We talked in class about Sufism, what people think it is and what it actually is. Sufism is Islamic mysticism, but it isn’t just about that. There are political, social, economic, and literary dimensions. It is not a group, but an outlook, so Sufis can be Shii or Suni, although most Shii Muslims are Sufi. I chose to concentrate on Sufism as bridging the abyss that separates the human from the divine.

This idea is embedded in the Quran itself. The Zahir, the outer physical world, is separated from the Batin, the inner, real, and eternal world, which is not accessible through the senses. Sufism is the interaction between these two worlds. The Quran states that God is within the individual, which supports the more personal connection that Sufis have with God. The Quran also embraces the idea that the physical world has signs pointing to God and the real. These signs are examples of bridges between the human and the divine. There are also specific examples of humans who could have experiences beyond the physical, like the prophet Solomon who could communicate with animals. Music and the arts are integral parts of this bridge. As our reading by Leonard Lewisohn says, “integrating music into the practice of meditation, is an important aspect of the contemplative life in Islamic Sufism.”

My art piece is a flip book (I ended up taking individual photos of the pages to make a GIF) made with post-it notes and pencil. I tried to portray the building of a connection between the human and the divine through the arts. The left side is the human side with a few buildings shown and the right side is empty showing the mystical nature of the ‘real’ world. In order for those like Solomon to connect beyond the physical, a personal transformation is necessary. The egotistical self must be extinguished. This process is often referred to as the polishing of the mirror of the heart. This is shown by the gradual building of the bridge, as the process is difficult. About halfway through, the bridge dips and threatens to fall, but it is reinforced and the gap between heaven and the human world is bridged. The musical notes represent how music and the arts assist in bridging this gap.

Access the GIF here: https://gph.is/2HujfwZ