The Death Letter Project
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Fatima Killeen | Visual Artist

“Every soul shall taste death”   The Holy Quran

According to the Quran in Islam; every single being will reach this inescapable fate: death is the ultimate truth, it is not an end to our existence but a passage that takes us from this world to the hereafter. Death is the absolute purpose for our creation in this life as a trial in preparation for the next realm of existence. What matters is how much we have prepared for the reckoning on the Day of Judgement.

When a Muslim dies their body is washed and wrapped in a clean white shroud (usually by a family member) and buried directly in the earth after a special prayer, all on the same day. Muslims consider this final service that they undertake for their relatives an opportunity to remember that their own existence here on earth is brief and transitory. Muslim views of death begin with the evidence that the eternal human soul is God-given and that after the physical death there is an eventual resurrection on the Day of Judgment and there will be eternal life after death.

Ideas concerning what happens after death and a connection with how life is lived on earth is a fundamental part of all religions.

It is how we live according to God’s commandments sustaining a life of good deeds.

The concept of worship in Islam is not merely restricted to praying. In fact, any action that is pleasing to God (Allah) is considered an act of worship and a person will be rewarded for it.

As a Muslim artist most of my work embraces a layered content of war, migration or human rights. These concepts include a cameo of death, which always seems to house an alternative place of comfort and peace. In my work “The shroud has no pockets” the shroud rises from an ammunition box and the spiritual space within and around the shroud is an attempt to provide an escape from the cruelty of war. Invasions plunder valuable resources with no regard for innocent lives nor do they care about victims’ human rights. The shroud wrapped in a prayer is a reminder of when we die… we take nothing with us except our faith and our deeds.

In a recent installation titled; “Destination: Garden of tears and peace” the work is made up of garden stones reminiscent of head stones in an Islamic cemetery…death is once again evoked as a time to remember when paying our respects to the children who died in vain during another Israeli attack on Gaza. The work also provides an opportunity for us to be at peace with one another and all on this earth that is ephemeral.

“Honouring the illegal immigrant” was my way of speaking about those who try to cross the Mediterranean Sea. They struggle to get to Europe from North Africa for better living conditions. Unfortunately during their attempts to cross the Strait of Gibraltar their journey is often cut short when many drown, and come ashore as flotsam with no-one to give them a decent burial. 

Editor's note: To view Fatima's artwork, please visit her website:  

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  • Oh great !!! - sierramalevich (Instagram)
  • "Cameo of death" layered and textured how wonderful and what neat writing! - Fern Smith (email)
  • Beautiful - Dorothea Ratcliffe (Facebook)