Amina Khan: Finding A Muslim Narrative Behind My Artwork

Amina Khan is a student, aspiring journalist, and an oil painter.

 

Growing up, art had always been an outlet for me as I conditioned my skills from middle school to high school art. People, my friends, and family, praised my artwork and always encouraged me to keep creating; yet, I felt as if there was no direction for my creations. How could I have the audacity to call myself an artist?

I had the skillset and ability to broadcast my talents across all forms of media, but my artwork never meant anything. I kept wondering how I could fulfill the role of an honorable artist, not a mediocre blurb in a staggeringly creative world.

 

Though praise and encouragement were flattering, it forced me to fulfill the cowardly position of a fixed mindset. I decided to instill a growth mindset into myself by finding depth in my artwork beyond the visual aesthetic. Weaving in a Muslim narrative behind my artwork unbolted my curiosity to explore Arabic calligraphy. But, there was one problem: I never embraced my Islamic identity.

 

In my desperation to assimilate into the appeasing role of an American born and raised citizen, I avoided any linkage to Islam. Somehow, I thought I couldn’t possibly be both. Living in a post-9/11 world as a Muslim was frightening to me. I assumed people would treat me as less of a human being because of how Islam was broadcasted in Western media as some abominable religion. It is an overused narrative, and it is not like I had an aha-moment and suddenly started praying five times a day. Though a slow process, I have routinely encompassed Islam into the core of my heart which has reflected in my life decisions. Actualizing the proud role of a Muslim-American enabled me to assertively represent my identity towards my dream of becoming an acclaimed journalist and artist. I had the confidence to absorb Islam and its diverse culture, which I would admirably magnify through art. Therefore, the Arabic language, something uncultured Islamophobes fear, was something I eagerly took the opportunity to beautify through inspirations of Sufism and Islam.

 

I hope to (inshAllah) perfect the beautiful illustrations of calligraphy and Sufism artwork. Although I will most likely continuing painting oil portraits, it feels liberating to explore other aspects of the art world with the intention of threading in the beauty of Islam.