I met Mohammed Ali (the graffiti artist not the boxer) like many others via the internet on a search for Islamic Art. I had never heard of someone doing the type of art he does within the bounds of Islam and soon started a dialogue with him about what he does and what inspired him to get into this type of art. For hundreds of years the only arts commonly associated with Islam were the traditional forms of calligraphy, islamic geometric patterns and other arabesque styled arts which we see in many mosques, and when travelling to Islamic countries. Growing up on Birmingham in England in the 80â€™s and 90â€™s with the art-form of graffiti having an impact on brother Mohammedâ€™s view of the world and inspiring him creatively is what brought together these two seemingly irreconcilable entities of Islam & Graffiti.
The name Aerosol Arabic aptly expresses his form of art using the tools he knows best brother Mohammed sends out messages of Islam, messages of Peace, messages of Awareness and in a way has managed to demystify Islam in the eyes of some who have a different picture of the world. Those who live in modern settings where they are being bombarded by advertising and signage and digital images. In this world sometimes the only free expression is in the form of Graffiti though the common usage of it may not be fully understood by the outsider.
In a way Mohammed Ali is also putting out another message to graffiti artists out there, to the next generation that their expression can take on many different forms and that even though they may use certain tools the meaning of their words and the messages they put out can be profound and pure and true not necessarily a swipe at authority of a rejection of society but a means of creating positive awareness and of bridging gaps of understanding.
His website is a good place to start if youâ€™re interested in following this unique journey and viewing some of the pieces of art which has made him famous in many countries. He also has a YouTube site where you can follow commentary of his travels and exhibitions and interviews with those who have come into contact with him.
On his recent tour to Chicago where he met with many locals discussing societal and community issues one of the his projects was a mural at the ICNA(Islamic Community of North America) centre only 5% into the Peace mural a complaint was made which put an end to the mural which simple has in itâ€™s centre the word Salaam meaning peace. Someone ignorantly thought the 2 vertical elements in the Arabic word stood for the twin towers which is a sign of the level of understanding between these communities, one trying to express a message of Peace and the other seeing the total opposite. It is a reflection on the feelings which still dwell in peopleâ€™s hearts that they are not prepared to enter into dialogue and only willing to censor each other.
Brother Mohammed Ali has been a great inspiration to me and I am honoured to have met him on my trip to London 2 years ago. he is a humble, warm and friendly character with a great passion for what he does and extremely talented in this unique form of expression.