Friday, September 18, 2009
involves the history of the Islamic faith as a religion and as a social institution. The history of Islam began in Arabia with Muslim Prophet Muhammad's first recitations of the Qur'an in the 7th century. Under the Rashidun and Umayyads, the Caliphate grew rapidly geographically expansion of Muslim power well beyond the Arabian peninsula in the form of a vast Muslim Empire with an area of influence that stretched from northwest India, across Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, southern Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula, to the Pyrenees.
During much of the twentieth century, the Islamic identity and the dominance of Islam on political issues have arguably increased during the early twenty-first century. The fast-growing Western interests in Islamic regions, international conflicts and globalization have changed the influence of Islam on the world in contemporary history.
See also: Spread of Islam, Muslim conquests, Caliphate, and Islamic Golden Age
Classical Islamic culture
Main article: Islamic Golden Age
The Islamic Golden Age, also sometimes known as the Islamic Renaissance, is traditionally dated from the 7th to 13th centuries C.E., but has been extended to the 15th and 16th centuries by more recent scholarship.
Main article: Islamic art
The term "Islamic art and architecture" denotes the works of art and architecture produced from the 7th century onwards by people who lived within the territory that was inhabited by culturally Islamic populations.
Aniconism and Arabesque
Main articles: Aniconism in Islam and Arabesque
No Islamic visual images or depictions of God are meant to exist because it is believed that such artistic depictions may lead to idolatry. Moreover, Muslims believe that God is incorporeal, making any two- or three- dimensional depictions impossible. Instead, Muslims describe God by the names and attributes that, according to Islam, he revealed to his creation. All but one sura of the Qur'an begins with the phrase "In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful". Images of Mohammed are likewise prohibited. Such aniconism and iconoclasm can also be found in Jewish and some Christian theology.
Islamic art frequently adopts the use of geometrical floral or vegetal designs in a repetition known as arabesque. Such designs are highly nonrepresentational, as Islam forbids representational depictions as found in pre-Islamic pagan religions. Despite this, there is a presence of depictional art in some Muslim societies, notably the miniature style made famous in Persia and under the Ottoman Empire which featured not only paintings of people and animals but also depictions of Qur'anic stories and Islamic traditional narratives. Another reason why Islamic art is usually abstract is to symbolize the transcendence, indivisible and infinite nature of God, an objective achieved by arabesque. Arabic calligraphy is an omnipresent decoration in Islamic art, and is usually expressed in the form of Qur'anic verses. Two of the main scripts involved are the symbolic kufic and naskh scripts, which can be found adorning the walls and domes of mosques, the sides of minbars, and so on.
Distinguishing motifs of Islamic architecture have always been ordered repetition, radiating structures, and rhythmic, metric patterns. In this respect, fractal geometry has been a key utility, especially for mosques and palaces. Other significant features employed as motifs include columns, piers and arches, organized and interwoven with alternating sequences of niches and colonnettes. The role of domes in Islamic architecture has been considerable. Its usage spans centuries, first appearing in 691 with the construction of the Dome of the Rock mosque, and recurring even up until the 17th century with the Taj Mahal. And as late as the 19th century, Islamic domes had been incorporated into Western architecture.
See also: Iconoclasm
Further information: Alchemy (Islam)
From between the eighth and eighteenth centuries, the use of glazed ceramics was prevalent in Islamic art, usually assuming the form of elaborate pottery. Tin-opacified glazing was one of the earliest new technologies developed by the Islamic potters. The first Islamic opaque glazes can be found as blue-painted ware in Basra, dating to around the 8th century. Another significant contribution was the development of stonepaste ceramics, originating from 9th century Iraq. Other centers for innovative ceramic pottery in the Odd world included Fustat (from 975 to 1075), Damascus (from 1100 to around 1600) and Tabriz (from 1470 to 1550).
Interior view of the dome in the Selimiye Mosque, Edirne.
Main article: Islamic architecture
Perhaps the most important expression of Islamic art is architecture, particularly that of the mosque. Through it the effect of varying cultures within Islamic civilization can be illustrated. The North African and Iberian Islamic architecture, for example, has Roman-Byzantine elements, as seen in the Alhambra palace at Granada, or in the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Persian-style mosques are characterized by their tapered brick pillars, large arcades, and arches supported each by several pillars. In South Asia, elements of Hindu architecture were employed, but were later superseded by Persian designs. The most numerous and largest of mosques exist in Turkey, which obtained influence from Byzantine, Persian and Syrian designs, although Turkish architects managed to implement their own style of cupola domes.
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