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Islamic Art and Culture


Islamic Art and Culture Culture and ... Outline Muhammad and the Birth of Islam The Koran Calligraphy Islamic Architecture Sufism The Culture of Islam and the West ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Islamic Art and Culture

Islamic Art and Culture
  • Culture and Values, Chapter 08

Chapter 8 - Timeline
570 Muhammad born c. 620 Qur'an develops 622
Muhammad flees Mecca. Marks the beginning of the
Muslim calendar 632 Muhammad dies c. 680 or 690
Great Mosque of Damascus built by al Walid c.
680 or 690 Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem 700-800
The House of Wisdom draws scholars from all over
the Muslim world, translating and preserving
many Greek texts 730-843 Muslim belief that
God's divinity defies representation leads to
intricate blend of geometric design and sacred
texts 780-850 Life of Al-Khwarizmi, inventor of
algebra 780/90 Great Mosque in Cordoba
begun 1187 Sultan Saladin conquers
Jerusalem 1200-1300 Fall of Acre, last Christian
stronghold in Holy Land 1200-1300 The
Alhambra 1203-1273 Life of Rumi, best-known Sufi
mystic-poet 1492 Christians drive Muslims from
Spain (Reconquista) 1633-1652 Taj Mahal
constructed in India
Chapter 8 Outline
  • Muhammad and the Birth of Islam
  • The Koran
  • Calligraphy
  • Islamic Architecture
  • Sufism
  • The Culture of Islam and the West

Islam and World Conquest
Muhammad always thought of the new revelation he
had received from God as a new religion which
could unify the whole human race under one God
and bring with it amity among nations. Islam
regards itself as the final perfection of God's
revelation first announced to the Jews and later
to the Christians. For that reason, Muhammad's
religion was an unapologetic missionary faith.
Within two hundred years Islam had spread from
the desert world of Arabia throughout present-day
Middle East and along Mediterranean Sea and the
Iberian peninsula of present-day Southern Spain
much of this dispersion came via military
Islams Rise and the Decline of Christianity
Islam's rise coincided with a period of
stagnation in what was the Christian West. The
old Roman Empire was in a state of decline having
been hammered by successive waves of Barbarian
invasions. The Byzantine Empire with its capital
at Constantinople controlled only the city
itself and its adjacent territories. It was an
essentially inward looking, conservative, and
noninnovative culture. Islam, by contrast, was a
vigorous young religious culture and at its apex
when the Abassids ruled from its center in
Baghdad and later in Damascus and Córdoba was
innovative and forward-looking.
Page from the Quran, 8th c.
Christianity vs. Islam
While Islamic incursions were halted in the West
in the generations before Charlemagne, and
Muslims would not take possession of
Constantinople until the fifteenth century, there
were constant exchanges between the two cultures
eventhough they warred against each other with
ferocity (i.e., the Crusades). This hostility
shows up clearly in the West. The Muslims, in
Christian eyes, were simply the "Infidel" and
their wickedness is a theme in The Song of Roland
where their beliefs and their practices were
criticized and twisted into parody. The Christian
Crusades had the express aim to wrest the
Christian holy places from these "Infidels." It
should not surprise us that Dante comes to
describe the walls of the city of hell as
crenellated walls with domes of "fiery mosques."
Map of the Crusades, 1000 1200 a.d
The Complexity of Islam
The antagonism between the Christian West and the
world of Islam has a long and bitter history. It
is an antagonism that reflects itself today in
the stereotyping of Muslims as backward,
fundamentalist, terrorists out to ruin the world.
The irony is, of course, that we read such
things on paperan innovation that the House of
Wisdom in Baghdad gave to the West in the
medieval period. The real truth is that Islam is
a highly complex and deeply rich culture in which
religion is so central that it cannot be
disentangled from political and social culture.
Islam has a long tradition of learning and the
arts with a worldview that attempts to explain
the place of people in the social order under the
watchful eye of an all-powerful God who is adored
under the name of Allah.
Islam as submission to the will of Allah
Islamic Art develops around And then reacts to
existing notions of beauty and decorum
In Arabic, islam means submission and a muslim
is one who submits to Allah's will.
The idolatry of icons
Quran Koran Holy Book Hadith traditions
about Mohammed a. The Koran is explicit about
repercussions if one indulges in
representational art. b. Icons are considered
Damascus Mosque
Even though trees and houses are clearly
depicted, the absence of human figures is
striking. This reflects the restriction against
depicting the human form in early Islamic art.
  • Calligraphy and Arabesque Design
  • Follows Islamic conquests of Christian territory
  • a. Script of Koran the visual artifact of Gods
  • communiqué to world.
  • Calligraphy-art of drawing language-Islams
  • greatest visual expression.

  • Calligraphy
  • linear, elegant handwriting with flowing
  • rhythmic strokes
  • b. Mohammed becomes linked with the
  • script to the logical extension of Gods
  • gift to the world

  • Arabesque abstract designs of Islamic
  • Artists
  • Combines calligraphy with mathematical
  • compositions
  • Uses vegetal design
  • Also uses geometric design inspired by
  • mathematics

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  • Islamic Architecture
  • Mosque format-masgid/masjid
  • Place of worship
  • simple overall geometry
  • faces direction of Mecca
  • has four sections
  • a. Atrium or courtyard
  • b. Minaret-covered sanctuary and
  • tower where muezzin calls people
  • to worship
  • c. Quibla-wall of prayers faces East
  • d. Mihrab-sacred niche in center of
  • quibla

The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, late 7th
c. And at right Mosaic tile from the The Dome
of the Rock
Mosque of Cordoba
The Great Mosque , Cordoba,Spain (784-6 , 961-6 ,
987-90 , double horseshoe arcades of
the prayer-hall
Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal, Agra, India, 1631 - 1647
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