Islamic Architecture
figural images in islamic religious buildings
Peace be upon you,

urgently, now i work on research deals with the safavid religious buildings, and i found out that there are some buildings bear figural images like peacocks, birds and so on.. on the safavid religious buildings !.

being muslim besides my study, know toughly the theological prohibition about depicting living creatures on religious or cultic buildings, so ,on which basis these representations appeared, and are there any scholars dealt with this polemic problem?, if there, i wish to see any help from you by sending the reference, link, or the paper would be extremely useful for me, for i astonished when i had seen these images, and my curiosity gonna kill me.

and is there any relation between these depictions and shi'i doctrine?

ur brother, walid.
Waleed Akef
figural images in islamic religious buildings
Waleed, If I may, I will try to answer this question.

I think that provided the depiction of living creatures is kept abstract then the depiction is acceptable, because as an abstract it is not a literal and exact rendering of any living thing.

And this use of such abstract imagery can be seen on carpets in the shapes of plants, birds, animals, etc.

Furthermore, such abstract imagery then tends to become formalised as art forms and perhaps even more abstract as symbolic representations.
Frank John Snelling
figural images in islamic religious buildings
Salam waleed.
recent researches and accademic works clear the attitube of islam towards figural representations whether these were floral, animal, or even anthropomorphological. It is safe to say that islamic attitude is far from being iconoclastic but rather aniconic which didnt prevent the practice of figural representations shortly after Islam reached the high points of civilization in Syria and Iraq. figural representation in religious monuments is not restrained to the Savaid and even less to the Shi'i faith; you can find representations in Ottoman architecture up to the early islamic architecture of the Ummayads and the Abbasids.
Look up "Art and Architecture and the Qur'an" by Grabar. if you cannit find it leave me your mail and i'll send it to you.
bil tawfiq
Ahmed Al Awamleh
figural images in islamic religious buildings
thanx alot mr.Snelling...i really noticed that...but representing figural images on the walls of religious buildings...that's what really puzzled me.. will be a great favor if u send me this article, cuz i searched hard to find any reference but that was in vain, and no one knows everything...

my E-mail is:

thanx brothers..
Waleed Akef
figural images in islamic religious buildings
Waleed, All I can say is that is that so long as these `figural images` were not and are not regarded as representations of religious beings (either spiritual or human), then there would be no cause for concern, because there would be no worship of these `figural images`.
Frank John Snelling
figural images in islamic religious buildings
perfect mr.snelling..but i saw some images belong to religious characters like the prophet muhammed (PBUH) and his cousin ALi ibn abi Taleb, together with some angels, in addition to peacocks, birds..and so on, in a religious building !!.

being cairene, i saw great mount of religious buildings, either fatimid or ayyubid, mamluk or ottoman, but saw not any figural images, though i detected -in few cases- some animal represtations (zoomorphic), but these are the anomalies which prove the rule, as i can say.

add to those, the fatimids in Egypt, who were shi'is too, didnt render any living beings on their religious buildings, or at least on those which came down to us.

So, do we consider that Iran's case is exceptional ?, i feel that, for although i didnt study Iran well, but according to my sparse knowledge about it, i admit that Iran's people' thinking and culture is far from being like that in Egypt.

and thanx again mr.Snelling for ur interest
Waleed Akef
figural images in islamic religious buildings
Dear Waleed
Although it is an old question that goes back to 2009, I still find it pertinent and deserve more discussion.
I think that the issue of figural works in the Umayad palaces, in Safavid and in Mughal art works reflect the residus of the pre-Islamic eras of these nations,i.e. Persians, Indians, and Roamans (In Damascus). Despite their presence in the old buildings, these figural works don't necessarily reflect the approval of Islam for such practices. They are rather an exception in the trend of the Islamic art over hisotry.
Mustapha Ben Hamouche


This site is adjusted only for landscape mode. Please rotate your device for properly using
We are sorry, we are still working on adjusting for Metro IE. Please use another browser for the best experience with our site.