Entry 3

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This sketch attempts to illustrate the controversy surrounding music as an aesthetic in Islam. This controversy has many dimensions. One surrounds the idea of Qur’an recitation and how it is meant to be interpreted as separate from music; it serves a different purpose; although it is also inherently beautiful, Qur’an recitation as music is not a widely accepted idea amongst Muslims. This controversy, then, begs questions surrounding where lines should be drawn in terms of what should be interpreted as “music,” and what should not, and what constitutes “music,” and what does not. Additionally, a controversy surrounding music in Islam involves its denouncement althogether by certain groups who claim that music is inherently wrong. We saw idea most recently in the reading Sufi Music and Dance, which explored the attack of the qawwali music of the Chishtis by Muslim reformers, resulting in the need of Chishti spokesmen to “defend the legitimacy of listening to music in terms of Islamic law.” The reading counters the argument against the legitimacy of music by citing that it ignores the “established role of music in Sufism” and that it “runs against the grain of Sufi texts.” The overall controversy surrounding this argument in general is thus illustrated by the red question mark which is central to the piece, and otherwise clashes with the calligraphic flow of the arabic word for music: موسيقى. Although controversy surrounds this mode of Islamic aesthetics, the inherent beauty of the art itself still prevails. Thus, the clarity of the word, despite the presence of the red question mark illustrates the prevalence of the inherent beauty of music despite the controversy that may surround it.

Entry 2

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The painting attempts to illustrate the Islamic concept and implications of God’s presence in nature. This idea suggests that nature itself reveals God’s presence, as aesthetic beauty, especially in nature, is importantly associated with God and with engagement with God. Immersion of oneself in nature, and interpretation of nature’s beauty as examples of God’s work, is represented by the floral theme of the piece. The flower, however, is abstracted by the alternating warm- and cold- color themes, demonstrating this notion that nature, although sensible in the objective sense, is also permeated with more obscure ideas, that is, with the mystical and the heavenly in the natural world. The flower as deducable, but abstracted, is thus meant to represent the coexistence of the otherworldly significance that is believed to be possessed by all things in nature, and yet, the perfectly distinct and comprehensible beauty which is obvious when one examines the natural world. In Islam, humans are able to identify, appreciate, and engage in the beauty of nature, and yet unable to completely understand the entirety of the hidden spiritual reality underlying all that there is. 

In the painting, the sections which alternate between cool and warm in terms of color scheme are box-shaped. This is meant to illustrate the Islamic idea of the natural laws which govern the world as proof of Allah’s divine creation of the world. Order, in Islam, then, is a sign of God, and humans can then examine nature as full of examples of God’s work.

Entry 1

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This peice is meant to illustrate certain concepts which help to collectively constitute the conceot of beauty in Islam. One such notion, for example, is the idea of Allah as beautiful; in Islam, Allah himself is beautiful and loves beauty, resulting in the emergence of the Islamic emphasis on aesthetics. Beauty becomes central to understanding Allah and oneself. This piece demonstrates this in that emphasis on aesthetics with its positioning of the image of an eye in the top right corner of the painting; aesthetics begin with physical senses. In this, the human can observe (and hear) the natural beauty around them–that is, the beauty which is seen in the natural earth. This idea is represented by the flowers and vines which punctuate the painting; they are meant to illustrate the Islamic idea of God’s presence in nature. A less physical, still more important Islamic ideal surrounding beauty is the notion of Ishan, which is the idea of becoming a beautiful person. This requires spiritual and metaphysical understanding of oneself, which is illustrated by the anatomical heart in the painting. This heart is meant to represent the internal quest for beauty within oneself, but also the fundamental morality of humans; thus, in their search for beauty, they must understand that, though they are striving to reach a good relationship with Allah, they are, ultimately, of this earth, and thus, moral. The painting also emphasizes human creation of beauty–that is, it illustrates the existence of an important role of artists in Islam. This idea is represented by the images of Frida Khalo, a famous Mexican artist. Finally, the piece is, ultimately a collage, consisting of multiple different mediums, and references to multiple cultures and societies, including modern day (represented by images of Kim Kardashian). This is meant to illustrate the subjectivity of the idea of beauty, and the inclusive nature of the Islamic understanding of beauty. Islam is incljusive because irt recognizes this subjectivity of experience; people of different cultures experience and engage with Islam in widely varying ways, speaking to the inherently variable nature of beauty as a concept.

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