Oh beloved, I savour and swoon to the taste of that which is
the Breath within the Breath.
attributed to the Sufi poet Alcragujar
The traditional Islamic cosmological worldview speaks of the 18,000 universes were created through the Nafs Ar-Rahman - "the Breath of the Compassionate." An elegant geometric intertwining expresses this concept throughout Islamic art and architecture as the octagon star and cross.
Beginning with a square as the symbol of "matter," it expands from the center into the out breath of an octagon star. The square then contracts into its center in an in breath.
In Hebrew as in Arabic, "breath" and "soul" are intertwined.
Compare nafs (Arabic) to nefesh (Hebrew); ruh (Arabic) to ruah (Hebrew); nasama (Arabic) to neshama (Hebrew). All are expressions both of "breath" (with the inference of wind, breeze...) and "soul."
|Breath of the Compassionate Series: Reunion|
This intertwining has become a significant source of inspiration for many of the copperwork illuminations.
|Mihrab Ar-Rahman - "The Mother Nature of Divinity"|
Nafs Ar-Rahman is generally translated as "The Breath of the Compassionate." The meaning of the Arabic rahman, however, yields a meaning far more informative than "compassionate" or even "merciful." The deeper meaning, comparable to Rahman and Rahamim in Hebrew, is reflected in its 3-lettered root R H M. That three lettered root renders us the word "womb." Far more concrete and personal than the abstract concept of "compassion," this God name, foremost among the 99 names, is the "mother nature of divinity." Ar-Rahman, then, describes an intimate, creative, nurturing and ferociously protective Source of Being.
I welcome you to add archetypal "womb-ly" attributes to enliven our mutual understanding of this most fundamental of divine names for the Source of Life and our own being.