Jeem, 2012
Acrylic paint on layered plywood, 115 x 115 cm
Edition of 3

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Jeem is inspired by a poem written by the Sufi scholar Mohammed Abdul Jabbar Al-Nafari on the science of letters:

الحرف يسري حيث القصد، جيم جنة جيم جحيم
قال من أهل النار، قلت أهل الحرف الظاهر
قال من أهل الجنة، قلت أهل الحرف الباطن
قال ما الحرف الظاهر، قلت علم يهدي إلى عمل
قال ما الحرف الباطن، قلت علم يهدي إلى حقيقة

A letter leads the way to intention, H, heaven, H, Hell
He said to me ‘who are the people of Hell?’,
I said ‘the people of the outer letters
He said to me ‘who are the people of Heaven? I said ‘the people of the inner letters
He said what is the outer letter? I said ‘wisdom that does not lead to work
He said what is the inner letter? I said ‘wisdom that leads to truth

The poem sheds light on a fascinating and mysterious aspect of the Arabic language. Many Islamic scholars believe that there are two facets to every letter, al-zaher – an outer facet and al-baten – an inner facet. The outer relates to the function of the letter in everyday use. The inner relates to the hidden character of the letter; Ibn Arabi said “letters are like a nation of individuals, each with his own duty and obligation”, implying that each letter has its own existence and personality, that is longing to be acknowledge and admired