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Friday, 19 January 2018


"Is the reward for iĥsān anything other than iĥsān?"
– Qur’an 55:60

"In the Islamic tradition, the sense of beauty and excellence—at once aesthetic, ethical, intellectual, and spiritual—is encapsulated by the untranslatable Qur’anic term iĥsān. The classic definition of iĥsān comes from the hadith of Gabriel, wherein the Prophet ﷺ describes it as “to worship God as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He sees you.” Most simply, the Islamic arts cultivate iĥsān because the patterns on traditional prayer carpets; the geometric designs and calligraphy ornamenting mosques and Islamic homes; as well as the architecture of these homes, mosques, and madrasas help us to worship God as if we “see Him” through these displays of beauty, for “God is Beautiful and loves beauty.” This “as if” (ka anna in Arabic) seeing occurs through “imagination” (khayāl), a term that has a technical definition in Islamic discourses distinct from its everyday meaning in English."

"As such, the beauty of Islamic art attracts love, both human and divine. Whether praying in or even just strolling through the beautiful mosques of Istanbul or Isfahan, one cannot help but feel love and beloved, regardless of the circumstances outside. This gentle presence of beauty and love causes the sakīnah—the deep peace engendered by the awareness of the presence of God—that is one of the most characteristic features of the architecture of all traditional mosques. The harmony of their geometry makes the barakah (sacred presence) of the space tangible, helping to bring our souls into balance."

"For scientist-philosophers, such as Ibn Sīnā, love was quite literally the force that moved everything in the cosmos, from rocks to angels."

"Moreover, love is essential to the cultivation of iĥsān and the closely related concept of ikhlāś (sincerity). As a hadith says, “None of you truly believes until God and His Messenger are more beloved to him than anything else.”

"Beauty inspires love, and love moves our souls."

"The Silent Theology of Islamic Art"
Author: Olidumani Oginnaike

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