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Allah In My Art: Al-Quran, The Ultimate Inspiration

by Muslim Pro

The Series Allah In My Art is a humble effort to explore elements of the Islamic Arts through a perspective of faith and understanding of Allah through the eyes of an artist.

The Inspiration

وَأَنفِقُوا۟ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ وَلَا تُلْقُوا۟ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى ٱلتَّهْلُكَةِ ۛ وَأَحْسِنُوٓا۟ ۛ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ

And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.

[Surah Al-Baqarah 2:195]

Al-Quran is widely regarded as the most magnificent piece of literature in the Arabic language. It has since been a source of inspiration for Islamic arts and culture across centuries.

Quranic verses were executed in decorative calligraphy in many art forms and embellished on objects and architectural marvels.

The belief in aniconism shifted the direction of traditional Islamic arts on the spiritual representation of objects and beings and not only their physical qualities. Though the Quran does not mention the prohibition of images. It does explicitly prohibit idolatry.

Artists focused on key elements like

  • Floral motifs
  • Geometric and vegetal designs,
  • Calligraphy scripts.

These styles and elements often overlapped across multiple art forms, mediums, and genres.

However, some Muslim artists interpret the words of Allah rather uniquely through their artwork.

We share a few creative Islamic arts and designs by unknown and current artists.

1. The Glass Mosque Lamp

https://www.khalilicollections.org/collections/islamic-art/khalili-collection-islamic-art-mosque-lamp-gls572/

An enameled glass mosque lamp from the mid 14th century, Mamluk period, has the inscription of quotes from Sura An-Nur [24:35] in the thuluth script. ‘God is the Light of the heavens and the earth.’ 

These lamps were usually suspended from ceilings. They had a small glass tray holding oil and a wick to light the lamp. The metaphoric connection of the lamp and the surah sheds light on the intellectual understanding of artists during that era.

2. The Throne Verse in the form of a Calligraphic Horse India, Deccan, Bijapur, Circa 1600

https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2011/c-welch-part-ii-l11227/lot.99.html

This masterpiece only has remnants of the artist’s name, kamtarin; the rest is rubbed and illegible. This reveals how many artists’ identities are lost to time, their inspirations covered in mystery. The entire Throne Verse (2:255), is skilfully written, forming the gold letters and words into an elegantly prancing horse.

Dr. Anthony Welch, a noted art historian, scholar, and academic leader discussed the possible symbolism of this calligraphic horse; suggesting that the mighty horse depicted here symbolizes God’s omnipotence and omniscience as described in the specific words of the Throne Verse, which carries the minuscule rider, so much smaller in scale than the horse, representing the human soul; as published on Sotheby’s

3. The Dawn

https://www.artlink.com.au/articles/3925/islam-and-the-visual-arts-in-indonesia-and-malaysi/

A.D. Pirous is a renowned Indonesian artist who believes that his art should represent all the possible meanings of being a Muslim. His artwork, The Dawn, has Surah Al-Falak (Chapter 113) created with marble paste, gold leaf, acrylic on canvas. 

Pirous explains, “The Holy Quran itself may not be changed, but to understand it, you must be free to interpret it. So, I take a verse and I try to animate it with my personal vision, with my personal understanding. When I express it in visual language, that’s when I use aesthetic knowledge: composition, colour, texture, line, rhythm, everything..” featured by Virginia Hooker, for ArtLink.

4. To See

https://www.fariedomarah.com/artworks/qa944ntdhz7l3spxwj4adkt6xecee4

Faried Omarah, an Egyptian architectural engineer, interprets verses from the Quran through stunning black and white illustrations. The artwork evokes emotions connecting life, death, hope, desperation, and many complex human sentiments. Faried believes there is nothing more effective than Quranic verses when it comes to depth and inspiration. His visual art is a way of expressing his thoughts. However, they are open to interpretation.

Understanding Art

The 19th and 20th centuries paved a way for art enthusiasts and scholars across the globe to explore and understand Islamic arts of the past and the present. Applauding the artistic abilities through paintings, sculptures, architecture, and calligraphy. Reflecting their faith through their creativity.

In the weeks to come, we shall dive a little deeper into the illustrated history and present of the Islamic Arts. And explore more artists who integrate Allah in their Art.