Lesser-Known Stories is the recent Curating Art project by Saima Usman as a part of her curatorial studies at the Konstfack University of Art, Craft and Design Stockholm, Sweden held at Botkyrka Konsthall on May 24th to June 21st, 2017. Saima who migrated from Pakistan to Sweden and explores the causes of immigration from Muslim countries - poverty or politics? She is not in favor of media propaganda about Islam especially the way as how Muslim women are considered in the west is not satisfactory according to UN human rights declaration and GDPs. Immigration or movement of people around the globe is necessary for sustainability, the right of practicing one’s own religion and freedom of choice should be highly appreciated. For her Art project of interest, Saima approached two Pakistani Artists, Shazia Farrukh and Khusro Sabzwari.

Shazia Farrukh is among of those artists who mostly work in a realistic manner, the nature of her brush strokes is very thin, elegant and vibrant. Often in her work, people can see not only the technique but there is an interesting story behind her miniature paintings. She mainly works on social and class issues in the society. Being a mother of a six-year old boy based in Stockholm, Sweden as she was raised in Lahore, Pakistan she experienced many new behaviors and circumstances in her life. After her graduation in Islamic Art and printing techniques, from National College of Arts, she started working as an Interior Designer and designed on the latest trends of ready-made Italian Kitchens in Pakistan. As she loves to paint her experience of diaspora she painted a series of Mughal or Persian miniature paintings in the recent exhibition at Botkyrka Konsthall curated by Saima Usman that was held on May 2017, the series of her work on Muslim feminism was highly appreciated by Swedish and Pakistani communities in Sweden. She worked on the given theme by the curator as the major theme was “Lesser- Known Stories, On the Reception of Muslim Culture in Sweden.” She explored the role and worth of Muslim women according to the guidance of Islam in the light of Qur'an and Sunnah.

In her painting, “What you did, what I did?” Shazia tried to explain about as many Muslims and Christian belief that the woman did the sin before the man and woman insisted on saying man to do the sin. She wants to nuance that if we read Qur'an, it totally opposes this concept and in Islam, it is clearly written that woman and man both confessed the crime and it is also mentioned in Quran that men and women are individually and separately are responsible and accountable for their deeds. Women and men are equally judged by God they are equal but not same. They are distinguished according to their body but not the deeds, rewards, and punishments. The same story is behind her another miniature painting called, “elements of origin” she describes that as in Quran God says that He created men and women with the same element, sometimes it is stated in Quran that God created men and women both with the flesh of blood. It clearly meant both men and women are equal in all the matters of life. In the painting “Sky is the Veil of God” Shazia wants to describe that all precious and wonderful things are covered and hidden and women should also not expose their beauty as they are sacred like even God is also hiding behind the sky. She gave an example that Sky looks like the veil of God. In Shazia´s painting, “Birth of a Mother” Shazia described that God has given worth to a woman as in Qur'an the whole one whole chapter is dedicated and named after the mother of Jesus Maryam. God in Qur'an Has never called any prophet with the reference of His parents rather than just "Jesus" as "Isaa Ibn e Maryam" that means Maryam´s son.

According to the teachings of Islam, all Muslims believe that they all humans will be recognized with the names of their mothers in the day of judgment.

Khusro Subzwari is a well-known international artist and clairvoyant based in Pakistan. His love with the poetry of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi was started during his visit to Turkey while he exercised with the practitioners of whirling Dervish in the Mosque. He could feel and understand the exotic way of self-recognition while paying full attention of the evolution of the universe and the small dots and circles that lead to the more and more journeys of the life cycle. According to Rumi and Khusro-Universe and planets are made to recognize God and the self-recognition is, in fact, the recognition of God.

According to Islamic Sufi philosophy, the stars and earth and all the planets are round and revolving around each other we the humans, are also the part of this movement or meditation. People who want to spread Love and humanity on earth are really close to God. The equal rights of Females and males are given by God to make this earth equally distributed to all the creatures. This universe is made up of tiny particles that science says atom or molecules and in the human body is called cells and nucleus, these all particles are very necessary to each other love and attraction is the soul of life. To lighten our heart, we should have empathy for others of any race, caste, religion, origin or gender.

Written by: Saima Usman

More About Project: click:



To listen Interview of the curator click on the link below:

Saima Usman´s Interview by Guest Lecturer, Michele Masucci for the Konstfack Degree Exhibition 2017.


Art work of Artist Khusro Subzwari at Botkyrka Konsthall in the show Lesser-Known Stories Curated by Saima Usman with the collaboration of Curator Lab at the Konstfack University of Art Craft and Design Stockholm, Sweden.

Photo: Saima Usman.

Art Work of Artist Shazia Farrukh at Botkyrka Konsthall in the show Lesser-Known Stories Curated by Saima Usman with the collaboration of Curator Lab at the Konstfack University of Art Craft and Design Stockholm, Sweden.

Photo: Naveed Abbas Memom (PICs Sweden).

Mingle after the show ended at Botkyrka Konsthall in the show Lesser-Known Stories Curated by Saima Usman with the collaboration of Curator Lab at the Konstfack University of Art Craft and Design Stockholm, Sweden.

Photo: Naveed Abbas Memom (PICs Sweden).

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It’s a common accusation made against Muslims and Islam in general: “The only reason Islam is a world religion is that it spread by the sword.” It’s a favorite remark of Islamophobes who parade as analysts and historians fear-mongering about the threat Islam supposedly poses to the Western World. With it being such a hot topic that causes so much debate, it is appropriate to analyze and study this topic to better understand whether it is valid or not.

Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Persia – The First Conquests

After the life of prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him), Islamic expansion truly began in the early 630s, AD. Campaigns against the Byzantine and Sassanid (Persian) Empires were initiated which pitted this new religion of Islam, with its desert Arabianwarriors against the established and ancient empires centered in Constantinople and Ctesiphon.

Abu Bakr, the first caliph of Islam, gave these armies rules which would seem very constricting by today’s standards of warfare:

Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kills a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.”

Being a Muslimah it is my duty to learn and teach. Islam teaches to do research work and gain knowledge.It is the responsibility of every Muslim to convey the real knowledge and the real recognition of the human and the universe and the relation between them. Why they are created and by whom they are created.

Living in Europe I was always feeling guilty and accused because of media and war against Muslims in the name of “War on terror.” I see the hatred towards my religion and country.

From Lost Islamic history: Firas Al-khateeb.



The Risen Fall of Muslims

It was the year 1492 when Cristopher Columbus was about to conquer the world voyage Americas. He was the guest of the ceremony hosted by king and queen of Spain Isabela and Ferdinand. They were celebrating a grand victory.Before this day Granada was ruled by Muslims. Isabela has arranged to rust control over Spain. Ferdinand and Isabela victory was turning point of Spain and Europe. The middle ages were now over. The West is on the back of new power and discovery. We tend to think it as the beginning of an era. In fact, it is the climax of the forgotten chapter of the risen fall of Islam.

In the year 711 AD Muslim forces invaded Spain and created a society so rich and so powerful. It was the end of the known world. This wasn’t the rigid Islamic form of the imagination but the progressive, sensuous, intellectual and curious culture that for a number of spine tingling look said to sweep the whole of the Europe. It is an incredible story, the one that has systematically removed out of the history. After the Catholic monarch to look over the cities of Granada they began to destroy all evidence that the Muslims had ever been in Spain. In the following century, the Spanish authority persecuted and expelled three hundred thousand Muslims and burned as many as million Arabic books. This was an astonishing act of ethnic cleansing. It put a civilization that could flourish in Spain for 700 years. These people have become known as the moors. Propaganda sparked by Crusades that has given an enduring image the diabolical Moor. A dark skin savage alien enemy. But this character was complete innovation and tells us nothing about who these people really were. Now archaeologists of historian have started to know about the real story of the Moor world in Spain. They uncover the remains of the hidden cities. Discovering the role of Muslims in the revival of the climax and decoding the meaning of Islamic buildings.

A fascinating picture has emerged. Bettany Hougues did a new research to explore what happened when the East met West in Europe. There is one place that challenges the story type of the blood thirsty Moor. Here is Alhambra palace in Garanda. The Alhambra is most of the complete medieval Islamic palaces in the whole world. It was built by Muslim king Garanda in the 14th century at the height of the power. Its name means the Red one. It is the mystery not a single account of life survived but they are in fires of inquisition. The Catholic couldn’t bring them to destroy this place. The Alhambra is one of the wonders of the medieval world and preserving what they have kept a lot of mysteries that we can use to decorate the civilization and builders. Inside the palace walls, architecture is breath taking. It is quite cool and minimal.Granada was known to producing silks and cushions and rugs and curtains would be hanging around just like we are listening to music when we sit down in the middle of the palace, A water pool gives a mirror effect and we can see the whole place in it. Every detail of the palace decoration seems very fascinating and the patterns and wood work is amazing on the walls and windows.

I have taken the above starting of my project from a documentary movie, “When the Moors ruled in Europe” by Bettany Hugues.