Characterizing gems formed out of multiple paper-thin layers, the mica family consists of 37 types of crystallized minerals that each go by a different name. This glistening stone comes in a range of colors, from rosy pink to green white and yellowish brown to pearly violet. Can you imagine a forest with its awakening sounds of daybreak life and whirling flecks of light right after Fajr? That is what green mica reminds us of.
DID YOU KNOW?
In Latin, mica refers to “a crumb” or “a grain,” especially glittering ones such as a grain of salt or marble. Micare, for its part, means “to shimmer.”
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Two interdependent branches distinguish the mica industry, each focusing on different end products. The first produces sheet mica, the second flake mica. Sheet mica’s main manufacturers are India and Russia. Flake mica is predominantly produced in Russia, Finland, the United States, South Korea, France, and Canada. More generally, the stone’s chief deposits are located in India, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina.
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SHIMMER AND SHINE
Due to the frosted luster mica displays, it is often added in ground form to paints used for electronics, ceramics, and cars, and even to cosmetics and food. Mica is also used as a filler in plastics, wallboard, and mortar.
The earliest use of mica took place in prehistoric times—its red variety’s hues have been found in cave paintings dating back to the Upper Paleolithic period. Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, Aztecs, and Chinese were familiar with the mineral. In Pakistan, a mixture of hot water and mica powder was traditionally used to make the textiles of women's clothes glitter. In powdered form it was added into traditional pottery clay, which was also the case in India, Bangladesh, and Japan. The metallic glitter effect achieved through a solution of mica powder and gelatin was happily applied to highlight hairpins, sword blades in Japanese woodblock prints or fish scales on carp streamers. Within the Ayurveda medicinal tradition, mica is thought to cure respiratory and digestive ailments.
THE COLOR GREEN
IN THE ISLAMIC TRADITION
Which color do you associate with Paradise? Many of us would probably think of a luscious green. The dome of the Beloved’s mosque in Madina, which was painted emerald green for the first time under Ottoman rule, is what we long to behold one day, over and over again. In Surah al-Rahman (Ayah 76) it is described how the believers will be reclining on green cushions and splendid carpets in the Gardens of Eternity. Here is where the virtuous, as we are told in Surah al-Insan (Ayah 21) and Surah al-Kahf (Ayah 31), will be dressed in garments of fine green silk and rich brocade, and adorned with bracelets. It is also narrated that Aisha, may Allah Most High be pleased with her, said that our Messenger Himself was buried in a green garment.
In Islamic teachings, it is frowned upon to waste water. To conserve it, and not to squander or pollute it, is seen as a moral obligation. In the title of a significant number of medieval Islamic books, the use of the sea symbolizes a metaphysical knowledge so vast it is as deep as the ocean. The ocean and the sea are also recurrent metaphors in the poems of the 10th-century Iraqi poet al-Mutannabi, 14th-century Persian lyric Hafiz, and the 13th-century Persian poet and Hanafi faqih Jalal al-Din Rumi.