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Say, ‘He is Allāh, [who is] One. Allāh, the Eternal Refuge.
He neither begets nor is born.
Nor is there to Him any equivalent.
Sūrah al-Ikhlās 112:1-4
The word Ikhlās has been derived from its root word khls which means refined or purified. Al-Ikhlās is a Meccan Sūrah and is one of the earliest revelations of the Qur’ān. It is one of the exemplary Sūrahs in the Qur’ān, although it is amongst the shortest ones and has the most profound implications.
RAQS O RANG
What is the magnitude of Allah’s mercy? Is it contained within this earthly realm, and if so, where and how can it be found? The Ayah (39:53), framing this piece reads: ‘Say, ‘O Prophet, that Allah says, “O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins. He is indeed the All Forgiving, Most Merciful’
Bound by the Boundless, this work represents the encapsulation of the endless mercy of the Most Merciful. The Cosmos, in which we human beings are but one small part, form the background, a window, an illuminated path and a door into the Canopy of Allah, beautifully reminding us of the Transcendent attributes of our Creator. The text and style are inspired by sublime Maghrebi script found in Al-Andalus, once an earthly paradise modelled on man’s interpretation of the Heavens.
Maaida explores the theme of the existent and the non-existent by nesting man’s vision, creativity and
Bulleh Shah, the Punjabi sufi poet describes all of creation within a dot by ‘Ek nuktay wich gal mukdi
eh’ (A dot encompasses it all).
The ‘nukta’ for Maaida represents the collective of man’s existence – the physical as well as the
metaphysical. Life takes form at particle level but further investigation reveals greater depth. The soul
and the ‘nafs’ (ego), though immaterial, exist within the material.
thus the beauty of the Divine himself within a very physical and finite space. Maaida ponders and
enquires of herself – “how can the infinitude of our creator be contained within the created”.
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Verily, all things have We created in proportion and measure
Sūrah al-Qamar 54:49
Maaida explores the concept of Taqdir/Qadr (or destiny) deriving her inspiration from the South Asian poet and philosopher Mohammad Iqbal also known as The Poet of the East. The word Qadr represent the concepts of order, capacity and even measure and estimation. Maaida uses this beautiful and multi-dimensional word to draw discipline into a form that combines all the various meanings into one place.
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Dastan is a Persian word that means a story or a tale. It is history in the form of storytelling originating from Central Asia primarily from Iran and Turkey. Historically a dastan would be centred on an individual who protects her people from the outside world. Maaida draws inspiration from this very idea of a protector sheltering and comforting the masses. Similar to how a mother would nourish the child in her womb, Maaida explores the concept of the Divine’s motherly love and protection wrapped around the creation in the shape of spiritual geometry for divine femineity — the Vesica Pisces.
ALIF LAAM MEEM
“Alif Laam Meem. This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who are mindful of Allah.”
Al-Muqattaat or the abbreviated letters consist of two to five Arabic Alphabets, figuring at the beginning of 29 Chapters in The Qur’an in which ‘Alif Laam Meem’ occurs in six surahs (Chapters). The meaning and purpose of these letters is mysteriously veiled. As Qur’an itself is a miracle and
holds hidden values for the pure seeking hearts, it often challenges mankind to produce a Surah (verse) at least somewhat like the Qur’an in beauty and elegance, if they doubt its authenticity.
These mysterious letters are known to us and used frequently to formulate words however just like life cannot be created by us, even if we possess knowledge of the constituents of the human body. Similarly, the eloquence and beauty of expression that we find in the Qur’an cannot be captured, despite knowing the letters that constitute the Qu’ran. The Qur’an thus proves its Divine origin.
Nafas in Arabic means breath or an instant. It is the indivisible moment in which every atom in the cosmos undergoes a beginning. Everything that exists happens through it and by it. Maaida explores the concept with an interpretation given by Ibn al-Arabi as “nafas al- rahman”, which expresses creation or existence being synonymous with mercy (rahma). Through the Divine breath, the universe is constantly being created, nourished, dissolved, and revived. Thus, symbolizing the interplay of manifesting form.
Maaida, further explores the interplay of the ‘Breath of the Compassionate’ by weaving it into a geometric pattern inspired by one of the oldest examples from Uamayyads found in Damishq (Damascus). She strives to weave together a dream of reviving the golden era of Islamic sciences, thought, art, and design that flourished during the Ummayad and Abbasid Syria.
NAMUD E ISHQ
For the Divine, the manifestation of love (Namud-e-Ishq) is everything in Her creation. All present from the microscopic patterns in snowflakes to the vast spiral galaxies in the milky way, the order in the tail of a chameleon to the tumultuous ocean waves, the delicate details in an un-bloomed flower to the resilience in gathering of a hurricane, the seed head of sunflowers, the snail shells, all are manifested through an orderly and meaningful design of the Divine. The concept of “Golden Ratio” also referred to as the ‘language of the Divine’ explores this manifestation by finding hidden patterns in nature through design, symmetry, and numbers. Maaida is inspired by fivefold patterns found in nature, particularly in flowers — for example the periwinkle, columbine flower, hibiscus, and plumeria among others. Thus, she uses the fivefold rosette pattern to celebrate the harmony and symmetry found in Islamic geometric art. – she is appreciating the Divine’s love of profound patterns found in nature and all around us.
Arabic calligraphy has many scripts including Kufic, Naskh, Thuluth, Nastaliq, Maghrebi, and others. Each script has its own beauty and uniqueness, but the Maghrebi script draws Maaida deep into its rich history and beauty. She feels a strong connection with the calligraphers and manuscripts from the North and West Africa across history. This connection has heavily influenced her journey as an artist as she yearns to bring the ancient traditions to the present to convey hope, love, and light. She combines her interest in the traditional Islamic illumination art with the sacred text (Az-Zumar – verse 53) rooted in the traditional Maghrebi script to celebrate the Divine’s Mercy, Rahma (compassion), and unfathomable capacity to forgive. Thus, serving a reminder to not let go of hope and the remembrance of our Creators love.