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24 September 2014

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Mohammed Ali
Artist Mohammed Ali

Having faith in art

By Sarah Loat, BBC
Islamic graffiti artist Mohammed Ali has taken his work back to the streets to paint a spiritual mural with the help of some friends in Small Heath.

Ali checks the plans
Ali checks the plans

Mohammed Ali's graffiti art is usually on canvas and exhibited in galleries around the globe, but Mohammed has taken his work back to the streets to produce a very special spiritual mural.

Ali has spray painted the words 'remembrance' and  'dhikr' (also meaning remembrance in Arabic script), on the outside wall of Hamd House Nursery in Small Heath.

Ali and Tony with the finished mural
Ali and Tony with the finished mural

"It's Ramadhan and it's really busy here as everyone is preparing for Eid. Everyone is feeling good and people are looking curiously - it's maybe the first Arabic, Islamic, Christian, spiritual graffiti that people have seen. 

"We live in a diverse society with people of all faiths. Islam and Christianity tell us to 'love thy neighbour and we should explore common principles in each others religions."

Remembrance of God

Remember me, and I will remember you
Remember me, and I will remember you

The mural is supported by the Reverend Dr. John Breadon, Chaplain at St George's Post 16 Centre - part of City College. Reverend Breadon's students also had a unique opportunity to help Mohammed with the graffiti art that shows a universal and spiritual message - remembrance of God.

Reverend Breadon said: "The days of playing ludo and chess with teenagers is over. I saw Mohammed's work and saw how interesting it was and how much it would engage the students.

Reverend John Breadon
Reverend John Breadon

"I thought the mix of his Islamic faith and his graffiti-inspired art was a great way of engaging our students who are mostly Muslim. 

"I think it’s a nice thing to do", said student Osman Abucar.  "I had to fill in the Arabic parts and I really enjoyed it.  I've never done it before.  I think it's beautiful and people that don't understand Arabic can still understand what it means."

Partnership between faiths

Students Osman and Ilham
Students Osman and Ilham

Reverend Breadon continues: "In the midst of all the negative publicity about integration, it has a very clear sign of a Christian/ Muslim partnership."

The final image aims to connect people of different faiths, and has symbols and landmarks of Birmingham that include St Martin's Church, Birmingham Central Mosque, the Rotunda and Selfridges.

Spray cans
Tools of the trade

"I love it", says Reverend Breadon "It’s a great  fusion of styles - graffiti with traditional Islamic calligraphy and other traditional Islamic patterns - also making it very specific to Birmingham with the recognisable skyline."

Fusion of style

Mohammed’s unique style transforms graffiti, using the beauty of Islamic script as his inspiration.  He fuses two very different artistic forms by drawing on his faith and the energy of the streets to create a style that is both urban western and Islamic.

Drawing on his teenage street graffiti experience, Ali looked to old friend and fellow graffiti artist 'Tony Graffiti' for artistic help.

graffiti mural
Finishing touches

"It’s a long time since I've done this on the street", said Ali "and it's good to have a mate from the past Tony here helping me.  It's going back to the old ways, it's really exciting.

Tony said: "Ali used to not be as religious when we were younger and we used to do graffiti. Now we are two different sides of the tracks having a go together.  Graffiti helps communicate with the kids - they see the graffiti and they're interested."

One community

Young admirers of the mural
Ahmed, Hany, Soheil and Khan

Ali wants his work to have an impact and throughout the day many people stopped to comment on the huge graffiti mural: "A young lad came with a huge crucifix and said 'yeah, respect', 'it's really cool, I like it'.  It made my day." said Ali.

"It's wicked. Heavy, heavy", said friends Ahmed, Hany, Soheil and Khan on seeing Ali's work "It says dhikr.  I'm really happy that Islam is shown in a good way.  It makes me feel proud that we get together as one community."

You can see Mohammed Ali's mural at Hamd House Nursery on Coventry Road in Small Heath at the junction with Langley Road.

last updated: 24/09/08
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wow this is sick i love graffiti work and i wish i could be this good damn...

good spray blad

Rated geeza ali!! Sick graffiti mashahllah

keep it up ppl

salma small heath
its lovely it certainly bring the rememberence of god to me and my family each time we drive past. awsome !

asif riaz khan`
i am from small heath school and i like your pice of art when i walk from school i see it every day good

mashallah very good graffiti but could you please put some by sparkhill park plz so all the muslims can come and see it hit bak EGGY

this one is awesome !!!

[. *>>. .AnIqAh. .
This is a good result to the community...This wil put some people right in there places...xx

yoo bruv..i do BEAUTIFUL graffiti yehhh...but i wanna know if there any jobs in tht???

during my years working as a graffati artist i think that this work of art brings out the colour in these asian people marshallah keep the work up buvaz x x x

Cane Universal
Know this; ultimately graffiti art is a form of communication, not vandalism. Mohammed has definitely illustrated its true potential. Peace & Much Love

I was there. Its really cool, and makes a positive satement.

Great way to show that religions don't have to fight and argue. Keep it up. Peace and love.

Good to see Islamic art that show Islam as an ancient and modern religion! I am glad to see the common goal of Muslilms and Christians being expressed. Great!

This is an amazing project!!!! Very good to see different faith communties working together in a positive way. It just goes to show that there is so much room for working positively in the community. There should be more projects like these and also the media should make a real effort to document such projects as they show the reality of positive interfaith work. We all have common 'core' values taken from our faiths and we need to work together to build a healthy society. It is also good to see how young people were engaged and had some owenership in this project. Well done to all involved especially Mohammed Ali and Dr John Breadon.

Bint-eh Adam
Fantastic work Ali! Thus us exactly the kind of stuff we need coverage on; connecting people with common principles as opposed to breaking them at ever given opportunity. Way you go man! :-)

Khadija Bradley
Would like to see more of it inshaAllah. Next stop London please. MashAllah A brilliant idea

shumila begum
good job ppl!

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