This reflection was originally published in Ramadan 2019. To read other reflections in the 2021 series click here.
By Khalilah Sabree
This piece, titled “Above and Below,” is part of a series of paintings on light inspired by ayah al-Nur (24:35), found in the 18th juz’ of the Qur’an. They are not illustrations of the verse, but rather reflections on it.
God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. His Light is like this: there is a niche, and in it a lamp, the lamp inside a glass, a glass like a glittering star, fuelled from a blessed olive tree from neither east nor west, whose oil almost gives light even when no fire touches it—light upon light—God guides whomever He wills to his Light; God draws such comparisons for people; God has full knowledge of everything.
God says He “is the light of the heavens and the earth” Mankind is here simply seeking His light. In “Above and Below,” the silhouettes at the top represent people who are standing on the earth because the spiritual life of man takes place here, on this plane, not in a remote location separate from himself. And it is here, in this life, that he must attempt to attain the light of God. However, he will eventually end up in the earth — the rectangular shapes represent the grave — and it is there that he will learn if God’s light had been withheld from him or gifted to him. “God guides whomever He wills to his Light.”
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Khalilah Sabree‘s work is about spiritual transformation and world issues. Her current body of work contains a variety of large scale, mixed-media paintings and drawings. There are several series in the collection, with a contemporary Islamic flavor. She filters the world through the eyes of an African-American Muslim woman and educator.
She maintains a private studio at Artworks Trenton and has a Master of Fine Art in Painting from the University of the Arts, as well as a B.A from The College of New Jersey. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout the Tri-State area.