Art. Can it really heal our souls?
Beauty is better to show than to tell. To many, art can speak more profoundly than the most brilliant lectures and its beauty can be more clear and convincing than the strongest argument.
As the hadith says, “God is beautiful, and He loves beauty,” so disinterest in beauty is equivalent to disinterest to the divine. The sense of beauty and greatness is best summarized with the term iĥsān, “to worship God as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He sees you.’’
Clearly we cannot take this literally. As if we ‘’see Him’’ emerges through imagination and the display of beauty and art surrounding us.
The Qur’an encourages us multiple times to think of the signs of creation as these signs come into existence through imagination so that we can trace them back to their origins and meanings by acknowledging the aspects of the divine they manifest.
Imagination allows us to make the invisible world visible, and to trace visible forms back to their invisible meanings. (Ogunnaike, 2017)
Understanding these aspects will help us to feel devoted to our purpose in life, bringing the soul back to the state of purity.
You cannot love someone or something when you don’t feel attached to or attracted by it.
We cannot help but feel love for things that we are devoted to and that are beautiful. Love attaches itself to beauty, so beauty will always be connected to love, which will then move our souls.
It’s this understanding and recognition of the truth, beauty, and presence, that leads us to love and harmony — the deep peace caused by the awareness of the presence of God — helping to bring our souls in balance.
As Plato wrote, “The arts shall care for the bodies and souls of your people.” We lost our culture and the living reality of our religion when we stopped caring for the beauty around us and lost our imagination.
The way Muslims lived back in the days they perfectly reflected the presence and the love for the divine by art that filled their hearts and flowed from their tongues.
If we want the regeneration of our mind and soul, we need to look further than the list of dos and don’ts in our belief.
Art is a powerful reminder of a deeper reality, of iĥsān and the healing of our souls.
Healing is not to eliminate suffering but to find a form in which it can be expressed. Creative expression can make a powerful contribution to the healing process.
Over the past decade, psychologists have begun looking at how this contribution takes part.
Many studies show that arts can be used in a variety of ways to heal emotional injuries, increase understanding of oneself and others, develop a capacity for self-reflection, reduce symptoms and improve behavior and thinking patterns.
It’s a useful way of de-cluttering our own emotions through expression or visuals and help to cure. I can vouch for this myself as the arts have always been a big part of my life.
Every time I feel down, I look back at this outlet that helped me get through life when it felt difficult to cope.
Making art has become my go-to place to heal.
The reason why I am writing about this matter is I wanted to encourage or inspire you to find a form in which you can express and de-clutter your own emotions, making art your place to heal as well.
Especially at times like this when the current coronavirus outbreak is a discussion of potential threats to our mental health.
We are and will be spending a lot of time at home and many of our regular social activities are no longer available to us.
To try and help this, Marukh Ahmad, an artist from The Netherlands gave her twist to the #passthebrushchallenge by challenging several Dutch artists, including me, to create a video with their artwork.
‘’These artists didn’t know each other, but this was a great way to get acquainted. It’s always important to keep expanding your network. Especially in this time of corona where we basically standstill, it’s important to support one another because we need that. While everyone is in lockdown, we all could use some entertainment as well. So I thought this video would be a great way to achieve that.’’ explains Maruk.
With this being said I want to ask you to pass this challenge over to you (and you can use the #passthebrushchallenge to spread the message!).
As we approach the last 10 nights, use them to encourage people all around the world to get creative in their own way, and use it as a means of healing and spiritual discovery in the way only Ramadan can.