The Many Forms of Islam

March 12th, 2018



Medium: Digitized Image/Calligraphy

Week 5 Response: Post-Prophetic authority, communities of interpretation, and Shi‘i Piety.

Title: The Many Forms of Islam

This course has particularly stressed the point that there is no monolithic way to practice or interpret Islam. From our talks of Sufiism to the different communities of interpretation within Islam, I have realized that the word Islam is all-inclusive and sometimes depends on the local context and tradition in which it is mentioned.

Daftary’s book, “Diversity In Islam: communities of interpretation,” mentioned this idea in terms of the different theological interpretations that have emerged over the course of time, but as we have learned in this course this concept can be extended even beyond that. There is no single race, gender, or culture that Islam was ascribed to, and hence there is no one kind of Muslim that is dominant over the others.

One of this course’s most important lessons for me, personally, is that the several stereotypes that we commonly assume about Islam are not correct. This was evident as we learned about the different architectural practices within Islam, the communities of interpretation, the localized traditions that have incorporated Islamic practice, and even the localized forms of artistic expression.

These are the several themes from the course that I have tried my best to incorporate into this piece, through the art of calligraphy that was mentioned during the initial part of the course. The images that I have selected to make up the word “Islam” particularly stress the diversity within Islam that we have so often spoken about in this course.

The images include several different kinds of mosques from across the globe. These range from North African mosques to mosques that are found in eastern Europe. Furthermore, important places for different sects within Islam such as the Shia shrines are also included. Some images also show women in congregation and reciting the Qur’an, whereas some depict the localized artform that have developed in relation to Islam, such as ancient manuscripts from the Mali Empire that were used to train Islamic scholars.

This diversity within Islam has been a very important personal lesson that I’ve learned from this course. It is, therefore, something that I have tried to convey though this creative project. It showcases a themes that is not only an important theme from Week 5, but one that underlies all of what we have learned throughout this course so far.


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