Sba Shaikh

Sba Shaikh. Eid ul Milad un Nabi. Ajmer.

Artist Statement: The power of spiritual environments of Sufi Saints shrines welcome people from all walks of life, where the different emotional layers of Islam under ‘Sufism’ are understood. Here the unsaid spiritual connections have no boundaries: there is no hate, prejudice against colour, race, gender and class – all are seen as one in these spiritual spaces.

Growing up, the 6 weeks summer holidays were exciting for us. When a trip to India was planned there was always a visit to the Sufi Saints’ shrines of Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi and Khawaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer Sharif. These were really spiritual invitations. It is said, that if you do not get this invitation, you would not visit!

This tradition has carried on into my adulthood where I would pay my respects at both shrines when visiting India and got the ‘calling’. Although I inherited this spirituality to some respects from my beautiful mother, I always had a yearning to be in such environments where I felt at peace in my heart and to be ‘at One’ with Allah since childhood.

Visiting such shrines always evokes my deeper self; being in a spiritually charged atmosphere my prayer becomes my sanity and sanctuary. Even, amongst the divine ordered chaos I can be in my own thoughts. The presence of humans is not felt physically around me, just the sacred and the unseen. I can ‘zone out’ to have my ‘selfish’ personal connection with Allah which I have when on my own, during prayers and when I enter into a deeper emotional realm. Ordinarily cameras are allowed with in the vicinity of the Dargha Sharif and these two photographs were taken using my mobile phone. These were taken during the ‘Eid ul Milad un Nabi’ celebrations, at the shrine of Khawaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer Sharif, India. I wanted to capture the hustle and bustle of individuals, of them just by being there paying their respects. The hope is for the viewer to tap into the spiritual electric atmosphere which I felt I had to capture and share when taking them.