Reflection — Week 10

Title of Portfolio:

“Reflection”

Description of Portfolio:

I chose to use a drawing as my media for this portfolio for Week 10. Depicted is a nightingale bird that is standing on a tree branch and that is looking at its reflection in a mirror that is on the branch. Visible intense light is reflected that the bird is stunned by, located between the nightingale bird and the mirror.

Explanation of Portfolio:

This drawing connects to Farīd al-Dīn ʻAṭṭār’s The Conference of the Birds, which many themes key to Sufism Mysticism are found central within the book. This includes, but is not limited to, the idea that human love is a stepping stone to divine love. This divine love, however, is only possible by letting go of human nafs or worldly desires, hence furthering one’s connection to God. Various birds have different attachments of vices that prevent them from finding spiritual realization, including attachments to love, beauty, pleasure, temporary worlds, material wealth, arrogance, worldly power, limited world view, material possession, and even the identity of being insignificant. Eventually, towards the end of these birds’ journey, are they able to finally view the mystical Simorgh. Here, Simorph replies, “‘I am a mirror set before your eyes, / And all who come before my splendor see / Themselves, their own unique reality” (Aṭṭār Lines 4249-4251).

In my drawing, I sought to depict a nightingale bird viewing its reflection in a mirror to the right of the image. Instead of drawing thirty birds that the text references successfully made it to view Simorgh, I wanted to draw the very first bird mentioned in The Conference of the Birds. It appears that Aṭṭār’s nightingale-rose symbol has drawn popularity, and is a common reference used in many different poems, for example Iqbal writes in The Complaint, “Why must I attentive heed the nightingale’s lament of pain” / Fellow-bard, am I a rose, condemned to silence all of the way?” (Iqbal 3).

Given the centrality of this nightingale-rose conflict, I decided to draw the nightingale finally viewing its reflection in the mirror, emphasizing how this entire time, the divine love it sought to finally search for, in actuality, has always been with the bird the entire time.  The reflection of the mirror, though unavailable to the viewer, is overwhelming to the bird. This connects to the idea that only the bird itself can experience the divine Simorgh in The Conference of The Birds. I attempted to symbolize the great divine love by means of Nur or light. In my image there are multiple yellow lines originating from the mirror that overwhelm this bird. Altogether, given Week 10’s emphasis that Islamic poetic tradition is rich, with a focus on movements of reform and revival in contemporary Muslim societies, Aṭṭār’s The Conference of the Birds is the paragon of this poetic tradition. Correspondingly, I sought to dedicate a portfolio to primarily this text alone, by emphasizing key concepts found in the book that can explain different movements of reform in Islam.

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