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Praising Allah stroke by stroke

By SEETA PERSAD Sunday, December 18 2011

click on pic to zoom in
Navita Hanooman poses under one of her pieces....
Navita Hanooman poses under one of her pieces....

“My emphasis is multi-dimensional. The focal point of my paintings has changed with my intellectual and spiritual development. As of a few years ago, I have been painting for one reason only - the remembrance of Allah (Subhana wa t’ala -glorified and exalted be He). In this way, I paint the name of God in Arabic, which is Allah (Subhana wa t’ala - glorified and exalted be He). I also paint words which praise and glorify Allah (Subhana wa t’ala -glorified and exalted be He), for example Allahu Akbar, which means Allah (Subhana wa t’ala -glorified and exalted be He) is Great.”

These are the words of devout Muslim artist Navita Siddiqah Hanooman, of Orange Field Road, Carapichaima. Hanooman graduated in 2010 from the Carapichaima Senior Comprehensive School, and now holds a Bachelor of Education Degree (Secondary). She has been teaching at the Upper Level Educational Institute in Chaguanas since September 2010.

“I have always wanted to become a teacher, so this is one of my aspirations that became a reality,” Hanooman said, adding that she enjoys teaching and interacting with students. The joy, she told Sunday Newsday, is to see them succeed.

In her paintings, Hanooman uses Arabic words accompanied by an abstract background, including seascapes, landscapes or dreamscapes.

“The main purpose being for the remembrance of Allah as my work reflects the peace and serenity associated with almighty Allah (Subhana wa t’ala - glorified and exalted be He),” she said. Her other works reflect her passion for art and love for colour.

A spiritually-charged Hanooman expounded on her Islamic faith, saying, “We must be thankful to Allah (Subhana wa t’ala - glorified and exalted be He) for giving us the gift of sight, especially for me as an artist. Life would be pretty dull without it.”

Her paintings also remind her and others of all of God’s creation and natural beauty. Emphasising that her religion has guided her and is the most important aspect of her life, she said Islam is her way of life.

“This is why I tend to entwine Islam and art. ... I have a love and passion for them both,” she said.

Hanooman has benefitted from her art in a variety of ways, including the liberty to express her emotions, feelings and thoughts through paint, brush and canvas, and the most important benefit, which she says is that her art brings peace of mind.

She also praised her family, saying they have been her strength throughout her life. Her parents, Zorina Mohammed and Juskaram Hanooman, continue to support her. She also praised radio and TV personality, Jamal Mohammed, who discovered her art.

“He (Jamal Mohammed) was overwhelmed when he saw my drawing for the first time and he encouraged me to go on TV and invite others to see my work,” she said. She also praised her art teacher at Carapichaima Sc, Judith Chin Fatt-Rampersad, whom she says motivated her to be the best she could be in her art and in life.

Hanooman started painting and drawing at age 11 and never quit. She was happy with her pencils and crayons back then. Today, however, her home has been transformed into a studio as she experiments with lots of colours in oil paint and canvas. Apart from painting/drawing she loves to do graphic designing, play tennis and badminton, design clothing for Muslim women (mostly for herself and family) and loves making hijab accessories.

She recently showcased her work on the Islamic Broadcasting Network (IBN), the first time her work was highlighted in the media. “I was anxious and elated to be given the opportunity to be live on cable. This was the spark that ignited other great opportunities to showcase my artwork,” she said.

Currently, she is doing a project which includes an Islamic calendar. She is also hoping to further her education next year by pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She also hopes to travel to other countries with her paintings and to stage her own art exhibitions where her art can be viewed and sold. Asked whether she would recommend this form of art to others, Hanooman said, “I absolutely recommend Islamic art to other youths in the world, especially the Muslim youth. I hope to be an inspiration to the younger generations. That would indeed be quite an honour. What is most important is that there is a message behind the paintings; in this way the paintings are sacred and priceless to the artist.”

For inspiration, she looks to Salvador Dali paintings, as they are ‘mindboggling based on surrealism’. She also appreciates the works of Pablo Picasso, as she says he has diligent use of lines and colour in paintings, Vincent Van Gogh for his intricacy of lines and shape and compatriot Michel Jean Cazabon, famous for his oil and water colour paintings. Hanooman appreciates any artists who uses vivacious colours and dramatic lines.

Reflecting on crimes against women in society, Hanooman raised the issue of women in France who are being detained for wearing Islamic wear-veils.

“As a Muslim female wearing a hijab, looking at these stories is heart-wrenching. If people are allowed to wear as little as they want, then others should be free to wear how much they want! People should not be persecuted because of their religion. There must be a reason for this change in France,” she said, adding that something lies beneath the obvious reasons presented by the media (security reasons).

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