Inspire…Interpret, and Repeat Inspired by direct sources of the Qur’an and Islamic thought, Visual Dhikr is the online pet project of London-based designer, Ruh al-Alam, and has garnered wide-international acclaim for his graphic revival of traditional calligraphy through a variety of mixed-medias, such as his canvas Sabr and Dunya t-shirts. The creative impetus behind Visual Dhikr derives from “focusing on the simplest of elements as powerful sources of knowledge; ”Surah Nuran ala Nurin, Ikhlas, and words like Dhikr, Iqra, and I’m have been recreated in order to graphically paint a landscape in which “the viewer can ponder and reflect (dhikr) upon these words or verses so that they may be inspired.”
Visual [English] adj. seen or able to e seen by the eye n. a picture or others that appeals to the sight
ذكر Dhikr [Arabic] Remembrance [of God]
Whether on clothing, canvas, or through film, the Visual Dhikr project is not interested in creating art in order to please the ego of the artist, but rather to artistically create something thatserves an even higher purpose. “I often try to place the word(s) in an aesthetic manner, but donot always try to visually represent it. But, at other times I try to use some sort of animatedapproach such as the word Allah in the shape of the Ka’aba with brush strokes circulating thename, depicting the Tawaf around the Holy House in Mecca.”
Since its launch in 2003, Visual Dhikr has been the response to the graphic and artistic revival and appreciation throughout the Arab world, spreading a sense of confidence in creative Islamicidentity with little experience since the height of the Golden Age. “Western designersand artists look fondly and confusingly at the Arabic/Islamic art world, one from the angle ofnot understanding the language and the other the ‘purpose’ behind what traditional Islamicart held;” but, he encourages us all to harness and release our artistic talent, because “it isimperative that Muslims andArabs around the world pushtheir design and artistic energiesto further develop traditionalcalligraphy and formnew styles and trends.”
Global Visual Dhikr believers motivated Ruh al-Alamto launch an offshoot onlinestore called Islamic DesignHouse, which sells exclusiveand original Islamic products,ranging from fashion and art,to home décor.
The missionbehind the label is to produceproducts with a funk tee-fied Islamic-inspired feelusing geometric shapes andpatterns for the emerginginternational Muslim. However,although the aim is tobe part of the greater globalproject, which encompassesboth Muslims and Arabs,the amassed cult followingis not limited to Muslimsand Arabs exclusively.
Accordingto Ruh, “the soleaim of Visual Dhikr is to help people reflect and beinspired. It had no materialaim or gain in mind, butsimply to satisfy my longingfor an art form that I feltI did out of love and thatwhich would help others in some way.” As Ruh fulfillshis personal mission servinga higher purpose, dayby day he paves the way forall of us to be inspired toreach ours.