Calligraphy Assignment

Just as the prophets were the sources of symbols and imagery for poets, and served as inspiration for the Islamic arts such as calligraphy (Asani, lecture), it was the prophets that inspired my design. Specifically, it was the concept that “Every nation has had a messenger” (10:47) and that these prophets make up a fraternity, an integrated understanding of humanity and divinity, rather than being pitted as rivals against one another to decide which is the ‘true prophet’, and what is the ‘true message’. I tried to express this universality and hope of mutual understanding through my design.

At the same time, that there is a distinction between the English letters and Arabic script and yet they are melded in the same word, image, or entity, is an acknowledgement (rather than glossing over) of our differences and yet an affirmation of our fundamental similarity. It is a similar message, I think, to that of Barbara’s kitchen, wherein different ‘dishes’ may be created, but all share the same underlying ‘ingredients’. As Sells wrote, “The experience of the Qur’an in traditional Islamic countries is very different from Western attempts to read it.” (1999:11) My design reflects the enduring hope that this difference is something to be celebrated, something that brings us all more knowledge, just as in the verse, “We (God) have made you into nations and communities so that you may know (learn from) each other.” Despite the multitudes that remain mired in mutual ignorance, there are also those who attempt to reach across boundaries (of language, of culture) to be able to see things from another’s point of view, and appreciate the ways in which that point of view echoes one’s own.

Although it may look different at different times and from different places on Earth, the moon is a constant in our sky; even when one cannot see it, it does not mean it is not there. I feel like this parallels the nature of Allah. We may each see something different when we look up into the sky, but the moon contains within its form all our fragmentary perspectives and understandings, and perhaps even is the richer for it.

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