Citi Yousoff. Framing the Zawiya.
Artist Statement: I was asked to produce a stone carving to be installed above the main entrance doorway of our new London Zawiya and to write our 3 Selawat Nabi (daroods) on Ahar paper to be framed as an art piece on an interior wall.
I love stone. I learnt to carve on stone at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts.
We agreed a beautiful and fitting ayat from Suratul Hijr (Quran: 15:45 and 46):
ان المتقين في جنات و عيون ادخلوها بسلام ءا منين
Meaning: “While the righteous will be amid gardens and fountains of clear-flowing water. Enter these gardens in Peace and Security”
A perfect sanctuary for seekers of Truth seeking the straight path to Our Creator!
I set out to compose it within the given space. I later added the two motifs at both ends when the space was extended. The architect Nevine Nasser set the mood: a colour scheme full of light so I looked for an off-white colour. We chose limestone that is relatively easy to carve (that was not going to ruin my carbon-tipped chisels) that I had to cut deeper than normal to relief the calligraphy further.
In Malaysia where I come from, we do not have Limestone, but by Allah’s Will I managed to find one with the correct thickness and length just at the right moment -Maa-shaa-Allah – what a great Blessing that was!
3 daroods (phrases) in the frame:
I wrote them on hand-made Ahar paper and illuminated them with gouache, gold leaf and Ebru flowers: a Turkish art of painting on water using natural pigment.
Salutations to our prophet forms an integral part of our Sufi practices. Quote from Quran: Surah Al Ahzab 33:56
ان الله و مل ء كته يصلون على النبي يااءيها الذين ءامنو صلو عليه وسلمو تسليما
Meaning: “Allah and His Angels send blessings on the Prophet. Oh you who believe! Send blessings on him with all respect”
Alhamdulillah, by The Grace of Allah everything could not have turned out better – safe delivery to site was assisted by The Almighty, installation supervised by our architect in London.
It has been a labour of love for my Lord, for my beloved Shaykhs and for all my Sufi brothers and sisters.
Both the limestone carving and framed calligraphy by Citi Yousoff can be seen at the School of Sufi Teaching’s Zawiya in Bethnal Green, East London