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Hi. I’m James.

I’m a Muslim, an American, and a Photographer. Welcome!

Have a look around: there’s plenty to see and read. I mostly post reminders (to myself first), write reviews, share photographs, and explore my thoughts on life, the universe, and my journey through it all.

Drop me a line if you get a chance, say hello, let me know what you like, what you hate, what you’d like to see more or less of, give me some advice and/or let me know how I can help.

Muslim

In the Holy Quran, Allah azza wa jal instructs Muslims to learn the religion, act on what we know, teach and remind others, and be patient through it all.

وَالْعَصْرِ
إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ
إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ

By time,
Indeed, all mankind is in loss,
Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience. (emphasis mine)

As I study and learn, I try to share things here as reminders to myself first, and in hopes that readers might learn something new about this beautiful religion, find some nugget of inspiration or a new way of looking at things, or otherwise benefit. Please ask questions, send corrections, and request topics! We’re called to encourage truth and patience in each other, and I need more help than most anyone.

Previous topics included the Six Pillars of Iman (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and a recap) and ways to recognize and avoid various traps (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10), and I’ve written or shared short commentaries on hadith, various prayers, and other topics, and usually post a daily reminder every day during Ramadan.

I try to post reminders weekly, but have some occasional lapses and hiccoughs. May Allah accept my efforts and guide me to better.

American

As an American, I exercise my citizenship and participate in the country and its economy with the various apparatus available to me: I work, shop, vote, complain, try to be productive during (or wile away) my free time, go to sleep, wake up and do it all over again the next day.

For work, I lead a team of researchers, write process and procedures manuals, and use LEAN and Six Sigma tools to improve processes. I don’t talk much about any of that here.

With my consumption, beyond the necessities, I mostly buy photography-related things with my meager disposable income: books, gear, prints, etc. In order to convert some of my consumption into production, I write reviews of different things I acquire:

I vote at the ballot box every chance I get, but most of my voting takes place with my wallet. Like most other Americans, my power here is limited, but I exercise it with all of my power. I push against anything that prioritizes profit over people and anything that marginalizes individuals or groups for any reason. Most of this happens in my private life, but I sometimes exercise  my right to complain here.

But I’m not just a worker/consumer/voter: I’m a proud and patriotic American. I sometimes disagree with what our elected leaders do and how we, as a country and people deal with each other and with other nations and peoples, and, as a Muslim and an American I have a duty to speak up when I see something wrong.

As reported by Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

Whoever amongst you sees an evil, he must change it with his hand; if he is unable to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is unable to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest form of Faith.

It’s hard for me, but I must speak the truth, put my body in the way, and fear only God.

Photographer

I photograph to tell stories. Rather, I want to tell stories with my photographs. When I shoot, there are usually stories, clouded, unfocused, boiling away in my head, and they usually completely evaporate by the time I get home, process the negatives or digital files, and get ready to share. So, really, I’m mostly an opportunistic shooter: at best, I photograph to give glory to God; I sometimes photograph to see what things look like as photographs; I sometimes just shoot without giving it much thought.

In the past—and if I’m being honest, today too—when it comes right down to it, most of my photography is more or less random. Sure, I did some “projects,” but they were mere technical exercises, really:

2012: 365 • 2013: 7/52 • 2014: M/W/F • 2015: digital/film • 2016: weekly roll (failed) • 2017: ?

I have some plans, there are things I want to do, but I make no promises or pledges: I’m trying, sort of, but Allah alone knows what the future holds. I usually tell a little story about (or around) the pictures I share, but I want to shoot for stories or I want to write stories and then go shoot for them. If that’s really what I want to do, I should get started.

Follow along, and see how I do.

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