“I have taken extracts from the Quran, Bhagavad Gita, Torah, Bible,Stalin, Mao and others
to promote my message of peaceful co existence, for when every great religion and
philosophy speak the same truth and everything ends in the same reality, all of this is just
a Spectacle.” — Faiza Shaikh
When Faiza Shaikh’s art exhibition was suddenly cancelled in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, religious intolerance, social unrest and extremism crested to frightening levels.
As an artist, Faiza Shaikh has gained renown for her captivating Islamic texts rendered in gold leaf. More recently, she has painted verses from the texts of the great religious books such the Bhagavad Gita, the Torah and the Bible, highlighting the beauty and similitude of these religions.
Her work drew rapturous praise at her recent exhibition at the Blackrat art gallers entitled “Forbideen Love” and Bafta galleries in London. In view of the current religious strife that plagues the world today, Faiza’s celebration of the beauty of all religions promoting the same message of peace has strongly resonated with a western audience.
Though progress is generally measured in terms of modernization, industrialisation and economic advancement, Faiza believes that societies steeped in bitter prejudices can never really be truly progressive. “The first step towards progress is dealing with bigotry and intolerance,” says Faiza. “Living in London, I value the beauty of tolerance and the appreciation of diversity.”
Faiza explains why she thinks her work has generated such immense interest in the UK: “Art is all about freedom of expression and the UK is so cosmopolitan where people want to learn about other religions and cultures.”
As a Muslim originally from Pakistan and now settled in London, Faiza Shaikh’s work defies the deeply misleading stereotype of Islam as a violent and militant religion, “My work is all about promoting unity and tolerance. My message is that all religions essentially say the same thing.”
Religious tolerance arises from ignorance about other faiths. Reading the Gita, Faiza came across many parallels with the Quran, for example, life after death, the Gita speaks of reincarnation while the Quran also upholds the idea of the continuity of soul. “The Gita speaks about the purpose of life, it is very interesting to read.”
Celebrating the universality of religion, Faiza’s art continues to play a powerful role in quelling religious tensions and promoting the beauty of the world’s great religions.