Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you)!
MashaAllah (by God’s grace) almost a year since I began it, today I finished a painting that is rather special to me. After days and days of carefully controlled hours with not much free time, finally today it was a day of nothing scheduled to do and therefore the luxury of being able to paint. This piece is special because I began it at a time I needed to be reminded that God indeed is in control of everything. It was a time when much I had built my hopes on was falling apart around me, a lot of it due to my own wrong doing or that my own best efforts were not enough. I felt like a bird, adrift over an angry sea, trying to keep my wings held high and keep going without the waves washing over me, trying to ride the storm.
I was reminded of the Albatross, that amazing bird, the true master of the seas… a bird some say once airborne over the oceans does not come back to land for over a year if not many years. And I was reminded of one of the names of God, what we Muslims call the ‘asma-ul-husna’ (the names of beauty or goodness). We say God has 99 names. Actually what is meant by names is more like ‘attribute’. For each of the attributes, God is the ultimate, the absolute sense of it. For example, one of the names is ‘al-wadud’ which means ‘The Love’. So God is THE love, all love come from Him, His love is the purest and truest sense of love. One of the things I love the most about the Asma-ul Husna, is that half are considered names of ‘Majesty’ or ‘Jalal’ and the other half are names of ‘Beauty’ or ‘Jamal’. You can see the first half are essentially masculine in quality and the second half are essentially feminine in quality. To illustrate, ‘Al-Lateef’ meaning ‘The Subtle or near’ would be a name of Jamal (beauty = feminine) while ‘Al-Jabbar’ meaning ‘The Compeller’ would be a name of Jalal (majesty= masculine). Without going in to too much detail, let me end by saying that many Muslims have these 99 names memorized and sing them or chant them as a form of worship or remembrance. We say we must try to live our lives embodying as many of these names as we can and in the best way, not many of us can do all, but it is a good to pick a few we want to focus on building in to our character and manifest that 🙂
The name I was reminded of during my time of difficulty is ‘ar-Razzaq’ meaning ‘The Provider’ or ‘The Sustainer’. We say all provision is from Allah. Indeed it is true, for we cannot create energy. All that we need and we take is already made. The source is the One. And on the less metaphysical but more everyday sense, we say every animal and tree has it’s provision assigned by God. Same for us, whatever we need, has been assigned. There is a beautiful article on this majestic name here. Do read it, It is much more descriptive than I can manage.
So the painting is about that. That for every bird out there in the ocean, each albatross on its solitary journey for miles and miles and months and months, ar-Razzaq, The Provider, is watching over and will sustain and nourish as needed. This reminded me of a beautiful ayah (verse) in the Quran, which mashaAllah I put at the end of the painting. It is ayah 19 of one chapter 67. A chapter that is considered to have many healing properties in its recitation.
أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا إِلَى الطَّيْرِ فَوْقَهُمْ صَافَّاتٍ وَيَقْبِضْنَ ۚ مَا يُمْسِكُهُنَّ إِلَّا الرَّحْمَٰنُ ۚ إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ بَصِيرٌ
Yusuf Ali Interpretation
Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except (Allah) Most Gracious: Truly (Allah) Most Gracious: Truly it is He that watches over all things.
I will end with a link of a version of the recitation of the 99 names so you can listen to what it sounds like. And to end as always, to acknowledge that any good in me is from God and God alone.
Peace to all!