Rachel Sacks: The Ceramic Plate: Connection Between Art and Spirituality and Islamic Cosmology

Artwork: Blue ceramic plate with the ninety-nine names for Allah all around it. In the middle is the phrase, “In the name of Allah, the compassionate, and the merciful.”

         This plate exhibits two important concepts: the immense importance and omnipotence of Allah, as well as Allah’s approach to the concepts of mercy and justice. The plate is covered with the names of Allah, expressing the idea that the words of G-D are infinite—filling our world to no end. Indeed, “He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner; to Him belong the best names” (59:24). Everything that Allah has created—and Allah has created everything—serves Allah, and no other names are written on the plate as Allah has no equals. Nobody and nothing stands at the awesome level of Allah, and polytheism is a sin.

The descriptions of Allah as “the compassionate, the merciful” at the center of the plate represent Allah’s unequivocal ability to administer mercy and justice with absolute precision—Allah is the ultimate judge. Everything we do—good and bad—Allah accounts for, nothing is missed. That said, Allah leans towards mercy as Allah is “the most merciful” (55:1)—and leaning towards mercy is Allah’s interpretation of justice. Humans are inherently good—and Allah looks for the good—and it is we ourselves that may make the choice to act otherwise, to become enticed by Satan.  Allah—compassionate and merciful—will be judging us and we must live with this knowledge.