Tag Archives: illumination

A woman teaching men

Don’t worry, this isn’t really a woman teaching men about geometry in the 14th century. She is merely the idealized personification of geometry — not a real woman. So it’s okay.

The personification of Geometry. British Library (c. 1309)

The personification of Geometry. British Library (c. 1309)

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

    Jam session

    A Muslim plays the ud while the Christian plays the lute. From a Book of Chants from San Lorenzo de El Escorial monastery in Madrid, Spain. 13th century. Published in The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Islamic World edited by Francis Robinson. 1996.

    Richard of Wallingford

    Richard of Wallingford is measuring with a pair of compasses in this 14th-century miniature.
    via Wikipedia

    Eric Gill (again)

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

    HRC King James Bible exhibit: Eirc Gill

    I’ve been to the Harry Ransom Center’s exhibition, The King James Bible: Its History and Influence half a dozen times already but I keep going back. Sadly, it closes at the end of the month.

    John 1:1-5 from The Four Gospels, designed by The Golden Cockerel Press with engravings by Eric Gill, 1931.

    Initial proof by Eric Gill from John 8:6-7, “But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”