The Word of Allah is the origin and principle of Islamic art par excellence. Just as the Word descends from the unseen and unmanifest order to the visible and material realm, so too does the art that is based upon it descend from the ‘formless’ sonoral level to the formal visual plane. And just as the Word, once having entered the formal plane of calligraphy, ‘develops’ horizontally by becoming ever more complex, similarly Islamic art unfolds its diverse possibilities through the course of history and in numerous Muslim cultures. By continuously reaffirming the presence of the One in the many and Unity in diversity, Islamic art, through its multifarious forms, allows for all Muslims to gain access to the spiritual journey back to the Origin from which the Divine Word issues.
Shaykh Umar Ibn al-Farid was an Egyptian scholar of Islamic law, and a teacher of Hadith. His poetry is considered by many to be the the very height of Arabic Sufi literature.
The Gulshan i Raz is a collection of poems written in 1317 A.D. (717 A.H.) by Shaykh Sa’ad Al-Din Mahmud Shabistari in the mathnawi form. It is considered to be one of the greatest Persian works of Sufism. The poem is in response to a series of fifteen questions on Sufism asked of Shabistari by the scholar Rukh Al-Din Amir Husayn Harawi.
The Bustan is a book of poetry by the the great Persian poet Sa’adi Shirazi. Written in the mathnawi style it was completed in 1257.
Islamic Art and Spirituality
By Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Islamic Art has been the subject of study by Western scholars since the nineteenth century and by Western-trained
Muslim savants for several decades. It has, moreover, come to receive special attention during the past two or three
decades by the larger public as a distinct category of art. Numerous works have appeared in nearly every European
language on the history, technical formation, social setting, and other aspects of this art. A few books and articles
have been devoted to its spiritual significance and meaning, but these have been few and far between. Except for
the writings of T. Burckhardt, which cast special light upon the intellectual, symbolic, and spiritual dimensions of
Islamic art, there are very few works which look upon Islamic art as the manifestation in the world of forms of the
spiritual realities (al-haqa’iq) of the Islamic revelation itself as coloured by its earthly embodiments……………..
A poem by Shaykh Ahmad al-‘Alawi
Translated by Edward Fitzgerald, E. H. Whinfield, and J. B. Nicolas
By F. Hadland Davis