Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam

Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam is the first exhibition at the MFAH devoted to Sufism, a historic branch of Islam whose followers seek mystical union with God. The presentation focuses on some of the most important Sufi ideas and practices that found expression through the arts of the Islamic world, beginning with light, which symbolizes both God and enlightenment.

Featuring objects that span the 9th century to the present, Light of the Sufis includes furnishings used for mosque lighting; attributes and representations of Sufi mystics; illustrated, illuminated, and laser-etched manuscripts of Sufi poetry; photographs of Sufi dervishes; examples of kashkuls, or beggar’s bowls; and contemporary works inspired by Sufi principles and practices. The show also includes a reading space for visitors who would like to learn more about Islamic art and the themes in the exhibition.

Light of the Sufis travels to Houston after its premiere at the Brooklyn Museum. The expanded MFAH presentation includes some 50 works of art drawn from public and private collections and incorporates additional contemporary pieces. The accompanying catalogue, published by the MFAH and distributed by Yale University Press, is the first scholarly study of Sufism through its visual and artistic manifestations.

This exhibition was organized at the Brooklyn Museum by Ladan Akbarnia, Hagop Kevorkian Associate Curator of Islamic Art.

In Houston, generous funding provided by:
Sara and Bill Morgan
Ms. Martha K. Long