24 - Bestower of Honors (Al-Mu'izz)

24 – Bestower of Honors (Al-Mu’izz)

Photography by Hawkinson Photography

This came as a result of two ideas that seemed contradictory, but I believe reflect the aspects of human expectation versus Divine reality.

First, I was thinking of the tomb of Tamerlane, a Ceasar of the Muslim world, and his gentler reflection in the liberator Sundiata.  These men forged huge empires of political might, and continue to receive honors and recognition from their descendents and those who remember them.  They were conquerors and among the mightiest of men.

Then, I considered what this Name might also refer to.  What is the greatest honor the Creator could give?  Adam was honored to be, alongside Eve, the progenitor of Humanity and the bringer of the gift of mortality to the whole world.  God cared about Adam’s loneliness, He made Adam the first prophet, and guided Adam to build the first structures on the planet (including the Qa’aba).  In the Bible and Qur’an, the most honored men and women are those who have opportunity to visit with God, and in the New Testament Jesus says the most highly favored people will be blessed to live forever in God’s own house as His neighbors.

The structure draws from some of the forms of Tamerlane’s Tomb, but rather than using any color I thought the reflections of the woven lines etched in the glass would symbolize something beyond our normal experience.  Resting in the box, the geometry of which reflects the proportions of the Ark, are worldly acknowledgements of achievement – from fire-brigade membership pins and paratrooper medals to Boy Scout merit badges.  The simple and open architecture was used as a strong contrast to the colorful awards, in hopes the viewer would think along with me about the fleeting quality of earthly acclaim compared to eternal friendship with the Divine.  The open arches owe their geometry to Muslim way-stations, where large arched openings were designed to redirect the flow of cool air to refresh travelers.

Rather than riches, acclaim, or accolades, the greatest honor the Creator gives to his creatures, by contrast, is His friendship.