The Sustainer – Ar-Razzaq

Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you)!

Copyright (c) 2012

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.
Quran (67:19)

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!



Here is sharing a painting completed a long time ago mashaAllah, inspired by the last ayah of surah Mulk, which is also what is inscribed on it. I wanted to attach it to the recent post where I had talked of this very same ayah, but saved it for later. It is a special work to me 🙂
May you enjoy looking at it. As we say ‘Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty’, so may it be of benefit to you!
Peace be with you all

The Love

Assalamu alaikum, peace be with you,

Many a thing; whether short and pithy, long and elaborate, deeply philosophical or traipsingly lighthearted, poem or prose, fiction or real, has been written on love. Far be it from the ability of this novice to attempt to say anything profound on the subject. But I did want to share a few impressions and experiences as a Muslimah and our community’s dealing with the concept of love. These are basically, as my blog was set up to do, musings aloud 🙂

Why is it, that it seems, we Muslims, as a Nation, are almost afraid to use the word ‘love’. Is it because of it’s much over-use and abuse by many peoples and nations before and in our time or are we just afraid to talk about something we do not really understand? Certainly the ‘mystical Muslims’ (for lack of a better term), or those in touch with the inner spiritual Islam, have no aversion to using this word. But the vast sunni Muslim community (or at least, the community I’ve interacted with, which is primarily the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent, my own Island home and this multi-ethnic multi-national community of Muslims in Canada and the USA) seems to shy away from using this word. While I find it common in the language of leaders in other faith groups and even community groups, it is rare to hear it among our Imams and leaders. Nay, it almost seems as if talking of love is considered a weakness by the Ummah (an arabic work meaning ‘nation’ and used to denote the Muslim peoples generally) so our Imams shy away from it. At least this is my impression and I hope I am wrong!

Allah is such a beautiful soft name. Meaning ‘Al-ilah’ or ‘The God’, with no plural form and no masculine or feminine form, it is a word beyond gender. Easily lilting on the tongue, easily breathed with the breath, easily sung in lullabies…’la ilaha illallaah’, that beautiful phrase that affirms a person is a Muslim, translated simply to ‘no God but Allah’ is such a soft and gentle thing. When we talk of Allah, we also use the word Rabb often. ‘Rabb’ is hard to translate, it has the meanings of one who nurtures, nourishes, sustains, guides, looks-after and yes, loves! It can be poorly translated as ‘Lord’ and implies one’s Master and complete source of all things. However, Master is a poor word as it has in it an inherent notion of gender, which in the Muslim theology, God is beyond. But my point was that we use the word ‘Rabb’ often and that word is full of the meaning of love. As a dear sister and mashaallah (by God’s grace) emerging voice in our community Sr. Yasmin Mogahed said, Allah loves you more than your Mother. Indeed Allah created mothers, and instilled in them this divine quality of love (it goes without saying this applies to Fathers just as much). We say, that all our good qualities are only small instances of the much greater divine.

I have been thinking recently on this idea of attachment. That by attaching oneself to objects and things and even people, we feel emptiness inside when they are removed from us. Sr. Yasmin speaks of this a great deal. Love is indeed linked to this idea of attachment. And so it is possible to feel deep loss, hurt, pain when one does not feel a reciprocation of the love one gives out, be it to a lover, a relative, a friend. One solution to this, is to detach oneself. But I would disagree with this and say, yes do attach, do feel that deep love and show that. But don’t have expectations from those you give to. Keep your expectations only with Allah. Allah is the sole provider, nourisher, sustainer. Indeed Allah is ‘Al-Wadud’, ‘The Love’. Meaning God alone is the source of all love. So knowing this, when we are only channelled to recieve His devine mercy (Muslims often use the word mercy as a translation of ‘rahma‘, a core attribute of Allah, and one that also has the idea of love in it) and then transmit it, we don’t really expect a reciprocation from the entity we give it to. If at all we recieve something back we realize that person is only also chanelling to us a love from the same source! So we love our Lord more and in His name love those around us. But we do love, and love deeply. And we cry when we miss our loved ones. Even our prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be with him) himself teared when he would remember his first wife after her death. But we are not the slaves of those we love, but only the slave of ‘The Love’, so we know our source never dries up and therefore we are never alone and never need feel that level of heartache that is despair. Which is probably why our beloved prophet marvelled at the condition of a believer and said, “Wondrous are the believer’s affairs. For him there is good in all his affairs, and this is so only for the believer. When something pleasing happens to him, he is grateful, and that is good for him; and when something displeasing happens to him, he is patient, and that is good for him.” (Reported in the hadith collection of Muslim)

These are a few thoughts I wanted to share on the subject. And attached is an image of a painting completed with Allah’s majestic ‘name’ of ‘Al Wadud’, ‘The Love’. It was inspired at a time when I was the recipient of love mashaallah and was deeply in that emotion. So I am grateful for that inspiration and grateful for what I recieved. That too from my beloved glorious Lord!!! So celebrating Allah’s name, and sharing that, is attaching this image.

All good and all benefit is from Allah and Allah alone. So if any of you found anything good in this, that is by God’s grace and I am very humbled to be able to write and I do hope you find this beneficial for you.
May God’s light and peace be with you all

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Allah Kareem

Allah Kareem, ‘ God is the Most Generous’. Remembering the generosity of our Lord, and inspired by the generosity of a very beautiful sister…one of many beautiful people I am blessed to know. How indeed the qualities of Allah azza wa’jal are manifested by His creation! Imagine then the felicity of acquiring the reflection of even one of them! Allah forgive my sins and be generous with me and with us all!
Peace to you.


MashaAllah just completed this for a dear Auntie… who looked after me through many years of study. Not knowing much English, she’d say ‘eat eat’ as she served a hot plate of food for me when I got home from school/work. Never a requirement, just being generous. Now she is abroad and hopefully she will like this. May it will get to her safe inshaAllah!
How much there is to learn from those giving souls around us. Somehow this gets me to thinking about the immense generosity of our Creator…and indeed all good qualities we have are but a poor reflection of the divine. For example how much an act of pure generosity the creation of flowers is! I can never have my fill of contemplating the beauties of this world, flowers, birds…Subhahanallah the sheer range of colour, texture, shape, fragrance is mind-blowing. And this too by the limits set upon our senses by which we understand them. So God is ar-Rahman. The compassionate, also meaning loving, kind, eternally merciful, nurturing. Taken from the root word ‘r-h-m’ which means ‘womb’, symbolizing all the love, protection, nurturing, care and cherishing that sacred place we all sojourned in holds. Subhahanallah! Glory be to God!
This painting is a pretty poor capturing for all the above. In all truth it can hardly be called anything close to that. But mashaAllah it is done finally (months after doing the background, did the foreground tonight…I think the background was literally done about a year ago?!) and thought to post a picture up here. InshaAllah you will like it.

Allah Kareem! (God is the Generous or God is most generous)

Peace be to all