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  • This is the best body of work in infra-red photography that I have seen in India.
      Shri S. Paul
    Photographer, on the infra red exhibition Ladakh Huess
  • I am proud to know this couple- Shamim and Sasmita. This book reflects the labour of their love. We could reach the place because of the power of his lens.
      Janab Arif Mohammed Khan
    Former state minister, at the inauguration of the book
  • Words fail me; outstanding!
      Mr. Rajiv Lochan
    Director NAGMA, on "One Fine Tuesday"
  • At times Delhi looks beautiful but the kind of flavour Shamim has brought about in black and white is not only very beautiful but after this book we all will see these monuments from a fresh perspective.

    ( while unveiling of the book 'Forgotten Dilli - Portrait of an immortal city')

    Extraordinarily taken pictures. Akhtar is someone we are proud of.

    ( on 'Ladakh Hues " )
      Mrs. Sheila Dixit
    Ex-CM Delhi
  • When stones burst into songs

    Qutub Minar must count among the most sketched, painted and photographed monuments of the world. What the Eiffel Tower is to Parisians, the Big Ben to Londoners, the Brandenburg Gate to Berliners and the Statue of Liberty to New Yorkers, the Qutub Minar is to Dilliwallahs. It is older and more spectacular than all the other monuments.

    I have seen hundreds of photographs of Qutub Minar but none to match the cover of Forgotten Dilli, Portrait of an Immortal City by Sasmita S. Akhtar and Shamim Akhtar. Shamim is a Bihari Muslim, now in the IAS, posted in Delhi. Sasmita is an Oriya Brahmin, a sociologist, who is a product of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Between them, they produced a pictorial album on Lakshadweep and now one on the old monuments of Delhi.

    Sasmita has written the text; Shamim has taken the photographs. They have limited their work to the end of the Mughal dynasty in 1857. They have pictures of baolis (step wells), dargahs (Sufi shrines), forts, mosques, and mausoleums. What arrests the readers attention is the interplay of light and shade on trees and clouds to highlight every monument.

    It is a sheer joy to turn over the pages of the book again and again. It reminded me of an old film song, 'Geet gaaya paththaron ne ' 'The stones burst with songs'.
      Mr. Khuswant Singh
    The Telegraph, 6th March 2010
  • 'A stunning exhibition, highlighting the unique beauty of Ladakh...extremely impressed by the quality of his images.'

    (on the exhibition, Rode to Heaven in 2008)

    'I have great pleasure in commending this book to all those who love mountains. Packed with photographs, there are short descriptive notes which are useful.'

    (In the foreword of the book, Rode to heaven: Ladakh in 2009)

    ...I myself have not been able to go to Kailasa nor will I be able to go to in this life; but after reading this book I feel I have also done half parikarma.'

    (At the inauguration of the book, 'Kailasa: A journey within' , at the Shanti Stupa, on the 30th of Jan. 2011)
      Dr. Karan Singh
    At the inauguration of the book, 'Kailasa: A journey within', at the Shanti Stupa, on the 30th of Jan. 2011
June 27, 2014
The Homeless Allah

Hey believers of Almighty please don’t be offended with the title of this thought. Allah, the merciful, is one of the names of the Almighty conveyed by Islam about 1400 years back. The Almighty has always been there and will always remain. He is neither born nor can ever die. The one who is not “comparable” with any or all of his creations.

Time or any other dimension can’t explain him. The only timeless creative force in the universe, the Almighty shows its mercy through beautiful enigmas that happens around us everyday.

Every living and non-living thing is because of his will. We, the humans, and all our religions of the world like to believe that we are his best creation. A little introspection, and can we say that he is only “our” master?

What about other innumerable life forms? Whom do they belong to? Every other life form on this planet lives and dies in harmony with nature and even a dive of the dolphin is like saying “Thanks” to the Almighty for a wonderful life. The bird singing songs are “prayers” to him for a wonderful morning. The dance of the peacock is supposedly to impress the peahen but that can also be attributed to the joy of  celebrating life as a thanking gesture.

All the creatures enjoy the enigma called life and are blessed. Many of them “need” their own nest for the new born. All their “nests” are temporary and not to be passed on to their “successors”. But none of them ever try to make “the home of Allah”. Where they “keep” the almighty is not the question to be asked.

The question is why we the humans always want a “permanent” dwelling for us and our successors? Life itself is fragile and temporary. Why do we need anything “permanent”? Can there be anything in the universe except the Almighty that could be eternal?

In our greed , we humans not only interfere with the celebration of life of other life forms, but also take away their natural circle of life and death. In a way we interfere with their “prayers” to the Almighty as well.

Allah, the merciful created the entire universe just in a fraction of a second. When we take an astral view, what is our existence in this vast universe? Our planet Earth is not even a dot in a vast and ever expanding space. On the planet, amongst the 84 lakhs life forms, we humans are not even 35,000 years old.

We have the arrogance of the “power” of not only making “permanent dwelling” for us but also for Allah.

The evolution of human civilization obviously shows that the “believers” have always been making Almighty’s dwelling places by the name of Temples, Monasteries, Cinagogs, Churches, Mosques. Does Almighty “live” in any of these man made homes?

Can the brick, cement, iron, glass etc be sufficient to make a home for the almighty?

Hey believers, don’t we all “know” that Almighty “resides” in every atom, at every place across all dimensions known and unknown to its creations?

Where he can actually be “kept” is not a secret to any other life form but the humans perhaps. Almighty lives in the heart of every living being and the best offering to the Him is to “Thank” for such a wonderful life and celebrate the enigmas of nature that have been created by His will.

In present times, we the humans are fast becoming heartless, and the Allah is becoming homeless.

Have a heart, be human, and don’t let the Almighty be homeless like millions of his best creations, the humans, sleeping on foot path world wide.



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