The Brigham Young University (BYU) Museum of Art, in Provo, Utah, has just welcomed on campus the exhibition Beauty and Belief: Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture, assembled and presented by Dr. Sabiha Al-Khemir. Among the 250 items is a single page of the Blue Qur’an, perfectly rendered by Fatimid craftsmen a millennium ago, bearing verses 109 through 114 of Surat al-Baqarah. Andrew Kosorok, an adjunct sculpture professor at BYU, has been to the exhibition and says that seeing images from the Blue Qur’an online is one thing, but seeing it in person is entirely something else. The following is a letter of gratitude from Andrew Kosorok to the makers of the Blue Qur’an. The letter launches our special series, Thank you letter to an Ismaili Historical Figure, to commemorate the third anniversary of this website.
* * * * * *
29 March, 2012.
Dear Makers of the Blue Qur’an,
Thank you. As an appreciator of beauty I am grateful for your work, as a pilgrim I am grateful for your guidance, as an artist I am grateful for your examples of skill and craftsmanship, and as one trying to listen to the Divine Will, thank you for the hope you give me. I am a Christian, and I am grateful to the Creator of us all that you were inspired, driven, and given the ability to make what you did.
I have seen in person only a single page of your work, and that is filling to my spirit. The Tongue of Angels, although I am unable to read it myself, flows across the page in Kufic script in crystallized transcendence. I am unable to tell what the symbols mean, but I can feel through your work what they mean. The Qur’an is the Bridge between our mortal state and our Creator, a miracle proving the esteem and hope in which the Infinite holds us limited and feeble beings. With your care, setting aside your ego and working only to please your Master, every element of a page I am unable to read communicates this to me. No extra marks were made, but only just enough, and those exactly right; you kept your self from speaking and gave your will to the Shaper of Beauty—and by doing so, gave volume to the voice of the Spirit. It would never mean anything more or different if I could read the symbols written on the page—by your work you have shown me what the words truly signify. God is beautiful and loves beauty, and your work is a thousand-year witness to this eternal truth.
The work of our hands, when we work alone, is fleeting and inadequate. You trained as calligrapher, dyer, paper-maker, and binder, and with all your training refused to work alone. Because of your humility, you became a tool in the hand of the Maker of All, and He blessed you with its use. Thank you for your guidance as I stumble on my own journey, and thank you for showing me that of myself I am nothing—but when I give myself to the Master, He will create something truly marvelous.
Seeking and striving for the still, small voice to guide the work of my hands, you have shown me also that the Master is unwilling to work with unfit servants. To be a better servant, to be a better man, I must refine the skills and talents leased to me. Thank you for showing what true mastery can do; your skills of calligraphy and the book arts did not make this, they prepared the way so God could make this with your hands. Thank you for showing me that talent is not mine to have, but loaned to me that I might hone it, grow it, and share it. God can truly work with any lump or clod of clay, but you show the beauty and hope which comes when we actively prepare ourselves for His working.
Your work, your guidance, and your skill have shown me that those very things which pass away and perish, when used completely in the service of our Creator, give voice and witness to truths which are eternal and everlasting. Thank you for the beauty you share, the hope you give, and the miracle of the Blue Qur’an.
Copyright: Andrew Kosorok/www.Simerg.com, 2012.
About the writer: Andrew Kosorok has been a professional stained glass designer, consultant, and restoration specialist for twenty years, and teaches sculpture, stained glass, and drawing. He has received BFA and MFA degrees in sculpture from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, and has studied philosophy and comparative religions. His stained glass work is in numerous homes and churches, and his sculptural work has been in state, national, and international art competitions. He believes that by examining the act of creation through art, one’s relationship with the Divine can be strengthened. His style is a product of the fusion of his various interests, building objects as records of the ongoing journey of learning and as a means to share the continuing process.
Kosorok’s other piece(s) on this website: 99 Most Beautiful Names – A sculptural presentation of the Names for God from the Qur’an.
For details about the thank you series and how you can contribute to it please click: Thanking Ismaili Historical Figures.
Share this article with others via the share option below. Please visit the Simerg Home page for links to articles posted most recently. For links to articles posted on this Web site since its launch in March 2009, please click What’s New. Sign-up for blog subscription at top right of this page.
We welcome feedback/letters from our readers on the essay. Please use the LEAVE A REPLY box which appears below. Your feedback may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.