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Rebecca Posner: European Influences on Mughal Portraiture

Rebecca Posner: European Influences on Mughal Portraiture

The Mughal empire was the dominant political force in India from the early sixteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century, and its rulers oversaw a large number of impressive artistic achievements.  Most historians seem to agree that the dynasty began with the invasion of India in 1526 by Babur, the first Mughal ruler,(…)

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Rebecca Posner: Infinity and the Written Word in Islamic Art

Rebecca Posner: Infinity and the Written Word in Islamic Art

Islamic art has several distinctive characteristics that set it apart from traditional Western or European art.  Some of these characteristics include a focus on abstract, curving patterns (such as arabesques and elaborately intertwining foliage of plants), the incorporation of lines of calligraphy (which are often lines from poems or the Qur’an), and a lessened focus(…)

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Rebecca Posner: Islam’s Conflicted Relationship with Modernity

Rebecca Posner: Islam’s Conflicted Relationship with Modernity

In many parts of the Middle East, there is a conflict between modern secular values and the traditions of societies that were strongly influenced by Islamic culture for centuries.  Religion does seem to be a factor in the distrust of modernity for many Muslims.  However, it may be an oversimplification to say that the specific(…)

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Rebecca Posner: Cultural Commonalities in the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empires

Rebecca Posner: Cultural Commonalities in the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empires

Three major empires came into being in the Middle East and India and reached the height of their power during the sixteenth century.  These were the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires.  Although they differed in many ways, they had several important aspects in common.  All three of these dynasties were founded and maintained by Muslim(…)

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Rebecca Posner: The Ethical Roles of Sharia and Sufism in the Islamic World

Rebecca Posner: The Ethical Roles of Sharia and Sufism in the Islamic World

Islam is a highly complex religion, with a long history that goes back for many centuries.  As a result, the Islamic worldview cannot be easily reduced down to a few simple concepts.  However, there are certain basic duties that every practicing Muslim is expected to adhere to.  These are known as the Five Pillars of(…)

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Rebecca Posner: The Influence of Islamic Culture on the Renaissance

Rebecca Posner: The Influence of Islamic Culture on the Renaissance

During the Middle Ages and beginning in the ninth century, literature, science, and the arts all experienced a major resurgence within the Islamic world.[i]  This was due to the influence both of government policies and of individual scholars who were interested in intellectual progress.  In addition to coming up with new ideas and creations in(…)

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Rebecca Posner: The Strengths of the Prophet Muhammad as a Religious and Political Leader

Rebecca Posner: The Strengths of the Prophet Muhammad as a Religious and Political Leader

When the prophet Muhammad received his first revelations about Islam, few would have thought that it would grow to be one of the world’s most important religions.  However, Muslims were able to increase their following and conquer a large portion of the Middle East within a relatively short time after Muhammad passed away.  One of(…)

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