Themes: “Ahl al-Bayt family”, “Remembrance of Allah” and “Standard (‘alam)
Ahl al-Bayt family
Ahl al-Bayt is an Arabic phrase and literally means “the people of the house” – that is the Prophet Muhammad and members of his household including especially his cousin and son–in–law Hazrat ‘Ali b. Abi Talib, his daughter Fatima and his grandsons Hazrat al–Hasan and Imam al–Husayn as well as their progeny. The persons mentioned are also referred as the Panjtan Pak – the “Five Purified Ones” of the Prophet’s family who attained this status by many incidences that took place during the Prophet’s life.
The art inspiration comes from the Zucchini plant, and the intoxication of its love for nature and creation. The plant’s bright yellow-orange flowers break open in the morning and uproar to the attention of the pollinating bees. The bees respond drunkenly to the bright display, flying from male to female flower and pollinating intensely as they go.
Remembrance of Allah
His Highness the Aga Khan, known as Mawlana Hazar Imam to his followers, constantly reminds the Ismailis to keep to the remembrance of their faith by keeping a tasbih (or rosary) with them and invoking the name of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad and Hazrat Ali.
The art inspiration comes from the green leaves of a Zucchini plant where nature submits to Allah, the Creator, the Merciful and the Benevolent. In turn, Allah returns the fruits of love, light and joy. The art inscription at the top says Allah, and bottom (left to right) Muhammad and Ali.
The central piece of the Standard (‘alam) comes from the 17th century. The decoration and calligraphy in the centre pieces has the phrases ‘O Allah’ ‘O Muhammad’, ‘O Ali’. These emblems were denoted as emblems of power and decorated with dragon heads and religious messages. The creative calligraphy around the centre piece fits with the Islamic tradition of creating animal, bird and human forms from letterforms.
My inspiration comes from page 181 of the book Spirit and Life – Masterpieces of Islamic Art from the Aga Khan Museum Collection, and also in upholding the tradition and commitment to the constant remembrance and submission to Allah irrespective of where we are physically.