Islamic Architecture
Sculpture in Islam
ArchNet Librarian
Sculpture in Islam
Why did Islamic civilization do away with sculptures because of religious beliefs? Please give two examples of acceptable art forms according to Islamic tenets.
Loretta Gilmore
Sculpture in Islam
The first step I would take in answering this question is to understand what the term "Islamic" means when placed in front of the term art or even architecture. I think that Oleg Grabar explains it best in his essay "Reflections on the Study of Islamic Art", which can be found in the ArchNet Digital Library.
Shiraz Allibhai
Sculpture in Islam
Hi Loretta,

God in Islam (Allah, although this Arabic word is used both by Muslim and Christian Arabs to refer to their respective Gods) is an abstract entity, non-representable in object form. Islam, therefore, does not allow worship of objects / depictions that represent God or his messengers, or saints. This tenet separated Islamic worship from other forms of religion that existed in that geography before Islam, such as Christianity, shamanism, worship of ancestors, etc. While this rule has been executed throughout centuries as a larger ban on depictions of people, as you may suspect, practices have varied widely across peoples, geographies and time. [Still, depictions of saints and caliphs (such are depictions of Caliph Ali with a halo, like the one that I posted, are common to many Shia households) are much easily found than sculptures of the same, which -- I guess would be crossing the line too far into being an idol or likeness].

As for forms of art that have florished in the absence of the representational arts; one can count calligraphy, floral/vegetal and geometric compositions, miniature arts, to name a few. You may want to refer to a survey on Islamic art and architecture. Hope this gives you a point of start...

Ozgur Basak Alkan


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