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Monday 1 June 2020
Institute of Contemporary Arts

Today’s Daily is written by Zarina Muhammad who, as part of The White Pube, is currently the ICA’s critic-in-residence. The White Pube is the collaborative identity of Zarina and Gabrielle de la Puente, under which they write about art. In this Daily, Zarina reflects on a selection of Ramadan highlights that she’s spent time with over the last month.

I like to do things ahead of time so I’ve got time to sit on it, incubate it like a lil egg, check that it represents more than just how I was feeling in that hour or day. Idk when you’re reading this, but I’m writing this for your beautiful eyeballs on the evening of Sunday 24 May; it’s Eid (the little one). I’ve just spent the last month fasting, FaceTiming my Dad for Iftar and eating breakfast against the backdrop of islam tv in the dark silence of my kitchen @ 3am. I don’t think I’ve ever been as reliant on my faith as I am now, when everything’s up in the air and ‘after lockdown?’ is a new kinda soft future-tense speculative that means the same thing as ‘inshallah’.

I have plopped together a kind of ramadan highlights, just all the things within my grasp that I have enjoyed over this last month. I’m not really a curator, I don’t envy the task tbh; so think of this less as a ~curated moment~ n more like I’m retweeting these things for ur consideration & attention.

Al-Ahly Thikr Jamaah

Dhikr is this thing, right, this ritual practice of remembrance and contemplation. It takes the form of song, where words of devotion, most likely lines of the Quran, are sung aloud over and over. I stumbled across this ramadan choral from al ahly thikr jamaah in cape town, south africa when @frankoceanhafiz posted it on twitter at the beginning of the month. I played it over & over, it held something; I don’t know what. But I felt it, that contemplative stillness, the space that is opened up when voice & devotion meet. I also like this one on Soundcloud.

See Something Say Something

See Something Say Something is a podcast hosted by Ahmed Ali Akbar, a Guy in New York that Writes. A few years ago, a friend of mine sent me the episodes on Mangos & Memories, the episode on the secret underground whatsapp trade of Pakistani Mangoes grabbed me – I’ve been a lowkey stan since. There has since been a follow up series where Ahmed goes into a bit more investigative detail about this underground mango black market; but the episode I really held onto this month was The Honest Struggle, about Islam & incarceration in America. It details between resistance, reform and activism; mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex. At the end, Ahmed speaks to Dr. Suad Abdul-Khabeer about Believer’s Bailout; a grassroots community-led org that uses zakat to pay bail for Muslims from pretrial & immigration incarceration. They do quite vital work, donate here.


2 years ago, I was visiting New Art Exchange in Nottingham, and I ran into Abbas Zahedi & Sofia Niazi down the road. I had no idea what was going on, but they had a lil stall, and a megaphone, with these beautifully printed pamphlets laid out. As part of Abbas’ Live Archive residency at NAE, he and Sofia had collaborated to commission 4 essays, they were sermons we would like to see in the world. One of them: Enculturation by Mohammed Anthony, was one of those texts you just cling to / hold tight to your chest. It’s about the parallel between Islamic tradition & contemporary art, the ‘conceptual proximity’ of the art school and the madrasa. My god, I WISH I’d written this; my god, I’m glad I read it. Now you get to feel that too.

Qur’an of the Oppressed

In the smoothest way possible, islam has always been (for me!) a coherent framework of belief that simultaneously provides a backbone for a politic of liberation. My experience of it has been done of a deeply political religion; it rejects a liberal centrist rhetoric in favour of a radical understanding of justice n mutual care, our tender solidarity of being one ummah. I’ve never really read anything that told me that was what it was; that was just the interpretation of the religion I was given, from my Dad, my grandparents, my family both here in the uk & in bangladesh. I am thankful for that, but I also wanted to do my homework, so I went searching for actual texts to prop this up. I’ve been slowly picking my way through Qur’an of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam by Shadaab Rahemtulla. It’s a very good read, I recommend it if you, like me, are looking for a faith that accepts ur anger and turns it into something that gives in a generous form of care. Or if you just like reading, idk dude.


Kashmir has been locked down by the Indian military since last August when the Indian government revoked Kashmir’s special status and stripped it of a long-held constitutional autonomy. There’s a media blackout, no internet, phone lines have been cut, roads are blocked, there are shootings and repeated violence from the Indian army; it’s imposing direct rule from Delhi, and it is an act of extreme state violence from a state that’s currently being run by an openly islamophobic, Hindu nationalist government. There are food and medicine shortages, and no sign of the Indian government easing up; Muslim Hands are funding the delivery of food & medicine on the ground in Kashmir.

Bonus reading

Better & more accurate Rumi Translations from @persianpoetics
Sharmin Hossain has put together an Islamic Liberation Theology Reading List


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