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The pattern in Islamic art resembles an endless sea of geometric shapes, with no core beginning, and no end. Although the impression of infinity is true, as the pattern can go on forever, the impression of no starting point is not. It is but an illusion, for all creation has a beginning, even our infinitesimal universe.

This idea led me on a journey of self-exploration; to question how we can separate who we truly are at the core, from who we have been shaped to be? Once stripped of all the trappings of life; our history, education, culture, experiences, what is left? These ‘ornaments’ build continuously with our every waking hour, as a pattern can spread continuously, but we must remember that there is always a core, a starting point, the purest state in which God made us and delivered us into this world. I believe that from the moment we are born, we spend the rest of our lives searching for this purest self, a search disguised as all of our relentless attempts to be happy, but all we are really doing is trying to find ourselves.

– LOUD Art, Desert Design / Shargya
– A Line on the Sand, Art Space / Dubai


Basmah Felemban, Jeem, 2012
Acrylic on plywood, 115.0 x 115.0 cm (45 1/4 x 45 1/4 in)
Edition of 3


Jeem is inspired by a poem written by the Sufi scholar Mohammed Abdul Jabbar Al-Nafari on the science of letters:

الحرف يسري حيث القصد
جيم جنة جيم جحيم
وقال لي من أهل النار، قلت أهل الحرف الظاهر،
قال من أهل الجنة، قلت أهل الحرف الباطن،
قال ما الحرف الظاهر، قلت علم لا يهدي إلى عمل
قال ما الحرف الباطن، قلت علم يهدي إلى حقيقة


A letter leads the way to intention, H, heaven, H, Hell.

He said to me ‘who are the people of Hell?’, I said ‘the people of the outer letters’

He said to me ‘who are the people of Heaven? I said ‘the people of the inner letters’

He said what is the outer letter? I said ‘wisdom that does not lead to work’

He said what is the inner letter? I said ‘wisdom that leads to truth’.

The poem sheds light on a fascinating and mysterious aspect of the Arabic language.  Many Islamic scholars believe that there are two facets to every letter, al-zaher – an outer facet and al-baten – an inner facet. The outer relates to the function of the letter in everyday use. The inner relates to the hidden character of the letter; Ibn Arabi said “letters are like a nation of individuals, each with his own duty and obligation”, implying that each letter has its own existence and personality, that is longing to be acknowledge and admired.


Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam / London
A Line on the Sand / Dubai

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