(Arabic islām, ‘surrender (to God)’)
Art produced in the service of Islam, the monotheistic religion revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (d. 632) in early 7th-century Arabia, which quickly spread throughout much of Eurasia and Africa to become one of the major world religions. Islamic visual arts are decorative, colourful, and, in the case of religious art, non-representational. The Koran regulated every detail of the lives of the Faithful but gave few precise rules for the arts apart from banning the production of cult images. The characteristic Islamic decoration is the arabesque, which is used in both architecture and objects. Some of Islam's greatest achievements lie in the applied arts, particularly in the field of ceramics where lustreware represents Islam's most distinguished contribution. Calligraphy also holds a special importance, as a central tenet of Islamic belief is that the written word is the medium of divine revelation. Islamic architecture is best exemplified in its mosques and related religious buildings, two of the greatest examples being the Dome of the Rock (691) in Jerusalem and the Great Mosque (705) in Damascus.
Subjects: Art — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).