The journey from God to creatures by God

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(The journey in how pluralities were emanated from the unity or the observation of the stages of the creatures from the highest to the lowest)

This painting is based on a manuscript by the 13th century scholar, Zakariya al-Qazwini, titled ‘Wonders of Creation’ (Aja’ib al-makhluqat wa ghara’ib al-mawjudat). In this book al-Qazwini takes us through the nine heavens in a mystical yet precise and observational way, descending to earth and travelling through mythical lands and in- troducing its inhabitants and environment.
In Qazwini’s mind, making an encyclopaedia that stretches your imagination and entertains your soul will only bring you closer to God if you understand that he’s capable of so much more than we could ever imagine. Inspired by the illustrations and text in this encyclopaedia, I composed the painting to symbolise ascending through the heavens as well to try to understand the days of creation, to reach a level of transcen- dence where we understand God, Mulla Sadra’s final stage ‘with God’.

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The limits to our existence are a lot less than we are made to think by modern society which evaluates a person by the quality and quantity of the objects they own. My starting point was Mulla Sadra’s book The Four Journeys (al-Asfar al-arba’a), in which he speaks about Universal Man (al-Insan al-Kamil), and the journey of each one of us returning to the essence. This book has been one of the main inspirations for this series along with other writings such as the books of Rene Guenon including ‘Universal Symbols of Sacred Science’ (translated into Arabic).
Asfar is the plural form of safar meaning journey in Arabic, Sadr al-Din Shirazi intended the scheme of his book to match the four journeys considered by Islamic mystics, framed by:
1- The part on general issues (existence and its manifestations).
2- The part on natural philosophy (substances and accidents).
3- The part on proper theology.
4- The part on the soul, its origin and its resurrection.

The four journeys are as follows:
1- The journey from creatures to God.
2- The journey in God by God.
3- The journey from God to creatures by God.
4- The Journey in the creatures by God.