Saad Talha: Islamic Art

In addition to it’s beauty, Islamic art is complex, calculated and meaningful, such that no

brushstroke, line, or curve is random. While some may see Islam simply a religion, deeper and proper

interpretation of the Quran, Muhammad’s Sunnah and Hadith show that Islam is a way to life one’s life.

Therefore, any visual representation of Islam is surely something that comes from deep within a soul in

love with the Islamic way of life.

Calligraphy, used to communicate text decoratively, is a major player in Islamic art. The Arabic

script, being one of the more ‘warpable’ scripts, is manipulated by calligraphers to synthesize a piece

from simple words. As Burckhardt writes, “Arabic calligraphy contains within itself alone decorative

possibilities of inexhaustible richness” (p. 517). The term ‘Bismillah,’ for example, placed into the hands

of the right craftsman, can be transformed into an artistic piece in and of itself. More importantly, after

viewing a handful of Quranic calligraphic pieces, one realizes that the illegibility that may exists in some is

very much intentional and is meant to help one focus on the ‘greater picture,’ so to speak, and

contemplate about Allah’s limitless universe and one’s place in it.

In addition to calligraphy, repetitive vegetal patterns and geometric patterns are also part of the

Islamic artist’s toolkit. These artists use basics shapes such as circles and manipulate them with such

precision that the end result is a piece which has it’s beauty only accentuated by its complexity.

Burckhardt correctly describes this as, “Geometrical genius meets nomadic genius” (p. 518). For

example, in the piece titled “Ceramic Plate”, there is an obvious floral pattern containing the main text,

but the structure and placement of the words makes it seems that if left to mutate on its own, the piece

would keep on growing, much like a flower, eternally, till the words permeate every crevice of Allah’s

infinite universe. Pieces like this are very much an ode to the greatness of our Creator and are reminders

to always stay humble no matter how great and powerful we may perceive ourselves as.