Islam and Art

Muhamed (Mahomet, Mohammed) 570-632
Islam - to submit or surrender
Koran Qur'an - recitation

The Qur'an (literally, Reading, or Recitation) is regarded as the Word, or Speech, of God delivered to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. Divided into 114 surahs (chapters) of unequal length, it is the fundamental source of Islamic teaching. The surahs revealed at Mecca during the earliest part of Muhammad's career are concerned with ethical and spiritual teachings and the Day of Judgment. The surahs revealed at Medina at a later period in the career of the Prophet are concerned with social legislation and the politico-moral principles for constituting and ordering the community. Sunnah ("a well-trodden path") was used by pre-Islamic Arabs to denote their tribal or common law; in Islam it came to mean the example of the Prophet; i.e., his words and deeds as recorded in compilations known as Hadith.

ethical monotheism
people of the book and others
infidels and heretics

Pillars of Islam,
Arabic ARKAN AL-ISLAM, the five duties incumbent on every Muslim:

  1. shahadah, the Muslim profession of faith;
  2. salat, or ritual prayer, performed in a prescribed manner five times each day;
  3. zakat, the alms tax levied to benefit the poor and the needy;
  4. sawm, fasting during the month of Ramadan; and
  5. hajj, the major pilgrimage to Mecca.

Page from Kuran in Kufic Script
probably 9th C
Bowl with Kufic Inscription, Earthenware with slip decoration, Samarqand style c 10th Century
"Take the middle road in your affairs: indeed, it is a salvation.  Don't ride a too gentle mount or a too abstinate one." (translated by C. Branch)



Mohammed Ali (calligrapher) Indian , active 18th century
A page of calligraphy from the Lady Coote Album, circa 1780
Black and red inks, transparent and opaque watercolor, and gold paint on paper mounted to an album page with elaborately ornamented borders in ink,transparent and opaque watercolor and gold paint
44.6 x 61.5 cm (album page); 23.5 x 42.8 cm (sheets (three)) inches
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John D. MacDonald and Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts purchase1982.2.70.13
DeYoung Museum, San Francisco

Early Christian/Byzantine, Vienna Genesis Manuscript Jacob and Angel c525CE
Muhammad and his Companions 
Traveling to the Fair

copy of the
Siya-i Nabi (Life of the Prophet) of al-Zarir 
(14th C) c1594 10"x 15"



Angels Visit Muhammad 16thC

Ascent of Prophet c1550.


masjid or mosque


(Right) Capital, Hagia Sophia (Sofia) 532-37
architects: Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus Istanbul, Turkey (Byzantium)

(Left)Quibla's Mihrab
from Madrasa Imami, Iran c1354
11'x7' glazed and painted ceramic
Now in the Metropolitan Museum, NYC
"The mosque is the house of every pious person."


(Left)Quibla's Mihrab
from Madrasa Imami, Iran c1354
11'x7' glazed and painted ceramic
Now in the Metropolitan Museum, NYC

"The mosque is the house of every pious person."


Quibla's Mihrab from Madrasa Imami, 
Iran c1354  11'x7'
Capital, Church of San Vitale, 
Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style


Cordoba Mosque 8-11th C 

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem Israel 687-691 CE







San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy 526-547

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem 685-705