16. The Miqat Compass


630 CE
8 AH
Found in an antique shop in Egypt, 2015

I am the Miqat Compass. Hand-painted, loved and cherished, I show you the way to the centre, to the self, to alignment.

When you arrive at Miqat, you are stripped bare of your worldly belongings. You wear white as the angels might. I draw you there, bringing you closer to the core. If you’re coming from Medina, you’ll pass Dhu'l-Hulayfah; from Syria you’ll go through Juhfah; from Najd it’s Qarnu 'l-Manāzil, and it’s Yalamlam if you’re from Yemen, Thaneim if you’re travelling from Makkah itself and Zāt-i-'Irq if you’re coming from Iraq or even Jeddah and Baghdad.

Yes, you will find your way to the Ka’aba and Qibla, but geographies are tangible things and there is no compass for your intangible hearts. So to lead you closer to intangible truths, you are asked to follow these rules once you have passed the gates towards the day of judgment:

No hunting
No sexual intercourse or masturbation
No kissing
No touching
No romancing
No turning away from undesired smells
No perfumes
No sewn clothes
No henna
No looking in the mirror
No lying and abusing
No swearing
No shoes and socks
No killing of insects
No pulling out of teeth
No bleeding
No covering of the face
No ointments
No removing of hair
No travelling under shade
No cutting of nails
No carrying of weapons
No uprooting of trees.

This work transcends the objects. Ultimately, what I’m working with isn’t only the artefacts themselves, but the stories attached to them. For me, each tale is the manifestation of the object, and each object is a tangible materialisation of an underlying narrative. The work finds its equilibrium somewhere between the stories and chronology they’re chaptered into, the objects becoming knots or points along the timeline, woven into stories as part of the language of this artwork. Each story draws out a tale that intends to trigger imagination and memory, mixing fact with fiction, with the ultimate aim of straddling, conflating and confusing fixed notions of history to open up the unofficial histories that shape the character of place and memory.
Ahmed Mater
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