“A Celestial Ascent,” Week 4: Devotion to Prophet Muhammad

This abstract portrait, which I created out of construction paper, symbolizes the story of the mi’raj and isra’, or the Prophet’s “celestial ascent” and “night journey.” On this night, Muhammad travels with his servant from the sacred mosque to the farthest sanctuary, identified as the Dome of the Rock, atop a mystical creature called the Buraq. Through this journey, Muhammad ascends into the seven levels of heaven, meeting different prophets at each level and then God at the final level. The seven different layers of colors in my portrait represent these seven levels of heaven, with the first level being at the bottom (pink) and the last level at the top (white). The colors closely correlate with the characteristics of each level of heaven as mentioned by Knappert. For example, in the second heaven, the angel Kasim has a task to provide all creatures on earth with their sustenance; this is represented by the color green. The third heaven is made of copper (illustrated as orange), the fourth heaven is made of silver (ill. as blue), the fifth heaven is made of gold (ill. as golden-brown), the sixth heaven is made of rubies (ill. as red), and the seventh heaven is made of diamonds (ill. as white).

Different interpretations of the mi’raj and isra’ have indicated much speculation on the mystical or spiritual status of the Prophet Muhammad. The central element to the story of his celestial ascent, however, is a consistent element across most art and poetry venerating Prophet Muhammad, which is nur Muhammad or “light of Muhammad.” The light of Prophethood was primordial, transmitted through all prophets beginning with Adam. The prophetic Light finds its full expression in the historical Muhammad, who is depicted as a lamp in my portrait (the yellow squares) ascending through the seven levels of heaven. Muhammad is hence a guiding light both from and to God.

Published in:Uncategorized |on March 24th, 2014 |No Comments »

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