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Submission for Ithra Art Prize Competition



Background: Time and Human Perception

Our modern understanding of time as a linear trajectory towards human progress is an extension of the Judeo-Christian conception of being and time. Often regarded as the later descendant of this tradition, the Quran makes a subtle departure from this metaphysical framework.
‘Ya Sin’ is a particularly interesting chapter from the Quran when it comes to notions of human existence and time. Scholars have traditionally revered this chapter as a seminal reference on life and death in Islamic philosophy. The metaphors are presented there in a spiral structure, culminating in the

nal verse of the chapter –“Limitless, then, in His glory is He in whose hand rests the mighty dominion over all things; and unto Him you all will be brought back” (36:83)

The chapter presents 3 particular cycles of time to be understood

here as a composite totality of all time:

The Cycles of Nature:

"And [yet,] they have a sign [of Our power to create and to resurrect] in the lifeless earth which We make alive, and out of which We bring forth grain, whereof they may eat; (36:34) and [how] We make gardens of date-palms and vines [grow] thereon, and cause springs to gush [forth] within it, (36:35) so that they may eat of the fruit thereof, though it was not their hands that made it. Will they not, then, be grateful? (36:36) Limitless in His glory is He who has created opposites in whatever the earth produces, and in men's own selves, and in that of which [as yet] they have no knowledge"

The earth and its inhabitants each have unique life-cycles. Rhythms of life and death vary according to the particular species of plant of animal life. There is an in nite variety of cycles in operation intersecting with one another in the physical space of the earth.

program: installation

location: dubai, uae

duration: 1 week

collaborator: basmah felemban

year: 2017

status: competition entry - shortlisted

The Cycles of the Cosmos:


"And [of Our sway over all that exists] they have a sign in the night: We withdraw from it the [light of ] day - and lo! they are in darkness. (36:38) And [they have a sign in] the sun: it runs in an orbit of its own- [and] that is laid down by the will of the Almighty, the All-Knowing; (36:39) and [in] the moon, for which We have determined phases [which it must traverse] till it becomes like an old date-stalk, dried-up and curved: (36:40) [and] neither may the sun overtake the moon, nor can the night usurp the time of day, since all of them oat through space [in accordance with Our laws]"

The diurnal cycle of the cosmos is a xed constant. All other cycles operate under this xed rhythm of day/night. It is an order beyond any form of physical intersection.

The Cycles of the Human Action:


"And [it ought to be] a sign for them that We bear their o spring [over the seas] in laden ships, (36:42) and [that] We create for them things of a similar kind, on which they may embark [in their travels]; (36:43) and [that,] if such be Our will, We may cause them to drown, with none to respond to their cry for help: and [then] they cannot be saved, (36:44) unless it be by an act of mercy from Us and a grant of life for a [further span of] time. (36:45) And [yet,] when they are told, "Beware of [God's insight into] all that lies open before you and all that is hidden from you, so that you might be graced with His mercy,"[most men choose to remain deaf;] (36:46) and no message of their Sustainer's messages ever reaches them without their turning away from it"

“We must understand time as the subject, and the subject as time” -Maurice Merleau-Ponty, 1945

Time as a general framework for existence is presented here in relationship to human action.

It is bound by the average lifespan of the human body between 0 -90 years. It is this embodied time (in a phenomenological sense) that emphasizes the subject as the mediator of the ow of time. This cycle can be understood as a cycle of human intentionality.

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