Ilustration 1: Allah taken form, Wikimedia Comm

As above is below, formal analysis of the word للاه) Allah)

Part 1:

The Arabic word “Allah” (للا) (Illustration 1) whose meaning is God, is a word that was consolidated during the development of the Arabian people and that ended up being surprisingly strengthened with the appearance of Islam and the Koran1.1 This is how the study of the symbolic and mystical functioning of the word has become patent for Muslim peoples, however, in recent years many philosophical-theological analyzes of this term have been carried out, leaving aside how enriching the attempt can be. for doing a purely formal search of the visual structure of this word.

 

The etymological and consequently visual origin of the word Allah is more complex than is believed, there are scholars who claim that, in fact, the word Allah (للا (is the only Arabic word that survived and that it did not undergo changes from the dialects Arabs prior to the era of Islam, however, other studies on the subject conducted by the International Journal of Islamic and Civilizational Studies, in an article called “The word” allah “and its use: an analysis of the history of the Arabic language” , states that:

 

“IbnuهManzur,هinهhisهbookهLisaanهal-Arab, had discussed in depth the meaning of the word ‘Allah’. The word “Allah” actually originates from the wazn word هَال ِل ا إَ عِف which ْوه orَ مْفعُ ْو ل wazn became later ُ ل ْ مأ َwhich means “who is worshiped”. Sibawaih had also mentioned, in his book al-Kitab, that the pre-Islamic Arabs had used the word اله ,with the omission of the second “Lam” in this word “Allah”. This means that when the word اله is perfect or complete in nominative rules, it is pronounced as ‘للا ,’where it is only used in the Qur’an. Therefore, the books before the Qur’an had not used the word “للا.” (Yaacob, 2015 p. 3.)

 

This is important because for the practical purposes of this article, the use of the word “Allah” on a visual level has also undergone changes in its way of structuring since the appearance of the Qur’an. However, for this writing, I will focus on a formal analysis of the word للا) Allah) from the already established point of view of Islam. While it is true that calligraphy, like any artistic object, escapes from a complete study methodology, the formalism proposed by the historian and theorist of art Fiedler2 who believed that the essence of art lay in the forms – can provide an enriching point of view for the visual study of Islamic art. Although for many academics formalism is an obsolete school3 , I think that the mere attempt to study a work by reading its forms is a contemporary and current act that forces the viewer to do something that, although obvious, rarely happens, and this is: observe4

 

Now, the first thing to say is that the word للاه is divided into seven different parts organized from right to left like this: the letter “alif”, the auxiliary grapheme “hamzat هtheهemphasizesهthatهgraphemeهanotherهisهwhich”هsháddaه”theه,”هlāmه”lettersهtwoهtheه,waṣl duration of a consonant, another small“هalifه“letterهatهtheهtop,هandهfinallyهtheهletter“هhāʾه.“ه In compositional terms, it is a visually balanced word; Although it is true that in the Arabic language it is read from right to left unlike most of the western world, at a visual level the reading is generated from top to bottom in a pyramidal shape, starting with the small letter alif and the grapheme shádda, and going down to the two letters lām that form the lowest part, in this way, the composition ends up drawing our attention in a reading line that can go from right to left or vice versa, generating a final pyramidal reading.

 

On the other hand, it is interesting to see how almost all the Arabic letters and graphemes that make up the word have a tendency to point upwards, reinforcing the pyramidal and metaphysical logic of what God represents for Islam, that is, the unique, the indivisible. However, and despite its pyramidal reading structure, the word closes on the left with the letter is witte; it goes from right to left, but returns on itself5. Furthermore, the saddda grapheme written at the top is almost a “visual copy” of the two letters lām at the bottom, making more than clear the metaphysical postulate of the Abrahamic religions that says:”as above, so below.”

 

From the perspective of people who know and master the Arabic language, reading ends up having a similar dynamic as for people who do not know the language, since it also starts intuitively from the top down, but in a logical and rational way, It begins from right to left by drawing a line of sight with the letter alif, the hamzat was written subtly on the alif, the two letters lām, the saddda, the otther small alif at the top, and lastly the letter  ه.hāʾ Therefore, in terms of strokes, all the letters begin to be written from the top and their final stroke ends at the bottom, emphasizing again the pyramidal and hierarchical structure of God above all things. Finally, and just as God
represents which is infinite and beyond time and space, the whole word with meaning, since at being the only rounded letter that forces the reader-viewer to go back to the beginning of the word again, making the reading become a cyclical and infinite recitation.

 

References:

 

  • Yaacob, S. (2015). THE WORD ’ ALLAH’AND ITS USAGE: AN ANALYSIS INTO THE HISTORY OF THE ARABIC LANGUAGE. UMRAN-International Journal of Islamic and Civilizational Studies, 2(3).
  • Ochoa, F. O. (2005). EL ÁRABE-La lengua sagrada del islam. Revista La Tadeo (Cesada a partir de 2012), (71).
  • Villegas, M. Á. E. (1999). Formalismo, forma y naturaleza. Un paseo entre algunos textos. Cuadernos de arte de la Universidad de Granada, 31, 221-232.
  • Wölfflin, H., & García, J. G. (1987). Reflexiones sobre la historia del arte. Ediciones Península.

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