من السَّمَاء الى الْأَرْضِ
Everything in the heavens and on the earth, everything between them, everything beneath the soil, belongs to Him. (20:6)
I was born into a Muslim family of Lebanese descent but grew up in white Australia. I grew up moving between the two worlds - Arab and Western - never finding my feet in either place. During my adolescence, I faced a mixture of societal pressures and I struggled to belong to the Muslim community which led to feeling distant from the faith and closer to the Australian culture. The distance between young people and their connection to the Muslim faith was common, and the loss of identity was precedented. In light of this disconnect, our immigrant communities tried to preserve our customs and traditions while adapting to the Australian context, despite their attempt to adhere to their origins and religion, the pressures of life, pursuit of work, gaining financial stability, and building a better future prevented this. I spent an entire decade floundering between these two worlds, I didn’t know which way to go or in which world to navigate, the Arab inherited from my family or the Westerner, which did not align with my inner-self.
I eventually found myself living in a world far from the two worlds that occupied my mind for an entire decade, a world that corresponded to how I felt. In the desert of the Northern Territory, I was living amongst Indigenous Australians, within the picturesque nature and landscape, I submerged myself into their way of life. I was inspired by their attachment to their origins, customs, and connection to their land. It gave me the opportunity to observe their spiritual connections within nature and I was able to sense the greatness and presence of God. From here I began to contemplate and reconsider the necessity of faith, my journey back to Islam brought me to this piece of work “From the Heavens to the Earth”.
This piece is symbolic of belonging to Allah (swt) and acceptance of divine love. It reflects my experience learning Indigenous culture and how it provided an opportunity to relearn Islam with an open heart and mind. The photographs express the gentle beauty of Islam, the proximity one feels when connecting to their faith within nature, and my personal unseen relationship with Allah (swt). The self-portrait collection reflects the differentiating stages of my Australian Muslim identity and my ongoing journey of redefining my relationship with God.