The Unfolding of an International Quilt Project
~ Tazeen Dhunna
I was a hidden treasure
and I longed to be known,
so I created both worlds,
the visible and the invisible,
in order that My hidden treasure
of generosity and loving-kindness
would be known.
For years Mevlevi women have woven their hearts together through needlework projects and the moment opened at the start of this year to begin the task of weaving 53 hearts from all over the world, revealing a hidden treasure through their union. Our dear Camille Ana planted a seed over a year ago through the names al Khaliq (the Creator), al Bari (the Evolver), and al Musawwir (the Shaper).
The cluster of these three names describe the metaphysical process of divine creation, and through stitching a patchwork quilt of the 99 Names of God we took a journey into them.
The word Khaliq means leatherworker. In one of the root forms of al-Khaliq, we find the meaning of measuring a piece of leather and of conceiving a design that is beautifully proportioned. Within the nothingness, self-awareness dawns and an activity begins of imagining an infinity of hidden possibilities. God is the imaginer of the infinite possibilities of being. All manifestation begins with this creative leap. Our being emptied and becoming nothing is an important part of the process. A sacred hadith has Allah saying, “I am as my lover imagines me to be,” and al Khaliq brings to heart the dynamic relationship of the attributes of divine creation on the arc of descent and ascent.
It is like imagining the letters hidden in the inkpot. When embarking on the project there was no certainty if anyone would participate or how it would manifest, yet an image began forming on what may be possible.
Al Bari is the sacred name that describes the next phase of God’s creative process. At this stage there will be distinct possibilities of things appearing. The individual pieces are now cut out according to the whole design that was originally imagined.
Thankfully with Allah’s perfect planning, two dear family friends, Sabiha Qureshi and her husband Maqbool Qureshi, offered to help with the project. Sabiha Qureshi helped with organising the measurements and quantities of fabric required. Maqbool Qureshi returned to his childhood learning of Islamic calligraphy and with some assistance from the The 99 Names of God Contemplation Cards by Chickpea Press, he drew the Names of God onto each square. We began to witness the multiplicity and multiple essences as each name found its rightful embroiderer.
The work began with hearts and hands joined in dhikr; many stitching for the first time.
Once all the squares had been gathered, Aunty Sabiha began the painstaking task of weaving our hearts together, and so to the completion of the activity of divine creation that began with al-Khaliq and al Bari. God’s love unfolding in the activity of al Khaliq, al Bari and al Musawwir. When the created ones love God, again it is through the activity of Khaliq, Bari and Musawwir . There is a natural disposition that draws the finite to come to know the infinite. It is the basis for the whole Sufi path. The same mechanism of divine creation operates on the journey of return.
The love poured backwards and forwards, till, from a seed, it flowered into this tapestry of Names woven across continents and oceans by 53 hearts in a circle.