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Ibrahim El-Salahi Pain Relief at The Saatchi Gallery, London

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Above, a sketch of a respected older friend from Northern Province, early 1980s.

“My grandmother’s room and her small veranda were one of the most comfortable corners in the house, always neat and permeated by the wonderful smell of bakhoor al-timan, locally made Sudanese incense. Inside her cool dark room I always felt I was in a different world, beyond the heat of the burning sun outside. The old lumber roof was constructed to perfectly maintain coolness. An old metal safe sat right in the corner and next to it my grandmother’s classic bookshelf…”

From Muslim Like My Grandmother by Hala Al-Karib

May God give you long life and the happiness of old age

This week’s post is dedicated in gratitude to all the older women I have been privileged to meet in Sudan and whose kindness, wisdom and generosity I cherish. At a time of profound political uncertainty and cultural unease, Muslim Like My Grandmother speaks to a tolerant, plural and quietly self-assured Sudan.

I reproduce below a beautiful portrait, written in 2014, of Amena Bit Omhamed Ali Wad Abrabaen, grandmother to Hala Al-Karib, pictured above, Regional Director of Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA). The organization works to end violence against women and girls, build an inclusive women’s movement and promote women’s social protection and economic justice across the Horn of Africa. Women in Islam, which explores the complexities of gender relations in Muslim communities, is SIHA’s rigorously researched and thought-provoking annual journal.

Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA)

Above, sketch of a northern Sudanese woman showing the shulukh face markings described in the article.

This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Hala Al-Karib of SIHA. You can also read the article here: Muslim Like My Grandmother

Older women play a central role in literacy, where their knowledge and experience of life’s complexities is prized.

Learn more in

Grandmother’s School

Explore the challenges of widowhood which affect millions of older women in

The Widow

This is a cultural post for

Women’s Education Partnership

Help us to provide educational opportunity for women and girls in deprived communities.

See Latest News and At a Glance for more about our work.

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