In Christian tradition, the Creator built the Universe using measure, weight, and number, and is a Celestial Craftsman of infinite and perfect ability.  A defining characteristic of humanity is the capacity for intelligently creative construction, a heritage granted by their Creator.  When we build with intelligence, consistency, and craft, we are emulating the Source of those abilities, and can find ourselves drawn closer to the Divine Will.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, philosopher and writer on the arts, has encapsulated this idea from a Muslim perspective.  From his book Islamic Art and Spirituality:  “To grasp fully the significance of Islamic art is to become aware that it is an aspect of the Islamic revelation, a casting of Divine Realities (haqa’iq) upon the plane of material manifestation in order to carry man upon the wings of its liberating beauty to his original abode of Divine Proximity.”

Thankfully, many appreciate the promise reflected in our capacity to build things of beauty.  With this in mind, Elvira Bojadzic and Kenan Surkovic started Islamic Arts Magazine, one of the premier showcases of Islamic art – past and present, and all genres.  From commentary and criticism to interviews and surveys, they provide a bimonthly 250 page forum for viewers to see the wealth of contemporary Islamic art as well as experience the richness of its history.  This is a first class publication, with a truly inspiring presentation and message; they share a full issue for free, offer an informative arts and letters blog, and have a very reasonable subscription rate.

Pleasantly, they also have galleries of works done by Islamic artists from around the world, from photography and architecture to painting and calligraphy, as well as many other subjects.  Although I am not Muslim, they responded to the intent of the 99 Names project with enthusiasm, and have graciously put several images on display.  While perusing their online presence, please stop by and check out the gallery for the project.

It is wonderful seeing such a beautiful format for experiencing Islamic art.