Art, Music, And Architecture Around The World
God is beautiful and loves beauty.
(Inn Allaha jameelun
(A hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (s)in
Table of Contents
Muslim World Music
Muslim Musicians of Western Music
As of March 5, 2012, unless otherwise indicated all of the art links are up to date.
A useful approach to Islam is through Islamic art. See the curriculum guide Doorways to Islamic Art. It contains a
series of slides, an accompanying
narrative, and guides to "hands-on" art projects, as well as other
materials, all of which are designed to immerse students in the beauty
of Islamic art. It can be adapted for use by students at all levels.
Find its bibliography here.
Doorways to Islamic Art can be purchased from
AWAIR. (Offline as of March 5, 2012)
See also the website of AWAIR.
For purchasing handmade ceramics in the Islamic style, see
Khadijah Chadly Ceramics
(link fixed Nov. 25, 2010 and March 5, 2012) is the website of a contemporary
American Muslim ceramicist and documentary film maker, Khadija Chadley. Ms. Chadley's ceramic work could
described as traditionally Islamic yet with a contemporary flavor. See clips from some of her films here.
Tools in Islamic Art and Architecture (fixed March 4, 2012)
annotated bibliography compiled at Harvard by
Andras Riedlmayer of the Fine Arts Library at Harvard.
Exhibition of Islamic Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of
In addition to images, it contains a summary of the dynastic
history of Islam and a
to Islamic art written by Linda Komaroff Ph.D., the curator of
at the LACMA.
This article, by the scholar Priscilla P. Soucek, discusses "decoration"
in Persian Islamic art.
Representation in Islamic Art, written by the art historian Terry
Allen, explores the relative absence of figures of living beings in
Islamic Art. (Link fixed, March 31, 2001.)
Art By Elisabeth Siddiqui, this essay discusses the relationship of
Islamic art to the principles of Islam, a relationship that exists largely
for Muslim and spiritually interested viewers of Islamic art. This
"Islamic aesthetic" has been developed by writers such as S. H. Nasr,
Keith Critchlow, Titus Burckhardt, and Martin Lings. Western-trained art
historians such as Oleg Grabar generally do not share this perspective.
Zakariya Calligraphy is the website of the
American Muslim calligrapher, Mohamed Zakariya. Containing his articles on the art,
history, and the
practice of Islamic calligraphy, this website has a number of examples of Zakariya's
calligraphies done in the traditional style.
The Art of
Arabic Calligraphy is a four-part article
written by the calligrapher Mamoun Sakkal.
Calligraphy includes sections on
Islamic calligraphic art, Muslim calligraphers, materials, impressive
examples of calligraphy, and the various scripts used in Islamic
calligraphy. The introduction (and possibly the entire site) was done by Khalid Mubireek. The
section titled "Calligraphic Collection" was adapted from , Islamic Calligraphy: Sacred
and Secular Writings. Musee d'art historie and Treasures of Islam, Geneva, 1988.
fixed, January 3, 2001 and October 6, 2001.)
Basmalah Calligraphed in the Maghribi style,
this is an extraordinary example of the Basmalah (Bismillahi r-rahmani
r-rahim) scanned from the book The Splendor of Islamic Calligraphy
by Abdelkebir Khatibi (New York: Rizzoli, 1977). (It is a relatively large
image so it may take a minute or so to load.)
Qur'an (link fixed March 5, 2012) The most highly regarded form of calligraphy was Qur'anic calligraphy. An
excellent example is the illuminated Qur'an of Sultan Baybars, done in the Mamluk
period in Cairo between 1304-1306 CE and held
in the collection of the British Library. (To view this link you may need Shockwave.)
Islamic Art Gallery by Kathleen Seidel, consisting of numerous images
of Islamic calligraphy, illumination, and painting (including images of
Abraham, Muhammad, Ali, and various Sufis and dervishes),
as well as Islamic
metalwork, ceramics, and textiles, to mention a few. Ms. Seidel has
included this gallery, together with a Sufi Cookbook that she has
authored, in her online book Serving the Guest: a Sufi
Cookbook and Art Gallery.
Muslimah Artists' Network (IMAN) An organization of contemporary Muslim women artists. (Link fixed, March 5, 2012.)
From Desert to Oasis:
Arts of the People of Central
Asia, an exhibition of textiles from Central Asia, at the Georgia
Museum of Art of the University of Georgia, from Feb. 14 through
April 26, 1998. (Offline March 5, 2012)
Art Collection of the Detroit Institute
of Arts is an excellent collection of high-quality images.
September, 1999 and October 6, 2001, March 5, 2012).
Exhibit of Islamic
Amulets contains good quality images and detailed descriptions.
Music has traditionally been one of the more controversial issues in the
Muslim world. While all Muslim scholars have always accepted and even
encouraged chanting the call to prayer and the Qur'an, the
permissability of other forms of music, especially instrumental music, has
been problematic. In Arabic, the word musiqa, which is
translated as "music," even has a more narrow sense than does the
English word "music." Musiqa in Arabic refers mainly to popular and
instrumental music and excludes genres such
as Qur'anic chanting and the Muslim
call to prayer (adh'an). A good example of
an Islamic critique of music written by a Salafi/Wahhabi scholar Abu Bilal Mustafa
Al-Kanadi is Islamic
Ruling on Music and Singing (link fixed 13 June 2006). A brief article discussing Shaykh Ibrahim
Ramadan al-Mardini's refutation of such Islamic critiques of music
is titled Islamic scholar rejects
religious censorship of music
(by Ole Reitiv, Freemuse, 14 October 2005).
In spite of critiques such as al-Kanadi's, many forms of music have
traditionally been present in the Muslim world and are still found
throughout it today. The following links illustrate this
necessary in order to hear most of the following audio files. Some
also take two or three minutes to load.
Chanting is the most central form of music in
the Muslim world.
(call to prayer, pronouned "a-dhaan")
heard at prayer times, it is the second major genre of Islamic music.
Chanting (poems of praise of the
Prophet Muhammad, pronounced "mad-h"), madh is most commonly done
during the celebration of the birth of the Prophet (mawlid
Dhikr (lit. remembrance) is the chanted repetition of a name or names
of God or--as in
this link-- a short phrase such as La ilaha ill Allah (There is no
god but God), which is a part of the Khatm-e Khwajegan litany
Another example of a vocal dhikr--which in this case is accompanied by a
chant-- is this Uzbek La Ilaha Ill
Allah Women's ensemble of Fergana.
pl.; wird, s.;), such as the
Khwajegan are forms of vocal "remembrance" (adhkar, pl.; dhikr,
s.) chanted by many Sufi orders. They are generally more complex than
a simple dhikr, often combining various Qur'anic verses, supplicatory
prayers, and dhikr of names of God or certain religious phrases. The
Khatm-e Khwajegan is an important litany for the Naqshbandi order.
Sufi Sama' or Inshad generally consists of poems sung
in a Sufi gathering by one or more reciters. Sometimes these involve
refrains that are sung by all of the Sufis in attendance. Often the
poems sung are from the diwan (collected poems) of the founder or
particular Sufi order. During
the singing, the Sufis in the gathering are occupied in meditation,
customarily contemplating God through dhikr (also written
zekr and zikir, meaning "remembrance"). A few samples of
Sufi sama', recorded during actual Sufi gatherings in Algeria, are at the
Sama' of the
Sufi Rhythms for the Daf
By Peyman Nasehpour, this
website's most significant aspect is short but sufficient examples of nine different
daf rhythms. These can be listened to online or downloaded.
Mulid of Egypt (link fixed 18 August 2005) is a well-done site including audio and video that
introduces the ceremonies celebrating the birthdays of saints, called
mulid or mawlid. Although celebrated throughout the Muslim world,
these ceremonies, which may involve both music and "dance," are a very
important feature of life in Egypt. (This is now a dead site.)
Music, (link fixed December 23, 2000 and October 6, 2001) recently popularized in the
West by the Sabri Brothers and Nusrat Fath Ali Khan, is probably
the genre of Islamic music most familiar to non-Muslims. Another large online archive of Qawwali music (link fixed 18 August 2005)
is found at chandrakantha.com. A fine
example of Qawwali music is the Sabri Brothers' rendition of a well-known "poem in praise"
the Prophet, Balagha'l--ula
bi-kamalihi (link fixed 18 August 2005), a poem which is beloved throughout the Muslim world.
Nazeri, one of Iran's premier vocalists, here superbly sings a classical Sufi
poem (Binama rukh keh bagh o golestanam arzust [Show me your face since I desire the orchard and garden]) by Rumi
accompanied by a variety of traditional Persian instruments.
Here is another track from his CD She'r-o-Erfan
(Poetry and Mysticism) (Man chera del be-to dadam [Why did I give my heart to you?]).
Santur played by an Iranian Kurd, Alan Kushan, is a slightly modified
traditional Iranian santur, one of the many traditional
Turkish Musical Library is an
extensive archive. Among the various genres included in the archive is that of traditional
Anatolian music, which is still popular throughout Turkey. To listen to more traditional
after clicking on this link, then choose "Folk." Then scroll down to "CENTRAL ANATOLIA
REGION FOLK" and click on Haydar Haydar, performed by Ali Akbar Cicek. This piece, Haydar
Haydar, is introduced by lengthy runs on a long-necked
stringed instrument called a saz. (Note that it may take a few minutes
to load. Link fixed, October 10, 2001)
Music is one of the many forms of Islamic
regional music. This link, which will allow you to "mix" your own Uzbek music from a few
different sources, was taken from the BBC's Musical Nomad, listed
below. (This particular link takes a couple of minutes to load, but it
is well worth the wait.)
Musical Nomad is a forty day odyssey through the Central Asian
countries of Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, and Krgyzstan. This site combines a
conversational easy-going travel narrative, informative cultural content,
images rarely seen in the West, and numerous extraordinary pieces of
music. It is probably the most impressive site that I have seen on
the web! And if you like the Musical Nomad, you will love The
Hundred Thousand Fools of God: Musical Travels in Central Asia (And
Queens, New York) by Theodore Levin, professor of Ethnomusicology at
Dartmouth College. This marvelous book, with accompanying CD, will bring
Central Asia to life for you.
Gamelan (link fixed 18 August 2005)
is a form of orchestral music
in Java (Indonesia). The Gamelan
orchestra is comprised of a number of instruments which
are described and can be seen at the previous link. While the first example
is of the"Loud
Style," the second is an example of a
"soft" vocal piece (link fixed 18 August 2005).
Kanjeng Islamic Gamelan music from Indonsia.
American-Indonesian Sufi Fusion Music under the guidance of Shaykh
al-Rifa'i (originally from the United States), whose community is
now based in Jakarta.
Subuh (link fixed, Dec. 16, 2004, Nov. 1, 2006, Nov. 27, 2010)
performed by the
Raihan are two very sweet examples of
contemporary Malay Nasyid (Islamic spiritual songs). Transliterations and
translations are now included. In addition to the preceding songs,
listen to Raihan's pleasantly upbeat Syukur
(Thanks) (link fixed Nov. 1, 2006; fixed Nov. 27, 2010)
beautiful piece from Raihan with sweet harmonies and Malay music is
Anak (Fixed Nov. 27, 2010).
A fan has put on-line a number of pictures of Raihan, which
has recorded some songs with Yusuf Islam (the former Cat
Stevens), one of which is God
Light (link fixed 18 August 2005 and Nov. 27, 2010).
Online Scholarly Articles on Music of the Muslim World published in
the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Bulletin:
(Links fixed, July 6, 1999.)
Recited by Prof. Mahmoud Ayoub of Temple University.
Recordings of Traditional Music from the Arabian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
by Kay Hardy Campbell.
to Traditional Iranian Dastgah Music by Prof. Margaret Caton.
to Umm Kulthum by Prof. Virginia Danielson of Harvard University.
Music and Ritual in Turkey by Prof. Irene Markoff of York University.
Recordings of Turkish Classical Music by Prof. Walter Feldman of the
University of Pennsylvania.
Improvisation (Taqasim) in Arab Music (link fixed 18 August 2005) by Scott Marcus of the
University of California, Santa Barbara.
Algeria: Selected Recordings by Prof. Dwight Reynolds of the
University of California, Santa Barbara.
Muslim Rock Musicians
This site of mine is still under construction; but it does contain information about
and links for Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), Richard Thompson, Danny Thompson, and
of Islamic Architectural Sites (link fixed 18 August 2005)
collection of high quality images is a comprehensive survey of many
of the most important monuments of Islamic architecture worldwide. It is
far and away the best collection of images of Islamic architecture on the
Series of Eight Ka'ba photos (link fixed 18 August 2005) Some of these pictures can be seen in
an enlarged format by clicking on them.
Although it takes a while to load, see this
Extensive collection of Ka'ba photos. (Link fixed October 6, 2001.)
The Ka'ba, which in Arabic
literally means "cube," is a cube-shaped building enveloped in black cloth
at the center of the sacred mosque (al-haram
al-sharif) in Mecca and is the focal point of the
Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
Stone, (al-hajar al-aswad) is set in a silver setting into a
corner of the Ka'ba.
Linked Images of The Prophet's Mosque in
Sites Here you can go on a virtual pilgrimage to sites throughout the
Muslim world that are holy for Shi'is.
Architecture, containing useful introductory articles and pictures of and a site constructed by the Islamic Arts
and Archictecture Organization. (Link fixed, October 6,
Architecture of Isfahan This is an award winning virtual tour of
Isfahan, which was the capital of Iran during the Safavid dynasty.
Islamic Architecture from the Middle East These images are
largely from the Ibn Tulun and Sultan Hasan mosques in Cairo and the Dome
of the Rock in Jerusalem (al-Quds). Other images are from the Great Mosque
in Damascus and the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. (Offline October 6, 2001.)
Pictures of the Architectural Monuments of
Istanbul (link fixed 18 August 2005) compiled by Emin Saglamer at his site Time Out Istanbul (link fixed 18 August 2005). See
his descriptions of these and many other architectural sites in Istanbul
at his Index to Historical Sites of Istanbul (link fixed 18 August 2005).
Turkey from Ozgur Balsoy's site (link fixed October 6, 2001) All About
Interior Pool for Ablutions in the Ulu Jami (Great
Mosque) (link fixed 18 August, 2005) in Bursa. View of the back of the Ulu Jami
seen from the street.
The Topkapi Palace Museum, a virtual tour through
the main palace of the Ottomans in Istanbul. The website was constructed by the History department of Bilkent
University in Ankara.
Great Mosque (Ulu Jami) From here you can also go on a brief virtual
tour of Bursa, which prior to the conquest of Constantinople had become
the capital of Ottoman Turkey. (Offline, October 6, 2001.)
The Noble Sanctuary (al-Haram
al-Sharif) in Jerusalem (al-Quds). This is a virtual tour of all of the
buidings of the al-Haram al-Sharif--which in the Western world is often
refered to as the "Temple Mount" (the site of the Temple of Solomon and
the Second Temple). It includes buildings such as the Al-Aqsa Mosque and
the Dome of the Rock, as well as discussion of the Night
and Mi'raj (Ascension) of
the Prophet Muhammad, which is
the reason why the whole area is the third most holy site in Islam--
a fact that must be clearly understood by the West if there is ever
going to be a lasting peace there.
Early Jerusalem is part of an Israeli site called "The Jerusalem Mosaic," which chronicles the history of
Alhambra: The Archaeological and Historical Setting (link fixed 18 August, 2005) is the first
chapter in the book titled The Alhambra (1992), by Oleg Grabar,
Professor Emeritus of Islamic Art at
Harvard and the leading authority on the history of Islamic Art. As
above, his approach, which downplays the "Islamic" character of Islamic
art, differs sharply from the "traditionalist" approach of
a number of scholars (most of whom are Muslim) who have developed the idea
of a traditional
Islamic aesthetic, scholars such as Titus Burckhardt, Seyyed Hossein Nasr,
and Martin Lings. (Note that although the article appears to have links to
various pictures and plans, in the online version of this chapter, these
in fact are not links. In the actual book, however, the pictures and
plans do exist.)
Moorish Art in Spain is a brief
introductory website compiled by Liziel Zapata as a Senior English project at Cal Poly State University.
Spain (Offline October 6, 2001.)
Sanders Gallery: Scenes from the world of Islam
phtographed by internationally acclaimed photographer Peter Sanders.
Currently on-line are images from Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia,
Mauritania, Sudan, and Jerusalem.
- Photographs Beautiful and haunting landscapes and people from
Afghanistan, Iran, Palestine, and Egypt, as well as from Ceylon,
Ladakh, and the US. For thirty years, Powell's luminous and
internationally renown photographs have opened viewers eyes and hearts
to unseen vistas.
Photographs of Palestine (link fixed 18 August, 2005) includes two online exhibitions, one
consisting of eight pictures and the other one hundred.
of the Middle East Maintained by Columbia
University, this is a comprehensive index of
links to images from a number of countries of the Middle East