Islamic Architecture
Islamic civilization
The Islamic civilization did away with sculptures because of religious beliefs. Is there two examples of acceptable art forms according to Islamic tenets?
Mike Smith
Islamic civilization
Nice question Mike, I guess sculptures in human form in Islamic art are very rare, but I presume that paintings of human forms and other living creatures are found in the Persian and Turkish Arts. Maybe on the same lines there may be sculptures too if you try to search the Turkish and Persian Architecture.
Haseeb Siddique Shaikh
Islamic civilization
I think sculpture in the islamic civilization takes rather organic forms, you can see that in the mosques of Jerba (island in southern Tunisia)
Mohamed Sadok Chaieb
Islamic civilization
Salaam, Mike

Your question presupposes an absolute power to actually ban sculptures: It should be remembered that the Islamic Caliphate, lasting several centuries and spanning many continents and regions was as diverse (and internally contentious) as any modern democracy. There was no worldwide religious hierarchy even then to enforce an absolute prohibition on anything, much less art and cultural expression. There was common agreement, however that any individual could and will guidance through study of the Quran and Sunnah to better understand how Mohammad (praise be upon him) lived and find meaningful guidance.

Obviously, with over one billion Muslims on the planet - there are going to be disagreements about what is acceptable or not according to differences in scriptural interpretations. Regardless, many 'acceptable artforms' are found in in Islamic life:

Calligraphy: Certainly a major hallmark within Islamic culture. No words from the Quran can be considered harmful - unless taken out of context and used harmfully. Passages of particular wisdom and beauty may be found in both public buildings and private homes. Use of calligraphic embellishment is characteristic as an architectural motif in the Muslim world.

Ceramics: From the establishment of the first Caliphate on, exquisite patterns (often drawing from 'non-Islamic' cultures) were adapted to fired clay urns, bowls and flatware. From Afghanistan I have also seen fired, clay feet (yes, a heel with five toes) etched with design work. Don't know what it was used for, does not appear to be a religious icon of any sort. Could have been a paperweight. There is also the matter of lamps often commissioned by wealthier patrons for use in mosques.

Mosaic inlay, using fired clay tiles also it's own artform used for floor patterns and architectural motif. You will find depicted everything from scriptures and geometric patterns to plants and animals.

Murals: Upon completion of Haj, it has become practice for some to have murals painted, usually on a home wall which portray some of the memorable events along the way, to illuminate pious faith and willing submission to God as set out on the Quran.

Blanket and textiles: The early Muslims often carried their stories woven into tapestries. These found their way throughout the civilized world of time along the caravan routes.

Music: Despite sectarian debates on the use or acceptability of music - it may not be denied that there is in fact a rich tradition of Arabic music and music from non-Arabic Islamic cultures.

And last but not least, poetry: Muslim hearts break just easily as anyone else's. From joy to fear, confusion and curiousity, love and pathos, fear and confidence, love of Allah and utter desolation. That Islam is rooted within an oral tradition makes the artform of poetry essential, elemental to Islamic life.

Here you found certainly more than one 'acceptable art form.' I would go farther, and suggest that architecture is in of itself a form sculpture, lending itself to utility, purpose and human interaction.

In so saying, I would suggest that architecure is to sculpture, what films are to the art of communication (also lending itself to utility, purpose and interaction). So, your question really begs another.

The issue was/is not one of 'sculpture' but of the depiction of human form which might lend itself to worship, the elevation of something other than God to divinity. You will find no depictions of the Prophet.

Contained in your simple query is the kernel of this other question: Is film an acceptable Islamic artform?

Although quite a few 'fundamentalist' clerics may disagree, I do not think film will be banned anymore than sculpture could be.

Sorry to digress! ma salemah!
Anthony Stewart
Islamic civilization
Hi Mike
The prohibition spoken of was applied to objects that cast a shadow, with the provision that animal forms could be used, as long as they were not a direct imitation of the natural order.

An example of this is the Court of the Lions at the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, where used in a fountain sculpture. Other examples of this, found amongst nomadic people included items of utility such as belt buckles etc where fantastic forms were represented.

Traditional Islamic art includes calligraphy, which is the most sacred in that it conveys the Word of God, and akin to this is the art of illumination / Architecture and the applied art forms of surface decoration, including ceramics, stucco and masonry reliefs etc / carpentry and wood carving / pottery etc. and are generally non-representational, but with a few exceptions. Painting is limited to miniatures, and would include book illustrations.

Key to the applied arts would be the medium of calligraphy and geometric design or arabesques, which would transform and beautify surface. The Word of God (logos) in Islam is represented by the Quran, as contrasting with that of Christianity, thus art in Islam has on a non-iconic nature in principle.
Saait Samodien
Islamic civilization
The use of human images was dissaproved by earlier sharias because of 'divine presense 'that accordingly puts life back into sculptures. Ref: one of Christ Jesus's faculty promised is he created figures from mud and they came to life.
However mughal 'fresco's' still grace most of thier buildings .
today we can interpret these plates into 'modren islamic forms too..
Sher Saddozai
Islamic civilization
Salaam, Sher & Saait -

I found both your responses excellent: Is it possible for you to email me (or post) the Suras or other scripture that reference 1) the sahdows cast by sculpture, and 2) sharia references to the 'divine presence' which could infuse life into sculpture? I want to learn more about how these traditions have formed - so earliest, citable sources would be greatly appreciated!

ma salemah!
Anthony Stewart
Islamic civilization
Hi Mike, I think the reason representation of human form was disallowed in islam was that it might lead to humans being idolized. Thus to decorate the muslims of that time resorted to Geometrical Forms, and patterns such as the world at that time had not come close to evolving started to come around. This was realized in floor patterns, calligraphu, mosaics, ceilings, stucco, arches, etc etc. I trust this answers your question. Regards, Imran
Imran Zafar
Islamic civilization
Hi Mike, I think the reason representation of human form was disallowed in islam was that it might lead to humans being idolized.

Anthony Stewart!
Imran has posted is an excellent point .
Sher Saddozai
Islamic civilization
Dear Mike, it's not only about idolling the human because the sculpture. It has something to do with some Islamic teaching that command the Moslem to avoid sculpture .
THe islamic art can be found in the ayat of Al Quran. Quran shows us many beautiful poetries.
That's my opinion.
Rachmat Rhamdhani Fauzi
Islamic civilization
Dear Anthony
To speak clearly thus :

The essence of the argument is that idolatry was prohibited by an injunction of the Quran. The error in question being that of associating the ^relative^ with the ^Absolute^, or the ^created^ with the ^Uncreated^. Islam looks upon this association as a great sin (shirk).

Likewise the first commandment revealed to Moses, ^I am the LORD your God, you shall have no other gods before me^, also forbade the worship of graven images. Thus monotheism is directly opposed to ^idolatrous^ polytheism.

The fundamental testimony of Islam (the kalimah), ^there is no divinity apart from God^, is a formula or dialectic applied to all aspects of Islamic life, including Islamic art. Muslim artists were forced to search for an expression in keeping with the modalities of their religious belief.

The normal basis of a sacred art is symbolism, and to deny this, seems to deny the very basis of visual art. The sacred art of Islam though, finds its root in giving expression to contemplative states. This art is incorporated into architecture, and affects the ambience in which man prevails, with a view to contemplation, in order to assist man in his effort to detach the consciousness from inward idols, to dissolve his mental coagulations, to enact a state of spiritual equilibrium, calmness and serenity. Thus the Islamic arts prevail to transform space into a qualitative one, which is experienced as a state of being.

Not the least of Islamic arts is the art of Islamic dress, which is both dignified and sober, and which heralds man^s status as both vicegerent and slave of God.

As can be seen, Islamic art, or one should say Traditional Islamic art is free of all subjective motives, is unconcerned with psychological problems and holds only onto those values which are true for all time. And has in the majority of cases preferred to remain anonymous.
Saait Samodien
Islamic civilization
Sculptures/Potraits are used for 'Personality cult' excess of that is disdained in Koran,even wearing silks ,pure gold ,etc .These have intelligent explainations and permissabilities [but again a book to practice is not to explain]..
The Islamic Empires have always been a investment in one single court [or exchequere]so the single court never bothered to disorganise the presence of a unseen divine being by posting its Idols in townsquares to achieve /excell with power presence over ordinary publics.

Idolatory as term is practice or salute a sculpture to prove loyalty or to stake a claim [bid'it]But the actual building a Idol is explained as when God/Providence is revealed in personality or his high priestdom or a force that like Golaith or any physical internal incurrance is revealed. The archiv' idol-makers is considered Fathers Abrahams Father ,Abraham who in his age ran left and right to discover The Real God ...

You must realise that The Koran was sent to a person who was non literate or unexposed to the days educations like history or arts .Practically The Koran hasnt been 'read' by publics and the Civilisations that translated it have been vanquished due to several or many reasons. The Koran has 'settled critereon' towards being read/understood and is graphically steering time and history towards a great event .

The Koran is a mystical[living] being ..And when you read it allegorically ,most of it was already prevailing and hence the story of Jesus and Mary was a great account.
By the time of Mirza Khurram 'Shah e Jahan there were possibilities of perfection in sculpture to be presented, and at that age, The Mughals were openly exchanging pictures, and illustrations of Queens even .At this level of freedom Mirza Khurram's son King Aurangzeb The Sunni reorganised a Sharia and erased the past. Pictures of Malike Nur Jehan and Mumtaz Mahal are common...
Sher Saddozai
Islamic civilization
Dear Sher

Hinduism has aptly demonstrated the concept that there is a general devolution of mankind as a spiritual type through the ages. Man has passed from the Golden Age to the Silver, to the Bronze, to finally the Iron Age (Kali Yuga).

Man in the Golden Age was much closer to his heavenly origins and roots, and matters of Spirit were thus much more transparent to him. The present Age engenders that man has accumulated residues that veil him from his Original Nature, or Primordial State. After all Islam and the monotheistic religions profess that man upon being created, dwelled in Heaven.

It is understood that Revelation has been presented to each Age in a manner apt to mankinds psychological type. It can be said that Islam has presented itself to this last age. Thus its preclusion of alcohol, requiring that man abide in a state of calm sobriety. Thus too its abolition of graven images, and its insistence on the fundamental formula of belief that ^there is no divinity apart from God^ , this is revealed as a Mercy to this Age, as the intention of all religions is to Save and guarantee Salvation to as many beings as possible.

This formula is the fire that torches all the idols inherent in the believers mind, so that he may abide in a state of Purity and Recollectedness, mindful of his Lord and Creator. There is a rigorous insistence that man recalls his primordial state (his Adamic state). This is the mental, psychological and sociological milieu in which Muslims find themselves.

It is from this state of mind that Islamic Art had found root. Obviously as a Civilization, the state of Islam would have experienced its political intrigues, its romances, its overlapping of boundaries. Likewise Islamic Art would have experienced the same influences.

But the question is, what is the nature of true Islamic Art?
Is it conditioned by history, by styles, by hybrids?

Salaam and Shukr
Saait Samodien
Islamic civilization
In The Name of Allah Beneficient Merciful.

Sura 3 Al-e-Imran.
roukh 49
And make him a apostle to Children of Israel:[ Saying] That I have come to you from thy Lord ,that i determine for you from out of dust in a form of bird,then I breath life into it ,and it become a bird [flying] with Allah's permission ,and I heal the blind and leperous and bring dead back to life with Allahs permission,and I inform you of what you should eat,and what you should store in your houses; amd most surely there is a sign in this for you ,if you [will but believe]
Sher Saddozai
Islamic civilization
Dear -- Saait Samodien,

Here i will use term 'musalamans' who have been in control over Hinduism [persian ordinaries] for over one thousand years and few centuries more ,and had extracted all the spirits out from every science that was used in ruling the society. Music Dance Vocals Poetry Medicine and Mysticism ..
You must remember, that, one of Prophet Muhammad's [pbuh] aunt Hind fled with a God Manat and re-established it as Sau-Manaat, and new war lording began inside around the region .
But afterwards Mahmud destroyed Sau-Manaat and Shahbudin took Dehli, the Musalmans competed to reconstruct a sustainable Hinduism to let the Marant [loyal bourgeois]class of shopkeepers practice their purity and psalms and maintain their line away from the Delete[secular] races that lived /prefered to live out from any human social discipline. By the Mughal age and Akber's openness and Khurram's closeness[worldwide employment ] until the new rich Hindu homes and tribes and races culturally enlisted themselves as far as ladies covering their faces arms and men getting staunch and possessive about their women��s privacy.

" for Islam i will say what is basic command to let musalmans show their skill in Visual Arts is ' Adorn your Guardian Lord'

The Inset Picture is a structural representation of design that is positive service and example of 'adornment'
Sher Saddozai
Islamic civilization
Dear Mike Smith

I apologise if all of the above might seem as a digression from your original question. The Biblical injunction : ^Let not the letter of the law killeth the Spirit^ , highlights the need to investigate both dimensions.

Hope this has been of some use to you.
With kind regards
Saait Samodien
Islamic civilization
Do we believe in a day like today when all countries are involved in militancy and parliaments dictatorial regimes over democracy .Black money Corruptions Energy Shortages allover and none claimant stalwart walking forth with a answer or solution...? But today we have a book with signs secure and one conference could solve all issues and the book has promised solutions...........................this book was spoken to ordinary beduin while its reader has not yet been acclaimed formaly .all languages/civilisations/empires that translated this book got vanquished .the book admits life on planet as it was ,not expecting the beduin to attempt at perfection of sculpture or chinese artisans to lay thier silks for simplicity .and at that time the few believers only were advised simplicity that can refelect also from extravagant complexity ..its the mans story of finding a mate attaining a name and beautification and building a family like of a few hundred families and attaining heavan on earth by staying bound to the book.....
Sher Saddozai


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