It’s the end of Ramadan and my Muslim friends are wishing each other ‘Eid Mubarak’. I wish the same words back to them, but I haven’t fully understood what they mean and what the significance is - so this year I wanted to learn a little bit more.
I contacted some celebrated Muslim artists to learn more about Ramadan, Eid and what being an artist is like for them.
Eid is a celebration. People greet each other with "Eid Mubarak," meaning "Blessed Eid" and with formal embraces.
Ramadan is the ninth month in Islam when all Muslims fast while the sun is in the sky, from dawn until dusk. Ramadan is appreciated as a way to detox by giving the body a break and at the same time take moments to reflect and become a better version of yourself.
Ramadan is an extra special month to have an extra devotion towards more kindness, patience, being moderate, praying, reciting the Quran and paying a Zakat (a contribution to the less fortunate people).
I reached out to Little Syam who is a book restorer and illustrator currently celebrating Eid.
Syam, thanks for taking the time to chat with me on this. Eid Mubarak! How do you mark Eid?
Eid is a day to celebrate the victory of all the devotion and self-reflection during Ramadan.
I normally celebrate with my parents by going back to my hometown, but due to the lockdown it’s been my 2nd year celebrating with just my own family in Kuala Lumpur. On the last day of Ramadan I was busy preparing special food. Everyone will get ready early in the morning and go to the Mosque for prayer, but they are also constrained this year due to lockdown.
My family will have a meal together and it’s also a day we seek a forgiveness with everyone.
It sounds like there are parallels to Christmas. You’re an artist living in Malaysia. What sort of art do you do?
I mostly work on handmade books, book restoration, illustrations, silkscreen printing and eco-print.
Although there are elements of my Muslim identity that come through in my art I always separate my passion and faith as two different entities. I have restored the Quran as part of my artwork, but I’ve also restored a copy of the Bible which I see as a form of art more than religion. I have a multi-racial audience and my art reflects all the things I am passionate about and more of the visuals that capture my everyday life.
I’ve browsed your books and birds on Instagram. What sort of art is your favourite to do?
Book and printing techniques. I been making books for 20 years and through books I am able to combine my other skills like illustration, eco-print, my love towards fabric. I also organise book binding workshops from time to time in a way to spread the skill with people that are interested to learn.
Have you got any exciting projects planned?
Things have been very slow due to the pandemic; Covid-19. But during this slower time I am planning to have an exhibition like an open studio by end of year to showcase my art together with a few artist friends in my own studio space.
Thanks for taking the time to share these thoughts with me. Eid Mubarak! I look forward to seeing more of your work in time
Thank you, again, Sam!