Khaamoshi Sunn – Kum Sukhan

The sound of silence …. esoteric, intimidating and perfect. Silence is best broken with the vibration of words that are not empty vessels of sound, but meaningful, thought provoking and heartfelt. Here is a collection of a few words out of the many amassed over the years; mostly during the sublime encounters with my spiritual teacher. The power of the word lies not in understanding its meaning, but in the resonance of its inspiration deep within, as one waits with patience and longing. As calligraphy, the word becomes the object and the aesthetic. Photographed, it is the subject. In the studio, it is lit and projected onto layers of diaphanous material. The silence of the photograph cries out; but you are quiet, and so am I.

All the photo montages in this image galley are diptychs in which the first image shows the word clearly and in the second image diffused, lost as it becomes muted in clarity and colours. Hence symbolically putting the idea forward. How over time beautiful meaningful words have lost their strength and don’t seem to matter anymore.

All that is left to us by tradition is mere words. It is up to us to find out what they mean.

Hazrat ibn al-`Arabi r.a`, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, in The Mystics of Islam, translated by Reynold A Nicholson

Look for the moon in the sky, not in the water! If you desire to rise above mere names and letters, Make yourself free from self at one stroke. Become pure from all attributes of self, That you may see your own bright essence, Yea, see in your own heart the knowledge of the Prophet, Without book, without tutor, without preceptor.”

Hazrat ibn al-`Arabi r.a`, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, in The Mystics of Islam, translated by Reynold A Nicholson


“Do you know what you are?You are a manuscript oƒ a divine letter.You are a mirror reflecting a noble face. This universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself;everything that you want, you are already that.” 

 Hazrat Mawlana Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (r.a)


Contemplation is a rare practice these days. These words will hopefully begin something within you and me, which will hopefully have a culmination into something beautiful. Let us reflect how with time words should not have to lose their meaning.  It’s become very rare to find people who mean what they say and say what they truly mean (intentions). This photographic series with 21 selected words out of which 9 can be viewed here and the rest should follow soon, are a collection derived from two languages Urdu and Arabic and are in no particular order. Here the words selected in colour are the nine words used in the photo montages in the image galley of this page.

“Spoken words are like seeds that we plant which will eventually grow into something sweet or bitter. Our actions in this life are seeds we’re planning for the other life promised by Allah.”

Shems Friedlander, When You Hear Hoofbeats Think of a Zebra

This year 2019 marks more than seven years ago, I made this series of images based on a concept that simply sweetly popped into my head. And today in the morning while working, I came across an article that touches on a similar subject. Hence compiled to share the smile it brought to my face.

The Lost Words: An Illustrated Dictionary of Poetic Spells Reclaiming the Language of Nature.

A single word can brighten the face

of one who knows the value of words.

Ripened in silence, a single word

acquires a great energy for work.War is cut short by a word,

and a word heals the wounds,

and there’s a word that changes

poison into butter and honey.


Let a word mature inside yourself.

Withhold the unripened thought.

Come and understand the kind of word

that reduces money and riches to dust.


Know when to speak a word

and when not to speak at all.

A single word turns the universe of hell

into eight paradises.


Follow the Way. Don’t be fooled

by what you already know. Be watchful.

Reflect before you speak.

A foolish mouth can brand your soul.


Yunus, say one last thing

about the power of words –

Only the word “I”

divides me from God.

by Hazrat Yunus Emre r.a (English version by Kabir Helminski & Refik Algan Original Language Turkish)

  1. Yearing, Seeker – Talab
  2. Love – Ishq
  3. Gnosis – Marifat
  4. Detachment – Istighnah
  5. Unity of God – Tawheed
  6. Bewilderment – Hayrat
  7. Selflessness, Oblivion in God – Fuqur Fana
  8. Spiritual Teacher – Murshid
  9. Loyalty – Wafah
  10. Sympathy – Dilazari
  11. Modesty – Haya
  12. Respect – Adab
  13. Compassionate, Hamdard – Shafiq
  14. Confidence–
  15. Devout –
  16. Perseverance – Zabt
  17. Faith – Aqidah
  18. Hope – Chashm Daasht
  19. Nurturing – Parvarish
  20. Patient, Patiently –
  21. Peaceful –


Ma’arifat ~ Knowledge of Allah

The first Hijaab or veil is the veil of Allah’s Ma’arifat, the Divine Knowledge pertaining to the relation of Allah with man.

Certain critics say that Ma’arifat is attained by ilm (knowledge) and aql (wisdom), but Shaikh Ali Hujwari refutes this claim. He says: “If Ma’arifat were attainable by ilm and aql then every alim (learned scholar) and wiser person should have been an Aarif (Sufi faqeer) whose definition and life are absolutely different from the definition and life of the Ulema (learned scholars). But it is not the case.” He says “Ma’arifat is attained only by that aspirant who receives special favour or Hidayat of Allah because it is Allah alone Who opens, closes, widens or seals the door of an aspirant’s heart. Ilm and Aql (knowledge and wisdom) can be helpful in attaining Ma’arifat but they cannot be its cause which is created only by the favour of Allah.” “I have recognized Allah only through Himself and all else through His Light.”

“What is Ma’arifat then?” asks Hazrat Ali Hujwari. He discusses the answer to this question in the light of the matured experiences of the great Sufis of the world:

Hazrat Abdullah-bin-Mubarik says : “Ma’arifat means that there should be no wonderment about anything of the world because this wonderment is created by Allah and is an act which is beyond all human conception, wisdom and powers. Because Allah Almighty has full control and command over everything of both the worlds then why should an Aarif (Sufi) entertain doubts or wonder about the powers and actions of Allah? They are as sure as daylight.”

According to Hazrat Zunnoon Misri, “the reality of Ma’arifat is that Allah, by the persistent effulgence of His divine light, divulges His secrets to the Aarif and illumines his heart and eyes by this Light to protect him against all the evils of the world without permitting even an iota of any doubts or reflection in the heart of the Aarif. After acquiring this stage in Ma’arifat a Sufi continues to see and enjoy all the manifestations of Divine Secrets.”

Hazrat Shibli says that Ma’arifat is the name of everlasting wonderment. There are two kinds of this wonderment. One is experienced during the state of sukr and the other one during the state of sehav“. (Both of these states are described in the Glossary of Sufi Terms). “If it prevails in the state of sehav, it amounts to kufr, (disbelief or faithlessness) but if it prevails in the state of sukr then it is Ma ‘Arifat because there can be no doubt whatever in the existence or presence of Allah in this state. And it is by this wonderment of Allah’s existence that a Sufi’s faith is strengthened and conclusively confirmed.”

Hazrat Bayazid Bastami says that “Ma’arifat is the source of conviction of a Sufi that everything of the universe is under the dominating control and power of Allah, that nobody else has any authority whatever upon His kingdom; that everything has its connection with Allah; that everything is at the mercy of His command and that everything derives its qualification from the store-house of Allah’s qualifications; that everything which is manifesting itself is manipulated by His Power and, lastly, that all the moving and stationary objects of the world, like the mountains, skies, earth, etc. are in their places because of His wish to keep this most wonderful drama of His creation going under the “Divine Scheme of  Things”–an everlasting Divine Order of the Universe.

~ Excerpt Taken From : The Eleven Hijabaat (Veils) of Sufism ~ Written & Compiled by Shaikh Hakim Chishti


Some of my favorite words have a sweet and a wonderful source, as they come from the various valleys named in the world renowned book Manteq al-Tayr (Conference of the Birds) by Hazrat Faridi-ul-Din Attar r.a . It tells of a conference of different birds, each representing a certain attributes. The story revolves around their painstaking journeys though 7 valleys in a quest to find their King, Simurgh. These valleys are:

The Valley of Quest

The Valley of Love

The Valley of Understanding

The Valley of Independence and Detachment

The Valley of Unity

The Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment

The Valley of Deprivation and Death

The journeys undertaken by birds profoundly represent the spiritual pilgrimages of man, in quest of the God, as he goes through different phases.


“No more words. In the name of this place we drink in with our breathing, stay quiet like a flower. So the night birds will start singing.” 

Hazrat Mawlana Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (r.a)


II. 105. man mast huâ tab kyon bole

Where is the need of words, when love has made drunken the heart? I have wrapped the diamond in my cloak; why open it again and again? When its load was light, the pan of the balance went up: now it is full, where is the need for weighing? The swan has taken its flight to the lake beyond the mountains; why should it search for the pools and ditches any more? Your Lord dwells within you: why need your outward eyes be opened? Kabîr says: “Listen, my brother! my Lord, who ravishes my eyes, has united Himself with me.”


The Songs of Kabir, tr. by Rabindranath Tagore







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