Art as an Escape


Oil painting “Lighthouse in Prince Edward Island”- 17 hours of my life was poured into this. Totally worth it.


I’ve always thought of art as a powerful means of awakening a sense of wonder in our otherwise dull lives. Art as something that grounds us in instinctive knowledge, but that can elevate our thoughts and souls. Art has the capacity to change not only the viewer and appreciator of art, but the artists themselves. This quote from the book Native Science beautifully explains this:

“The ceremony of art touches the deepest realms of the psyche and the sacred dimension of the artistic creative process. The sacred level of art not only transforms something into art, but also transforms the artist at the very core of his or her being. This way of doing and relating to art makes the process and context of art-making infinitely more important than the product.” (Gregory Cajete)

Lately, I have been making a good effort to increase more time in my weekly schedule for artistic processes. The more I immerse myself in these artistic processes, the more I question why exactly I am captivated by it. I have no plans to become a famous painter, calligrapher, writer, or video producer… then why do I keep painting, learning calligraphy, keep up creative writing, and create videos?

Increasingly, I’m seeing art as more than something that ends up looking nice and to be admired. I’m experiencing things in a new light. My personal experience is not necessarily giving me an insight that is different or exclusive from the above views… but rather one that acts as an additional layer to it.

Art is an escape; an escape that depends on us moving nowhere.

What kind of escape? It’s an escape from the hustle and bustle of a long active day of work and meetings. It’s an escape from the chaos that our uncertain thoughts cause within us. It’s an escape from our unrelenting running footsteps that we focus on more intensely than reminding ourselves to take magical depths of deep breaths.

Art is an escape from everything, by forcing you to to stay put. Art tells you, Nothing in this world matters right now, except that your painting strokes on this canvas are precise.  Art tells you, Nothing matters except that your poem has a rhythm when you read it out loud. Art tells you, Yeah, you might feel like a mess, but all that really matters is that your calligraphic letters are curved just right with your ink-dipped bamboo pen.

Creating art puts you in the present moment without a sound, and you find yourself self-reflecting a great deal. 

You realise that even in your hustle and bustle of a schedule, you can still extract moments of serenity and quiet. Creating art slows down our jumbled, loud thoughts until we accept that it’s okay to not have all the answers at the same time. Creating art settles your feet so that they can stop leaping over hurdles and give you a chance to take ocean-deep breaths.


So don’t for a moment think that creating art is a waste of time. Art is one of the few streams of sanity in an insane world. A timeless Lil’wat principle of teaching & learning I think applies so well to my own art process:

“Kat’il’a — finding stillness and quietness amidst our busyness and the need to know.”

Create the kind of art that brings you joy and peace. It is an escape to a better you. Art is an escaping adventure that brings you home to Him… if you allow it to.

And Allah (God) knows Best.




Dabka Is Resistance

painting by  Ahlam Al Faqih 3

Painting by Ahlam Al Faqih


It’s not just a dance

(Though, admittedly, dancing it is)

It’s not just a great workout

(Though, let me tell you… the cardio…!)

It’s not just a form of entertainment

(Though entertaining to watch, it definitely is…)

It is, above all, cultural resistance.

When I, a Palestinian, do the dabka

in a relaxed setting,

What I am essentially saying with my body is:

I’m not forgetting

The past

Not forgiving the present situation

Not giving in to an illegal occupation –

I resist.

They may have the land – for now

But occupy our reasoning – just how

Can they expect us to foolishly give in

Our falafels as theirs and keffiyehs as fashion

What’s next – will Arabic

be their “own” language as well

While expecting us to meekly submit

behind the apartheid walls we dwell?

I resist.

Divide a community with a wall

And spill all the blood they want,

Yet there is One taking their every deed in account

Whether they remember it or not

Be you from the East or West, it doesn’t matter where

As long as in the name of justice we resist

To be divided in spirit.

From Gaza to Ramallah to Jerusalem,

Join hands in a circle and do the dabka

From Hebron to Nablus to Jenin,

Join hands in a circle and do the dabka

From every corner of Palestine,

And all the way to Canada,

I’ll join hands – no, hearts in a circle and do the dabka,

I’ll join hearts in a circle and do the dabka.

 flowery palestine

Dabka is resistance

To becoming bitter from anger and abuse

Dabka is resistance

To being blinded from the truth

Dabka is resistance

To becoming passive and neglectful

Dabka is resistance

To ever stop being proactive and hopeful

In His mercy and His will

To fix things still, oh –

Dabka is resistance.

Dabka is

Strong spirits, strong minds,

Strength of kindness one of a kind

Strong characters, strong perseverance

Strength of ongoing patient endurance.

And it shows with every bold step that we take

With every synchronized step that we make

And every graceful wave that is waved –

Dabka is resistance.

dabka ladies



Para Para Paradise Watercolors


It’s been a while that I’ve let out my inner child through the use of colour and spontaneous creativity.

Omer DeSerres has this knack of forcing me to buy something new from it every time I set one tip-toeing foot in it, however, so when I found myself at the cashier holding a set of watercolor pencil crayons and a notebook of French pages, I felt skeptic. “Really?” I thought to myself. “These look like ordinary pencil crayons. Do I really believe after drawing on the paper, then dipping a paintbrush in water and smearing it on the page, that the colours will melt like paint?”

Surprisingly, they did. Not as easily as paint but certainly they exceeded my expectations.

The purpose of this video is not to boast any drawing skills, as these are not representative of the drawings I usually do. It is the methodology of the video’s progress, how color by color adds up to each individual image, precisely representing how small incident plus small incidents accumulate over time to result in a beautiful life worth living…. this idea has been in my head for a while. (Also, the song was ingrained in me and I needed a venue to let it out.)

Hopefully the next time I upload a video similar to this, it will contain more depth and more attention to detail. This first time, it was mainly an experiment… and a really fun, time consuming yet motivating one at that. 🙂

Thank you for watching!