Ijtema Photo Contest: The Winners!


As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Even so, the judging panel of Ijtema’s inaugural competition was asked only to find the photograph that best represented one, single, four-letter word: “hope“; the theme chosen to commemorate the start of both the Gregorian and Islamic New Year. It is a time when people all around the world inadvertently synchronize in their resolve to change themselves for the better. Many a sincere prayer is made, asking for help in keeping to one’s newly formed good intentions; and what else is prayer, other than a expression of one’s hope in the beneficence of God Almighty?

The contest ran from January to March of 2008, and by the stroke of midnight on the eve of the deadline, we had received over ninety submissions, sent in from all corners of the globe (you can view them all on our Flickr group). The overall quality of the entries was amazing, masha’Allah, which made the task of choosing the winners even more daunting. Thankfully, we had recruited three very talented Muslim artists, who were well equipped to handle the job:

  • Peter Sanders, a true professional, who is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading photographers of the Islamic World;
  • Teakster‘, an artist of enormous talent, who is the founder of the new digital arts magazine, Project Suwar;
  • and Samir Malik, whose wonderful artwork has been exhibited at various noteworthy establishments, such as The Houses of Lords, Alexandra Palace, County Hall, and Regents Park Mosque.

After several days of nervous score counting, the following images emerged as the clear winners (daff roll, please):

First Place: “Wish the best”, by ‘dianiwulandari’ (Indonesia)

It is clear to see why this photo was described as “very professional” by Peter Sanders (judge). This joyful image represents the tangible hope of a Indonesian couple looking forward to taking the first steps of their new life together in holy matrimony. May Allah grant them every happiness, Ameen.

First Runner Up: “Sehzadebasi Cami“, by ‘karanlikay’ (Turkey)

A humble slave of Allah worshipping in a Turkish mosque.

Samir Malik (judge) says:

“Essentially hope is submitting to God’s Will; in this photo I love how the figure is in the prayer position, maybe about to go into Sujood.”

Second Runner Up: “When We Look Out”, by Maryam Hamza (Malaysia)

This calming and contemplative sea view was taken on Pangkor Island, in Malaysia.

Teakster (judge) says:

“The reason why I liked this photo was the entire composure. It gives the reader the impression that the person inside the photo is looking towards the future, seeking the unknown. Hoping that the New Year will bring new prosperity.”

For more details of the prizes that were on offer, please visit the contest page.

In addition to the winners chosen by the judges, each member of the Ijtema.net editorial team selected their own favourite image as a special mark of appreciation:

Gess’ choice: “Hope…”, by Hanadi Traifeh (United Kingdom)

Photo description: “Engaging with nature and living the beauty of it is a gift from God that gives us more hope. The closer we become to nature the closer we see that life can be more beautiful.”


“I chose this picture because of the composition, and I also liked the angle the photo was taken where there is a focus of the petals and how fragile they are – almost as if the wind is about to blow them away.”

Manas’ choice: “The Path of Noor”, by Peter Gould, www.azaan.com.au (Australia)

Photo description: “This is one of my favourite photos, taken while studying Arabic for a month in Morocco, 2006. I had become completely lost in the maze of the souk, and was blessed when this scene appeared before me – indeed, a journey towards guidance and hope.”


“I chose this because of its stunning symbolism. The photo tells us: truly, there is light after darkness.”

Faraz’s choice: “Child and Quran”, by Jacob Simkin (Pakistan)

Photo description: H11 Relief Camp, Islamabad, Pakistan. Child attending Qur’an reading class. Over 1500 children live in H11 Relief Camp who have lost their homes during the October ’05 Earthquake. – Taken for Muslim Aid Pakistan


“To me, the boy shows that in spite of tragedy around him (the child was an earthquake survivor, according to the photo description), he will still hold on tightly to his Quran (Noorani Qaida, actually – for learning how to read). He may have been separated from his loved ones, but he will hold on to his Quranic learning as tightly as he can.”

iMuslim’s choice: “Embrace the Light Together”, by Widad Sirkhotte (South Africa)

Photo description: “In a [South African] township… [a] mosque unites muslims brothers of all ages, races and backgrounds. The building is far from fancy, yet the light of Allah shines through the windows. This magnificent light, lightens Islam… within their hearts.”


“Every time I see this photo, I am blown away. The light streams forth, bringing joy and hope; the gathering denotes true brotherhood. Truly an amazing capture, masha’Allah”.

MJ’s choice: “Ortakoy”, by ‘carabul’ (Turkey)

Photo description: “Ortaköy Mosque, officially the Büyük Mecidiye Camii (Grand Imperial Mosque of Sultan Abdülmecid) in Istanbul, is situated at the waterside of the Ortaköy pier square, one of the most popular locations on the Bosphorus. The wide, high windows let the ever-changing light reflections of the Bosphorus shine in the mosque.”


“The expansive, brilliant blue sky suggests infinite possibilities and endless hope; the suspension bridge in the background – an engineering marvel – signifies modernity and technology, while the beautiful mosque in the foreground serves as a reminder to always stay grounded in our faith.”

We are grateful to all the participants for making this contest a pleasure to hold, with their beautiful submissions. Also, many thanks to the judges for their time, effort, and for donating prizes to be given away. Speaking of which, congratulations to Alia for winning a signed copy of Peter Sanders’ book, In the Shade of the Tree in our raffle draw!

If you missed out on all the action, don’t worry, as we hope to hold more of such contests in the future, God-willing. Feel free to contact us with suggestions for themes and collaborations.

In the mean time, Peace and Blessings of Allah to you all!