The Arts

As God is the absolute transcendent being, Muslims believe that there are no religious symbols whatsoever that represent the Divine in any shape or form whether through images, sculpture or any other means, even in an abstract way. Such an act is considered as idolatry (shirk), the one sin that God will not forgive (Surah 4:48)..

As it says in The Qur’an:

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves, and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things) (Surah 42:11).

Islamic art therefore seeks to capture the spiritual rather than the material, the essence rather than the physical. This is achieved through certain techniques such as geometry and repetition.

Geometry dominates Islamic art and one of things it symbolizes is logic and order present in the universe. Repetition is widely used to portray infinite patterns which have no beginning and no end and ultimately undifferentiated unity. Many Muslims also decorate their homes with Islamic calligraphy instead or with other forms of art. Iranian art incorporates nature with Islamic calligraphy, for example writing Bismillah (In the Name of God) in the shape of a bird or tiger.

Islamic music: Nowadays, music is been used to attract mainly the youth towards Islam. According to some Muslims, music is considered strictly forbidden however many of the earlier eminent scholars of Islam studied music as a science. Today, Islamic music takes many forms such as rap, classical, Sufi, etc.

Islamic songs (nashids) have become very popular especially amongst the youth. The genre now varies from classical to rap. Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens) was a popular singer before converting to Islam. He now promotes Islam through his music. One modern famous singer is Sami Yusuf who sings in various languages but mainly in English.

Poetry (shi’r) has always played an important part in Arab and in Islamic culture and tradition; it was used to describe historical events and people (for example, famous battles and leaders of Islam). Rumi is probably the most famous Muslim poet whose work has been translated into many languages and has attracted people of different faiths.

Today, poetry is still very popular in many Islamic gatherings such as the celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This is especially so for Shi’ah Muslims who use poetry extensively for the birth and the death of the Imams, the most important of these events being the martyrdom of Imam al-Hussein during the month of Muharram.

Hymns (qasidah) are also very popular in Islamic gatherings especially in Sufi circles. Hymns are used to praise God and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his family.

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