Johnnie Kallas

After reviewing the display of Islamic art in the Religion department hall, a major conclusion I have reached is the impossibility of separating religion from artistic work in the Islamic world. Art forms, such as poetry, contain an inherently religious meaning that is not always true with regard to art in the West. A lot of the artwork on display is decorative and may not seem to represent a sacred object, but they are all considered spiritual omens. In addition, religious texts and scriptures themselves are considered works of art. I would not generally consider the Old or New Testament a work of art, but it is clear that most Muslims see the Quran as an artistic masterpiece that contains both religious and artistic value. Many individuals in Western societies may find the close relationship between religion and art problematic, as art is supposed to represent the free creative will of an individual that is not necessarily confined to social norms or structures. However, the presence of religion within Islamic art and vice-versa shows that creativity can be unleashed through a religious context.

The most interesting artwork on display in my opinion were the Four Rings, the Blue Antique Jar, and the Ceramic Plate. The Four Rings shows the obvious connection between Islam and artistic expression as each of the ring carries a verse of the Quran. The Blue Antique Jar helps explain the relationship between Sufism and art, as the Sufi poetry inscribed on the jar explains that love requires a lot of sacrifice. It makes sense that Sufism consists of a lot of artistic expression as Sufis are concerned with developing the individual spirit to relate with God, with artistic work being an obvious path to this ultimate goal. The Ceramic Plate intrigues me because it contains old lyrical poetry from several centuries ago, which shows just how long this artwork has survived and how important it remains to the present day.