What Do Embellished Shrines Teach Our Souls?

Surrounded by so much beautiful craft can surely be a distraction for an artist like me who loves traditional Islamic art. Last night I sat in the Holy Shrine of Imam musa e Kazim and imam mohummud jawwad at Kazmain and I was drowned in the beauty of the glittering arches embellished with intricate glass work. Light shimmering, blinding you with a billion sparks. I was so engrossed in admiring the art that I felt a sudden pang of guilt at ignoring the spiritual experience.

This moment was my star moment. It’s moments like these when we question the duality. The dichotomy between worldly beauty and the need to still oneself into detachment from this very beauty..where does the oneness lie? What’s unity of beauty ? And why are these shrines so embellished?

These were the thoughts that followed:
These saints emulated so much Godly beauty within their souls that today their souls are celebrated by a reflection of outer beauty. As above so below..as inside so outside. And if we could just reflect into their beautiful character of love and sacrifice that perhaps we too could take part in this spiritual journey of purification.. A movement to let go of the old burdened self full of resentment and unforgiveness and embrace love forgiveness and kindness. Their shrines are big because they chose to be the bigger person.

The arches represent a portal to the higher/inner realms. Ascension . Isra. Each person’s very own Miraj… As we hear “as salat o mairaj al momin”, – prayer is the ascension of a peaceful believer – thus the Mehrab or the arch is placed in places of prayer .

The sparkling glass to me became a metaphor for so many inner mirrors that need to be polished to blast off into the higher realms within each of us in order to Ascend to our higher stations. They also looked like a gazzillion stars in the sky. The star dust that we are made of needs to be realised in order for us to fly higher into the galaxies of our inner beauties.

Once we open that pathway, the peace, serenity, priorities change.. We no longer stay on this earth. We fly in a differnt realm.. So that the matters on the earth down below seem petty, easy to be forgiven and forgotten, in contrast to the higher beauties of the higher realms.

The beauty in the shrines reminds me of the beauty that lies with us. each vast soul. The outer beauty reflects inner beauty.

‎اللہ جمیل وی حب الجمال
Allah is beautiful and he loves beauty
– Hadith

‎وَاَحۡسِنُوۡا ۛۚ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ يُحِبُّ الۡمُحۡسِنِيۡنَ
and do good. Of course, Allah loves those who do good 2:195 Quran
Ihsaan comes from husn and husn means beauty. Another word for Jamal.