Blog post 3


The practice of Islam arguably comes down to two things: gratitude-motivated worship of Allah (ie. ibadat) and service works toward fellow humans (ie. mu’amalat). The well-known five pillars can be classified roughly under the two groups with shahadah, salat, sawm, and hajj under ibadat, and zakat under mu’amalat.

There remains a debate about the correctness of decorations in Islamic art and architecture, and one may contend that decorations of masjids, in that they capture the beauty of Allah’s creation and His infinite glory, are appropriate. But, others who have opposed the (excessive) decorations have called to question the unmet needs of the poor in Islamic communities. To these dissentients, the resources employed in decorations may be otherwise employed in charity toward the poor in the communities. My creative image for this blog post touches on the debate on decorations and response to the poor and needy.

In my sketch, I portray a beggar, with a maimed left hand, in front of a decorated masjid. The beggar is holding out his calabash, supposedly in pleading for some alms from Muslims who observe the zakat. One who is against overly decorating may quickly point to assisting the poor as better means to worship Allah than the decorations that are often associated with Islamic art. The concept of worshipping Allah by the giving of alms is one of the major themes of Aminata Sow Fall’s “The Beggar’s Strike.” In the reading, Aminata discusses the motives with which many Muslims give alms to the poor: for self-indulging blessings from Allah. My sketch reminds Muslims that in worshipping God, fellow men ought not be neglected, and on the way to the mosque, one must not miss the needy in front of the mosque.

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