magical, enchanting and very special and that’s how I feel about Laylatul Qadr, it’s a special, unique night and that’s what I’ve tried to encapsulate." 

13:28 (2020) by Demi TsioumanisIslamic Museum of Australia


by Demi Tsioumanis

"Last year I experienced my very first Ramadan. As a revert, it can sometimes be fairly lonely, but knowing that everyone was turning towards the Kaaba and praying to the Most Merciful was extremely heartwarming in these times of loneliness." 

When the sun sets (2020) by Arwa EdrisIslamic Museum of Australia

When the Sun Sets

by Arwa Edris

"When the Sun Sets illustrates the ambience of Ramadan nights in suburbia. It reminisces on those long days spent at work or university only to come home just in time for Maghreb prayer. The sun has set and as you walk up to your front door you thank God for the food that you know is sitting at your dining table, for your mother for putting it all together, for shelter and for all the blessings that you do not dare to count."  

Ramadan in Al-Mutanabbi Street (2020) by Isra KareemIslamic Museum of Australia

Ramadan in Al-Mutanabbi Street

by Isra Kareem

"In this artwork I wanted to give a glimpse of Ramadan from my home country, Iraq. I drew inspiration from an old street in Iraq’s central city, Baghdad, ‘Al Mutannabi Street’. This street is the heart of the country’s literary scene where poets, writers, artists and intellectuals fill the street and coffee shops every Friday. There is a constant hustle and wisdom enriched by this street especially during the Holy Month of Ramadan, I wanted to highlight the importance of the dear tea brewer, who is endlessly providing tea or ‘chai’ to those after they have broken their fast and during Suhur." 

5:42 (2020) by Najeem YussufIslamic Museum of Australia


by Najeem Yussuf

'5:41’ is a feeling, an emotion. It’s when the serene period of the day converts to the humble festive moment of the early night (iftar). It’s the realization of nourishment. The time that brings wholeness, fulfillment and delight to the believer. A moment where the family meet. It’s not about the specific food that is indulged but about the beautiful energy surrounding the moment. As the Prophet PBUH said 'there are two pleasures for a fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (7492)]'"  

Mountain of Light (2020) by Nasyeetha Mohd IsmailIslamic Museum of Australia

Mountain of Light

by Nasyeetha Mohd Ismail

"'Mountain of Light' or ‘Jabaal An-Noor’ is a piece that depicts the mountain in Makkah where the first few verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by the Angel Jibraeel (Gabriel). This place on the ‘Night of Power’ or ‘Laylatul Qadr’ which is the holiest night of Ramadan." 

Main Event I (2020) by Ammar YonisIslamic Museum of Australia

Main Event I (Sarah)

by Ammar Yonis

"This artwork attempts to highlight how blessed we are to break our fast with family and friends. I spent Ramadan ’19 mostly away from home and broke my fast on the floor of a hotel room in Warrnambool. We forget that we are invited every night to break our fast by those who prepare it for us and the artwork recognises the role women have played in my life to make this experience as special as it is." 

Main Event II (2020) by Ammar YonisIslamic Museum of Australia

Main Event II (Halima)

by Ammar Yonis

"I had the opportunity to collaborate with Dominique Tang who supported me by realising my vision through graphic design. Also, I was fortunate enough to shoot Halima Diyab and Sarah Melhem who feature in the posters."  

Khalwa // Solitude and Unity (Part 1)Islamic Museum of Australia

Khalwa / Solitude and Unity (Part 1)

 by Zehra Rizvi and Qaisara Mohamad

"We reflected on the purpose and virtues of Ramadan and brainstorm on the ideas of a common ground on what Ramadan is to each of us." 

Khalwa // Solitude and Unity (Part 2)Islamic Museum of Australia

Khalwa / Solitude and Unity (Part 2)

"We wanted to highlight the nuance in the diversity of experience by portraying different hands, each with their unique features, just as Ramadan is unique for every person."

Khalwa // Solitude and Unity (Part 3)Islamic Museum of Australia

Khalwa / Solitude and Unity (Part 3)

"On the other hand, there is a familiar feeling of closeness with Allah swt in the hours of solitude during Ramadan that many of us experience." 

to burn to live (2020) by Fathiah RaihanIslamic Museum of Australia

To burn to live

 by Fathiah Raihan

"The work discusses the theme of burning and the role of fire as a cleansing process. What I found was that there were these types of plants called pyrophytic plants that thrive on fire in order to survive. The intense heat melts the resin from these cones which contain dormant seed, so without the intense fire, the next generation of plants can’t live."

"I feel like Ramadan is a process where we go through an intense program and we abstain from all of our desires and that is really hard for us to do, but it’s necessary, just like it’s necessary for those plants to burn. It’s necessary for us to have Ramadan for us to come back to our sole purpose in life."

"If you look closely, one of the seeds looks like an embryo and that’s because I wanted to say this burning awakens the purity we initially had and while we may not fully return to the innocence of infancy, Allah has the power to bring us back to that purity and to remind us of our purpose in life." 

Fathiah Raihan artist interview

Listen to artist Fathiah Raihan talk more about her work in this artist interview.

Socially isolated but spiritually connected Socially isolated but spiritually connected by Irfan AbdullaIslamic Museum of Australia

Socially Isolated But Spiritually Connected (Part 1)

 by Irfan Abddulla

"With the current pandemic, Muslims all over the world are looking at a Ramadan where they can’t go to mosques for worship. Many are sad because of this as they fear that they might not be able to experience Ramadan to the fullest as they won’t be able to perform Ibadah and pray at the mosque. This photo explains that true belief lies inside a believer’s heart."

"What matters the most is the intention and honest effort of a believer for their acts of worship to be accepted. The white backdrop portrays the heart of a believer and space outside portrays where their physical self is. No matter where you are physically because of the current pandemic what matters in this and every other Ramadan is what’s inside your heart." 

Socially isolated but spiritually connected (Part 2)Islamic Museum of Australia

Socially Isolated But Spiritually Connected (Part 2)

by  Irfan Abddulla

"This photo represents hope. Social isolation is often followed by depression, anxiety, feeling lonely and feeling hopeless. A true believer can overcome these difficulties by believing that fate (good or bad) comes from Allah and that 'Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear' [2:286]."

"This photo portrays that no matter what the difficulty is one should be able to overlook that by believing that Allah will protect them while they are doing their part towards it. This is how one should enter Ramadan, hoping for the better to come while performing Ibadah." 

Look around and explore the Journeying to the Soul  artworks on the walls of the Islamic Museum of Australia.

Discover more collections and stories from the Islamic Museum of Australia.

Credits: Story

Thanks to the artists: Demi Tsioumanis, Beray Uzunbay, Nasyeetha Mohd Ismail, Fathiah Raihan, Irfan Abdulla, Najeem Yussuf, Zehra Rizvi, Qaisara Mohamad, Arwa Edris, Isra Karim, Ammar Yonis

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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