Written by Joelcy Kay

Editor & Curator of Edge of Humanity Magazine



Leading the book’s foreword is an architectural image featuring the top of buildings under a bluish gray sky (pp.14-15). The old architectural style of the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station frames the image, the new buildings on the background look as if it is in a process of disappearing;  and as a viewer my eyes move throughout the photograph, anxious to see more of that skyline and wondering what is outside of that frame.

When children pray, the aspects of religion such as the child’s God, holy book or place of worship become universal; and the denomination lines are erased (ch.The Mosque, pp.35, 42, 49).  The religious moments captured here are up close and personal portraying serenity.

In the special area reserved for women at the Kubang Kerian Mosque; women in white prayer shawls line up to pray, some bring their children not dressed in white.  Contrast and simplicity all in one frame, nothing is missing here. (ch. The Mosque, pp. 44-45).

The devotees’ portraits depict tranquility in the daily life that goes on inside these mosques, where people not only pray but also study, rest and sleep; while life around these Southeast Asia’s mosques seems very active.

In The Mosque chapter you will also find images of Islamic architecture; Steven shows the Baiturrahman Great Mosque, Sumatra during sunset (pp.52-53).  The reflection of the entire landscape on the water takes 40% of the frame.  Dark enough to add drama without losing all the colors inflicted by the sun going away for the day and the nightlights that eliminates the dark night at bay.

Even when wearing uniforms (ch. Muslin Schools) which is designed to promote sameness; these children’s portraits delivery an array of moods and personalities such as: strong and serious (pp.86-87), intriguing (p.74), devoted (pp.72, 81) and playful (pp.73).  ‘Girl and Quran’ (p.75) and ‘girl holding a book and running’ (pp. 92-93) are my favorites.

The Village chapter starts with a portrait of this impeccably dressed woman (although she looks sad) and her fruits’ stand near Kota Bharu (pp.96-97); it is a high impact vibrant shot.  Also included are rural life moments, and food markets shots; my favorite (pp.118-119) is a shot from above showing these two women working this massive food stand.

Among other farming scenes in this chapter you will find; one which depicts child labor (p.111), or to be fair with time and place “children help with the harvest…”and another showing a worker, hanging from a bamboo ladder while picking peppers by hand (p.108). The patterns produced by the greenery around the picker seem to dance inside the frame; it’s pleasant to look at it.

Seascape photographs depicting fishermen from the village of Marang in action at sunrise (p.112-113) makes the viewer move focus from one corner of the picture to another, and see night turning into day.

Following the same layout of the first image mentioned in this review, the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station (ch.The Cities, pp.148-149) serves again as frame; this time using street level and colors, reds, gold and yellows, the making of a vibrant cityscape photo. Urban images of nightscapes, street photography, shopping galore, and people sleeping on subways across Southeast Asia are also included in this chapter.

Mainstay of Faith is the last chapter on ‘Living Faith | Inside the Muslim World of Southeast Asia’ it is packed with intimate portraits of Muslim families, their faith and dynamics.  These portraits take place in their homes, outdoors gatherings and traditional ceremonies in Southeast Asia.

‘Living Faith | Inside the Muslim World of Southeast Asia’ is a relaxing and enjoyable book. I recommend it to viewers interested in Islam, religion in general, and Southeast Asia; and avid travelers. Enjoy!


For book specifics see Amazon.com below:

Living Faith



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Joelcy Kay (the curator of Edge of Humanity Magazine and the NO MIDDLEMAN ART GALLERY) has written many reviews for books in the Edge of Humanity Magazine’s Photography Book Collection and now she is available to write yours.


Here are some of her book recommendations:


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