O My Dear Son, Be Steadfast !

A Spanish man, Samuel Aranda, has won the World Press Photo of the Year award for his picture, taken on October 15, 2011, in Sana, Yemen after an anti-Saleh demonstration. Here, a veiled woman, comforts an injured relative in her arms.

In a statement released by World Press Photo, Nina Berman, one of the jury members, commented on the revealing nature of the moment.

“In the Western media, we seldom see veiled women in this way, at such an intimate moment. It is as if all of the events of the Arab Spring resulted in this single moment – in moments like this.”

While on assignment in Yemen, photographic journalist Samuel Aranda found the pair at the entrance to a mosque that had been converted into a hospital.  A thin man rests his head on the shoulder of a burqa-clad woman, the pair collapsed together against a wall. You cannot seen the expression on her face… But her body language – with her right arm wrapped tightly around his neck and left hand clinging to his arm – is enough to reveal everything her expression cannot.

After seeing Aranda’s photo, a friend of mine, commented that the image reminded her of La Pieta.  And indeed it does bear a striking resemblance to the form of “La Pieta” or “the Pity” which is a famous Renaissance theme, depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Jesus, the Christ after the crucifixion.

Aranda commented on his photo,

“ This woman is not just crying. It was something more. You can feel that the woman is really strong.”

He also mentions that while conversations might revolve around composition and form of his photograph, the real emphasis should be about how to help the people of Yemen.  Ameen to that.  May God keep and deliver Yemen safetly through this time of revolution….  Inshallah.

O my dear son! Be steadfast in prayer. You must advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and remain steadfast in the face of adversity and hardships.  Surely, this is of those matters which require great courage.

يَا بُنَيَّ أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَانْهَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلَى مَا أَصَابَكَ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ

– Surat al-Luqman, verse 17

Thank you Samuel Aranda for your courage and inspiration in the face of adversity.  May God be with you always.

-Shams Al-Ghayeb.

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2 comments on “O My Dear Son, Be Steadfast !

  1. Me & Beirut says:

    I really like this post! The similarity to Pieta is really striking! I saw it last year in the Vatican and loved it. Now i love the “duplicate” too 😉

  2. Solara says:

    Great post. The photo transcends the human condition and permeates compassion. One note of slight alteration if I may. The original La Pieta is not the Virgin Mary, it is Mary Magdalene holding the body of Christ after the crucifixion. The Vatican labeled her a whore and some of the other renditions were altered to appear as the Virgin Mary because of this. The Bible states clearly is was Mary Magdalene who was holding the body of Christ. In 1969, the Vatican finally relented and cleared Mary Magdalenes name of the charge of prostitution.

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