The ‘Islamic Art’ Hoax

via American Thinker: The ‘Islamic Art’ Hoax.

Talking about Islamic art is rather like talking about the art of the Khanates.  The Imperial Kingdom of Genghis Khan was the largest contiguous empire on earth.  But just because different lands and cultures were conquered by Genghis Khan doesn’t mean that there is a significance to grouping their art.  The sphere of power of the Muslim Empire stretched from the borders of China and the Indian subcontinent across Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Sicily, and the Iberian Peninsula, and on to the Pyrenees.  There needs to be a further rationale for calling art collections from lands conquered or subdued by the forces of Islam “Islamic Art.”

Then why all the impetus, which started in earnest some almost a decade ago, for all the “Islamic Art” openings at prestigious museums, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Victoria and Albert Museum in England?  The creation of departments of Islamic art at prestigious universities and museums?  The support of prestigious foundations like Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art?

It is political correctness.

The idea is that the kinder, gentler artistic side of Islam needs to be promoted to disabuse the hopelessly bigoted perception, held by various troglodyte crypto-neo-cons, that Islam is an aggressive, imperialist, expansionist, and repressive “religion.”  But even at the start of the “Islamic Art” movement there were, as we shall see, art critics who doubted that Islam provided the inspiration or the continuity for collections of art from lands under Muslim control.  The push to credit Islam for so-called “Islamic Art” is beginning to look as feeble as the Obama administration’s mandate to the National Aeronautic and Space Administration to showcase the Arab contributions to space exploration.

Writing in 2004, the NYT art critic Souren Melikian had this to say about the ménage of “Islamic Art”:

Refashioning the image of cultures you know precious little about to fit preconceived ideas that suit your purpose is not a good recipe in art history any more than it is in international relations. That is just about what the Western world has been doing for the last hundred years vis-à-vis what it calls “the Islamic world.”

In 2006, as regards contemporary “Islamic Art,” the art critic Holland Cotter, also of NYT, wrote:

By far the most prominent exhibition of contemporary art on the subject yet seen in New York opens today at the Museum of Modern Art. You would never guess that subject, though, from its title – “Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking” – in which the word Islam does not appear.

All but three of the featured artists were born in some part of the so-called Islamic world: Algeria, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine and Turkey. But they all live and work in the West and have made their careers in the mainstream international art scene, which means in Europe and the United States. Despite their Western positioning, they are routinely tagged as Islamic artists by an art world addicted to marketable categories.

Muhammad was no more an art aficionado than was Attila the Hun.  The Islamic hadiths forbid artistic expression from music to dance to painting — other than abstract or “Arabesque” designs.

Muslims believe hadiths to be canonical texts of Islam.  Muslims believe such hadiths to be authentic utterances of the Islamic prophet, therefore to be obeyed.

Ibn ‘Umar reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) having said: Those who paint pictures would be punished on the Day of Resurrection and it would be said to them: Breathe soul into what you have created.  (Sahih Muslim vol.3, no.5268)

This hadith has been reported on the authority of Abu Mu’awiya though another chain of transmitters (and the words are): Verily the most grievously tormented people amongst the denizens [inhabitants] of Hell on the Day of Resurrection would be the painters of pictures[.]  (Sahih Muslim vol.3, no.5271)

Narrated [Muhammad's wife] Aisha: “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘The painter of these pictures will be punished on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be said to them, Make alive what you have created.'”  (Bukhari vol.9, book 93 no.646)

Narrated Aisha: “The Prophet entered upon me while there was a curtain having pictures (of animals) in the house. His face got red with anger, and then he got hold of the curtain and tore it into pieces. The Prophet said, ‘Such people as paint these pictures will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection.'”  (Bukhari vol.8, book 73, no.130)

The PC thesis of “Islamic Art,” promoted presumably in the interest of inter-cultural respect and combating what is seen as the demonization of Islam, has exploded.  We were somehow supposed to accept the meme that he art of the Islamic world was enriched by the influence of Koranic passages extolling art and music and independent scientific investigation, and by contact with Muhammad’s warriors.  It is almost as if we are supposed to believe that whenever the illiterate, nomadic warrior tribes of Islam could take a break from the hard work of expanding Dar al Islam by invading infidel lands and demanding dhimmitude or death for kafirs, they would break out their brushes and pallets and produce great works of art.

“Islamic Art” is taxonomically incoherent and attributively the inverse of reality.  It is all part of the Cordoba myth, which has been masterfully taken apart by Andrew Bostom and others.

17 Responses

  1. This would be interesting if it weren’t so completely factually off base. Right now, today, some of the best art being created anywhere in the world is being created by dissident artists in Muslim countries – especially Iran – and by Muslims living in the West. Cases in point include Shirin Neshat, Lalla Essaydi, and the Haerazideh brothers, whose lives are on the line because of the art that they’ve created. Whatever the question may be about ancient Islamic art (and, duh, it’s called that because of the region from which it comes, not because of its relationship to Islam itself), contemporary art from the region is very real, very good, and is feeding the impulse and fight for freedom in the Muslim world by those who, like the artists, get what it is they’re fighting for. Denouncing that fight, or denying its existence, is just about the dumbest thing the West can do.

    • maybe you wrote a piece about artists who happen to be Muslim and some fight they are waging but there is nothing in the piece above about that, nobody denouncing any artist, nor any denial of the existence of said art… the entire last sentence of your comment suggests you didn’t read the article and clearly there are many dumb things the West is doing and most dumber than the non-existent attack you claim is taking place

    • No, the dumbest thing the West can do right now is to keep believing the multiculturalist the pipe dream that this so-called “Arab Spring” will somehow lead to meaningful reform, freedom, and democracy.

      Get a clue.

    • What about the absurd belief in those hadiths by crazy muslims world wide?

      According to those, all who draw pictures are doomed…!
      What a belief structure…LOL LOL

      The koran, sunna, hadith and reliance of the traveller are manuals on insanity.
      If there was ever a school to instruct human beings on how to become lunatics, these books would be all they would need.

  2. Pretty soon we’ll be hearing that Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Turner, Munch, et al., were actually muslims. Don’t believe me? Abraham and Moses have just recently been declared muslims. (!!!!!)

    • Pete, don’t forget, the Cherokee and Muscogee Creek were turban wearing muslims before Columbus arrived (sarc/off), as some muztards would have us believe, lol.

      • Got it, I remember you and one of our lady bloggers talked about that last year. The muzzturds will stop at nothing while re-writing history, and the worrying thing is, so many of the dhimmi leftist, marxist idiots believe them! I take it all the meat they ate at that time was halal of course? And naturally certain sections of the river were for muslim Cherokee babes only-with curtains of course!

        • Yep, before long, archeologists will discover remains of Choctaw footbaths and the grandaddy of them all, Sequoyah’s seminal work, his Cherokee translation of the quran and the hadith of Sahih Bukhari.

          As you stated above, the dhimmed down leftists would believe this tripe, nevermind Sequoyah’s post-Columbian era. Goodness, they couldn’t let a little discrepancy like that get in the way of subjective, progressive truth now could they?

  3. Oh, and fwiw, the departments of Islamic art go back way longer than a decade ago. Just because most Americans didn’t know what Islam was before 9/11 doesn’t mean that all of us were that ignorant.

    • did you skip the first paragraph? or did you stop at the title?

    • Sadly, some still don’t know what islam is all about. Have you looked in the mirror lately?

    • Islamic art is wholely and solely geometric, and can almost be called an oxymoron. I’m referring to the art found in mosques. The only art attributable to muslims otherwise is found in their excellent carpets-literally the ONLY thing muslims do well.

      I’ve said before, and say it again now for your benefit, islamiccontemporary, muslims are known for their nasty habit of claiming as their own, the achievements of people they over-ran. Wake up and stop being so naiive.

  4. Is Mickey Mouse a Muslim now? Or Zorro? I wouldn’t be surprised.

  5. ‘it’s called that because of the region from which it comes, not because of its relationship to Islam itself’

    Hoisted by your own petard here, my friend.

    You do seem to have a problem with comprehension despite your self acknowledged lofty talk.

    You defend ‘Islamic art’ and then proceed to state that it isn’t Islamic at all.

    This is precisely the point of the article. Muslims and dhimmi Western accomplices ramping up Islam on spurious grounds and false premises merely to give it a pass, despite all we know of how debased and morally debauched the religion really is.

    In this case it’s art. In others, as the piece states, it is space. The list of grovelling and fake attribution is quite nauseous and quite an an insult to our poor little kuffar intellegences.

    Conversely Christianity, and few would argue, has produced the greatest canon of art in art’s history.

    It’s not called ‘Christian art’ it’s called the Rennaisance. From Giotto to Michaelangelo and then to the chiarascura genius of Carravagio the subject matter was invariably of a religious nature and I can tell you it wasn’t Islam.

    As those hadiths tell us, Islam abhors art and thus individual creativity. When you’re all in lockstep how can anything flower and develop?

    Seemingly, believing in witches is as far as abstraction you guys can manage. Then of course you cut their heads off.

  6. Some deranged Mullah has said that Islam was in San Jose, Ca way long ago, I might tend to agree, in Cesar Chavez Park there’s a bit pile of shit, must be an image of MooHamMad. BTW google it, it’s at the south end.

  7. Sorry to digress but this Hadith is so funny: Narrated Aisha, “The Prophet entered upon me while there was a curtain having pictures (of animals) in the house. His face got red with anger, and then he got hold of the curtain and tore it into pieces. The Prophet said, ‘Such people as paint these pictures will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection.’” (Bukhari vol.8, book 73, no.130)
    Why did she let such a vandal in her home? “His face got red with anger, and he got hold of the curtain and tore it into pieces.” Keep him out the kids nursery or he’ll trash the animal themed furnishings. Can it really be true? Just brilliant!!

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