KAABA: The Heart's Centre - Kashf Al-Makān/Unveiling Spaces of Being

Patel, Rafik Yakub
Refiti, Albert L.
O'Connor, Maria
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

On March 15, 2019, the Al-Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Ōtautahi Christchurch were the sites of the first terrorist attack on Muslim people in Aotearoa New Zealand, where fifty-one shuhada (martyrs) were killed, and forty people wounded. It was an act of terror inflicted on a largely immigrant group that was peacefully attending Jum’ah salāt (Friday congregational prayer) in the safe haven of the South Island of New Zealand. The attack left the Muslim community traumatised and wounded. With this, there is also trauma associated with a legacy of years of violence and hatred directed at this diasporic community; thus, trauma and diasporic experience are never separated, they remain joined through degrees of kashf (unveiling) that surface in events like the Christchurch attack. In the aftermath of the attack, Christchurch suddenly became the heart of collective grief, and New Zealand’s attention was turned to this place of sorrow. Compelled to confront this event, this practice-led PhD research draws-out an autoethnographic response as a form of tahqīq (witnessing and attestation) that faces the image of trauma and mourning, unveiling the past, present and future. The study, therefore, turns to the ontology of Islamic philosopher Ibn al-‘Arabī (1165–1240), and undertakes a close reading of wujūd (being and existence), which is made up of three modalities or worlds of being: dunyā (present-world/corporeal), barzakh (intermediate-world/imaginal) and akhira (afterworld/spiritual). By using a spatiotemporal drawing practice in the manner of tahqīq, the study creates a spatial cosmopoiesis or worldview through a series of cosmogram drawings. By doing this, I identify khayāl (imagination), as being pivotal for unveiling what matters in both my material world and my spiritual world, and that my most authentic being is located in my Kaaba, my heart (of being), and is found in the act of drawing. By adapting Ibn al-‘Arabī’s cosmological framework, together with my own experiences, the study creates and presents ‘ālam al-mithāl (a world of images), which expresses the Islamic notion of time and space (zamān wa makān), and constructs a series of makāns (places/spaces of being) that unveils my witnessing as a diasporic person.

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