II. What is Islamic Art?

Islam is one of, the greatest religions of the world. Its approach to man‟s life and his spirituality is to some extent different from that of other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity. There is no objective or representation of the Supreme Reality in Islamic art-world to be painted or portrayed as in case of other religions. On the other hand, the consequent Void (‘adam) has its distinctive implication in the Islamic art-world. AI-Tawhid (Unity of Being) is the real meaning of Islam and this metaphysical belief of Unity is the spiritual significant of the Void which is the only aspiration and soul of Islamic art.4

Allah (God) is not seen like an entity but He is realized as the Supreme Creator of everything. That Allah (God) is anthropomorphically portrayed in the Holy Qur‟an as having hands and seated on a throne, should not be taken literally. Such figures of verbal communication purely represent his symbolic demonstration. He has bestowed upon man the supremacy of perception and inspiration. In the present article we shall try to discuss briefly some of the‟ most crucial art-forms in order to comprehend the real meaning and implication of Islamic art as well as‟ its spiritual message. Here we shall also discuss how Islamic art conveys the spiritual and prototypical meaning of Islam itself through a timeless and symbolic language; and how even today this art has the ability to present the spirit of Islam in a much more direct, wholesome and intelligible manner than many other communicative expositions. Generally, the work of art, as we be familiar with, is a well thought-out multifarious of sensuous and communicative fundamentals, and its organization is its form. But in Islamic art man‟s spiritual dimension has been overemphasized. All art and thought have been derivative from this very emphasis.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr, it is in reality” to the inner dimension of Islam, to the batin as contained in the manner and elucidated by the Truth that one must turn for the origin of Islamic art. This inner aspect is besides inextricably interrelated to Islamic spirituality.”5 Man‟s inwardness has been given much value in Islam. Likewise, it is .within the inner aspect of the Islamic tradition that one must seek the origin of Islamic art and the „power‟ which has created different „forms‟ and sustained them over the ages.6 The Qur‟an and the prophetic hadith are the main sources of Islamic philosophy as well as Islamic art. All forms of art must be created in the light of the Qur‟an and the Tradition of the Prophet. The Qur‟an provides the set of guidelines of Unity while the Prophet provides the manifestation of this Unity into multiplicity and the witness to this Unity in His creation.7 In brief, Islamic art is the result of the manifestation of Unity upon the plane of multiplicity. It reflects in its own idiosyncratic manner the Unity of the Divine Principle - the dependence of all multiplicity upon the One-Allah (God). This art manifests itself in the substantial order in a straight line perceivable by the senses and the archetypical realities and acts, and as a result, it is a hierarchy for the expedition of the soul from the audio-visual world to the world of Silence and Invisible one.