My name is Mohammad Al Hamwi. I’m a Syrian writer and a photographer. I am currently based in Egypt.
I have authored four published books, and displayed my photography in two exhibitions:One in Egypt, and another in the USA.
My interest in Islamic art started early. Since I was a child, I used to accompany my father to visit the great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus;An old mosque built during the Umayyad era in 715 AD. This building is considered the inception of the Islamic architectural style. Incidentally, it also contains the shrine of John the Baptist.
When I entered the mosque, I was amazed by how spacious it was and how its majestic pillars filled the entrance; it was the kind of space that made me feel small in compares onto its vastness. I was very happy when my dad let go of my hand. I ran freely around the empty and huge mosque courtyard.
I chased the pigeons around and they flew back to their nests inside the mosque’s brick domes. I stood next to a huge column and I gazed at its height. I was enchanted by the fountain in the middle of the yard as I used my hands to scoop water out to wash and make ablution. I secretly wanted to play and splash the water with the pigeons after people left.
Throughout my life, I was never attracted to the regular contemporary mosques. I’ve always found unique charm and beauty in the styles of old ones; they always provided a quiet and relaxing ambience, away from the daily stress and society’s noise.
My interest in Islamic art and its philosophy started during a visit to my uncle. He was a visual artist who suddenly abandoned his previous artistic interests of 40 years and focused completely on Arabic calligraphy and, later, on Islamic ornaments and architecture and their origin.
At that time, we started a project together to make a book about Islamic art collected from the works of western artists and philosophers such as the German orientalist “Annemarie Schimmel”, among others.Unfortunately, we had to stop due to the circumstances in Syria.
During that time, I collected many photos of Damascus.I took photos of mosques, old buildings, markets, and bazaars. I also took many photos inside Arabic houses, which are considered Damascus’s hidden treasures.These houses were built from an architectural and aesthetic vision influenced by Islamic concepts which focused mainly on the family and its lifestyle. These concepts inspired architectural styles and designs in complete harmony with the local climate and natural surroundings to accomplish peace, tranquility, and privacy, without sacrificing safety and beauty. The Arabic houses were considered little paradises for their families regardless of the financial status of the family. The design often included a highly decorated internal open courtyard with a central fountain and beautiful facades. Landscaping also plays an important role in the courtyard with citrus trees, rose bushes, and climbing jasmine trees planted throughout.
Later on, I managed to finalize an introductory study about the Arabic house, its details and sections, with explanation and examples on the purposes and design methods of each section.
Shortly after that, I moved to Egypt, and I took advantage of the great and rich Islamic heritage and history there to expand my photography collection. I also had the chance to visit Istanbul and tour the blue mosque and other important Islamic sites in Turkey.
After my second exhibition (24 Seconds in Holy places), which was in Valparaiso University/ USA, during which I made a speech about Islamic art, I decided to start building this website to put my opinion as a photographer and an observer-not a specialist-on this type of art.
It’s a lounge more than anything else; a lounge which allow you to relax, meditate, read, and compare to understand more about Islamic art.
I have posted more than 500 private pictures and a lot of articles, quotes, and books that show and present Islamic art’s philosophy, types, ornaments, architects,minarets, houses, etc.
So, I welcome you in this Islamic art lounge, and I hope you enjoy your journey in this website.