Tag Archives: angels

What Islam says about figurative art and the image of Muhammad

Here is the summary of a great article from ReligionFacts.com. I highly recommend the full article.

  • Judaism, Christianity and Islam all consider idolatry a heinous sin.
  • The Qur’an does not prohibit making images, only worshipping them.
  • Hadith clearly and consistently prohibits all images of any living being, with special mention of punishment for painters.
  • One exception to this rule is dolls for children, probably because children are not considered in danger of worshipping them as idols.
  • Neither the Qur’an nor hadith mention depictions of Muhammad.
  • The hadith prohibiting images are directed at Muslims only (e.g. Muslims are instructed not to enter buildings where there are images, not to demand their removal).
  • Muslim outrage against depictions of the Prophet does not usually extend to outrage against all images.
  • The hadith prohibiting images do not call for Muslims to take action against those who make images, but instead say that God will punish them severely at the Day of Judgment.
  • Muslims have applied the prohibitions against images in various ways throughout history and there is still some variation today.
  • Figurative art of Muhammad and other humans has been a significant part of late medieval Islamic art. But it was generally limited to secular contexts and elite classes who could afford fine art.
  • Shi’ites tend to be more open to religious images than Sunnis.
  • The main reason given for not depicting Muhammad is to avoid the temptation to worship the image.
  • Neither the Qur’an nor hadith say that viewing an image accidentally is a sin, but in the hadith the Prophet teaches Muslims to avoid them.
  • Don’t look now, it’s Muhammad

    The Night Journey of Muhammad on His Steed, Buraq. Bukhara, Uzbekistan. 1514. 7.5″ x 5″
    image via Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Eric Gill (again)

    Another Eric Gill from The King James Bible: Its History and Influence. How could I not love this?

    Angels worship the first human

    Occasionally Pinterest can turn up some real gems.

    Angels bow down for newly created Adam, whereas Iblis (Satan, dark, right) refuses. Islamic Persian miniature from before the 19th century. Origin unknown.
    via www.overaladameneva.nl

    Thank you Dr. Stuart Whatling

    …for making your doctoral thesis and research, The Corpus of Medieval Narrative Art, available on the internet. It is a treasure trove of imagery and scholarship.

    As of today he has posted over 2,700 pages of images from Amiens, Chartres, Bourges, and others. What a resource!

    Chartres Cathedral, The “Seraph” Clerestory Window, (bay 103, panel 04).
    © Stuart Whatling, 2008

    The Vigilante: verse and draped

    Clouds and clean up next. Finished soon.

    The Vigilante — first sketch

    The beginning of the last.