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Sewing as Worship

Today is National Quilting Day, which celebrates all quiltmakers and quilt lovers. The first one was observed in 1992 and since then it has grown into a global day of appreciation for this special art form. In our exhibition American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago, we feature a quilt by Chicago South Sider Hanifah Ibrahim. 

Pennsylvania native and convert to Islam, Hanifah Ibrahim expresses her faith and art through her sewing. She created this quilt bearing the ninety-nine names of Allah (God). These names come from both the Quran and the hadith, which are early reports and accounts of the Prophet Muhammad’s life. This giant dahlia patchwork pattern is made from hand-dyed cotton batik fabrics. Ibrahim hand sewed the Arabic calligraphy and recited the names of Allah or repeated Bismillah (“In the name of God”) as she sewed them. She machine stitched the patchwork pieces together and machine quilted the entire piece, which took over 150 hours to create. 

Listen to an excerpt of our oral history interview with Ibrahim.  

Photographs of Hanifah Ibrahim by Sadaf Syed Photography, 2019Quilt, 2019, United States. Courtesy of Hanifah Ibrahim. Photograph by CHM staff.

American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago 

Our exhibition American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago draws from more than 100 interviews conducted with Muslim Chicagoans sharing their stories of faith, identity, and personal journeys. Dozens of objects from local individuals and organizations, such as garments, artwork, and photographs, as well as videos and interactive experiences expand on how and why Chicago is known as the American Medina.   

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories
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