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HomeCritical QuestionsIslam’s Approach To Art

Islam’s Approach To Art

Allah created what he created in the most beautiful way, just as he is beautiful and loves beauty. This situation is expressed in the Quran as follows: “Who has perfected everything He created. And He originated the creation of humankind from clay.”[1] He also gave the human he created a tendency to love what is beautiful and get attracted. For this reason, a person can love many things just because of their beauty.

Art is defined as all the methods used in expression of feeling, design, beauty, etc. Arts that concern with material needs are called crafts, whereas arts that concern with abstract needs are called ‘fine arts’.

Muslims value art because of watching Allah’s endless and unique artistry and because His arts are visible to them. One of the beautiful names of Allah revealed by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is Al-Mubdi’, and this name expresses that Allah created the creatures uniquely for the first time.[2] Again, according to the Islam each being is a work of art belonging to Allah in many aspects and should be considered to get to know Allah’s art better.

According to Islam, it is impossible for a human being to know Allah. Because it is impossible for a mortal and finite being to understand the eternal and absolute creator. Although one cannot fully know the essence of Allah, Allah can be known through His creations. As a matter of fact, Allah reveals His Names and Attributes to man with the universe.[3] This issue constitutes the essence of Muslims’ understanding of art and aesthetics.

The influence of the Quran, and the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are also having a place in the art works of Muslims. When the Quran is read well by paying attention to the rules of tajwid, this worship turns into an art. Thus, the meaning and unity of the verses makes people feel the majesty of Allah.

The unity of Allah and his distance from time and space has been a determining principle. In accordance with this principle, Muslim artists preferred to use the abstraction method rather than imitating the created. For this reason, the key names of the religion of Islam were expressed with calligraphy plates rather than their images in mosques. The reason why perspective is not used in miniature art is the understanding of not wanting to imitate nature.

Islam is based on the Quran, which was revealed by Allah. Respect for Allah brings with it a deep respect for his message. The holiness of the Quran caused the art of calligraphy to be born. The aim in calligraphy is to capture the aesthetic understanding created by reading the verses aloud in the image of the letters. Another sign of the respect for the Quran is the thought of embellishing the cover of the Quran and the chapter titles inside it. This decorative art is called illumination.

Another innovation brought by the religion of Islam to art is mosque architecture. The fact that Islam evaluates people from all rounds of life at the same level and that superiority is only in taqwa has shaped the worship of praying in congregation. For this reason, it was necessary to keep the rows wide so that people from all stage of life could pray on the front lines. For this reason, unlike churches, transverse arch is used in mosques. The arts used in architecture aim to make people feel emotionally positive and the principles of Islam at the same time.

In summary, Muslims already see all beings as art, have developed many types of art within halal borders due to Allah’s love of beauty and aesthetics, and they have tried to transform all works into worship at the same time as they have tried to transform all worship into art.

[1] As-Sajdah,7
[2] “He is˺ the Originator of the heavens and earth. How could He have children when He has no mate? He created all things and has ˹perfect˺ knowledge of everything.” Al-An ‘am, 101
[3] “Allah—there is no god ˹worthy of worship˺ except Him. He has the Most Beautiful Names.” , Taha,8