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Islam - Aesthetics of a Mystic Religion

Article of the Month - October 2001
Viewed 160395 times since 2nd Oct, 2008

Islam is much more than a formal religion: it is an integral way of life. In many ways it is a more determining factor in the experience of its followers than any other world religion. The Muslim ("One who submits") lives face to face with Allah at all times, and will introduce no separation between his life and religion, his politics and his faith. With its strong emphasis on the brotherhood of men cooperating to fulfill the will of Allah, Islam has become one of the most influential religions in the world today.

Madarsa in UzbekistanTraditional Islamic art conveys the spirituality and quintessential message of Islam through a timeless language which precisely because of its timelessness as well as its direct symbolism, is more effective and less problematic than most of the theological explanations of Islam. A piece of traditional calligraphy or an arabesque can speak much more eloquently of the intelligence and nobility which characterize Islam than many an apologetic work of Islamic modernists or so-called activists. It is the serene, intelligible, structured and highly spiritual character of Islamic art which more than any other element leads to a correct understanding of the culture that is Islam.

Contrary to modern ideas, Islam does not consider art and beauty as a luxury. It considers beauty to be a divine quality (one of god's name being al-Jamil, the beautiful) and says that god loves beauty. The Islamic aesthetic wishes beauty to be all pervasive and hence the art that developed made sure that a Muslim encountered the joy of beauty at all levels of his existence. He experiences deep down in his heart the same sense of peace and joy when sitting on a traditional carpet, viewing a piece of calligraphy, or praying within the confines of one of the masterpieces of Islamic architecture which dot the Islamic world from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

Here we will explore the spiritual dimensions of Islamic art through the following elements:

  • Sacred Architecture of the Islamic Mosque
  • The Islamic Art of Writing
  • Aesthetic Principles and the Building of an Islamic Community

Sacred Architecture of the Islamic Mosque

The sacred architecture of Islam par excellence is the mosque which is but a recreation of the harmony, order and peace inherent in nature. While praying in a traditional mosque, the Muslim in a sense returns to the bosom of nature, not externally but through the inner nexus which relates the mosque to the principles and rhythms of nature.

Namaz: Islamic prayerThe word mosque derives from the Arabic masjid, which literally means the place of prostration (sujud). This is the position in Islamic ritual prayers (namaz), in which the forehead of the worshipper touches the ground in the supreme act of submission and surrender before God. Before the prostration however, at the beginning of his prayer, he stands directly as the primordial man, himself his own priest, facing god without an intermediary. This is a unique and significant achievement in the development of mystic thought, where man is viewed not as a fallen being but as god's vicegerent on earth, aware of his theomorphic substance and competent and 'perfect' enough to correspond directly with God.

It is not, however, only the space of the mosque within which the faithful pray that is important. It is also the floor upon which they prostrate themselves that is of crucial significance. But before attempting to grasp the symbolic significance of the floor, it is important to understand the position of man himself in Islamic thought.

Man in Islam is considered the most perfect of god's creations. It is the forehead of this most perfect of god's creations that touches in prayer the floor of the prayer hall, thereby sanctifying the floor of the mosque and returning this floor to its inviolable purity as the original earth at the dawn of creation. The first historical mosque is believed to have been the house of Prophet Muhammad himself. The first 'official' mosque was at Medina, which architecturally was a prototype of the house of the Prophet, and in a sense was an extension of it. The Prophet himself, it is believed, had first prayed before the divine throne (al-'Arsh) before he prayed upon the ground (farsh), thus sanctifying earth as the mirror and reflection of heaven. It is this sanctification of the ground by the Prophet that bestowed a new metaphysical meaning upon the ground and the carpet covering it. The carpet, whether of simple white color or full of geometric and arabesque designs and patterns, is a reflection of heaven and enables one to experience the ground upon which one sits as purifying, and to participate in the sacred character of the ground.

Courtyard of Jama Masjid, Delhi: Islamic architectureAs for the characteristic open space in mosques, its stillness reflects the pacifying presence of the Divine Word, which echoes through it. The rhythmic division of space by means of arches and columns is the counterpart to the rhythms of cosmic existence which punctuate the phases of the life of man. The space of the sacred structures of Islam rests serenely and nobly in a stillness which conforms to the inner nature of things.

Architecture is of course the art par excellence of ordering space, and all sacred architecture achieves its basic goal of placing man in the presence of the divine through the sacralization of the space which it forms. In the case of Islamic architecture this sacralization is achieved by means of polarization of space through the presence of the Ka'ba which is believed to be the center of the earth, and towards which all Muslims turn in their daily prayers.

Kaba: Islamic pilgrimageThe Muslim world is spread out like a gigantic wheel with Mecca as the hub, and with lines drawn from all the mosques in the world forming the spokes. These lines converge on a city and within that city on a point. The city is Mecca, and the point is the Ka'ba at its center. Mecca, the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad, is Islam's holy city and the goal of all pilgrimage. The Ka'ba, a cube of stone, is the axis mundi of Islamic cosmology. It is diagonally oriented, with its corners facing the cardinal points of a compass. Metaphysically it is the center of the world, because it is the primordial symbol of the intersection between the vertical axis of the spirit and the horizontal plane of phenomenal existence.

During their pilgrimage to Ka'ba, pilgrims circumambulate it seven times, and this gyration of the great crowd round the Ka' ba, with its curious swirling, liquid movement, when seen from an aerial perspective resembles nothing so much as an immense whirlpool. This rite finds its echo in the circumambulation of the sun, or likewise the tomb of a saint, so as to achieve the maximum exposure to the invisible psychic fluid believed to emanate from all such sacred places.

The sacred architecture of Islam is a crystallization of Islamic spirituality and a key for the understanding of this spirituality. The spaces it has created provide a haven in which man can savor, by grace of this very spirituality, the peace and harmony of not only uncorrupted nature but also paradise of which such a nature is a reflection. This paradise man carries at the depth and center of his being where the divine presence reverberates.

The Islamic Art of Writing

Islamic CalligraphyHandwriting is jewelry fashioned by the hand from the pure gold of intellect.

- Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi

Calligraphy is believed to be the visual embodiment of the sacred word. Islamic tradition states that Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, was the first calligrapher. The origins of Islamic calligraphy are traced all the way back to god, who is believed to have written the celestial archetype of the Quran. According to Qadi Ahmed, a sixteenth century author on the art of calligraphy and painting, 'creation itself is the divine calligraphy with which god covered the pages of changing time with the black and white design of night becoming days and days becoming night.'



Nun: Islamic Caligraphy

A chapter in the Quran is entitled 'The Pen' (surat al-qalam), qalam meaning pen in Arabic. It opens with the letter nun. The letter nun in Arabic resembles the inkpot.

It is believed that god first created the Qalam, then the inkpot or nun. Thus the chapter begins with nun and the Pen. According to another Islamic text, the qalam symbolizes the tongue and nun the mouth.


Rassouli: Islamic Calligraphy




Islamic calligraphy reflects through the symbolism of its very forms the intertwining between permanence and change that characterize creation itself. Hence the horizontal movement of the script, which is a rippling movement as in weaving, corresponds to change, whereas the vertical movement represents the permanent divine essence. Another point of view views the vertical as the symbol of the unified principle, and the horizontal, the multiplicity of manifestation.


Islamic Calligraphy


Another important element in the appraisal of Islamic calligraphy is the concept of a tree. A tree is but a manifestation of a seed's potential to derive sustenance from earth and water, and produce one of the most beautiful sights in the world, namely that of a flowering tree complete with branches and leaves.

Dome of Madarsa: Islamic Art and Architecture

Man is much the same as a tree. He has been put on earth like a seed. But he can only grow into a tree by virtue of his own efforts. Providence, however, has granted him innumerable sources of nourishment and opportunities exist on earth to partake of them. Keeping these conceptions in mind, it was but inevitable that the unifying art of Islam eventually combined calligraphy with stylized plant forms (arabesques). Many Islamic monuments from Anatolia to Agra display this intertwining of calligraphy and arabesque forms.


Islamic CalligraphyIn addition to arabesque forms, Islamic art also combines geometric patterns with calligraphy. Here the calligraphy, related directly to the divine word (believed to be the Quran), is said to symbolize the unified principle of creation, while the geometric element with its immutable patterns is said to represent the masculine principle.

In a similar vein, the arabesques, related to life and growth, reveal the maternal aspect of creation. Seen in this light, calligraphy can be contemplated as the principle from which the other two elements of Islamic patterns, the geometric and the arabesque (male and female respectively), originate, and into which they became integrated as all cosmic dualities become integrated into the ultimate unified Principle.

Alif: Islamic Calligraphy


In a further development of metaphysical interpretation, each letter is given a personality of its own, and ultimately linked with Allah, or the supreme god. For example the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, alif, by its verticality symbolizes a divine majesty.

This divinity is why all alphabet is believed to have originated from the alif, and it is also the first letter of word Allah.



ba: Islamic CalligraphyThe second letter of the alphabet is ba. Its very horizontality symbolizes the receptivity of the maternal and passive principles as well as the dimension of beauty which complements majesty.

The intersection of the two letters alif and ba constitutes the point which is visualized as the supreme, non dual center from which everything issues and to which everything returns.

The esoteric doctrines enveloping the nature of calligraphy, combined with the beauty of its immediate presence, provide the key for understanding its privileged position in the hierarchy of Islamic art as well as its important role in Islamic spirituality itself. For centuries Muslims have practiced calligraphy as a means of disciplining the soul. In contrast to the general pattern in various scripts of the world which move from left to the right, Arabic script (the language of the Quran) moves from right to left. Hereby a Muslim calligrapher believes that in drawing a line from right to the left, man is moving from the periphery to the heart which is also located in the left side of the body, and that by concentrating upon writing words in beautiful forms, man is bringing back the dispersed elements of his soul to their center.

Islamic Art and Architec



The heart and soul of a Muslim is constantly made aware of the majesty, harmony, rhythm and flow of calligraphic forms, which surround all spheres of his existence, unveiling their beauty upon the pages of the Quran, on walls of mosques and other forms of architecture, on carpets and curtains, and even upon objects of daily use from dress to plates and bowls in which food is taken.








Aesthetic Principles and the Building of an Islamic Community

Islam is pre-eminently the religion of unity on all levels: ontological, social, and political. The term used to describe that unity is 'umma', which is not susceptible of translation by a single word. Socially it denotes the Muslim community, while politically the 'umma Muhammadiya' denotes 'Muhammad's nation', a revolutionary concept whereby, for the first time in history, the criterion of belief replaces the genetic accident of birth as the criterion of nationality.

Islamic art is more than just a spectacle of domes and minarets, dazzling illuminated manuscripts and exotic carpets; it is a true expression of a rich culture that has unified countries as far apart as Spain and Java, Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, over some thousand years and more. Islamic art expresses the religious beliefs, social and economic structure, political motivation and visual sensibility of a pervasive and unified tradition. Underlying the variations from century to century and from region to region, a cohesive unity of aesthetic conception testifies to the power and breadth of Islam.

Whether in the great courtyard of the Delhi mosque or the Qarawiyyin in Fez, one feels oneself within the same artistic and spiritual universe despite all the local variations in material, structural techniques, and the like. The creation of this artistic universe with its particular genius, distinct characteristics, and formal homogeneity underlying distinctions of a cultural, geographical or temporal nature requires a cause, for no effect of such immense dimensions can be considered as simply a result of chance or the agglomeration of accidental historical factors.

Community is a delicate but durable bond that grows among people who discover that their core identities intersect with those of others. People find community and support, for example, in groups of individuals who cope with similar problems, who send their children to the same school, or who teach in the same department at a university. Shared experience, ethnic background, social purpose, citizenship, religious faith, and various combinations of these are among the more obvious bases for human community. The formation thus of such a community, unified by an adherence to common spiritual percepts and ideals, is the higher aim of Islamic aesthetics. Islamic art was the means whereby the spirit of Islam penetrated into all types and modes of activity, into all the moments of man's life reminding him wherever he was of his Islamic identity. A whole civilization and culture deeply impregnated by the spiritual values of Islam surrounds the Muslim, and aids him in living Islamically.

Some principles of Islamic Aesthetics that strengthen the development of a communal unity are:

1. Islamic 'Hidden Architecture' and the Principle of Wholeness

One of the most striking features of all Islamic architectural monuments is their focus on the enclosed space, on the inside as opposed to the outside, the faзade or exterior articulation of a building.

Mosque at AfghanistanThis disregard for the outside appearance of a structure is often developed to an extreme whereby even a monumental structure, such as congregational mosque, is completely hidden by being totally surrounded by secondary adjacent buildings (for instance a bazaar). This 'hiding' of major monuments goes hand in hand with a total lack of exterior indications of the shape, size, function or meaning of a building. Even if a structure has a visible faзade or a portal, these features tell us little, if anything, about the building that lies behind it. In other words, rarely does a faзade give any indication of the inner organization or purpose of the building in question, and it is rare that an Islamic building can be understood, or even its principal features identified, by its exterior.

To give but one example: a dome looms over the mass of a building, it is generally visible from afar but sinks into the maze of small cupolas and roofs of surrounding structures as we approach.

The dome may indicate a mosque, a palace, a school or a tomb. It may be the principal feature of a structure designed around it; alternatively, it may be only a minor element in a vast structure that surrounds the domed area; it may also be only one of several domes hidden, or half hidden, by other structures - parapets or inner portal frames. Instead of defining a specific kind of architecture, or a special building with a particular function, the dome appears to be a general symbol, signifying power, the royal city, the focal point of assembly; it can therefore serve both religious and secular purposes.

At all times and in all regions of the Muslim world we can find 'hidden architecture' - that is, architecture that truly exists, not when seen as monument or symbol visible to all and from all sides, but only when entered, penetrated and experienced from within.

Islamic Education: MadarsaThis indistinguishibility between buildings serving different functions is an important effort in furthering the development of a community. By making the various architecture serving the cause of religion, domesticity, education, funerary etc., indistinguishable, or by making the religious and secular inseparable, the Muslim aesthete was but driving at the unity of these two principles. The final aim of all Islamic aesthetic is thus to create a unified wholeness. The mosque in a traditional Islamic city is not only the center of religious activity but of all community life, embracing the cultural, social and political as well as, to a certain extent, economic activities. It is therefore related organically to the bazaar or center of economic life, the palace or seat of political power, schools where intellectual activity takes place etc. Private homes are always nearby and in the same way that work, leisure, prayer and care of the family are integrated and not totally separate in the traditional Islamic pattern of life, the architectural spaces related to these activities are also intertwined. Even within the home, a single room is often used for several functions including eating, sleeping, socializing and praying, while prayers can take place in shops in the bazaar, transactions in the mosque, and teaching in both the mosque and home.

When one looks at the traditional Islamic city, one observes that this unity and inter-relatedness are reflected directly in the architecture. At the center there is always a mosque or tomb of a saint with the city growing in an organic manner around it. Moreover, the city seems to be covered by a single roof emanating from the sacred center. In a profound sense therefore, the sacred architecture of Islam casts its light and influences the formation of an Islamic city, bestowing upon it the character of reflecting sacred presence. In the same way that the floor of the mosque, sacralized by the Prophet himself, stretches into the floor of every home, every roof of the city emanates from and is an extension of the roof of the sacred structure at its heart. The space of the whole city is enveloped by the periodic chanting from the minarets of the mosque, calling for a collective prayer, and the regular voicing of Quranic verses from the mosque itself; are all extremely effective and strategical towards building of a deep-rooted Islamic community bound fundamentally at the core.

2. Concept of Unity and Islamic Decorative Arts

The role of decoration is central to any analysis of Islamic art. It is one of the unifying factors that, for thirteen centuries, have linked together buildings and objects across the enormous geographic span that makes up the Islamic world.

Shah Mosque from IranThere is never any one type of decoration for one type of building or object; on the contrary, there are decorative principles which are pan-Islamic and applicable to all types of buildings and objects at all times (whence comes the intimate relationship in Islam between all the applied arts and architecture). Islamic art must therefore be considered in its entirety because each building and each object embodies identical principles. Though objects and buildings differ in quality of execution and style, the same ideas, forms and designs constantly recur. These patterns clearly demonstrate the fascination of Islamic artists with the visual principles of repetition, symmetry, and continuous generation of pattern. Thus the objects and their decoration seem to reflect only a fleeting impression, being but a portion of a design which seems capable of extending itself beyond the form it decorates and by implication beyond the world of reality. And if a definite spatial limit is reached, such as a terminal wall in a piece of architecture, which stops the progress of anyone moving through the building, it will be decorated with patterns that repeat themselves, leading on visually beyond the given limit of the wall surface. This is symbolic of an endless, infinite extension beyond ordinary, mundane reality into a higher invisible realm.

Tomb of Hafiz in Iran



It is also significant that these infinitely extensible designs are themselves made up of individual, self-replicating units. In the Islamic context these have been interpreted as visual demonstrations of the singleness of god and his presence everywhere. They represent 'unity in multiplicity' and 'multiplicity in unity'.






Mosque in AfghanistanThe elements of Islamic decoration are mostly limited to calligraphy, geometry and foliation, and their manipulation results in a rich and sumptuous effect. An interesting example is found at the base of Friday Mosque in Herat, Afghanistan. It is covered with areas of pattern, as a wall or floor would be covered with hangings or carpets. Each area has its own logic, and there is a larger logic that relates them all together.

The same logic, the same principles, apply to any medium - textiles, ceramics, woodwork, metalwork, books - and on any scale. In the image, without the figure of the man it would be hard to tell the whether the subject of the photograph was very large or very small. Flexibility of scale is matched by the interchangeability of the designs, which can contract or expand to fill different areas, indicating the all-pervasiveness of the one, unified divine principle.

Sometimes, in the case of floors, the decoration actually reproduce carpets. The tomb of I'timad ad Dawla in Agra, for example, has an inlaid marble floor that exactly reproduces the designs of Mughal carpets. In a similar manner, prayer carpets reproduce, in two dimensions and on a small scale, the sense of the sacred space of the mosque as well as its cosmic orientation towards Mecca. Carpets and mosques alike are places of prostration. This unifying decorative streak thus extends over the whole realm of Islamic art.

Interpreted at a practical level, by confronting the Muslim with similar, parallel, and identifiable images permeating every level of his existence, a definite cohesive feeling of community is slowly but convincingly and continuously imbibed into his heart, which goes a long way in serving the higher spiritual purpose. Also significant here is that Islamic decorative motifs are all characterized by a soothing and calming harmony. Constantly 'in touch' with these images, the 'comfort level' of a Muslim is greatly conditioned by them, nay even habituated to them.

Technically the term for this 'Oneness' is tawhid. Though opinions on how best to interpret the essential Islamic message of visual arts varies widely, from an almost denial of any symbolic content to a penchant for discerning symbols in the slightest curlicue and variation in color, theories at both ends of the spectrum purport to derive their theological aesthetic from this same principle, namely, tawhid - a belief in God's uncompromised unity and transcendence.

The best known expression of this Divine Unity is 'La-ilaha-ill-Allah', (Quran 112:1). It is made up of four words:

La = No
Ilaha = that which is worshipped
Illa = except
Allah = God

Literally translated, it states 'There is no god but God'. By Oneness of Allah we understand that he is the only Eternal Being, Pure and Simple. The Quran also draws our attention to nature, its laws and phenomena - the gathering of clouds, the fall of rain, the growth of plants, the existence of animal and human life, the movements of the stars, the rise and fall of nations, the change of seasons, life, death, historical events and mythical wonders. In all these, the same law is believed to prevail. In all apparent diversity there is a unity of purpose and therefore the unity of the originator. It thus expresses a concept which annihilates all multiplicity, all separate entities. It is to see, in a sense, the common denominator in all the multiplicities of forms, to see the 'unity in multiplicity' of flower, tree and bird; to see that all circles have a center, regardless of size. The realization of this concept annihilates multiplicity so that unity subsists.

The unity of Islamic art is related not only to the unity of the cosmos and beyond that to the unity of the Divine Principle itself, but also to the unity of the life of the individual and the community. By refusing to distinguish between the sacred and the profane, by integrating religion into all facets of life and life itself into the rhythms of rites and patterns determined by religion, Islam reflects a wholeness which is abundantly reflected in its aesthetic ideals.


Afghan LadyIslamic art was the means whereby the spirit of Islam penetrated into all types and modes of activity, into all the moments of a man's life, reminding him wherever he was of the divine presence. Art was, and continues to be, a most precious support for the Islamic ideals of life and living.

Islam, throughout its history and within the depth and breadth of all its authentic manifestations, from architecture to the art of dress, has emphasized beauty and been inseparable from it.

Have those who claim to speak in the name of Islam today created any form of beauty? Can the qualities of serenity, peace, harmony and equilibrium which characterize both the Islamic religion and the artistic and cultural manifestations of Islam be seen in what these present day groups create and produce? The criterion of art remains a powerful one in deciding the real nature of the forces involved in these groups. Nothing authentically Islamic can be devoid of the inner qualities discussed earlier, qualities which have emerged from spirituality and have manifested themselves over the ages in many different climes in the various traditional arts of Islam from pottery to architecture to the fine art of writing.


References and Further Reading

  • Bakhtiar, Laleh. Sufi (Expressions of the Mystic Quest): London, 1997
  • Blair, Sheila, and Jonathan Bloom. Islamic Arts: London, 1997
  • Hanifi, Manzoor Ahmed. A Survey of Muslim Institutions and Culture: Delhi, 1988
  • Hughes, Thomas Patrick. Dictionary of Islam: New Delhi, 1999
  • Khan, Maulana Wahiduddin. The Garden of Paradise: New Delhi, 1998
  • Masud Khaidar, and Andrei Sakharov. Afghanistan Today, Kabul, 1981
  • Michell, George. Architecture of the Islamic World: London 1995
  • Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Islamic Art and Spirituality: Oxford, 1990
  • Renard, John. Seven Doors to Islam: New Delhi, 1998
  • Williams, John Alden (ed.) Islam: London, 1961
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  • hi brother and sister
    by monelay on 15th Jan 2012
  • May thinks for distributing the Islamic knowledge. It is so amazing to combine and bring together both negative and positive views in regarding with the symbolism in Islamic arts and architecture in particular. Apart from these glories of Islamic architecture which I am prude of as same as many others, there are lots of sources including the Islamic one which disregards and symbolism within the Islamic arts. This is treated as a positive fact which distinguished Islam as religion from the other religion.
    I am a PhD student in architecture in the UK and would like to share the information about the Islamic architecture.
    Mohsen keiany
    by Mohsen keiany on 30th May 2008
  • It is one of the good article on your web. who is the writer of this article? Where it has been published frist. Can you please have more information about it.
    by Mohsen Keiany on 30th May 2008
  • Alhamdulillah, Jazakumullah khair for this very nice article. It adds up a lot to understanding my own religion. I might be late in reading since it was posted at 2001, and I just read it now at the end of 2007. But I believe there is no say of being too late to learn. Thanks a lot! And to any of you who has "bad words" towards Islam, please learn more about it. There is no harm from knowing more about Islam. Someday, sometimes later we might understand each other better and restore peace on earth. Salaam!
    by brotojoyo retnowati on 28th Dec 2007
  • muslim- Why do you say that? Aren't there perfectly good people out in the world who are not Muslim? If Islam is the only way to love Allah/God and go to Heaven then I don't know what to say. I couldn't disagree more with you on that statement.
    by Mariposa on 15th Oct 2007
  • I am a gomantak/vaishnaivte/shivaite/buddhist/christianiste/islamite/judaiste/jainiste, zorotraiste/animiste/being. This is the first time that in all the world I go tell this: it was a REAL OBLIGATION to the Goan people made a BRIDGE between Orient and West. What happened? Only the invasion/genocide of Inquisition,
    Moghols, Islamism and Christianism? Think about this: mechanich war guns, power-racism and the god whose name is Bible and Quran, two books that teach eye for eye and and tootht for tooth. I am not alone, because devil people must be fight with UNIVERSAL LOVE, BUT, YET, I AM A kSHATRYA, tODAY IS MY REAL KARMA. YOU DON´T BELIEVE? Please, stop and THINK with your MIND, and not your EGO ( you are dominated with subliminar messages-publicity) OM Namah Om. God Bless All You. All of You are manifestations of GOD. Om-Amen-Shalom-Alla(um)h Akbar(is a secret word-Allaumh). P.S.:I discovered that many Karmas ago I Knew Sri Yama and Naxiketas and they teach me that all mankind is almost the same SOUL.
    by Octavio PO ( on 7th Aug 2007
  • Hello! My friends, today I read the Book - Columbus and others cannibals. For you -Christians, Islamics and Judaists, I think, that you are all Demoniacs-euethics-vampires-ghosts, because ALL of you try to teach us, or war, or sex, or drugs, and publicity that between of you, you are different, but it´s wring, you are the same face of Kali Yuga, not the Real Face of KALI-The Real Mother of Universe. Good Bye my Eternal Friends. OM Namah OM
    by Octavio Po ( on 7th Aug 2007
  • Dear mr rsridhar,
    First i would like to greet you with islamic greeting peace be on you.
    I dont want to know what u think about islam but i would like focus few things..the glorious quran is the only book on the face of earth which says...killing a single human being is as of killing the whole humanity.
    it nowhere in the quran mentioned to kill non-believers.....if any muslim kills one innocent human being then he is not muslim.
    by quasim on 22nd Feb 2007
  • nice page on this subject i have ever visited
    by naeem amir on 25th Sep 2006
  • TO Kalai Mugilan;


    What does one make of works translated and perhaps even mistranslated? What does one make of Christians and Muslims having killed more humans than any other cultural faith? What does one make of TSUNAMI that killed 15000 people(I am not sure of this number) without any just cause?

    My love, let YOUR tongue not utter complaints of how or why, for there is only the SOURCE in all its manifestations. You wish to unify, yet you divide by your tongue! Embrace all now and say no more again.
    by SHAMAN DAVID on 7th Jul 2006
  • asalmu caley kum syster nice speech
    by omaar ( on 30th Mar 2006
  • Islam is the perfect religion when the muslims ruled there was peace and harmony when the muslims rulers where gone the peace was gone and they destroyed everything of the islam and killed all muslims trying to stop the islam but they can t because islam is the religion of god the last religion.
    god created the humans not the humans created god god is real even if you say he doesn t exist you can t harm god if you say he is bad he, doesnt exist.
    you only make it difficult fo yourself .
    the devil will go to hell and thats why he want that every human go to hell if you are not muslim you are just preparing yourself to the hell nothing else.
    There wher always people who said islam is bad but lifed they fore ever
    They are now burning in there graves.
    by muslim on 31st Jan 2006
  • To Kalai Mugilan:

    Every verse that you quoted was out of context. You say that the Quran has fundamental problems, but why can't you fundamentally prove it without taking a verse out of context? It's very easy to confirm, just take the verse that you have pasted in here and read the text that comes before and after it. Maybe then you will find something, god willing.
    by Ramzish Moustafa on 28th Nov 2005
    by Octavio Po on 26th Aug 2005
  • I really like your intepretation about islam facing the problems now. i am proud to be a muslim. How do you think we can make people learn about Islam?
    by Zerin Rahman on 15th Jun 2005
  • Peace be upon those who follow True Guidance. Free documentries and pics about 911. Why do Scientistsss embrace Islam. Live on video. The evils of the religion of atheism/darwinism. Again on free downloads videos books audio.
    Stop writting crap if you do not understand Islam and the Qur'an. You like making your own explaination. The above will hurt you very much if you like following falsehood.

    "Truth is clear from falsehood".
    by Abbas on 25th Apr 2005
  • To that person-Octavio Po-doesn't know anything about islam. islam doesn't lust over women, it treats it with respect and honor. islam was NOT revealed to for money or power. it is a religion of peace. it was meant for people to go on the straight path and not to be driven away by worldly desires. it is the best religion. as for that guy- pick a book on islam before you make any judgements about it.
    by preity on 18th Feb 2005
  • cool off my brother! Responding in anger only causes others to shut out what gems of insight you may have! Learn temperance, or you succumb to the very root anger energy you are crying out against!
    by Carl Nelson on 9th Feb 2005
  • islamic-art
    by mahdi on 22nd Jan 2005
  • Judaism, Christianism and Islamism are three brothers that almost five hundred years fight between them and against other religions. They don´t respect anything. >They love only lust-women, meat food-predators and money-power. All missionaries are danger people, because they learn that there is only one God (Jesus,Allah or Yeovah), Ah! this God is always good. Other forms of GOD, like Brahama, Vishnu, Shiva, Rama, Buddha, etc, are forms of evil. I think that Western and islamic people are sick. They need to go to a doctor of MIND.
    by Octavio Po on 25th Sep 2004
  • Interesting article.
    by Samia on 1st Sep 2004
  • esp to Kalai Mugilan
    i like to explain to THAT above mentioned ignorant fella and quote his very examples bit by bit and accessing Quran is not enuff dear mugilan, whether the information accessed ur brains is far more important. Mugila quoted : Surah 9 Verse 29 (Koran 9:29) it says, "Fight those who do not profess the true faith (Islam) till they pay the jiziya (poll tax) with the hand of humility." It goes on to say, in Koran 8:12, "Remember Thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the believers, I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips of them
    9:29 Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.....and yet at the same time it gives a better picture of it in this verse, 2:190 Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. AND 2:192 But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
    And mugilacommits ther very same mistakes over abd over again and to reqoute his everthinng will not hep him understand any futrther for he doesnt actually allows himself to learn more rather than taking informations briefly. but wotever he says cannot make any differnce to us we already have a belief and if he tried to come with another he is stupid:)
    by Ukthee Fil Islam on 29th Aug 2004
    by recep gün on 16th Jul 2004
  • Who says you need freedom to think? or create? You have FREE Will which Allaah has granted you. Your idealogies are questionnable.
    by AainaalyaA on 1st Jan 2004
  • God is Love & purity....The bridge between god and human is faith....Unfortunetly some humans mislead it through the name of religon. If only the world could love and have faith in one another`s religon one day then would this be a better place.
    by Maran on 5th Dec 2003
  • Sorry, but Islam cannot claim the art of the people of which it invaded. Those artistic traditions existed before Islam, the art of mosaic, etc and Islam is but a ****** on the backs of the glorious civilizations of the past such as Persia. If anything, Islam hindered artistic expression and you can see what Islam did to the once beautiful Afghanistan. Art needs freedom and creativity to flourish, something which is alien among "submission."
    by Nenayahi on 30th Nov 2003
  • This website helped me a lot when I was looking for material for my students. I´m teaching Cultural History and the theme this year is Moorish Spain and Islam. So I had found information here and there about islamic art and arab art but this webside is a concetrated site with beautyful images. And with a good sincere explanation on the islamic culture.
    Thank you so much.
    by Heiða Björk sturludótir ( on 21st Oct 2003
  • What do you mean by saying only Quaraan ? I'm sure that you don't know anything about it ! because if you wouldn't have said so!
    by Maya on 20th Sep 2003
  • yazdan
    by Baqir on 20th Sep 2003
  • 1
    by yazdan on 30th Aug 2003
  • Osama and all the muslim millitants are created by the americans. Only to fight and collapse the communist regime. And now the all evils are in the neck of america.
    No any muslim can be terrorist.
    by fatah daudpoto on 4th Aug 2003
  • Hussain,
    So, the defense of your religion is to denigrade another religion. Good logic.

    I interact with a number of muslims in some forums. No muslim seems to have any answer as to why, per Qoran, it is O.K to kill non-believers. No one in those forums has ever criticised what Osama-bin-laden or other terrorists have been doing in the name of religon. If you think your religion stands for peace, come out and say so openly. Start by condemning the acts of islamic terrorism the world is witnessing today.
    by rsridhar on 30th May 2003
  • Islamic art can be beautiful, but cannot hide the fact that Islam in India had been a destroyer's and invader's religion, that far more beautiful things were destroyed by it than created by it. Most of Islam's beauty comes from special oppositional groups within Islam, such as the Sufis, that are not tolerated in today's mainstream Islam. There is indeed true mysticism in Islam, but it is quite often a forcible translation of Hindu or yogic concepts into it, in the same way the so-called arabic digits are of Indian origin. As long as Muslims hold the Quran in its symbolic and poetic sense, not its prosaic which calls for conquest of the world, as long as Muslims consider themselves as an oriental religion among others, as long as they do not destroy the works of other religious artists as being idolatrous and stick quietly to their own endeavour, I respect them. But what passes as Islam in contemporary Pakistan is a far cry from any form of beauty. In India, Islam is responsible for the destruction of the feminine ideal. Hindu women in saris actually display far more chastity in bodily attitude than women in veils. I have been in many Hindu temples with mixed audiences and I saw no lustful oggle from any man. If Muslim men cannot control their lust seing a sari-clad Indian women, they have a problem many others have resolved since long.
    by Francis Miville on 16th May 2003
  • I find it amazing that people who believe that wife burners like Ram were gods would have anything good to say about Islam! For them to ask poor Sita to walk in to the fire is justifiable! Now how can you reason with such people???
    by Hussain on 8th May 2003
  • Kabil, at least even bangwangon jumpers like you at least recognise that Islam is a beautiful in some way! This is the first step to you conversion to become a devote Muslim, Inshallah!
    by abid on 8th May 2003
  • Dear Kalai Mugilan,
    If you take the verse of Quran without context then you can quote more than thousand verses like this. Example; In veitman war American Military comander ordered his army that "kill each and every Veitmanese". And if you wrote the same quotes as if he said in the white house. Obviously the meaning will be changed completely because it is out of context. Please try to be rational don't misguide people.
    by micheal leaonard on 5th May 2003
  • qur'an..
    by Margarete on 29th Apr 2003
  • To Kalai Magan and others to whom this article sounded like venom in the ears and who wish to live in delusion with reality of Islam by misquoting/disbelieving in Quranic verses
    , I refer yuo to a complimentary study along with ths article, available at this link:
    by Aseem on 26th Apr 2003
  • It is worth to readand knowing about our religion.
    by farnaz on 25th Feb 2003
  • If you want to learn about Islam, READ THE KORAN before you are fooled and sucked in by the breathtaking gorgeus art. Islam appears visually to be an incredibly beautiful religion. However the Koran is filled with hate, discrimination, and everything that is inhumane. The Koran is exactly what the world does not need right now. The only way we can exist in this universe is TOGETHER with tolerance and compassion. I pray more people will be called to those religions that teach compassion and tolerance such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, or Non-Fundamentalist Christianity. I know that Islamic art is some of the most beautiful in the world, but please don't let that fool you. The proof is in the book.
    by Kabel on 31st Jan 2003
  • To Kalai Mugilan,
    You have completely misquoted the Qur'an, I suggest you take these verses to a good Muslim scholar like Sheikh Muhsin or Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson in America and have them explain them to you. I'll give you an example of how easy it is to misquote the Qur'an if you have no understanding of it; " Woe to those who pray"
    Yet we have to pray atleast 5 times a day! then the following verses go on to explain; "...those who pray in heedlesness" Also what intention you enter the Qur'an with thats what you'll get out of it. Please don't ever pick out and misquote a few verses like you have done, without seeing a scholar and finding out what they really are telling you.
    by Aishah on 16th Dec 2002
  • Hey Kalai Mugilian, everything you're saying that's written in Islam's Book the Koran, weather true or not, (i believe it's true) is nothing shoking. Why u ask. Very siple, it's because in Judaisim, Chritianity and Islam there is a CLEAR PUNISHMENT for Evildoers. What's your point there stating what will happen to the sinners. Everyone that commits evil will be punished in the Hereafter and will be placed in Hell. Everything you are talking about applies very well to Chritians and Jews who commit sins. In Islam, it seems that the punishment is given in more It's better to have the details, in that case you will fear Hellfire more and be a good person. Islam might not be the perfect religion, but it is The BEST Way of Life.
    by Jack Thomson on 18th Nov 2002
  • very..very.. thank you for this article from Indonesian buddy
    by sukas mahendra on 22nd Sep 2002
  • Thank you for the newsletter on Islam, I hope you had a positive response. I forwarded it to my email list and many people were very happy to receive it and learn more of this beautiful religion. I have personally traveled in Egypt and Turkey, and having had wonderful experiences and friendships with Muslims I had been disturbed by the generalization and prejudice that spread after Sept 11. Know that many are educating and learning about Islam now, the schools are requiring education about it, and I feeling the understanding has opened up allot of people's heart to the true spirit of Islam.
    May Allah continue to bless you.
    by Aletha Zsido on 2nd Nov 2001
  • I just wanted to thank you for the moving article on Muslim living and art. It was forwarded to a list I belong to and the artwork alone left me breathless! I am now moved to the point that I wish to learn more about this religion, so I wanted to thank you for illuminating me.
    by Helaine on 18th Oct 2001
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"The Bhagavad Gita, while describing the qualities of a wise person says…. This verse is vividly illustrated in the story of king Rantideva occurring in the Srimad Bhagavatam…. He did not believe in hoarding, was above all attachments and was highly patient…. They were all trembling due to starvation and thirst….bowed to the dogs and their owner…. What I want is only this: That I be able to go and live in the hearts of all beings and undergo sufferings on their behalf, so that they may become free from all miseries."
An Example of Living Vedanta: The Story of King Rantideva
"Once as he was engaged in puja, a saint came to visit him….Like a true householder attached to his family, Gajendra sported in the water with his wives, children and friends…. Understanding that his end was imminent, they all slowly withdrew, till Gajendra was left alone…. If we reflect on it calmly, we will realise that there is no house in the world where the story of Gajendra does not play out…. The one who is careful towards the end is able to reform his death…. Gajendra’s hymn of praise is one of the greatest philosophical poems in the annals of world literature."
Moksha of Gajendra: Liberation by The Formless God
"We assume that our happiness is the result of an interaction with external objects…. Suppose that an individual is deprived of sleep and food and pleasurable objects for a long time and then all of them are simultaneously offered to him…. Actually, seeking the answer to this question is the most significant pursuit in life…. The veil comes up again and the duality returns…. In this background, we can now analyse the nature of dukha (grief)."
Ananda: Understanding the True Nature of Happiness
"It concedes that for an orderly social life a division into four groups based on the principle of varnadharma is necessary…. Each individual sometimes acts in a sattvika manner while at other times he may act in rajasic or tamasic manner, which means that the manifestation of a particular guna depends on circumstances…. Though all the three gunas are present in everyone, different persons are driven to act differently…. The karma that I have to perform should depend on my inherent gunas and should have the ability to regulate these gunas…. There is no instant transition to moksha…. An individual has to make his way towards moksha only through worldly life."
Varnashrama Dharma: A Logical View
"During one such sacrifice, nine spiritually charged men entered the sacrificial hall….As for Bhagavat Dharma, it is the dharma spoken by God directly from his own mouth…. Like a person eating food finds himself gratified simultaneously in three ways…. We are all constantly taught by spiritual texts to offer or dedicate all our actions to God. However, the question remains as to how to practically carry out this injunction…..The only fruit of wealth is dharma... Therefore, there is no need for the Vedas to enjoin us to these things for which we already have a tendency….The real intention of the Vedic injunctions in these matters is to make a person abstain from them…”
Nine Teachings from Nine Yogis: The Essence of Bhagavat Dharma
"Actually, the one who worships Bhagwan Vishnu should get rich and the one who worships Shiva should become an avadhuta like Him…. Then he works hard again to acquire wealth. I render all his efforts futile…. However, Bhagawan Vishnu is not like that, it takes longer to please Him…. As a consequence, they later harassed the great God Himself…. On the seventh day, he bathed in the holy waters of Kedarnath and began to cut his head with an axe to offer into the fire…. The boy bowed respectfully before the demon and asked…. No one who commits sin against a great person can be safe and happy in this world."
Shiva and Vishnu: A Unique Aspect of Their Worship
"Whenever he gets the time, he should go and live amongst people who have given up worldly life…. A wise person should serve his body and family only to the extent that is functionally necessary…. The person who lays claim on the surplus wealth is nothing but a thief…. He should share all objects of enjoyment with everyone, right down to dogs, sinners…. Such is the attachment to one’s wife….How despicable is this body, which if buried is going to become the food of worms, or excreta if eaten by animals….Since a son is to thus revere his elders even after their death, what to say that he is expected to serve them when they are alive…. The person wishing to follow the path of dharma should steer clear of the five forms of Adharma."
Narada Teaches Yuddhishtra a Householder’s Dharma
"Who would not satisfy his wife who is but his better half?…. Later, he took a bath, performed pranayama and meditating silently on the pure, eternal light, repeated internally the Gayatri Mantra…. Once it so happened that goddess Lakshmi was out of Vaikuntha…. Despite being older, they always maintain the appearance of five-year olds…. Seeing the great saints he welcomed them with reverence…. It is never for one single purpose but to fulfil many functions at the same time…. He ensured for them a glorious death."
God’s Lila, Understanding the Collective Impact of Avatara
" Contrarily metaphysicians and theologians perceived his form as it manifested in the Upanishads and Puranas….The ‘Advaita’ philosophy also contends that the entire Creation is just the extension of One…. Dance illustrates one of the ever-first cosmic acts with which Shiva seems to have tamed violent motion and separated from it rhythm, moves that communicated emotions and states of mind – human mind and the cosmic, and disciplined and defined pace…. Unlike Vishnu who resorted to dance for accomplishing a contemplated objective, Shiva has been conceived more or less as a regular dancer performing for accomplishing an objective as also for pure aesthetic delight…. Unfurling locks of hair and his snakes floating into space portray the dynamics of the act."
Shiva, the Nataraja
"This middle path lies in between extreme asceticism on one side, and extreme indulgence on the other…. When standing under a Ashok tree, tired and exhausted, she raised her right hand for seeking support of a branch of the tree…. The unique balance that defined his entire life was pre-determined in this duality….One day, in the palace garden he frightened his attendants…. He ate less and less till his diet reduced to a sesame seed, and himself, to a mere skeleton…. Seven days after the attainment of enlightenment gods sent food for breaking his fast…. However, he postponed his ‘nirvana’ for three months till he visited the places he had reminiscences of."
The Light That Enlightened Millions
(The life of Buddha in the popular mind)
"But to pull this statement out of context and give it as an advice for anyone is far from correct…. But how is one to recognise the guru? Obviously, he will be able to understand the difficulties of the disciples and clarify to them the meaning of the scriptures on the basis of logic and experience…. They will have to search in their own neighbourhood only….The guru chosen by him should be at least better than himself!…. Of course, if the ideal guru whose features have been enumerated in the beginning is available, then the sadhaka should immediately go and surrender to him…. It is just like going to another teacher for higher education, after completing the education in a school."
The Qualities of a Guru and How to Find One
"Here is a fragment from one of the most poignant episodes of Indian history…. This piece of history is from the Mahabharata…. She was dying with shame but inside, like a true kshatrani (woman of the warrior race), she was burning with anger…. I have heard that women who follow dharma were never brought before a public court….Greed is the destroyer of dharma. I do not desire a third boon…. Draupadi was as forgiving as mother earth herself…. Just then Arjuna saw his dear friend Bhagawan Krishna approaching him…. “Leave him, leave him. He is a brahmin and worthy of our worship. Their mother should not cry, like I have at the death of my children."
Analyzing the Eternal Dimensions of Dharma Through Itihasa (History)
"She has always believed that this would redeem her of her distress….A coconut, otherwise an ordinary dried fruit or the source of edible, or at the most, beauty oil, has always been revered as an auspicious object effecting good and well-being and the food that gods most loved….The tree in the Buddhist tradition was later identified as Bodhi-tree, seated under which Buddha had attained Enlightenment….Body gestures and symptoms, signs, indications among others must have been the early man’s tools of communicating oneself and knowing and understanding the world around….Kirttimukha was initially conceived as a mystical mask….Lion does not figure in the wide range of animal toys or figurines excavated from Indus sites."
Auspicious Symbols in Indian tradition
"Vyasa Ji explained through a story how it came to be that the Pandava's marriage with a single wife was in conformity with dharma….The gods, along with their king Indra, were sitting on the bank of a river when they saw a beautiful golden lotus floating on its waters…. Both were playing a game of dice…. On hearing Shiva’s words, Indra started shaking with fear… Without death, the burden on the earth becomes too much…. Her birth had the sanction of all the three Gods - Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu."
Devi Draupadi: Resolving the Paradox
"Only a certain fraction of this karma is chosen by God in order to form the blueprint of our next birth…. The fruit that one experiences in this birth is due to prarabdha and a portion of the present agami…. Similarly, a fish in the Ganga does not accrue punya because of always living in Ganga…. A good karma can be annulled by a bad karma and a bad one by a good one…. Sometimes we also hear that prarabdha cannot be got rid of. It has to be spent through…. Bhagawan Vyasa says that for the full result of the karma to manifest, three things are necessary…. Then how to understand the statement that prarabdha should unavoidably be experienced?"
Theory and Practice of Karma: Some Salient Features
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