week 1

This week I decided to focus on the “emergent” nature of God’s revelations to man. Many of the readings discussed the role of signs in man’s relationship with the divine. While some of his revelations are clear manifestations of his glory (such as crumbling a mountain before Moses), most of the instances discussed are more subtle and require a receptive mind. The Qur’an addresses aspects of the everyday – “the patterns of day and night, male and female, odd and even, singular and plural” (Sells, 16) – in which God’s will is apparent to one who has submitted himself to God: “(Here) indeed are the signs (āyāt) for a people that are wise.” (2:164) In this sense, God’s signs are emergent in the sense that they are always there; the trees are always covered in leaves, the birds always sing. But it takes more than their mere presence to constitute a sign; one must truly submit himself to God and open his mind to be able to read signs that have always been there. To the unenlightened, birdsong is simply pleasant sound; to one who is close to God, it becomes apparent – emergent – that their calls are proclamations to the heavens praising God. For this week’s blog entry I decided to portray another everyday sight, a handful of yellowing, tattered leaves. To one who is not “wise,” that is, one who has not learned to see God in nature, or to hear the birds praising God when they sing, they might appear haphazard:

But for one who has submitted, the same leaves may appear like an ayat:

I chose to represent the Bismillah (bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm / بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم) that opens every sura save one, as it seems like an iconic and recognizable way for God to reveal himself. The use of common leaves as a medium shows that God may reveal himself through any medium, even the seemingly insignificant. “To one who has submitted himself to God, every leaf becomes a page of the Qur’an.”

Medium: sculpture (leaves)