Islamic Studies Islamic Aesthetics
by
Valerie Gonzalez
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 June 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0228

Introduction

The broad subject of Islamic aesthetics covers several subtopics that correspond to the multiple intellectual fields and media variably concerned with artistic thought and creation, and with the conception, expression, and experience of beauty in Islam. However, if the concept of beauty may be part of aesthetics, it does not necessarily define it. In Islam, as in any other context, aesthetics presents a twofold aspect, conceptual-theoretical and material-practical. In the applied domain of art, aesthetics refers to the philosophical-metaphysical underpinnings of a work’s conceptualization as well as its phenomenological-physical attributes. In the domain of pure thought, aesthetics elaborates about sensory perception and cognition, and about the capacity of both cultural and natural things’ perceptual qualities to prompt phenomena of consciousness and psychic experience. In Islam, traditionally, both theoretical and artistic aesthetics were informed in one way or another by concepts related to the faith-based metaphysics or mode of world-apprehension (a unique incommensurable God, his final aural revelation to humankind, his signs, ayat, perceptible in the phenomenal world). These concepts and the processes by which they constituted and instituted aesthetics form the complex material to delve in for its study. However, the historians of the arts in Islam contest or question these very notions of “Islamic aesthetics” or “Islamic art,” as in Hamdouni Alami 2011, Grabar 2006, and Leaman 2004 (all cited under Islamic Visual Aesthetics); and in Flood 2007, Daftari 2006, and Ernst 2005 (all under Islamic Aesthetics in Contemporary Art), and. Not all the different subfields forming the broad domain of Islamic aesthetics studies have advanced at the same pace. While the scholarship has been massively productive in the area of verbal and textual expression, visual and artistic aesthetics has, in comparison, received less attention. Within the discipline called “Islamic art history” of which it is in principle a branch, aesthetics appears characteristically understudied. This epistemic asymmetry is addressed in Leaman 2004 and Gonzalez 2015 (both cited under Islamic Visual Aesthetics), although both authors expose the problem with sensibly different arguments. Three main subcategories structure this bibliography: religious aesthetics based on the Qurʾan (Qurʾanic Aesthetics); Theoretical Aesthetics in Islamic philosophy, literature, poetry and sciences; and aesthetics in Islamic artistic creation, or what one might call “Artistic Aesthetics.” A short section deals with Islamic Aesthetics in Contemporary Art, although this topic constitutes a separate episteme requiring different parameters of knowledge. By no means complete, this section is only meant to acknowledge an emerging scholarship that crosses the border between Islamic art history and contemporary art criticism. Students and scholars interested this complex topic of the Islamic dimensions in global art today ought to seek additional resources in this distinct domain of contemporary art criticism where, as general rule, the denominations “Islamic” or “Islam” are replaced by geocultural or national appellations such as “the Middle East” or “North Africa,” “Pakistan,” or “Arab world,” as in Naef 2003 and Shabout 2007 (both under Islamic Aesthetics in Contemporary Art). About the academic literature on Islamic aesthetics in Arabic, Turkish, and Persian languages, only one quarterly in Persian, Kimiya-ye-Honar: The Quarterly Periodical of the Advanced Research Institute of the Arts, is cited in the section Theoretical Aesthetics in Islamic Philosophy. However, some authors here mentioned have explored this scholarly production and can constitute an alternative resource, such as Doris Behrens-Abouseif (see Behrens-Abouseif 1999, under Aesthetics in the Qurʾan).

Qurʾanic Aesthetics

As textual construction of divine origin according to Islam, the Qurʾan possesses unique aesthetic qualities. The subject of the Qurʾanic literary aesthetic overlaps that of the linguistic styles employed in the Islamic scripture belonging to the consummate and prolific field of Arabic and religious studies. Here a limited selection of citations suffices to cover this well-known aspect of Qurʾanic aesthetics, also denominated “the beauty of the Qurʾan.” But the holy book also conveys an aesthetic content about art and visuality that is, however, much less studied. This content does not appear under the form of an explanatory commentary or doctrine. Mixed with the religious semantic and often expressed by means of metaphors and parables, to be unraveled it requires a specialized investigation on the threefold front of the exegetical analysis of primary sources, the hermeneutic of Islamic visuality, and aesthetic theory (mainly modern and contemporary Western theory). A last aspect of Qurʾanic aesthetics concerns the Qurʾan as physical object, a book that went through processes of embellishment so as to provide it with the high status of an enjoyable perceptual aesthetic entity. While Qurʾanic book art belongs more specifically to the category of artistic aesthetics, for the purpose of clarity it is placed in the section dedicated to the Qurʾan.

The Qurʾan’s Literary Aesthetic

In Islam the Qurʾan embodies literary perfection. It made its Arabic linguistic form a paradigm of rhetoric and verbal expression. As told in many suras (chapters), the Qurʾan is a clear and luminous message whose sublime textual construct is inimitable (see, for example, Qurʾan 2:23; 3:7, 13, 184; 5:15; 11:6; or 35:35). To approach the Qurʾanic literary aesthetic, one may consult works such as Boisliveau 2014, focusing on the textual feature of self-presentation; Boullata 2009, bringing forth the articulation of linguistic means and semantic ends, Hoffmann 2007, analyzing the poetic qualities of the Qurʾan, and Gwynne 2004, examining the duality logic/rhetoric. Abdel Haleem 2001 and Rippin 2001 offer broader studies on the Qurʾanic literary structures and styles, while Cuypers 2000 target specific suras. Langhade 1994 examines the phenomenon of the formation of an Arabic linguistic expression based on the Qurʾan and used in medieval philosophy.

  • Abdel Haleem, Muhammad. Understanding the Qurʾan: Themes and Styles. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2001.

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    Another useful book that helps comprehend concisely the Qurʾan’s literary organization and verbal forms.

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    • Boisliveau, Anne-Sylvie. Le Coran par lui-même: Vocabulaire et argumentation du discours coranique autoréférentiel. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2014.

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      This valuable book is the most recent and perhaps more thorough among a series of known works that investigate the construction of the Qurʾan’s own image through the literary patterns of self-referentiality and self-definition found within the text itself. Only available in French.

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      • Boullata, Issa J., ed. Literary Structures of Religious Meaning in the Qurʾan. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

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        The literary devices and strategies the Qurʾanic text uses to produce meaning are examined in this impressive collective volume that also deals with the aesthetic perception of the Qurʾan’s form and content. Excellent tool to understand the holy book of Islam’s semantic system and linguistic aesthetics.

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        • Cuypers, Michel. “Structures rhétoriques des sourates 92 à 98.” Annales Islamologiques 34 (2000): 95–138.

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          Another famous expert in Islamic studies, Cuypers offers, in French, a useful technical analysis of the rhetorical devices in the Qurʾan, organized in two coextensive articles covering two series of suras (see also “Structures rhétoriques des sourates 85 à 90.” Annales Islamologiques 35 (2001): 27–100).

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          • Gwynne, Rosalind W. Logic, Rhetoric and Legal Reasoning in the Qurʾan. London and New York: Routledge, Curzon, 2004.

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            Contributing to the Qurʾan’s quality of clarity and communicative property are its devices of logic and rhetoric. This book offers valuable insights on this aspect of the Qurʾanic aesthetic complexity.

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            • Hoffmann, Thomas. The Poetic Qurʾan: Studies on Qurʾanic Poeticity. Wiesbaden, Germany: Otto Harrassovitz, 2007.

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              As an essential aesthetic trait of the Qurʾan, poetry constitutes the focus of this dimensional study. It illuminates another component of the Islamic scripture’s literary ipseity.

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              • Langhade, Jacques. Du Coran à la philosophie: La langue Arabe et la formation du vocabulaire philosophique de Farabi. Damascus, Syria: Institut Français de Damas, 1994.

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                This important book explores the formation of the linguistic Qurʾanic model that informed the modalities of philosophical writing in medieval Islam. The key role of Farabi in the process is skillfully illuminated. Only available in French.

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                • Rippin, Andrew. The Qurʾan: Styles and Contents. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Variorum, 2001.

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                  One of the numerous works on the holy book of Islam by this reputed scholar, this big volume provides a comprehensive study of the Qurʾan as text. Excellent resource for anyone interested in Qurʾanic verbal aesthetics.

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                  Aesthetics in the Qurʾan

                  Although aesthetic thought and constructs on art, architecture, and visuality in the Qurʾan are substantial, for example in the descriptions of the seven heavens, Solomon’s palace, and Paradise, they have not received the critical attention they deserve. This subfield remains a work in progress. While Elias 2012, Natif 2011, and Ghabin 1998 address the fundamental question of the doctrine of art in the Qurʾan, Kahwaji 1986 and Ward 2001 provide the necessary basic tools of encyclopedia entries. Behrens-Abouseif 1999 uses the religious issue only as the starting point of an extensive book on beauty. Gonzalez 2001 proposes a full-length book dedicated to aesthetic thought in the Qurʾan.

                  • Behrens-Abouseif, Doris. Beauty in Arabic Culture. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 1999.

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                    This work has the great merit of providing a thematically organized and exhaustive survey of Arabic textual and artistic forms conveying a certain conception of beauty, including Qurʾanic and other religious sources. It constitutes an excellent bibliographical tool.

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                    • Elias, Jamal. Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception, and Practice in Islam. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.

                      DOI: 10.4159/harvard.9780674067394Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      Mixing religious, anthropological, and social reflections on the doctrinal issues underpinning artistic creation in Islam, this superb book offers critical material that helps understand the aesthetic orientations characterizing Islamic creative practices, in particular ethical complexities such as iconoclasm and the status of the artist.

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                      • Ghabin, Ahmad Y. “The Qurʾanic Verses as a Source for Legitimacy or Illegitimacy of the Arts in Islam.” Der Islam 75 (1998): 193–225.

                        DOI: 10.1515/islm.1998.75.2.193Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        This landmark essay posits the Qurʾan as a rich source to delve in for the purpose of understanding the Islamic attitude toward the arts, notably the question of figurative representation.

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                        • Gonzalez, Valerie. Le Piège de Salomon: La Pensée de l’Art dans le Coran. Paris: Albin Michel, 2001.

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                          This book consists of an exegesis of Qurʾan 27:44 that evokes visual art and architecture. It combines traditional textual analysis based on period texts with modern and contemporary art theory and aesthetic philosophy. Only available in French.

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                          • Kahwaji, S. “ʿIlm al-jamāl.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2d ed. Vol. 3. Edited by B. Lewis, V. L. Ménage, Ch. Pellat and J. Schacht, 1162–1163. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1986.

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                            Although not limited to the Qurʾanic source, this entry offers an introduction to the faith and ethics-based aspects of the trope of beauty in Islam.

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                            • Natif, Mika. “The Painter’s Breath and Concepts of Idol Anxiety in Islamic Art.” In Idol Anxiety. Edited by Josh Ellenbogen and Aaron Tugendhaft, 41–55. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.

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                              An excellent analysis of the doctrinal problem related to the approach to figurative representation in Islam at the core of the questioning about Islamic aesthetics. Published in a very useful volume relevantly thematizing the issue of idol anxiety in a transcultural perspective.

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                              • Ward, Rosalind Gwynne. “Beauty.” In Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾan. Vol. 1. Edited by Jane Dammen McAuliffe, 212–214. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2001.

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                                This entry provides a good overview of the terminology and meanings given to the concept of beauty in the Qurʾan.

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                                The Qurʾanic Book’s Visual Aesthetic

                                In this list, the citations belong to the field of traditional Islamic art history. They form a pool of basic resources on Qurʾanic book art that may serve a more critical-aesthetic study in support of a philosophical argument on logocentrism as a shaping feature of “Islamic culture,” understood here not as an essentializing denomination but as the metaphysical definition of a cultural product springing from a faith-based mode of world apprehension. While Suleman 2007 and Blair 2006 offer a useful panorama of the art of calligraphy inspired by the Qurʾan, Blair 1998 gives a brief account of the technicalities implicated in this art. Bayani, et al. 1999 and Déroche 1992 explore the Qurʾans of the Khalili Collection, and Déroche 1992 those of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. Bloom 1989 and Bloom 1986 focus on the famous blue Qurʾans of the Abbassid era.

                                • Bayani, Manijeh, Anna Contadini, and Tim Stanley. The Decorated Word: Qurʾans of the 17th to 19th Centuries. 2 vols. Nasser Khalili Collection of Islamic Art IV. New York: Nour Foundation, 1999.

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                                  With great photographs enabling get a concrete sense of Qurʾanic book art, this critical catalogue of the Khalili Collection provides a good resource to study the phenomenology of the Qurʾan as object of aesthetic experience. Published in association with Azimuth Editions and Oxford University Press.

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                                  • Blair, Sheila S. “Ornamentation and Illumination.” In Encyplopaedia of Islam. Vol. 5. 2d ed. Edited by C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, B. Lewis and Ch. Pellat, 558–559. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1998.

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                                    Provides the basic and necessary information about the techniques and materials employed to turn books into art forms and precious objects in Islam.

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                                    • Blair, Sheila S. Islamic Calligraphy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006.

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                                      This is a very useful manual comprehensively surveying the forms and contexts of instances of calligraphy in Islam. It clearly shows the centrality of the sacred art of copying the Qurʾan and making it a beautiful book that led to the practice of writing its verses on both artworks and architecture.

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                                      • Bloom, Jonathan M. “Al-Ma’mun’s Blue Koran?” Revue des études Islamiques 54 (1986): 59–65.

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                                        Another art-historical case study of one of the rare magnificent Qurʾans of the Abbassid period, written with gold ink on blue paper.

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                                        • Bloom, Jonathan M. “The Blue Koran: An Early Fatimid Kufic Manuscript from the Maghrib.” In Les manuscripts du Moyen Orient: Essais de codicologie et de paléographie: Actes du colloque d’Istanbul. Edited by François Déroche, 95–99. Istanbul and Paris: Institut Français d’Études Anatoliennes, 1989.

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                                          A case study of a rare blue Fatimid Qurʾan from North Africa.

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                                          • Déroche, François, ed. Les manuscripts du Coran, aux origines de la calligraphie coranique. Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1983.

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                                            Catalogue. An art-historical overview of the art of Qurʾanic calligraphy based on the important manuscript collection in Paris’s National Library.

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                                            • Déroche, François. The Abbassid Tradition: Qurʾans of the 8th to the 10th Centuries AD. Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art I. New York: Nour Foundation, 1992.

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                                              A study of medieval Qurʾanic book art among the many valuable works on Islamic manuscripts by this reputed French codicologist. Published in association with Azimuth Editions and Oxford University Press.

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                                              • Suleman, Fahmida, ed. Word of God, Art of Man: The Qurʾan and its Creative Expressions; Selected Proceedings from the International Colloquium, London, 18–21 October 2003. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                                This beautifully illustrated volume gathers articles by a cluster of experts that explore the art of calligraphy based on the Qurʾan in terms of both form and content. It underlines the multidirectional impact on artistic creation of the Islamic scripture as both divine message and formal paradigm, situating writing at the center of cultural and aesthetic expression in Islam.

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                                                Theoretical Aesthetics

                                                Given the logocentric nature of the Islamic cultures and their rich written production, theoretical aesthetics has been a center of scholarly attraction. But again, there are differences of treatment when it comes to the detail of subfields. As general rule, literary and poetic aesthetics have been studied more thoroughly and with a more consummate and reliable methodology than philosophical aesthetics. Islamic theoretical aesthetics can be divided into three themes: philosophy; literature, including poetry; and science—although they necessarily overlap, as most of the primary material comes from the medieval period. The aesthetics of literature and poetry in the Islamic worlds forms an entire specialized field within the vast realm of literary studies, and therefore it cannot be exhaustively covered in this bibliography. For this practical reason, only a small selection is provided.

                                                Theoretical Aesthetics in Islamic Philosophy

                                                Many works on Islamic aesthetic philosophy do not appear in the list below because they do not meet the criteria of rigor usually required for philosophical analysis. One article cited, Kazemi 2003, delivers interesting ideas but is to be read with critical caution because of its loose use of concepts—a methodological issue one may encounter and must be aware of when dealing with Islamic aesthetics. The superlative work Puerta Vílchez 1997 stands out owing to its methodological excellence, depth of reasoning, and the scope of the material observed. Kemal 1996 was the first work to delineate this topic of study with general conceptual contours. Black 1998 gave it a broader visibility in the form of an encyclopedia entry. The first historical philosophical sources that received major attention are Ghazali’s famous treatises on beauty, translated in English in al-Ghazali 1992 and analyzed in Ettinghausen 1981, to which Hillenbrand 1994 is largely indebted. Bell 1979 offers one of the first remarkable essays on Islamic theology that refers to the double theme of love and beauty. With its large scope of material observed, the Iranian quarterly Kimiya-ye-Honar: The Quarterly Periodical of the Advanced Research Institute of the Arts allows placing Islamic aesthetics in a global perspective.

                                                • Bell, Joseph N. Love Theory in Later Hanbalite Islam. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1979.

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                                                  A dated but still relevant and important study that, based on a selection of representative texts by Hanbalite theologians, explores the intertwined tropes of divine and human love, beauty, and vision in Islamic thought.

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                                                  • Black, Deborah L. “Aesthetics in Islamic Philosophy.” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward Craig, I., 75–79. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.

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                                                    This article again surveys the main Muslim thinkers mentioned above who engaged in the tradition of philosophical discourse on beauty.

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                                                    • Ettinghausen, Richard. “Al-Ghazali on Beauty.” In Fine Arts in Islamic Civilization. Edited by Muhammad Abdul Jabbar Beg, 21–31. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaysia Press, 1981.

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                                                      One of the very first essays on Islamic aesthetics to focus on the concept of beauty according to al-Ghazali’s religious and ethical vision.

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                                                      • al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid. The Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God: Al-Maqsad al-Asna fi Sharh Asmaʾ Allah al-Husna. Translated with notes by David B. Burrell and Nazih Daher. Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 1992.

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                                                        Valuable English translation of a medieval primary source that is fundamental to understand what could be called “an aesthetic of the divine” in Islam.

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                                                        • Hillenbrand, Carole. “Some Aspects of al-Ghazali’s Views on Beauty.” In Gott ist schön und Er liebt die Schönheit (God is Beautiful and He Loves Beauty). Edited by Alma Giese and Christoph Bürgel, 249–267. Berlin: Peter Lang, 1994.

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                                                          A reflection on al-Ghazali’s religious and ethical approach to beauty based on previous works on the subject.

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                                                          • Kazemi, Reza-Shah. “Divine Beatitude: Supreme Archetype of Aesthetic Experience.” In Seeing God Everywhere. Edited by Barry McDonald, 215–226. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2003.

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                                                            This article rightly argues about the spiritual essence of aesthetic experience and the paradoxes generated by experiencing material beauty in Islam. Useful and stimulating if consulted with a methodological knowledge-based critical lucidity.

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                                                            • Kemal, Salim. “Aesthetics.” In History of Islamic Philosophy. Vol. 2. Edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Oliver Leaman, 969–979. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.

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                                                              A useful overview of the topic of aesthetics as an element of Islamic philosophy, this essay surveys the main medieval thinkers who dealt with the concept of beauty, such as Ibn al-Haytham, Ibn Hazm or Ibn Rushd, and the pleiade of Sufi and Neoplatonic philosophers such as Ibn ʿArabi and the Brethen of Purity.

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                                                              • Kimiya-ye-Honar: The Quarterly Periodical of the Advanced Research Institute of the Arts.

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                                                                Published in Persian with abstracts in English, this excellent transcultural journal deals with aesthetics and art in general, but it also includes the study of Persian and Islamic aesthetics. It has the great merit of investigating both local and global aesthetic preoccupations as well as observing material of both the past and today.

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                                                                • Puerta Vílchez, José Miguel. Historia del pensamiento estético árabe: Al-Andalus y la estética árabe clásica. Madrid: Ediciones Akal, 1997.

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                                                                  This is a pioneer and so far unequaled work on theoretical aesthetics in medieval Islam. With an impeccable methodology, the author brings to light the existence of an elaborate Islamic aesthetic thought in the Middle Ages. In Spanish only, with original texts’ excerpts in Arabic.

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                                                                  Theoretical Aesthetics in and on Literature and Poetry in Islam

                                                                  This rich subfield deals with a very wide range of texts, as Mestyan 2011 shows. Likewise, Veselý 2008 provides interesting insights on literature, poetry, and music, but the essay’s section critiquing visual aesthetics remains highly subjective. Puerta Vílchez 2001, O’Kane 1992, and Rubiera Mata 1988 examine Islamic aesthetics conveyed in texts that are related to or combined with visual art. Strictly confined to the domain of literature and poetry are Zargar 2011, focusing on Sufism, Scott Meisami 2011, and Abu Deeb 1979, which made accessible al-Jurjani’s fundamental treatise on metaphor, thanks to the English translation.

                                                                  • Abu Deeb, Kamal. Al-Jurjani’s Theory of Poetic Imagery. London: Aris and Phillips, 1979.

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                                                                    An utterly useful translation and critical study of the founding literary critics of the Abbasid era. This fundamental book primarily examines al-Jurjani’s theory on metaphor, but also linguistic and poetic elaborations by other chief contributors to literary aesthetics in medieval Islam.

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                                                                    • Mestyan, Adam. “Arabic Lexicography and European Aesthetics: the Origin of Fann.” Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Cultures of the Islamic World 28 (2011): 69–100.

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                                                                      An information-packed philological, historical, and semantic analysis of the Arabic term for art, fann. Approaching texts from the medieval to the contemporary era, this article observes the shifts in the perception and meaning of the art concept in variegated cultural areas of Islam. The interpretive work pertinently takes into account the backdrop formed by European aesthetics. Some interpretations are, however, quite debatable.

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                                                                      • O’Kane, Bernard. “Poetry, Geometry and the Arabesque: Notes on Timurid Aesthetics.” Annales Islamologiques 26 (1992): 63–78.

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                                                                        A first attempt to define Timurid aesthetics’ main traits through the exploration of textual and visual modes of expression in the particular cultural area and era of the Timurid dynasty.

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                                                                        • Puerta Vílchez, José Miguel. “El Vocabulario Estético de los Peomas de la Alhambra.” In Pensar la Alhambra. Edited by José Antonio González and Antonio Malpica Cuello, 69–88. Barcelona: Anthropos Editorial, 2001.

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                                                                          Exegesis of the poetic language in the Alhambra’s epigraphy, aiming to expose its conjunctivity with the architectural visuality. A helpful text to start with for exploring the complex duality of textuality and visuality in Islamic architectural aesthetics.

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                                                                          • Rubiera Mata, María Jesús. La arquitectura en la literatura Árabe, datos para una estética del placer. Madrid: Hiperión, 1988.

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                                                                            Pioneering and extremely informative presentation of the primary Arabic sources, addressing both historical and imaginary palatine constructions in medieval Islam. From these sources Rubiera detects what she designates “an aesthetic of pleasure.” In Spanish only, but provides translations of excerpts from original Arabic texts.

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                                                                            • Scott Meisami, Julie. Structure and Meaning in Medieval Arabic and Persian Lyric Poetry: Orient Pearls. Culture and Civilization in the Middle East. London and New York: Routledge, 2011.

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                                                                              An excellent comprehensive comparative study of poetic aesthetics and compositional strategies in Arabic and Persian poetry from the medieval period to the present.

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                                                                              • Veselý, Rudolf. “When Is It Possible to Call Something Beautiful?: Some Observations about Aesthetics in Islamic Literature and Art.” Mamluk Studies Review 12.2(2008): 223–229.

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                                                                                This essay provides an interesting philological exploration of original texts dealing with musical art, poetry, and literature. But its unsteady arguments about Islamic visual aesthetics, even containing some errors, makes it a resource to approach selectively and critically.

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                                                                                • Zargar, Ali Cyrus. Sufi Aesthetics: Beauty, Love, and the Human Form in Ibn ʿArabī and ʿIraqi. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2011.

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                                                                                  Through an exploration of Sufi love poetry, Zargar deciphers the complex reflexivity between divine and human beauty, thus contouring Sufi literary aesthetics. Excellent contribution to Sufi studies and Sufi aesthetics.

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                                                                                  Aesthetics in Islamic Sciences

                                                                                  In Islam, as in the West, the science of optics supported theories of vision central to aesthetics in general, and mathematics supported the elaboration of designs that determined architectural aesthetics in particular. Science is therefore an important component of the trope of Islamic aesthetics. el-Bizri 2010, Belting 2010, and, long before them, Linberg 1976 put the history of vision in trancultural perspective, with el-Bizri and Belting narrowing the argument to the Renaissance period. Sabra 1978 and Ibn al-Haytham 1989 enlighten the contribution to both optics and aesthetics of Ibn al-Haytham, the exceptional polymath of medieval Islam. Lu and Steinhardt 2007, Bier 2006, Bier 2005, Özdural 1995, and el-Said and Parman 1976 evidence with scientific demonstrations the mathematical basis of geometry in Islamic art and architecture. Broug 2013 shows the variegated Islamic geometric structures in an art historical perspective.

                                                                                  • Belting, Hans. “Afterthoughts on Alhazen’s Visual Theory and its Presence in the Pictorial Theory of Western Perspective.” In Variantology 4: On Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies in the Arabic-Islamic World and Beyond. Edited by Seigfried Zielinski and Eckhard Furlus, 43–52. Cologne: Walther König, 2010.

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                                                                                    Ibn al-Haytham’s theory is examined from the viewpoint of its influence on European ideas about vision and perspective and its impact on figurative representation in the West, for too long underestimated by the scholarship. Thus, this essay also underlines the tight relationship between science and art in a transcultural perspective.

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                                                                                    • Bier, Carol. “Pattern Power: Textiles and the Transmission of Mathematical Knowledge.” In Appropriation, Acculturation, Transformation: Textile Society of American 9th Biennial Symposium 2004. Edited by Carol Bier, 144–153. Madison, WI: Textile Society of America, 2005.

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                                                                                      In this essay, Bier unravels the mathematical roots of textile art’s pragmatics and the scientific order that organizes the pattern aesthetic that characterizes it.

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                                                                                      • Bier, Carol. “Number, Shape and the Nature of Space: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Geometry in Islamic Art.” In How Should We Talk about Religion?: Perspectives, Contexts, Particularities. Edited By James Boyd White, 246–277. Notre Dame, IN: Erasmus Institute Books, 2006.

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                                                                                        Among Bier’s numerous remarkable works on the intertwinement between mathematics, geometry, and pattern art in Islam, this essay endeavors to shed light on the scientific ontology of the Islamic art of geometric abstraction.

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                                                                                        • el-Bizri, Nader. “Classical Optics and the Perspectiva Traditions Leading to the Renaissance.” In Renaissance Theories of Vision. Edited by Charles Carman and John Hendrix, 11–30. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2010.

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                                                                                          This chapter appropriates previous scholars’ findings about optics in medieval Islam to explore this science’s bearing on Islamic visual aesthetics. It also places these findings in the broader context of the rise of theories of vision in the early modern period.

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                                                                                          • Broug, Eric. Islamic Geometric Design. London: Thames and Hudson, 2013.

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                                                                                            Beautifully illustrated and well presented, this book examines the tradition of geometric design in Islam with a mixed approach—scientific and art-historical. The Alhambra, with its expansive system of shapes and lineaments, constitutes one of the most important examples of mathematical application in Islamic visual aesthetics.

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                                                                                            • Ibn al-Haytham. The Optics of Ibn al-Haytham. 2 vols. Translated and edited by Abdelhamid I. Sabra. London: Warburgh Institute, University of London, 1989.

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                                                                                              This is an essential primary source on optics, theory of proportion, and visual beauty in medieval Islam, translated by a reputed scholar who extensively studied the famous thinker and scientist who worked in Fatimid Egypt.

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                                                                                              • Linberg, David C. Theories of Vision, from al-Kindi to Kepler. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976.

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                                                                                                This is one of the seminal books that remain indispensable even as time passes and knowledge grows. The theme of vision is masterfully investigated in the transcultural light of the chief historical contributions to science from the Middle Ages to the modern period. Medieval Muslim scientists naturally occupy a fundamental place in this book.

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                                                                                                • Lu, Peter J., and Steinhardt. “Decagonal and Quasicrystalline Tilings in Medieval Islamic Architecture.” Science 315 (February 2007): 1106–1110.

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                                                                                                  This article by physicists from Harvard and Princeton examines with the utmost mathematical precision the most complex geometry in Islamic architecture. It unravels the utter structural complexity of Islamic geometric aesthetic found in historic Iranian buildings.

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                                                                                                  • Özdural, Alpay. “Omar Khayyam, Mathematicians, and ‘Conversazioni’ with Artisans.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 1 (March 1995): 54–71

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                                                                                                    The well-known historian of science investigates the process of knowledge transfer between mathematical theory and artistic practice, with a focus on the celebrated figure of the medieval Persian poet-mathematician Omar Khayyam.

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                                                                                                    • Sabra, Abdelhamid I. “Sensation and Inference in Alhazen’s Theory of Perceptual Vision.” In Studies in Perception: Interrelations in the History of Philosophy and Science. Edited by Peter K. Machamer and Robert G. Turnbull, 160–185. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1978.

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                                                                                                      Another of Sabra’s decisive works on the phenomenology of perception according to Ibn al-Haytham, upon which the medieval polymath premised his own aesthetic philosophy of perceptual beauty.

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                                                                                                      • el-Said, Issam, and Ayșe Parman. Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art. London: World of Islam Festival Publishing Company, 1976.

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                                                                                                        This beautifully illustrated book offered for the first time a scientific study of the geometric designs in Islamic architectural decoration. It contains useful diagrams demonstrating the mathematical structures of these designs.

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                                                                                                        Artistic Aesthetics

                                                                                                        Overall, artistic aesthetics can be considered the most elusive subcategory of the generic trope of Islamic aesthetics. More precisely, within this subcategory itself, visual aesthetics is the most subject to conflicting interpretations and debates, while the studies on aesthetic of sound and music present much more logical cohesion in their findings. Moreover, the scholarship on traditional Islamic visual arts suffers from methodological problems when it comes to aesthetic analysis and its conceptual rules and logic. Disagreements or opposed views form a dominant pattern subtended by an acute epistemological issue: a strong dichotomy instead of the desirable complementarity between aesthetics and art history. As in contemporary art, this dichotomy has no validity; to be sustainable the inquiry on creative practices by living artists integrating references to Islamic aesthetics requires an interdisciplinary knowledge in art history as well as a minimal understanding of the modalities of the contemporary art production and market in today’s global context. This requirement poses a challenge for an emerging field in the process of building its own adequate conceptual framework. This subtopic of contemporary creation could be called “the Islamic dimensions and references in contemporary art.” Taking into account these various problems, the three lists below only retain the publications that present a clear aesthetic interpretation, understood in differentiation from the art-historical archaeology and context-based interpretation.

                                                                                                        Islamic Visual Aesthetics

                                                                                                        Only a limited number of scholars have turned the study of Islamic aesthetics into a systematic research implementing a suitable aesthetic methodology. Nevertheless, there exists a good number of studies that, without being flawless at the level of aesthetic hermeneutic itself, do deliver highly valuable intuitions and propositions that future better-equipped researchers could promisingly explore and draw from to enable the field of Islamic aesthetic studies to thrive. Grabar 1992 and Grabar 2006 paved the way with unprecedented ideas, notably the transcultural perspective set up in Grabar’s work on ornament. Grabar’s work was followed by Necipoğlu 2007 and Necipoğlu 1995, which considerably advanced the semiotic and contextual-cultural analysis of Islamic geometric art. In parallel, a trend was formed by Nasr 1997 and Ardalan and Bakhtiar 2000, which promoted the idea of an inseparability between Islamic aesthetics and spirituality, more specifically claiming a Sufi linkage between the two. Gonzalez 2001 and Gonzalez 2015 developed an interdisciplinary method of inquiry by applying modern and contemporary art theory and aesthetic philosophy to the study of Islamic visual forms and visuality. Hamdouni Alami 2011 proposed a viewpoint informed by the author’s architectural practice and training, while Leaman 2004 delivers the philosopher’s critical thoughts about the academic treatment of the arts and aesthetics in Islam. The collective volume Necipoğlu 2016 focuses on the study of a medieval manuscript and its geometric art. Finally, some highly ipseitic aspects of Islamic visual aesthetics have received insightful attention, with Allen 1988 discussing aniconism, Barry 2004 reflecting upon figuration in medieval painting, and Marks 2010 connecting the development of abstract visuality to global contemporary digital art.

                                                                                                        • Allen, Terry. “Aniconism and Figural Representation in Islamic Art.” In Five Essays on Islamic Art. 17–37. Sebastopol, CA: Solipsist, 1988.

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                                                                                                          An in-depth and still valuable hermeneutic precedent to the more recent studies on the dialectic between figuration and aniconism in Islamic art. The whole collection of essays in this book by Allen remains of high interest for those wishing to investigate Islamic visuality.

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                                                                                                          • Ardalan, Nader and Laleh Bakhtiar. The Sense of Unity: The Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture. Chicago: Kazi, 2000.

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                                                                                                            Following the spiritual trend in Islamic art history created in the eighties and advanced by Nasr 1997, this contribution re-explores the theme of Sufism in the visual expression of Islam through the example of Persian architecture. Yet, the link between Sufi practices and visuality is not always verifiable, often claimed through pure interpretation.

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                                                                                                            • Barry, Michael. Figurative Art in Medieval Islam and the Riddle of Bihzâd of Heart. Paris: Flammarion, 2004.

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                                                                                                              Although more in the art-historical vein and particularly involved in iconology, this book delivers some views about what can be called “the figurative aesthetic” in Islam. The paradigmatic figure of Behzad in the pictorial practice in the Islamic world is in this book a case in point.

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                                                                                                              • Gonzalez, Valerie. Beauty and Islam: Aesthetics in Islamic Art and Architecture. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2001.

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                                                                                                                This collection of essays concerns period texts and variegated Islamic art forms with a focus on the Alhambra. It implements, in updating it with the method of analytical aesthetics, the transcultural approach Grabar had inaugurated in The Mediation of Ornament (Grabar 1992), notably the comparative study with Western art.

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                                                                                                                • Gonzalez, Valerie. Aesthetic Hybridity in Mughal Painting, 1526–1658. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2015.

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                                                                                                                  This two-part book addresses crucial epistemological and methodological questions related to the study of Islamic aesthetics, both in general and in particular, with a case study of Persianate painting and the trope of pictorial hybridity in Mughal India. It proposes a hermeneutic of pictorial aesthetics in medieval and early modern Iran and India, with the aid of a wide range of interdisciplinary critical tools, from phenomenology to linguistics, literary criticism, and art theory.

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                                                                                                                  • Grabar, Oleg. The Mediation of Ornament. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                    In this landmark contribution, Grabar proposed an interpretation of ornamental aesthetics in Islam, which he placed in a transcultural perspective when such a broader view was not a currency in the scholarship. Although the book’s main thesis positing ornament as an intermediary between the viewer and the artwork needs to be critically revisited, it constitutes a fundamental reference.

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                                                                                                                    • Grabar, Oleg. Islamic Visual Culture, 1100–1800. Vol. 2 of Constructing the Study of Islamic Art. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2006.

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                                                                                                                      This volume is part of a series of three in which the famous art historian gathered his life contributions to the field of Islamic art studies. Volume 2 assembles all his ideas on visuality and aesthetics in Islam, in particular on pictorial aesthetics, upon which he was the first art historian to confer a proper epistemological status. This same volume forms a convenient bibliographical source of Grabar’s numerous pioneering works.

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                                                                                                                      • Hamdouni Alami, Mohammed. Art and Architecture in the Islamic Tradition: Aesthetics, Politics, and Desire in Early Islam. London: I. B. Tauris, 2011.

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                                                                                                                        This book by an architectural practitioner questions the scholarly legacy on the arts in Islam that has defined as “Islamic” and faith-related the nature of non-obviously religious artworks. The arguments, legitimate albeit debatable, represent a certain scholarly current emphasizing the secularization of the discourse on Islamic art. This current has been recently challenged as some scholars reconsider the spiritual dimensions in the arts of Islam.

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                                                                                                                        • Leaman, Oliver. Islamic Aesthetics: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                          This introduction largely consists of a criticism of the Islamic art-historical practice and its conceptual premises. It questions a certain claim that artistic creation in Islam is different from the arts in other cultures and ought to be viewed and understood in the light of its specificity. It also contests the idea of a Sufi or spiritual impact on both the conception and reception of these arts.

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                                                                                                                          • Marks, Laura U. Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2010.

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                                                                                                                            This is a very stimulating reflection on the rise and impact beyond cultural borders of Islamic abstract art by an expert on contemporary art. Intentionally both scientifically rigorous and subjectively projective, it presents some statements and contentions that specialist of Islamic art may find contestable. Yet the researcher in Islamic aesthetics may discern in this book ideas to explore, in particular in the discussions on the capacity of abstraction and ornament to arouse mystic experience.

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                                                                                                                            • Nasr, Sayyed Hossein. Islamic Art and Spirituality. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                              This major book has significantly contributed to emphasize the spiritual in the interpretive discourse on Islamic art. Any hermeneutic pursuit in this direction must integrate this reference and critique it in the light of the evolution of Islamic art history since its publication.

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                                                                                                                              • Necipoğlu, Gülru. The Topkapi Scroll: Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture. With an essay on the geometry of the muqarnas by Mohammad al-Asad. Santa Monica, CA: J. P. Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                This massive volume examines architectural geometry in the light of Islamic aesthetic philosophy. It includes a critique of the Orientalist views of the arabesque. Overall of considerable authority in cultural studies, the book would nevertheless benefit from a critical updating. The hermeneutics of geometric abstraction are wrongly premised upon the idea that figuration representation is more based on sensory perception than abstract art.

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                                                                                                                                • Necipoğlu, Gülru. “L’idée de décor dans les régimes de visualité islamiques.” In Purs Décors? Arts de l’Islam, regards du XIXe siècle: Collections des Arts Décoratifs. Edited by Rémi Labrusse, 10–23. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                  An important essay on an essential component of Islamic visuality, ornament. It deconstructs the Orientalist vision of a purely decorative art of Islam in a collective volume dedicated to the examination of the multiple factors that have constructed the projective interpretations of Islamic artistic aesthetics at the core of Orientalism.

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                                                                                                                                  • Necipoğlu, Gülru, ed. The Arts of Ornamental Geometry: A Persian Compendium on Similar and Complementary Interlocking Figures; A Volume Commemorating Alpay Özdural. Muqarnas Supplements 8. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2016.

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                                                                                                                                    This collective volume, illustrated with digitally produced images and drawings, focuses on the edition and English translation of a medieval Persian manuscript dealing with the practice and technicalities of ornamental geometry in Islam. Importantly, it includes updated unpublished studies by the late scholar Alpay Özdural.

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                                                                                                                                    The Aesthetic of Voice, Sound, and Music in Islam

                                                                                                                                    In Islam, from the spiritual/metaphysical viewpoint, the aesthetic of aurality is more important than the aesthetic of visuality. Reciting the Qurʾan with a melodious voice and performative skills are cultural fundamentals. Kermani 2014 and Nelson 2002 explain this with limpid argumentation. Also part of what can be called “sonic aesthetics” in Islam is the interplay of the sound, structure, and meaning of verbal language, particularly powerful in some Qurʾanic verses, as Sells 1993 demonstrates. For musical aesthetics, see Azadehfar 2014, which provides a sensitive comparison between music and visual forms in Iran, and Shehadi 1995, a unique in-depth survey of philosophies of music in medieval Islam. Neubauer 2002 and Smith 1847 provide valuable textual material for musicology in Islamic culture. Babaie 2001 underscores the image’s function of eloquence in the vocal practice of storytelling and illustrated books in Islam. A focus on music and Islam in Indonesia is brought forth by Harnish and Rasmussen 2011.

                                                                                                                                    • Azadehfar, Mohammad Reza. “Balance and Coherence in Iranian Music and Visual Arts: A Comparative Study.” Gli spazi della musica 3.1 (2014): 32–48.

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                                                                                                                                      An insightful and methodologically impeccable case study of sonic aesthetics in Iran that skillfully and relevantly draws parallels between aurality and visuality in this area of Islam.

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                                                                                                                                      • Babaie, Sussan. “The Sound of the Image/The Image of the Sound.” In Islamic Art and Literature. Edited by Oleg Grabar and Cynthia Robinson, 143–162. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                        An interesting reflection on the relationship between sound and image, and listening and seeing, in the experience of book art in Iran.

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                                                                                                                                        • Harnish David D., and Anne K. Rasmussen, eds. Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                          This fascinating book examines the Islamic religious underpinnings of Indonesian musical practices in the past and present. It sheds light on the features of the traditional versus the modern approach to music, and of the tension and change that shaped the musical activity in the Islamic Indonesian context.

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                                                                                                                                          • Kermani, Navid. God is Beautiful: The Aesthetic Experience of the Quran. Translated from German by Tony Crawford. Malden, MA: Polity, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                            This pioneering book fills a blank in Islamic studies, as it examines comprehensively the Qurʾan as an object of aural experience. The religious aesthetics of aurality in Islam is beautifully evidenced and explained through the analysis of primary sources.

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                                                                                                                                            • Nelson, Kristina. The Art of Reciting the Qurʾan. Cairo, Egypt: American University in Cairo Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                              A well-researched essay on the practice of reciting the Qurʾan, including its technical rules and modalities of rhythmic utterance.

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                                                                                                                                              • Neubauer, Eckhard. “Arabic Writings on Music: Eighth to Nineteenth Centuries.” In The Garland Encyclopaedia of World Music. Vol. 6, The Middle East. Edited by Virginia Danielson, Scott Marcus, and Dwight Reynolds, 363–386. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                Excellent resource that gathers Arabic period texts based on which one may further research on musical aesthetics, from the first centuries of Islam to the modern era.

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                                                                                                                                                • Sells, Michael. “Sound and Meaning in Sūrat al-Qāriʿa.” Arabica 40.3 (November 1993): 403–430.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1163/157005893X00183Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  A precise exploration of the relationship between sound and meaning in some particularly artistic verbal constructs of the Qurʾan involving aesthetic phonological effects and sound-figures.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Shehadi, Fadlou. Philosophies of Music in Medieval Islam. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                    A very important account on the role and meaning of sound and music in Islamic aesthetics. A necessary reference for any research on this topic.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Smith, Eli. “A Treatise on Arab Music, Chiefly from a Work by Mikhāil Meshākah, of Damascus.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 1.3 (1847): 171–217.

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                                                                                                                                                      Introduction to and partial translation of an original text on Modern Arabic music.

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                                                                                                                                                      Islamic Aesthetics in Contemporary Art

                                                                                                                                                      Apart from the unresolved ontological issue of the “Islam” in “Islamic” aesthetic and art, one must bear in mind the fundamental category distinction between traditional Islamic aesthetics in contemporary art and the much broader domain of the art produced today in countries with an Islamic history or by artists with a Muslim heritage, wherever they live. The former constitutes one of the multiple components of the latter, but by no means it engulfs it. In this last section, the citations specifically discuss and offer a variety of viewpoints about the question of traditional Islamic aesthetics in modern and contemporary art, although they naturally also touch upon other dimensions of the representation of Islam on the artistic international scene. Naef 2003, Ali 1997 and Shabout 2007 examine Islamic artistic aesthetics in the 20th-century in relation to history and tradition, while Flood 2007 and Daftari 2006 delve into the ontological, conceptual, and terminological questions the terms “Islam” and “Islamic” raise in the artistic context of Islam of both the past and the present. Bringing in the much needed inputs of the art critic and experts in modernism and artistic contemporaneity in general, Malik 2007, Ernst 2005, and Ferguson 2004 discuss the manner in which the theme of Islam is appropriated or engaged with in modern and contemporary art. Finally, while photography and cinema constitute a full part of contemporary art, references to these artistic forms are not included. The connection with Islamic aesthetics—as defined through the thematization presented in this bibliography—some cinematographic and photographic productions may convey is, however, too loose and remains to be evidenced.

                                                                                                                                                      • Ali, Wijdan. Modern Islamic Art: Development and Continuity. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                        One of the first accounts of the continuities and shifts that shaped the creative appropriation of traditional Islamic visual aesthetics in the 20th century. This account reflects the state of affairs in the period in which it was written, as this artistic practice has evolved considerably since the 1990s.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Daftari, Fereshteh. “Islamic or Not?” In Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking. Edited by Fereshteh Daftari, Orhan Pamuk, and Homi K. Bhabha, 10–27. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                          This article from the catalogue of a group of artists’ show explores the Islamic themes in contemporary artistic practice. It offers a certain viewpoint on the subject that must be placed in perspective with other conceptions of the subject in this emerging field of study.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Ernst, Judith. “The Problem of Islamic Art.” In Muslim Networks from Hajj to Hip Hop. Edited by Miriam Cooke and Bruce B. Lawrence, 107–131. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                            Through a compelling analysis of a selection of contemporary artists and their documented self-definition, the author endeavors to understand the problems raised by the references to Islam in the networked culture of globalization.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Ferguson, Coco. “Islamic Arts at a Crossroads.” Bidoun: Art and Culture of the Middle East 1.2 (Fall 2004): 52–55.

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                                                                                                                                                              This essay discusses the theme of Islam in contemporary art and the articulation between tradition and modernity it implicates, from the viewpoint of a writer art critic.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Flood, Finbarr Barry. “From the Prophet to Postmodernism? New World Orders and the End of Islamic Art.” In Making Art History: A Changing Discipline and its Institutions. Edited by Elizabeth Mansfield, 31–53. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                This very informative essay deals with the contentious concept of Islamic art in historiographical continuity, from its creation in academic literature up to its approaches in the contemporary era. Regarding the contemporary material, the author examines recently held exhibitions that project different conceptualizations of Islamic artistic aesthetics.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Malik, Amna. “Dialogues between ‘Orientalism’ and Modernism in Shirin Neshat’s ‘Women of Allah.’” In Global and Local Art Histories. Edited by Celina Jeffery and Gregory Minissale, 145–169. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                  In the abundant writings on Shirin Neshat, this essay specifically discusses the transcultural interplay between contemporary Muslim representations of Islam and the themes of Orientalism and modernism.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Naef, Silvia. “Reexploring Islamic Art: Modern and Contemporary Creation in the Arab World and its Relation to the Artistic Past.” Res 43 (2003): 163–174.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Naef, a pioneer in the study of modern and contemporary Arab art, on which she has written extensively, investigates the phenomenon of creative continuity of traditional Islamic forms and practices in the Arab world today.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Naef, Silvia. Y a-t-il une “question de l’image” en Islam? Paris: Téraèdre, 2015.

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                                                                                                                                                                      A concise, useful and very clear book that puts in theological and historical perspective the current multiplication of images in the multimedia of Islamic artistic and cultural expression.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Shabout, Nada M. Modern Arab Art: Formation of Arab Aesthetics. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                        This book chronicles the formation of modern Arab art while discerning the aesthetic elements, both traditional and modernist, that characterize it. It constitutes a useful addition to Ali and Naef’s works.

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