Monday, December 29, 2014

Painters Tape Allah Canvas Art

Today is my mom's birthday. To my daughters she is Taita, which is Arabic for Grandmother. 

For the special occasion, we took a vote in our house and unanimously decided she was the Best Taita In The World, for many reasons of course, but we each had a favorite -
she makes the most amazing mubatan
she gives the best hugs
she can hunt down a bargain like a pro
she knows a way to a son in law's heart is through waraq' 3inab
she is a brainiac with a phD

Honestly, the list can stretch for miles and miles and miles.  We wanted to make her a little present for her birthday to let her know we love her. 

She is in transition and can't have too much stuff in her house.  She is also in need of a little color in her life right now, so we decided to make her a mini canvas painting using painter's tape, although some might call it packing tape, paint and math.

These projects are all the rage over in Pinterest right now.

Except instead of randomly placing our painters tape on our canvas, we decided to write Allah, which is the Arabic word for God.  It is used by Muslims, Christians, and Jews who speak the Arabic language.  It is written from right to left as الله‎ . 

Painters Tape Canves Art Tutorial
There are many way to write Allah, and we were inspired by the square Kufic script that can be seen here.

My eldest daughter is the one that made the Allah painting and I took photos of the process to share with you in case you'd like to make your own. 

4x4 inch Canvas
Acrylic Paint
Painter's tape
Cutting Mat

First we laid out our painter's tape on the cutting mat and used the xacto to cut three equal lines.  We found ourselves having to measure quite a few things in thirds.

We then measured a third of the way down and lightly made marks on both sides of the mini canvas. I love these mini canvases and buy them in bulk every time there is a 50% off coupon at my local craft store.  I've used them before on our Mini Canvas Minarets Tutorial.

We picked up one of smaller pieces of painters tape and placed it between the two marks. Make sure you press down hard so no paint leaks through later.

On the larger side of the canvas, make markings a third of the way on the other end.

Cut off another piece of painters tape from your mat and place it like the photo below.

Once all your pieces are laid our flat, start painting one end of your canvas with blue paint.

Stop about halfway, making sure your whole canvas is completely covered in blue.

We didn't wash our brush, simply squirted a little green paint on the newspaper and started painting it into the blue, blending it in gently.  Then we concentrated on painting the rest of the canvas solid green.

We let it dry overnight, and then took off the tape.

Yalla, what do you think? I hope she likes it.

Other than drying time, the project took us no time to make, but was still made with lots of love.  I bet you can make a whole batch of them and give them out as Eid favors at your next end of Ramadan party.

(Please be respectful where you place your Allah canvas.)

For more handmade artwork celebrating Allah's name, please visit
I Love Allah This Much Card
Allah Monogram Button Art Tutorial
Tissue Paper Allah Framed Art Tutorial

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu

Merry Christmas to all my fans, followers and friends. I hope this holiday season brings you the best of all gifts around any tree: a happy and safe family.

Here is how you say Merry Christmas in the three languages I sell in the A Crafty Arab Zibbet shop:
Arabic - Eid Majeed
Farsi - Kerimas Mobarak
Urdu - Krismas Mubarakho

I've been making Farsi greeting cards the last week and plan to list them throughout the weekend.  I thought you might be interested in the Christmas ones for next year's list before I make them public!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December Arabic Authors Book Club - The Corpse Washer

(There are affiliate links in this post)

Tonight we had a lovely Arab authors book club where we discussed the book The Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon.

We were fortunate enough to be only one degree away from Mr. Antoon, and despite a time difference, he was generous enough to accommodate us with a video question and answer session.

The Corpse Washer showcases the struggles of a single desperate family in contemporary Iraq.

It took me much longer to digest then other books because of the circumstances our protagonist, Jawad, has in his life.  He wanted nothing more then to be an artist yet the events of US invasion of his homeland changed his world and he had to give up his dream to return to his family business, washing the dead.

It was so sad. 

Yet so beautifully written that it did it with style and I would still highly recommend it. The description of the pomegranate tree alone is well worth the heart strings tugs.

Lest you think our evening was all talk of dead bodies and strife, it was also a good lesson in understanding other cultures.

As usual, we started with an amazing potluck dinner with spinach stew with lemon basrah & Iraqi meat loaf (a traditional dish from the authors' home town - The city of Mousel), batata bel syneh "potatoes and minced meat," Iraqi summac salad, and a few other dishes that were quite yummy.

As we all sat down to the table, we brought out the laptop and plugged away at reaching Mr. Antoon. He quickly came on and spent the next hour answer all our questions. Here are a few that struck a cord with me and I wanted to share.

Book Club - What did you want people to walk away learning from this book?

Sinan Antoon - Before I had the idea for this book, I was trying to figure out how I could portray people in a difficult war to the outside world. I needed them to see the Shi'ite in a different light, even thought I had to do a lot of research on the Shi'ite rituals, since I've never had contact with them. I came across an
article about a corpse washer in the paper, and how business for him was
too much right now, and I realized I needed to tell that story. My other books had never had this voice and I wanted people to hear it.

BC - Do you know the ending of a book before you start writing?

SA - Yes. Always.

BC - How do you translate poetry or other's writings from Arabic to English?

SA - First when I have a work, I translate it word for word, it is only when I go back that I start changing a few things, just to help with the flow. But the content needs to stay whole to still have the voice.

BC - Our book club is always struggling to find authors to read from the Arab world because so many countries are missing voices. What is being doing by the established authors to help these others find a way to share their stories?

SA - As you know, this is a difficult time for us, because of so many situations in different areas, but a few are trying to make a difference. Khaled Mattawa held a conference soon after the Libyan revolution to encourage writers and poets to record their history. But as you know, the country has once again become difficult to do anything right now. It is a struggle.

We ended the evening with a promise to Mr. Antoon to read more Arab authors and get their narratives heard.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Arab Poet Society

Last Thursday night I had the pleasure of attending an event presented by the Bellevue College Arabic Culture Student Association.

For one beautiful evening this relatively new organization managed to showcase three very diverse Arab voices.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha has lived the experiences of first-generation American, immigrant, and expatriate. In the summer of 2014, her poem “Running Orders”—written from the voice of a Palestinian evacuee in Gaza—went viral online. Her heritage is Palestinian, Jordanian, and Syrian and she is fluent in Arabic. She has lived in and travelled across the Arab world, and many of her poems are inspired by the experience of crossing borders: cultural, geographic, political, borders between the present and the living past. She translated the screenplay for the award-winning film “When I Saw You”, written and directed by Annemarie Jacir in 2011. She has poems in Floating Bridge Review, Taos International Journal of Poetry and Art, and in the print anthology Being Palestinian, to be published by Oxford Press in 2015.

Rajaa A. Gharbi is an international painter, poet and socio-linguist. She was born and raised in Tunisia. A native writer and speaker of the Arabic language, Gharbi is the first North African English language poet in the United States to have been published and awarded public funding for literary work (1986-2006). She is the author of From Songs of a Grasshopper and Digging for Gems (books of poems, Kehna 2004 and 1993) and Blue Forces, a book of essays (Kehna 1998). She is also featured in the Encyclopedia of Arab American Artists, 2007 (Dr. Fayeq Oweis Heinemann 2007),We Have Crossed Many Rivers: New Poetry From Africa (an anthology edited by Dr. Diké Okoro 2012 Northwestern University, Evanston) and the Power and the Role of the Intellectual Symposium, Department of English Language and Literature, Cairo University, Egypt (Dr. Najib Redouane, California State University 2005).

She was a 2012 Achievement Award recipient at the international Arab Women Artists Biennale in Sousse, Tunisia, a 2006 Tunisia’s Hannibal Arts and Culture Grant award for an honor performance of her poems and retrospective exhibition in Washington DC. In 2007, she was nominated for the Seattle Mayor’s Art Award and the Horace Mann Achievement Award. Her work is profiled and exhibited around the world.

Maged Zaher is the author of THANK YOU FOR THE WINDOW OFFICE (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012), THE REVOLUTION HAPPENED AND YOU DIDN'T CALL ME (Tinfish Press, 2012), and PORTRAIT OF THE POET AS AN ENGINEER (Pressed Wafer, 2009). His collaborative work with the Australian poet Pam Brown, FAROUT LIBRARY SOFTWARE, was published by Tinfish Press in 2007. His translations of contemporary Egyptian poetry have appeared in Jacket magazine and Banipal. He has performed his work at Subtext, Bumbershoot, the Kootenay School of Writing, St. Marks Project, Evergreen State College, and American University in Cairo, among other places. He is also the winner of the 2013 Genius Award Winner for Literature.

Even the Fall 2014 Arab 101 students got into the evening by  reciting "Ahino Ila Chobzi Omi." I actually was impressed at how well they did.  You can tell a large number of them really did memorize the piece.  As many times as I've heard it, I'm not sure I could do the same!

Great job gals and guys!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Eid Al Adha 2014

Today we celebrated Eid Al Adha. Also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, it is the second of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide each year.

Eid Al Adha 2014
It honors the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his promised son, Ismail, as an act of submission to God's command, before God then intervened to provide Abraham with a lamb to sacrifice instead. The meat from the sacrificed animal is preferred to be divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy.

We gathered with friends to reconnect, eat, donate to Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility and play a friendly, yet competitive, trivia game. 

The kids received a quarter for each time they said "Eid Mubarak" (Blessed Eid) to an adult.  A tradition my daughters love because it always means a side trip to Toys R Us on the way home.

The kids were also entertained by listening to the story of Ismail before Lucy the alligator and her handler, The Reptile Man caused the room to explode in screams and laughter. 

May Allah bless you and your loved ones.  Please try to do one good deed for a stranger today.
Lamb, chicken, salata, waraq 3anub, baba ghanoush, etc, etc, etc
It was hard to overeat on the main food knowing there was this dessert table.
"I give my American resources to Gaza to make up for what my American government is doing to Gaza."

A very interactive audience for the story of why we are celebrating Eid.
Be sure to visit the Reptile Zoo to see Lucy fall asleep.
Mt. Rainer was out in full glory for our drive home.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Arabic Alphabet coloring pages...Ra is for Racoon

Happy Labor Day!

My family and I are taking the day to celebrate at the flea market in Packwood but before we left I made this new free color page for you, my faithful blog followers. 

This page is for the letter Ra, that is represented by Raisa the Racoon, which is how you say raccoon in Arabic. Raisa is a very good planner and keeps everything organized in her life.

Other words that use Ra are riyadha (sports), ramadi (gray), and reeh (wind).

Have a safe weekend everyone.  Here is where you can download Ra Coloring Page.

You can also enjoy these Arabic letters and animals that have been done already -
Arrnab Coloring PageBatreek Coloring Page
Thu'ban Coloring Page
Faraasha Coloring Page
Samakah Coloring Page
Qird Coloring Page

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fatima Al-Fihriyya is luminous

I was updating my Pinterest boards, having been inspired at my first Pinterest Party yesterday, when I came across this image of Fatima Al-Fihriyya painted by the artist Nayzak.

Fatima Al-Fihriyya Art Nouveau by Nayzak

Fatima Muhammad Al-Fihri (فاطمة محمد الفهري) in 859 founded a mosque and madrasa in Fes, Morocco. The madrasa, or school, came to be one of the most notable institutions of this kind; it is still in operation today, since 1963 as the University of Qarawiyyin, and is sometimes dubbed the "world's oldest university".

What I noticed most was the amount of color she had on.  Such dazzling, brilliant colors.  I feel so honored to come from the Arabic culture that gave the world brilliant women that not only start universities, but also adorn themselves in style.

I wish I had not spent so many of my own university days running into the library in sweats and flip flops. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Play Hide and Go Seek #WhatGazaChildrenCouldBeDoing

It was yet another beautuifl day in Seattle. We are so blessed to have had such a lovely summer so far.

We headed back to our favorite park today and played a fun game of hide and go seek.

If children in Gaza had a park, we are sure they could be playing a game of hide and seek too.

Play Hide and Go Seek #WhatGazaChildrenCouldBeDoing

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

30 days of Ramadan Crafty Challenge Roundup (2014)

30 days of Ramadan Crafty challenge roundup (2014)
I started the 30 days of Ramadan Crafty challenge back in July 2011 to give me and my three young daughters a creative outlet to celebrate this holy month of their heritage and culture.

I also live a fair distance from my family, so these crafts bring me closer to them by allowing me to reminisce about my extended family and growing up Muslim in Libya.

Please enjoy this alphabetical list of the 30 free Arab and Islamic DIY craft tutorials we made to celebrate the days of Ramadan 2014. 

1.   Arabesque Wallet Tutorial
2.   Arabesque Window Cling Tutorial
3.   Arabic Letter Window Ornaments
4.   Bahrain Crayon Holder Tutorial
5.   Begin Everything With Bismillah Free Printable
6.   Camel Glass Mosaic Bibelot Tutorial
7.   Cardboard Mosque Tutorial
8.   Djibouti Treasure Tin Tutorial
9.   Duct Tape Eid Sheep Earrings
10. Egyptian Mummy Charm Tutorial
11. Eid Cake Banner Tutorial
12. Eid Confetti Bag Tutorial
13. Eid Craft Stick Frame Tutorial
14. Eid in an Eggshell Tutorial
15. Eid Money Foam Envelopes Tutorial
16. Eid Night Light Tutorial
17. Eid Poppers Tutorial
18. Eid Rattle Drum Tutorial
19. Glittery Ramadan Frame Tutorial
20. Happy Eid Candle Tutorial
21. Ishmael & Family Story Shadow Puppets Tutorial
22. Islamic Prayer Mat Tutorial
23. Peg Muslim Dolls Tutorial
24. Ramadan Crescent Moon Pompom Tutorial
25. Ramadan Kareem Wallies Tutorial
26. Ramadan Lantern Card Tutorial
27. Ramadan Moon Sun Catcher Tutorial
28. Ramadan Suhoor Sharpie Mug
29. Red, White & Blue Hanging Eid Favor
30. Rub el Hizb Fabric Magnet Tutorial
If you would rather see the images of the above items, make sure you visit my Pinterest board for this year. And follow me to get updates for 2015!
30 days of Ramadan Crafty challenge roundup (2014)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blessed Eid Al-Fitr (2014)

Eid Mubarak*!

We made it through another Ramadan, alhumduAllah.  Is it me, or did this month fly by?

Our Seattle weather went mad with heat waves and thunderstorms, days apart.

The world went mad in Gaza, Iraq, and Libya and continues to be mad in Syria and Egypt. And our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and Malaysia also suffer.

Let us all take this day to reflect on how our fasting has brought us closer to Allah, our family, our community, and the other 1.65 billion Muslims in the world today. Use this Eid al-Fitr as a day of thanks giving.

We will celebrate by gathering with loved ones and giving children gifts.  And yes, after 30 days, we will take a day off from crafting and rest. I'll write a wrap up post tomorrow of all the crafts we did.

Once again, I am most grateful to have spent time with each of my 3 girls, coming up with the crafts, creating the crafts, remaking the crafts in some instances, but most important, talking to her about her religion.

I wish all my friends, family, and followers peace for the upcoming months ahead and may Allah have forgiven our sins.
Eid Mubarak to you

*A common greeting during this holiday is Eid Mubarak, which means, “Have a blessed Eid!”

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cardboard Mosque Tutorial

We made it.  Our whole month of 30 days of Ramadan crafts are over.  We really enjoyed coming up with all the new Arabic and Islamic crafts!

I knew I wanted to create something special for today, but honestly had no ideas by the afternoon.  I decided a trip to Costco to buy all the food we need for our Eid gathering was a great way to procrastinate.  While I was there, I saw a corn box that had a fantastic opening on the side that reminded me of a mosque door.  I knew right away that I had to figure out a way to turn it into a toy for my youngest. When we got home, we made it a family affair.

I asked my husband to help with the cutting (box cutters can be a hard for little hands),  my oldest daughter helped with making square side pieces, my middle daughter helped design the dome and minerate and I designed and cut out the doors. 

My youngest got to enjoy the fruits of our labor by playing with the mosque non-stop since we put it together for her a few hours ago.
Cardboard boxes
Box cutters
Cutting mat

We used the pencil and Sharpie to draw out our designs.  It really helps to use the T-square ruler to make sure everything was even.

Use the T-square again with the box cutter to keep cutting stright.

The first piece we made was the side of the mosque, which was 8 x 5 1/2, with two side slits, one inch in.

You'll need to cut two exactly the same.

 The back of our mosque is 11 x 7, again with 1 inch slits on the sides, and an arched door.  To get the arched door, I made two lines 4 inches in from each side.  I used a cup to get the round of the archway.

The front of the mosque was cut the same way, but my daughter used a pot lid for the dome, and free hand drew the details on the top.

Once all your mosque is complete, it should look like this.

And if you cut your pieces just right, you can see through both doors!

Next, start on the minaret but cutting a 5 1/2 inches square.  Again, create slits 1 inch in.

Make sure you cut two sides!

Our minaret is 16 inches tall and at its widest, 5 1/2, to match our sides. We tapered in the sides before adding the dome (another pot lid) and a little detail on top. We also added a slit about 7 inches down to add stability to our pieces. The slits on the bottom and arch door was cut as above.

Make your second piece is identical to the first.

Because the minaret was so tall, we decided to add an attachment piece to connect the front and back towers. It is 4 1/4 wide by 3 3/4 tall.  We added the notices so it would fit into the minaret walls.

Here is what the minaret will look like once it's completed.

As an added bonus, you can use the stabilizer piece as an area where the muezzin calls the adhan.

And as you can see, my daughter used our Peg Muslim Dolls to play with this mosque all afternoon!

And here is a blurred photo of my youngest, having a grand old time with her new mosque. I haven't even told her she can color it if she'd like!
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