A real #TBT today — I made this piece in February but forgot to track it when I sent it out and worried that it had been lost… But I was thrilled to hear yesterday that it finally arrived. Arabic is from the Qur'an (49:13): “We created you from one pair, and placed you in different nations so that you may know one another,” and Hebrew from the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 4:5): “Therefore humanity was created from a single person, so that no-one could say ‘My ancestor is greater than yours.’"
وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى الْحَيِّ الَّذِي لَا يَمُوتُ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِهِ بِذُنُوبِ عِبَادِهِ خَبِيرًا
And rely upon the Ever-Living who does not die, and exalt [ Allah ] with His praise. And sufficient is He to be, with the sins of His servants, Acquainted -
~ The Elephant Clock", Folio from a Book of the Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices by al-Jazari.
Calligrapher: Farrukh ibn `Abd al-Latif
Author: Badi’ al-Zaman ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari (1136–1206)
Object Name: Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Date: dated A.H. 715/A.D. 1315
Geography: Made in Syria
Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Illuminated Manuscript, Koran, Frontispiece, Walters Art Museum, Ms W.563, fol. 5b by Walters Art Museum Via Flickr: This large-format, illuminated Timurid copy of the Qur’an is believed to have been produced in Northern India in the ninth century AH / fifteenth CE. The manuscript opens with a series of illuminated frontispieces. The main text is written in a large vocalized polychrome muḥaqqaq script. Marginal explanations of the readings of particular words and phrases are in thuluth and naskh scripts, and there is interlinear Persian translation in red naskh script. The fore-edge flap of the gold-tooled, brown leather binding is inscribed with verses 77 through 80 from Chapter 56 (Sūrat al-wāqiʿah). The seal of Sultan Bayezid II (1481-1512 CE) appears on fol. 8a. There is an erased bequest (waqf) statement and stamp of Sultan ʿUthmān Khān (1027-31 CE) on fol. 3a.
Islamic Manuscripts in the Walters Museum, Baltimore
I’ve had these images on my hard drive and my Pinterest account for some time… but only just recognized that they were all examples of Islamic manuscripts to be found in the Walters Museum in Baltimore.
I am absolutely stunned at the level of quality of the Islamic manuscripts in the Walters Museum. I visited the museum a decade or so ago, but honestly I remember far more of the Matisse paintings from the Cone Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
There’s a certain irony to the fact that Matisse was clearly inspired by the patterns and colors of Islamic/Persian art.
The Walters Museum’s collection of Illuminated manuscripts is undoubtedly worth exploring… in real life… or on line:
hey! first I wanna say I love your art, keep up the good work~ I have a question though, as someone coming fromm absolute ignorance of the topic, I know you're Islamic, and I was wondering if you could touch on the "no drawing Muhammad" thing? Is there a verse straight up saying not to draw him, or is it more in depth than that? I know Christianity has a "no graven images" rule, is this similar? Again, I hope you dont find this disrespectful at all, I'm just curious about it.
There is no verse from th Qur’an or excerpt from the Hadith literatures that explicitly prohibits drawing the Prophet ﷺ. However, one should understand that due to this, some sects have given different opinions to what is permissible and what is not. In Islam, when a topic is not covered by the Qur’an or the Sunnah, the third source is the consensus (Ulama), while the fourth source is Analogic reasoning (Qiyas), the latter was used to determine the most suitable position for a particular topic. The reason why it’s prohibited is because the consensus held that it could lead to Idolatry, this came as a reaction to some groups that worshiped the Prophet ﷺ - which is idolatrous.
Now, the idea that it is prohibited to draw the Prophet ﷺ is an explicitly Sunni Islam (and Ibadhi Islam) thing, not Islam in general, this is a position that Sunnis hold, so the opinions are not homologous to Islam. As for Twelver Shia Islam, it varies, but from my knowledge, Ayatollah Sistani ruled, “If due deference and respect is observed, and the scene does not contain anything that would detract from their holy pictures in the minds [of the viewers], there is no problem.” There are indeed Sunnis who draw likenesses of the Prophet ﷺ as well, however, respect is always observed. Depicting the Prophet ﷺ and some of his companions, such as Ali, Hussain and Hassan (PBUT) has not been an issue in their community. Some, however, oppose visual art in general, such as strict Salafis and Wahabis; Sunni Muslims - especially the strict ones - are extremely iconoclastic, therefore, any depiction of an animated being that can potentially intrude in your everyday life must be removed from the vicinity (not necessarily destroyed) - in fact, even I remove images from the vicinity when I commit myself to my faith despite being an artist - and with the Prophet and other important figures being a sensitive issue, fatwas has been declared by a lot of leaders to prohibit a Muslim from drawing them. Depicting the Prophet’s companions in media is a very recurring theme however, in fact, I am deeply in love with the show ‘Omar’ which I watch every Ramadan and the show depicts many of the Prophet’s companions, and during Ashura there is a movie about the grandson of the Prophet Muhammed ﷺ, Imam Hussein (r.a), that some Muslims traditionally watch during the Day of Ashura.
Now one thing must be understood, depictions of Islamic figures (as well as Biblical figures) have existed in the Islamic world for hundreds of years, and they were not simply icons, but rather illustrations with respect and praise in mind, much like Biblical art. Most of these depictions existed within Islamic poetry and manuscripts, so drawing the Prophet ﷺ was nothing new to Islam.
Here’s an example of a Persian illustration (ca. 1300) of the Prophet ﷺ and his encounter with the angel Gabriel (PBUH) with his outward appearance being based on the Hadith and Sirah (Biography of the Prophet ﷺ).
Depicting the Prophet ﷺ has often not been an issue, though visual imagery was rare, however, there are some excerpts from the Sunni Hadiths literature that condemns “image making”, that is, creating icons of living being with the purpose of worship, so with the Prophet ﷺ being treated like an icon, it can have very grave consequences for a Muslim whose religion purports absolute Monotheism and Unitarianism. In contemporary time, the issue is not over whether it is prohibited or permissible to draw the Prophet ﷺ, one should easily understand that Muslims are very attached to the Prophet ﷺ, so any mockery of him can be a personal insult to the Muslim themselves, the issue is in fact over how people draw him and for what purpose they’re drawing him, and the issue of depicting the Prophet ﷺ were consequently brought up because of a few dozen depictions of him with no other purpose than to mock him or make parodies of him, in fact, most cases where such a topic is brought up in the media are specifically brought up for those reasons. Anyways, that’s a topic I will not dive into. Finding visual depictions of the Prophet ﷺ is very easy, because, Muslims do indeed make depictions (or likenesses if you will) of him, especially those who belong to Shia Islam. Muslims have generally preferred Caligraphy as a central interest in Islamic art as opposed to illustration or visual depictions.
Opinions regarding the topic of Image making varies.
Opinions regarding visual representations of the Prophet ﷺ and his companions varies.
It essentially depends on the purpose that you draw the Prophet ﷺ and his companions.
It may not be prohibited, but it is fundamentally disliked/undesired.
Islam is not homologous; opinions vary considerably from branch to branch and even in the branch itself.
Sunni Muslims (and Ibadhi Muslims) are more strict in this topic than Shia Muslims.
Approaching Islam in general, one must understand the fundamentals of Shiism and Sunnism both theologically, socially and politically.