Saturday 5 July 2014

Ramadan Kareem

We're now nearly a quarter of the way through the month of forgiven and mercy. In Ramadan, with every rumble of our stomach and every stab of our caffeine-withdrawal headaches, we remember those who suffer this every day, those who don't have the luxury of a sip of water at Maghreb. This is the time we should do all we can to help those people with however large a gesture we can manage.

And as shaytaan is locked up and our reasons for not waking up for Fajr or performing our sunnah prayers are locked away with him, we start to question which behaviours are down to our own laziness and ignorance. This is the time we should inspect every aspect of our deen and be honest with how much more we're capable of doing.

And as Allah grants us the gift of forgiveness every night and multiplies our smallest good deeds by scores, we start to wonder at how much we are prepared to turn towards Him and how that contrasts with how much He will repay our tiniest gesture of drawing closer to Him. This is the time we should dedicate every moment to Him with our words and our actions and thank Him for His mercy.

Ramadan Kareem everyone.

Friday 17 January 2014

The Pakistani Humanitarian

These Birds WalkWhen Abdul Sattar Edhi arrived in Karachi from Western India in the 1950s he was penniless. But from these humble beginnings rose the Edhi Foundation which has now grown into one of the largest social service agencies in Pakistan with the entire budget of 10 million USD coming from ordinary Pakistanis. His wife, Bilquis, began working as a nurse of the the Edhi Foundation and now oversees housing facilities that house about 9000: sheltered women, orphaned children and a nursery for abandoned infants, most of them severely handicapped. 

Among a few of the things they provide are:
"The Foundation's activites include a 24 hour emergency service across the country through 335 Edhi Centers with the fleet of 1800 Ambulances which provide free shrouding and burial of unclaimed dead bodies, shelter for the destitutes, orphans and handicapped persons, free hospitals and dispensaries, rehabilitaion of drug addicts, free wheel chairs, crutches and other services for the handicapped, family planning counselling and maternity services, national and international relief efforts for the victims of natural calamities."
As well as National services, they have also provided International aid to a long list of countries in need. Him and his foundation are now the subject of a documentary "These Birds Walk".
"Edhi hasn’t receded behind a desk over the years, and he talks about himself with extraordinary modesty: “If you want to find me,” he tells the filmmakers, “look to ordinary people.”"

More Links:

Thursday 16 January 2014

Islamic Arts Website

Islamic Arts Magazine

JZ Aamir
JZ Aamir, Light Calligraphy - Allah / © JZ Aamir
Based in Sarajevo the founders of "Islamic Arts Magazine" have managed to create a beautiful and professional collection of Islamic Art. Containing up to date art news, exhibitions and articles with accompanying dazzling photography and videos, this website is the go-to for inspiration and appreciation for Islamic Art. In their own words ...

" is a modern online magazine devoted to Islamic art. By presenting Islamic art to specialists and the general public, we aim to contribute to a better understanding of Islamic culture. The topics range from traditional to contemporary Islamic art and cover all media. The continuity of essential aspects of Islamic art over time teaches us to benefit from its importance and beauty.

We deliver up to date art news, exhibitions, auctions, interviews and articles with stunning photography, beautiful design and video content. Our objective is to promote the creative power of art and artists by building privileged international relationships with galleries, museums, and collectors.

Prized for its singular beauty and universal appeal, we are currently witnessing the creative awakening of Islamic art around the globe. The trend is confirmed by the establishment of numerous new museums and galleries built to showcase both historical and contemporary Islamic art. Art lovers and patrons of the arts, recognizing the significance of Islamic art, invest in such projects to contribute to global artistic development.

Uniting our creative potential makes us all stronger. Encouraging creative expression and the creative industries is an endeavour that is beneficial not only for cultural, but also for social and economic development. It highlights the shared values of countries, peoples, and institutions."

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Euripides in War Torn Syria

After a significant amount of fundraising Charlotte Eagar, a former foreign correspondent, and her husband, William Stirling, have put on a theatrical production of Euripides' anti-war tragedy, 'The Trojan Women', with a cast entirely made up of Syrian Female Refugees.

"I start to understand the viewpoint from women. Until now the story has come from the men. For them it's either pro-Assad or anti-Assad. It's a different story from the women: for them it's for life and against war, maybe it's nearer the truth. I want their voices for the play and for it to be driven by the women themselves", said one of Syria's top theatre directors, Omar Abu Saada.

For more on the story, visit:

Monday 6 January 2014

Muslim School Tops League in France

"Averro├Ęs High School in Lille has been in the spotlight for a decade. Ten years ago, it was France's first private Muslim school to follow the national curriculum. Now, it's one of the country's top-rated schools.


In 2003, when the school opened, it was the first private Muslim school in France to follow the national curriculum. “On our first day, there were 34 journalists, including one from Japan – compared to only 11 students and 19 teachers,” said Amar Lasfar, rector of the Lille mosque and president of the Averro├Ęs school, in an interview with the leading French daily, Le Monde.

Ten years later, France’s first private Muslim school has grown to include more than 330 students and has left its old premises at the Lille mosque for a new building that can accommodate up to 600 students.""

Sunday 5 January 2014

Middle Eastern Women Photographers - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

A Show of Strength by Middle Eastern Women Photographers
by Kerri MacDonald
New York Times

Shadi Ghadirian “Untitled.” 1993
"Ms. Tavakolian‘s work is included in “She Who Tells a Story,” an exhibition showcasing 12 photographers from the Arab world, all women. She was encouraged to tell her story “in a different way” when she lost her permit to work as a photojournalist in Iran in 2009. Her photography, she said last week via e-mail, has been shaped by limitations.

But, she said: “The obstacles I have faced are not so special, nor have they been overall specific to me: my sisters, my friends and even my mother and grandmother all have to deal with limitations written up in laws or demanded by culture.”


The curator of the exhibition, Kristen Gresh, noticed something when she started to follow contemporary photography from the Arab world — images she was seeing in exhibitions while living in Cairo and Paris.

“It seemed like the strongest work was made by women,” said Ms. Gresh, 37, the museum’s Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh assistant curator of photographs."

New Directions

Asalaamu alaikum all,

After an exciting talk and brainstorm at an OMA (Oxbridge Muslim Alumni) dinner event Fresh Air is moving in new directions. Considering the two year hiatus and that the dinner event was in September, it's high time it started moving. So, this is where I come in.

This blog is a continuation of (not too much of a change) and we're going to start adding some new features. One thing that came out of the dinner is the tunnel vision of chosen careers amongst Muslims; lawyer, doctor, pharmacist and dentist seem to be the only ones that exist in our world. So we are going to start a "Spotlight on..." feature about people, Muslims and otherwise, that have chosen different paths to give a taste of what is out there, how to get there, and what you'll be doing once you're there.

We'll continue bringing you the positive stories that you're used to and, once the audience is there, we'd love for you folks to forward the positive stories in your lives. Past or present, we could all do with a reminder that there are good people and good things out there, little lights shining along the dark roads we seem to be travelling.

The ultimate aim is to provide a site you don't dread opening or leave feeling depressed, as is often my experience with news sites. We want a forum in which successes, however small, are celebrated and the beautiful variety of life is showcased to, slowly, chip away at the negativity I find surrounding us.

So here's to new directions. May Allah help us in this endeavour and keep our intentions pure.