The Cat and the Rat: a popular Persian fable – British Library Blog

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Nizami’s works became the model for subsequent romance literature

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Nizami Ganjavi, one of the greatest romantic poets in Persian literature, was born in 1141 in Ganja, modern-day Azerbaijan and lived at a time of intense intellectual activity. Since he was not a court poet, his name does not appear in the records of the dynasties. A prominent poet acquainted with Arabic and Persian literature, he was also learned in mathematics, astronomy, medicine, botany, and the Qur’an.

Manuscript of Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami, dated 1527 Iran (Image: Aga Khan Museum) Manuscript of Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami, dated 1527 Iran (Image: Aga Khan Museum)

Nizami composed qasidas and ghazals, only a small number of which have survived, but is best known for his five long narrative poems which have been preserved in a collection titled Khamsa (The Quintet). Written in masnavi style totalling 30,000 couplets, the Khamsa was a popular subject for lavish manuscripts. Three of the five works –  the romantic tale of Khusrau wa Shirin, the love story of Layla wa Majnun

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Images of Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) By Hussein Rashid

“What does Islam say about images?” It is a question that seeks to understand religion through unitary and static prescriptions.

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Folio from the Majma’ al-tawarikh (Compendium of history) by Hafiz Abru (d.1430); recto: The Birth of Muhammad; verso: text, Wet nurse Halima and her husband, Harith, taking care of infant Muhammad, 1426. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery #F2005.5.

At its core, the question is about what is “Islamic.” Such a question is problematic because a community of believers decides what the religion means. Because human beings are involved, there will be differences. While there are boundaries for who a Muslim is, such as belief in monotheism, the prophethood of Muhammad, and observance of certain ritual and legal obligations, there is a lot more that Muslims believe that is not universally agreed upon, thus generating difference.

The confusion starts because Muhammad played two roles within his community—religious and spiritual authority and policy leader. Like earlier Abrahamic prophets, the combination of the two roles was expected and accepted.

As we move away from the time of Muhammad, he takes on different meanings for different Muslim communities and non-Muslim communities engage with Muhammad’s legacy, as well. We have memories of Muhammad that are preserved and represented in a variety of ways.

More: https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/sacredmatters/2015/04/20/images-of-muhammad/

Images of Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) By Hussein Rashid

introduction

“What does Islam say about images?” It is a question that seeks to understand religion through unitary and static prescriptions.

infant-236x300

Folio from the Majma’ al-tawarikh (Compendium of history) by Hafiz Abru (d.1430); recto: The Birth of Muhammad; verso: text, Wet nurse Halima and her husband, Harith, taking care of infant Muhammad, 1426. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery #F2005.5.

At its core, the question is about what is “Islamic.” Such a question is problematic because a community of believers decides what the religion means. Because human beings are involved, there will be differences. While there are boundaries for who a Muslim is, such as belief in monotheism, the prophethood of Muhammad, and observance of certain ritual and legal obligations, there is a lot more that Muslims believe that is not universally agreed upon, thus generating difference.

The confusion starts because Muhammad played two roles within his community—religious and spiritual authority and policy leader. Like earlier Abrahamic prophets, the combination of the two roles was expected and accepted.

As we move away from the time of Muhammad, he takes on different meanings for different Muslim communities and non-Muslim communities engage with Muhammad’s legacy, as well. We have memories of Muhammad that are preserved and represented in a variety of ways.

More: https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/sacredmatters/2015/04/20/images-of-muhammad/

The Persian art of decorating book covers influenced European styles

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Persian artists  introduced a range of innovative ideas, both technical as well as artistic …

Persian miniature painting  transformed book covering into an elaborate art form.

One of a pair of painted covers. Persia, late 16th century. Private Collection, LondonImage: The Institute of Ismaili Studies One of a pair of lacquer painted covers. Persia, late 16th century. Private Collection, London
Image: The Institute of Ismaili Studies

The art of binding and the protection of scripts are as old as writing itself. The contribution made by Musli craftsmen has been a significant element in the history of this craft and the contribution of Persian craftsmen is particularly important. It was Persian artists who introduced a range of innovative ideas, both technical as well as artistic, and these were to have a profound impact on subsequent bindings and decorative styles. In the earlier period of book production within the Islamic world, book covers were generally decorated in a restrained manner. However, around the sixteenth century, Persia took a lead in artistic…

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