The Interior of the Shama'il. Honouring Our Rich History in the Arts.

The Interior of the Shama'il. Honouring Our Rich History in the Arts.

Hope is a beautiful thing. When the Shama’il project was first announced on social media in late 2016, I remember distinctly having a hopeful sigh wondering how blessedly wonderful it would be to be part of this massive undertaking. There was no way someone like me sitting in Singapore was going to be involved in this. Still, I remember saying to myself, “If I can add nothing more than just a missing comma to a sentence in this book, that’d be enough of a contribution...on the Day of Judgement.”

Theorists define design as part art and part science. Practitioners will tell you that design is also intuition and divine grace (or, for some, luck). What was supposed to have been a normal book design for the Shama’il took on a different direction with the fath of the old-style hashiya design. It is a traditional book layout in which commentary and notes accompanying a text are placed on the margins. Each page is illuminated in gold ink with a blessed name of the Messenger ﷺ. To the best of my knowledge, no modern book in English—religious or otherwise—has been designed in the hashiya manner.

Hafiz Tauseef Rehman was intrigued. Sidi Muhammad Sattaur was excited. Shaykh Mohammed Aslam absolutely loved it. And so a 14-month journey of exploration, trial and error, pain and pleasure ensued.

It is from the Sunna of Allah to test the veracity of claimants. When one claims sincerity, Allah employs a tensile test that stops at breaking point. In the physical realm, relationships were put to a severe trial. I certainly tried the patience of the Shama’il team to the utmost. Almost every deadline I set for myself was missed. Doubts started creeping in: “I’m not the right person for this task … maybe this design is a mistake … perhaps my intention is not sincere enough.”

In the end, as is always the case, the will of Allah was established. Much can be written about what transpired in the design process. Some of it may sound far-fetched. Others may sound like a hard sell. We shall leave out the details to allow the work to speak for itself.

I beseech Allah Most High to reward everyone associated with the Shama’il project and all readers with the very best of din, dunya, barzakh, and akhira.

I beg Him for tawfiq, taysir, najah and falah in every sphere of our lives. All of these and more by the Muhammadan Light ﷺ. I end with that with which I began: hope is a beautiful thing.

Mohamed Idris Jalali b. Kamal Batcha


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