art of the Quran 

The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts is one of the Smithsonian Freer-Sackler Galleries‘ most recent exhibitions and it features many, many magnificent Qurans. Qurans with gold, jewels & precious metals; ancient Qurans; colorful Qurans; and even one with pages about the size of a twin bed.

We attended an opening event with calligrapher talks (including one of the US’ most esteemed masters, Mohamed Zakariya) and other demonstrations.

We also attended a family workshop with local artist, Lubna Zahid. She gave us an introduction to the art of illumination then led us through the exhibition highlighting different motifs found in various Qurans. We then used our sketches and her techiques to illuminate a custom bookmark.

Catch a tour, family workshop or open studio before it The Art of the Qur’an ends February 20, 2017.

to senegal


radianceGirl, my firstborn, is on the other side of the atlantic.
she has run on the shores of what could possibly her ancestral homeland.
she has sucked on salt from lac rose.
she has seen africans in their cosmopolitan glory.
she has looked through the door of no return.

she has been given the gift and challenge
of memorizing the Quran
in a blessed spiritual home of the tijani sufi order.

we miss her..her presence, singing, energy,
and the way she danced around the kitchen
as she added an aromatic slew of spices
to whatever she cooked
with elegant flicks of her wrist.

but this is the time for her to do hard things,
and rise to this challenge
which we pray will be her life’s foundation
from which we expect her to
begin to understand her strengths and weaknesses,
and start to use her talents in the service of Allah and humanity.

1001 amazing inventions from the muslim world

Last Thursday i attended the teacher preview night
for National Geographic Museum’s 1001 Inventions that just opened in DC.
This exhibition has had over 2 million visitors after hitting
New York, London, LA, Istanbul & Abu Dhabi.
And now it is HERE!

1001 Inventions transports you into a bazaar of ideas.

In this exhibition you’ll find connections
to modern day technologies in the realms of
travel & architecture,
education & games,
health & beauty,
art & design,
astronomy & agriculture
and much more,
all from the Golden Age of Muslim civilization
which lasted from the 7th to 17th centuries.

i read somewhere that inventors and their inventions
are like a line of people with buckets of knowledge,
where each inventor takes from previous inventors buckets.
Inventors use the knowledge of those before,
add their own ideas,
maybe mixing in bits and pieces from other disciplines,
to improve upon the stream of human knowledge
or create something new.
During the Golden Age, there were LOTS of buckets a-pourin’
from Spain, deep into Africa, all the way across to China.

A model Al Jazari’s massive Elephant Clock and Ibn Firnas’ hang glider.

One of the inventors featured in this exhibition is Ibn Firnas
who hung in the air for more than 10 minutes in his hang glider,
paving the way for the Wright Brothers,
almost seven centuries before Leonardo da Vinci
made his famous drawings of bird-inspired flying machines.

“Merriam” Al-Astrulabiya made astrolabes,
complex devices used to tell time and navigate,
like a hand-held mini computer predating GPS by thousands of years.
Al-Astrulabiya was highly educated
and had a job working for the Sultan of modern day Syria
in a time when many European women couldn’t even own property.

Pick up the receiver and let Al Jahiz tell you a little something.

Learn about the rags to riches tale of writer and scientist, Al Jahiz,
an African man who grew up in Basra (Iraq)
who later became an adviser to the Caliph in 9th century Baghdad.
Al Jahiz wrote nearly 200 books that spanned science, literature, theology and politics.

1001 Inventions is a text-heavy exhibit
more suitable for older children and adults,
but there are a good deal of interactive features
that stand out making the exhibit available for a younger audience:

Ibn Firnas Glider Game

Flap your arms like a bird
and help Ibn Firnas fly as far as he can
while collecting strong but little cups of (probably Turkish) coffee for energy
and avoiding pesky obstacles.

You’ve got just two minutes to
use the joystick to guide this early Muslim man
throughout a home of today
to find influences from the early Muslim world.

Spin the globe to listen to Muslim explorers, like Zheng He,
tell you about their international exploits.

1001 Inventions will be in DC at the National Geographic Museum
( 1145 17th Street NW Washington, DC, 20036 )
until 3 February 2013.
Museum admission for adults is $8,
with a $2 discount for museum members, military, seniors,
students, and groups of 25 or more.
Admission for children 5-12 is $4,
while school and youth groups 18 and under are free.

Not to be missed is the free 1001 Inventions Family Festival
on September 8, 2012 from 10 AM – 4 PM
with lots of hands-on activities,
artist demonstrations,
dance workshops,
music performances,
and an outdoor arts and crafts bazaar.

And if you do miss it,
you can still check out the family workshops once a month on Saturdays at 1 PM.
There are also drop-in workshops daily at 2 PM.
If you can get a group together, they will do the workshops
at a time better suited for your group.

As if that isn’t enough, there are lots of other events related to the exhibition:

1001 Inventions is the kind of exhibition that would definitely benefit
from some preparatory exploration with the kids,
so download the elementary and middle school educator guides.
Heck! Download them even if you can’t go!

This exhibition is subtitled “Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization”,
but it’s not a “Muslim thing”.
In many cases Muslim scientists — as any good scientist will do —
used prior sources of knowledge
(why reinvent the wheel, right?)
while working along side other scientists from across the globe.
This exhibit is about shedding light and providing perspective
on Muslim contributions to the world
during what must have been an amazing time to be alive
and how these once-forgotten innovations have helped shaped our world today.

There is something at 1001 Inventions for lovers of
math, science, technology, medicine, agriculture, art and history
There’s something for everyone!

If you do nothing else before you go (or not), watch this!:

book: the wise fool

the wise fool: fables from the islamic world
the wise fool: fables from the islamic world by shahrukh husain

i first encountered nasraddin jooha when i studied arabic in amman, jordan.
on a quick visit to cairo, i found a book on him in the hotel gift shop.
these are tales known all over the muslim world
— india, pakistan, turkey, afghanistan, iran —
but also greece, bulgaria, macedonia, albania, russia and china.

the folk tales of mulla nasruddin
— generally thought to have been a traveling suffi in 13th century turkey —
may have a different name depending on the culture
(like khoja or its variations: hodja, hoja, khawaja)
but the stories seem to transcend culture.
through his playful antics and peculiar ways
we learn wisdom;
explore logic, reason and common sense;
and take lessons in how to make a “point without getting in trouble.”

where is Allah?

it’s questions like these that children come up with.allah calligraphy by samir malik
it’s also a good time to reconnect with the basics of islam.

when one of my girls asked me this question
i answered “everywhere.”
then i rediscovered
alAqida alTahawiyya
or “Tahawi’s Statement of Islamic Doctrine”.

“everywhere” is an incorrect answer
because Allah cannot be bound by time or space.
He is unlike anything we can imagine.

alAqida alTahawiyya is a concise statement
of the creed of islam.
just re-reading the first 28 points
every once and awhile
can readjust our islamic perspective on Allah.

i plan to share them with my girls
during our studies of quran and islam
and just in daily life
when questions like
“where is Allah?” come up.

just to get us started
here are the first 28 points:

We say about Allah’s unity, believing by Allah’s help that:

1. Allah is One, without any partners.

2. There is nothing like Him.

3. There is nothing that can overwhelm Him.

4. There is no god other than Him.

5. He is the Eternal without a beginning and enduring without end.

6. He will never perish or come to an end.

7. Nothing happens except what He wills.

8. No imagination can conceive of Him and no understanding can comprehend Him.

9. He is different from any created being.

10. He is living and never dies and is eternally active and never sleeps.

11. He creates without His being in need to do so and provides for His creation without any effort.

12. He causes death with no fear and restores to life without difficulty.

13. He has always existed together with His attributes since before creation. Bringing creation into existence did not add anything to His attributes that was not already there. As He was, together with His attributes, in pre-eternity, so He will remain throughout endless time.

14. It was not only after the act of creation that He could be described as “the Creator” nor was it only by the act of origination that He could he described as “the Originator.”

15. He was always the Lord even when there was nothing to be Lord of, and always the Creator even when there was no creation.

16. In the same way that He is the “Bringer to life of the dead,” after He has brought them to life a first time, and deserves this name before bringing them to life, so too He deserves the name of “Creator” before He has created them.

17. This is because He has the power to do everything, everything is dependent on Him, everything is easy for Him, and He does not need anything. “There is nothing like Him and He is the Hearer, the Seer.” (al-Shura 42:11)

18. He created creation with His knowledge.

19. He appointed destinies for those He created.

20. He allotted to them fixed life spans.

21. Nothing about them was hidden from Him before He created them, and He knew everything that they would do before He created them.

22. He ordered them to obey Him and forbade them to disobey Him.

23. Everything happens according to His degree and will, and His will is accomplished. The only will that people have is what He wills for them. What He wills for them occurs and what He does not will, does not occur.

24. He gives guidance to whomever He wills, and protects them, and keeps them safe from harm, out of His generosity; and He leads astray whomever He wills, and abases them, and afflicts them, out of His justice.

25. All of them are subject to His will either through His generosity or His justice.

26. He is Exalted beyond having opposites or equals.

27. No one can ward off His decree or delay His command or overpower His affairs.

28. We believe in all of this and are certain that everything comes from Him.

read the rest here:

30 children’s activities for ramadan

listed here are 30 ramadhan activities
from all over the web
in one place.

if you appreciate this
gathering of information,
make dua’ for my family and i
that our sins are forgiven this ramadhan, inshaAllah!

  1. sight the moon

    try to sight the moon from a elevated location in your neighborhood.
    memorize and say the dua for sighting the new moon.

  2. review the pillars of islam

    recycle paper towel or toilet paper rolls to create the five pillars of islam.

  3. good deeds calendar

    make a calendar of good deeds that children can do everyday.
    they can be as simple as hugging a sibling or eating everything on their plate at dinner.
    SmartArk has an cute, colorful printable good deeds Ramadan calendar.

  4. star and crescent cookies

    bake star and crescent sugar cookies for your neighbors and attach a little note about ramadhan.

  5. sadaqah jar

    make and decorate a sadaqah jar or box from, for example, an empty pasta sauce jar or tissue box.
    collect coins from around the house, in the neighborhood, or allowances.
    give it to a needy person at eid.

  6. fasting chain

    use construction paper to cut strips and make a fasting chain for the family or each person fasting.
    you can make 29/30 strips to countdown or add on a strip a day.

  7. prepare to break the fast

    give your child the responsibility to fill a small dish with dates each evening and distribute the dates to each fasting person at iftar.

  8. pillowcase prayer rugs

    decorate a pillow case with fabric paint.

  9. make your own dhikr beads

    use string and plastic beads to make dhikr beads.
    try to remember as many names of Allah as you can.

  10. ka’ba pop-up cards

    make ka’ba pop-up cards for ramadhan or eid to give to friends and family

  11. tin can luminary

    make your own tin can luminary using a can opener, hammer and screwdriver to make the holes.
    light the luminary during the night of lailat alQadr and last 10 nights of ramadan.

  12. moon phase calendar

    there are several variations of varying complexity.
    some even include sewing.
    the most simple one is make a calendar
    from dark-colored paper or poster board
    and cut out the shape of the moon every day.

  13. read books about ramadhan and eid

    check out library books about ramadhan and eid
    or buy them for your own library.

    Ramadan Moon by Naima Bint Robert

    A Party in Ramadan, by Asma Mobin-Uddin
    The White Nights of Ramadan, by Maha Addasi
  14. good deeds list

    make a list of good things that each child wants to do during ramadhan
    then try to do at least one of them each day;
    or help your child keep a list of their own good deeds during ramadhan.

  15. ramadhan drum

    recycle an oatmeal container or coffee can to make a drum to wake up your family for sahoor or use for ramadhan songs and eid celebrations.

  16. light up the house

    string up lights inside or outside the house and turn them on every night at maghrib.

  17. eid costume party

  18. kid’s iftar / sahoor

    let the children plan, shop for, and then prepare suhoor and / or iftar.

  19. make a ramadan bookmark

    since we’ll be reading the entire quran, make a beautiful handmade bookmark to help keep your place.

  20. memorize ayat 2:183

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

    O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint

  21. memorize the dua’ for breaking the fast

    اللَّهُمَّ اِنِّى لَكَ صُمْتُ وَبِكَ امنْتُ [وَعَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْتُ] وَعَلَى رِزْقِكَ اَفْطَرْتُ
    O Allah! I fasted for You and I believe in You [and I put my trust in You] and I break my fast with Your sustenance


    اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسأَلُكَ بِرَحْمَتِكَ الَّتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ أَنْ تَغْفِرَ لِي
    O Allah, I ask You by Your mercy which envelopes all things, that You forgive me.

  22. ramadhan words

    define, write and use these words on a daily basis: sawm, suhoor, iftar, hilal, ramadhan, hijri calendar, eid ulFitr, zakah / zakat ulFitr, salatul taraweeh, ihtikaf

  23. learn about the phases of the moon

    the moon seems to change by dr. franklyn m. branley

  24. read from quran why we fast ramadhan

    AlBaqarah 2:183-5

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

    أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ وَأَن تَصُومُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

    شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ يُرِيدُ اللّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُواْ الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُواْ اللّهَ عَلَى مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

    O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint,

    (Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.

    Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.

  25. moon and crescent beads

    using craft wire, shape the wire into moon and crescent shapes. add colorful beads. use ribbon to hang from the ceiling.
    from ramadan crafts for kids by dana jadallah and dana amer

  26. ramadhan / eid around the world

    learn about ramadhan / eid around the world.
    celebrate ramadan and eid al-fitr with praying, fasting, and charity
    by deborah heiligman and neguin Yavari
    celebrate ramadan and eid al-fitr with praying, fasting, and charity

  27. ramadhan mosaic suncatcher
    ramadan mosaic suncatcher

  28. make a fanoos

  29. henna hands

    trace your child’s hands on paper. let them put henna on their hands with a red or brown marker.

  30. enjoy eid ulFitr!

sources and more inspiration:

Free Mini Mu’min Ramadan Kit:

Free Ramadan Activity Packs and decorations for both Ramadan and Eid:

Eid Cards, Crafts, Cakes & Cookies from JannahSteps:

30 Days of Ramadan Crafty Challenge from a Crafty Arab:

Fun Stuff to do with your children during Islamic holidays or anytime:

Day-by-Day Activities for Ramadan