Inspiration: Art and Faith – Jafar Islah & Karima Al-Shomaly

A big part of having an Informed Style is to be open to influences and inspiration wherever they may find you. While exploring the l’Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, I found myself drawn to many artworks and quotes from artists that I wouldn’t normally have sought out. Looking back through my photos and journals, I wanted to share the two below with you –


“La foi et la tradition ne sont pas un code d’habillement et de style mais celui d’une noblesse de comportement”

“Faith and tradition aren’t a dress code or a style, but a nobility in comportment”

– Jafar Islah, Kuwaitee Artist


Mask, Karima Al-Shomaly, 2012

Mask, Karima Al-Shomaly, 2012

“Mon propos est d’explorer par mon travail artistique ce que signifie exactement pour l’autre la burqa. Je veux étudier sur un plan psychologique, mental et imaginaire le symbolisme nouveau qu’elle peut acquérir lors de son transfert de mon pays, les Émirats Arabes Unis, vers d’autres contextes culturels.”


“My goal is to explore what the burqa means for others through my artistic work. I want to study using a psychological, mental and imaginary methodology the new symbolism that the burqa acquires when it is transferred from my country, the United Arab Emirates to other cultural contexts.”

– Karima Al-Shomaly, Artist, UAE.

3 thoughts on “Inspiration: Art and Faith – Jafar Islah & Karima Al-Shomaly

  1. The second quote is very interesting since I’m French and that I actually consider that in my country we have many problems with Islam. When going to Seoul two years ago, I had to stop by Dubai and was pretty amazed by the number of women wearing burqas there while their husbands and children were wearing westerned styled clothes. I trully respect Islam eventhough I am not a believer, but for me burqa avoids me not to see the person I have in front of me but simply to enter in contact with her. I always remember the philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas (here is the link to an article about him in french: saying that the first contact we have with each other is throughout our face not throughout words, so not seeing a person face in this context is disturbing to me. But nonetheless, I would respect the choice of the person wearing it.

    Coming back to France it seems like in my country we are mixing a lot of things between burqa and hijab. I feel like we are demonizing them because we don’t want to understand Islam and because in our culture you have to be assimilated, assimilated to the French way. If you are not you are not welcomed. And I have the feeling that it is becoming more and more like also in other countries which had to deal with islamic extremist movements.

    Shug Avery of Incognito

    • Hi Shug –
      I think that the shifting attitudes towards Islam in Europe are quite interesting – especially when taken in contrast with perspectives I’m more familiar with, like those I’ve experienced here in Canada. My visit to the Arabe Institute in Paris was really enlightening, because I’d always been aware of the differences in culture and religion, but never really explored the history behind it – I think it was one of the most educational afternoons I’ve ever had.

      Merci aussi pour le lien! J’aime faire mes lectures en français pour pratiquer un peu. Avec les sujets ‘sérieuses’ il faut que je passe bcp plus de temps en lisant pour comprendre les textes – mais c’est mieux comme ça, parce que en anglais j’ai la mauvaise habitude de lire tout ‘vite vite’ – sans pause pour la laisse mijoter un peu. L’idée des liens entre l’identité, la responsabilité et l’autrui était intéressante…


      • I never visited the Arab Institute when in Paris but since you talked about it I should consider stepping there when I’ll be back in Paris.

        Il n’y a pas de problème pour le lien en français ! J’ai découvert que tu le parlais en lisant le blog J’aime beaucoup les langues et je comprends parfaitement ce que tu veux dire. L’anglais n’est pas ma langue maternelle alors comme toi avec le français lorsque je le lis ou que je l’écris je dois être extrêmement attentive.

        Merci de ta réponse.


What are your thoughts on this?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s