Peter Sanders is a well known photographer. He has travelled extensively across the Muslim World taking pictures. His continued travels have taken him from West Africa to East Africa, around the Middle East including Makkah, Madinah and Jerusalem, Europe and the USA. He embraced Islam in 1971 and since then, he has very much focussed in his work on the manifold aspects of Islam in our times in terms of photography which is his speciality.
Peter Sanders was born in London in 1946. His professional career in photography began during the mid-sixties. In 1970 he made a photographic and spiritual journey to India. His enthusiasm for studying religion introduced him to Islam, whose spiritual beauty left an indelible impression upon him. After his return to England, he embraced Islam and was given the name Abd al-Adheem.
In 1971 he was granted the unique opportunity to photograph the rituals of Hajj or annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. These images appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine, The Observer, among many other major journals in recognition of their rareness. He says that photography really is a gift from God, a wonderful process in which one learns so much about oneself by doing it. He thinks that often when he is taking pictures it seems as if he is chasing a moment, like a beautiful bird that keeps escaping you.
With his 30 years of experience behind him, he realised that there was a lack of high quality photographs of the Islamic World appearing in the media. Therefore, he established the Peter Sanders Photographic Library in 1986. As Mr Sanders had travelled extensively and already amassed a considerable collection from previous journeys throughout the world, he already had a basis to start his Library. He has continued to travel, many more times to Saudi Arabia, around Sudan, Jordan and Jerusalem, as well as returning to countries to extend his existing collections. The intention is to present Islam to the general public in a beautiful and positive way. A way that would appeal to many and in turn show a face of Islam that - like a magnet - would draw people to it.
After spending 35 years travelling and photographing the worlds of Islam, Peter Sanders produced the exhibition The Art of Integration, which has been exhibited at British embassies and cultural missions in Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait. More exhibits are planned in London and in 20 other countries.
Documenting the remnants of traditional Islamic societies, this exhibition subverts common perceptions of British Muslims. He said: "Islam isn't on the fringes of B ritish society. Rather, it has become part of the very fabric of society."
The Art of Integration is a graceful and visually poetic reminder that Muslims have been a part of British life for well over a century and have made, and continue to make, an important contribution to the United Kingdom's rich cultural diversity. Contrary to the headlines and editorializing, the vast majority of Muslims live peacefully and productively in Britain and many have significantly enriched the intellectual and cultural landscape of this great island nation. Peter Sanders captures a few of these wonderful people: physicians, scholars, writers, teachers, calligraphers, rock and folk-rock icons, a city councillor, award-winning architect, publisher, sculptor, graffiti artist, cosmetician, police constable, fashion designer, driver, Etonians, Oxbridgians, and many others. The architectural influences from the Muslim world expressed in Leighton House, the Shah Jehan Mosque in Woking and a Turkish bath in the shadow of the Gherkin contribute to the pageant of images in this beautiful and vibrant photographic essay.
For Peter Sanders, faith and photography have both been part of his spiritual development. It was his search to capture the essence of reality that led him to Islam and, with camera in hand, to the door of the Kaaba. From photographing the most famous of idols in the music industry to the most sacred places in the Islamic world, Peter Sanders' journey encompasses more than a change of focus for his camera lens.
For more information on the work of Peter Sanders, you can visit the following resources:
- Peter Sanders website
- The Art ofIntegration website
- The article on "The Art of Integration" in Saudi Aramco World, issue 1, January-February 2007, pp. 24-33.
- The Art of Integration by Angela Saini.
* This short biography was reworked and augmented from the website of Peter Sanders, from Peter Sanders Photographic Library, and from an article of Saudi Aramco World: "The Art of Integration" (issue 1, 2007). The text has been revised and approved by Peter Sanders.