Peace, one and all…
Calligraphy opens the eyes of the heart to an essential aspect of beauty, that all things are the manifestation of a single divine source. Calligraphy allows us to see that, in essence, creation is part of an ever-unfolding story, that we are all letters, words, sentences and paragraphs in His wondrous tale.
I really love this piece. In the centre of the image we find the name of Muhammad (as). Above this, we find the Name of God, Allah, the Source of All. The alif of Allah is written in the very centre of the word, suggesting to me that the humanity and power of each of these beloved ones is a divine gift, that what makes each of them beloved is God’s own love.
Surrounding the name of Muhammad (as), we find the names of the other great axial messengers of Islamic tradition (as). In the top right hand corner we find the first human being, Adam (as), the one formed by God’s own hands. In the top left hand corner stands the name of Noah (or Nuh in Arabic, as), God’s appointed messenger in ancient times. In the bottom right hand corner, we find the name of Ibrahim (Abraham, as), the first chevalier (fata). In the bottom left hand corner we read the name of Moses (Musa, as), the one to whom God spoke directly. At the bottom of the image we find the name of beloved Jesus (Isa, as), God’s word and a spirit from Him.
We can read these names theologically, as a profound statement of Islam’s understanding of unfolding revelation. We can also read them sociologically, so to speak, as an assertion of the Islamic tradition’s understanding of the union of prophetic teaching. That is, all that these prophets taught (as) exists as part of a greater whole, of an over-arching oneness. I also see it as an expression of a profound idea: at a deep level, Islam includes the entirety of the Divine’s relationship with humanity, in all its manifest diversity. Nor do I see this as some self-aggrandising act of conquest, of spiritual appropriation. Rather, I see this as stating a profound truth. God alone is the ultimate source of the world’s many faiths and traditions, and the whole of humanity is united in that profound, living oneness.
We can also read these names more inwardly. That is, Islamic esoteric tradition holds that the prophets (as) live within the heart of each human being, and represent particular spiritual qualities and energies. As such, each particular quality can be accessed, and can be used in providing deep, inner healing. In light of this notion, I see this piece as reminding us that in order to reach completion, to be truly transformed, all of these diverse energies must be brought into balanced harmony. This can only truly be done once we realise fully that it is God, alone, who provides this transformational ability. More deeply, it is only God that truly acts.
Rabb al-`Izzati amma yas’ifuun
wa salamun ala al-mursalin,
wa al-hamdu lillahi rabb al-`alamin.