I photographed this object at my house where it stands in a glass cupboard. The object is a metallic hand symbol called an ‘Alam’. It is an Islamic religious symbol that is meant to represent the flag that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his family (peace be upon them) were said to have carried during expeditions. It is of spiritual significance to Twelver Shi’ite Muslims, and is often seen in their mosques and their spiritual processions. It is especially connected to a brave and selfless spiritual figure Abbas ibn Ali (peace be upon him) who played a pivotal role in the Battle of Karbala (680 AD) and who was the standard bearer for a small minority of revolutionaries who stood up to an oppressive ruler.
My relationship with this object is very profound, as I happen to be a Shi’ite Muslim. From the time that I was a small child until now it has been a constant symbol of reverence and love for me, especially when it is more visible during the Shi’ite holiday of Ashura in which we commemorate the martyrs that died in the Battle of Karbala. For me it is a symbol of justice that reminds me to always connect my faith to practical work that promotes social justice, human rights and dignity for all. I find the object interesting because to me it means that truth will always prevail over injustice no matter the material consequences of supporting the truth. I also consider it to have a powerful status because it is a symbol that unites lovers of freedom and provides them with hope to overcome what seem to be insurmountable life obstacles.
Contributor Biography: Thamina Jaferi
Thamina Jaferi is a Canadian Muslim lawyer, former diversity consultant and currently works a Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Advisor. Her passions include human rights, diversity, interfaith work and community engagement. She is excited about the work that The Elements Experiment is involved in and believes that it fulfills a critical role in promoting cross-cultural, interfaith and religious/secular understanding in Canadian society. Thamina believes that each Canadian should be free to express their spiritual beliefs in a manner that promotes the coexistence of different groups of people and allows for the opportunity to share differences in a peaceful way.