An artist’s insight on Sufism

  • 18 Apr - 24 Apr, 2020
  • Rubab Fatima
  • Art

Sufism is an Islamic belief where Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through one's personal experience of God. Connecting with the Divine is the objective of the practice. The Sufi whirling is a form of physically active meditation which originated among Sufi groups, and is still practiced by Dervishes, often called the Whirling Dervishes. This customary practice is sought through abandoning one's ego and desires, only focusing on God, and spinning in repetitive circles.

This is a concept which has always fascinated me and when indulged in a deep thought, it gives a much better understanding that we all run after our worldly desires but to understand the purpose of life, it is very important to form a strong connection with The Creator. Art undoubtedly has this special quality to depict any thought that comes to mind. Due to current circumstances, we've been introduced to a digital exhibition of Sadaf Farasat's painting collection with the ArtKaam Gallery’s website where she has so beautifully showcased the Whirling Dervishes, with all the feels needed to grasp this profound phenomenon.

I got in touch with Sadaf, who found her joy in painting in her childhood, to walk us through her creative process. "Painting began as a hobby, it was when I found my purpose that it became a passion, which resulted in me taking it up as a career and started painting professionally about 10 years ago," she narrates. She is a self-taught artist, with no formal training in art and aims to continue this learning forever.

I believe that artists related to any art form, are the most creative beings as they have the ability to perceive the worldly affairs in new ways. The connection they form with their art helps them innovate ideas and portray them significantly. On wanting to know what connection does she have with her craft, that makes her relate to it, she said, "My paintings are a reflection of my own spiritual journey. My aim is to make a strong connection with The Creator and help others get closer to Him as well. I see myself as one of the whirling dervishes as I’m wandering, whirling and striving to improve myself, while my focus remains on The Almighty. Painting to me, is like doing 'sema on the canvas."

She described her recent collection being digitally displayed at the gallery. "This particular collection which is displayed at ArtKaam is based on Rumi’s beautiful, spiritual work. Almost, all of my work is based on Maulana Rumi’s poetry." I asked her to explain the inspiration behind choosing this particular theme, to which she revealed, "The purpose of painting Rumi’s poetry is to inspire people to read more about his teachings, to understand Sufism and practice its basic fundamentals like tolerance, love, kindness and selflessness."

Her paintings are vibrant and speaks volumes; looking at them, I inquired about the techniques that brings these artworks to the canvas with such precision and finesse, "I have used a variety of them, ranging from bold strokes of a brush to using a palette knife. Oil is my favourite medium and I’m not afraid of experimenting with my techniques, which are mostly self-invented." With having numerous solo and group exhibitions to her credit that were held at her home and also many at international locations like Dubai, London, Singapore, USA and Malaysia; she was very happy to have received immense appreciation from art lovers who viewed her recent work online.

Upon asking whether she is easily pleased with her work or is an artist who craves absolute perfection while creating anything, she said, "Just like any other artist, I'm not ready to display a piece until it brings peace to me. However, learning continues with every canvas and I hope and try to get better with every new painting and grow not only as an artist but also as an individual. The desire to improve helps an artist evolve with each painting. Complete satisfaction might result in lacking the desire to improve."

The artist while describing her portraits, exclaimed, "The main characteristics of my paintings are bold movements and strong contrast of colours which depicts a fearless soul. The whirling in my paintings is a depiction of one’s soul which is constantly moving and searching for its Creator. Whirling as a dervish, is a symbol of exercise for the soul that leads to its purification and helps the soul get rid of all evils." To say nonetheless, conversing with this one artist has refreshed my belief that a human soul can only be at peace when it is warmly connected to The Almighty, and nothing else in the world can change that. •