Hajj Inspired Art Pt4: Abandonment

“Hajj is the combination of Tawaf and Sa’y. It resolves the contradictions that have confused mankind throughout history” 
-Ali Shariati

When we celebrate and think about the Eid, and why we are celebrating, and the Hajj and what it is, I’m always going to bring up Hajjar, inshaAllah. Alot of people avoid talking about her story because it honestly brings up some of our greatest fears, one of them is the fear of abandonment.

Have you ever felt abandoned

The thought of being abandoned brings up such visceral and unpleasant feelings for me that just thinking about it and recalling a time when I felt that I really needed help, but didn’t receive it from those who I thought should be my helpers, makes me want to turn the page real quick and move on to another thought.

Abandonment... even the thought of it, is scary. I come from a big family so for most of my life I’ve felt very entitled to everyone’s support, and I felt like I had it. The thought of being abandoned is too horrible for me to fathom and has been tremendously disappointing when I’ve actually experienced it. Experiencing abandonment can alter our sense of self, our sense of worth and our sense of understanding about the world. 


Nsenga Knight 2018, Tawaf/ Sa’y: Mankind 22.5 x 22.5 inches, Limited Edition Print 4/50

If you’ve ever felt abandoned to any degree, know that I’m with you. Also, if you are reading this know that you have survived and you always have support. Not from me, but from Allah

Whether the support system you thought you had came through for you just the way you expected them to, or if new supporters came through, or if no one came and you got through it anyway. Let me ask you a question – who is supporting you?

Who supported Hajjar?

Her people didn’t just leave her when she was in a sticky situation, her people put her in the sticky situation and then left her. Her people was Ibrahim (AS), the great prophet of Islam and all monotheistic religions. So, who supported her then?

Why didn’t Hajjar just throw up her hands and resolve that without “support” for sure she would die?

I’m asking a lot of questions, but do you really know the answer? 

text painting on vegetable parchment paper. the black linear text reads: searching for water. the stencil which was used by the artist to make the painting is on the bottom right corner of the artwork. it lays on a table in the artist's studio space



My Tawaf/ Sa’y series is inspired by the pilgrimage footsteps of exemplars – Malcolm X, the Hajj memoir of Ali Shariati, and of course Hajjar – the Black woman who’s courageous determination lead to the opening of the Zam Zam well which has quenched the thirst of millions of pilgrims for thousands of years. Every hajji runs between the mountains of Safa and Marwa because Hajjar ran! In Ali Shariati’s book Hajj, he states that the Tawaf and Sa’y hajj rituals answer questions that have perplexed mankind since the beginning of time. 

When Hajjar ran between Safa and Marwa she was looking for Allah’s manifestation of His support. This is “Sa’y”Sa’y is to try, to search, to run to find whatever it is that Allah has for us! And, Tawaf? – Tawaf is to accept Allah’s support however He manifests it, knowing it is there. If you don’t believe that Allah is supporting you, without even seeing that support manifested in front of you, you wont seek to find it. 

Believe and then you will see it. Every artwork starts in the mind, and then it is created.

When I am creating art, I’m spending a long time with an idea. I want to feel my way through and embody it. I want to make meaning of Tawaf and Sa’y in my own life – in this Hajj season and every single day of the year and to inspire you to make meaning of it too. That’s why I created the Tawaf/ Sa’y series. The lessons of the hajj are not just for the Hajjis. I pray that my Tawaf/ Sa’y series will serve as reminder to you that Allah is always supporting you. It’s up to you to accept his support. Sometimes you will have to search to find it. Purchase a  Limited Edition print from the Tawaf Sa’y series here on my website and view my collection of Hajj inspired artworks here.

Nsenga Knight 2013, Other Stars Don’t Behave So, Ink and Wax Drawing on paper, 20 x 30 inches

Nsenga Knight 2013, Grounded, Charcoal Wall Drawing, Site specific/ Created to Scale

Nsenga Knight (2013-2022) Tawaf/ Sa’y series, Oil Stick and Gesso on Vegetable Parchment Paper, 22.5 x 22.5 inches

P.S.: Do you enjoy my blog and want to support my work? Well then, join my growing community of art patrons over on Patreon! Your support helps fund new art projects which allows me to connect to and inspire more people.

P.P.S: I’ve recently partnered with Saatchi to offer fine art prints of my artwork to a wider community of art lovers. You can now choose to purchase a selection of original one of a kind artworks or open edition fine art prints here. 

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