Author: firas-alkhateeb


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Muslim depictions of Muhammad

Muslim depictions of Muhammad

With Prophet Muhammad (s) being so central a figure in Islam, it would be natural for generations of Muslims to have had a desire to depict him artistically.  However, all four Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence have strict prohibitions on visualizations of the Prophet. As a result, Muslim artists had to find alternate methods of depicting Muhammad (s) through calligraphy. In the Ottoman Empire, an art form known as the hilye developed. It combined hadiths that described the appearance and character of the Prophet (known as al-Shama’il al-Muhammadiyya) collected by Imam al-Tirmidhi (824-892 CE) with thuluth style calligraphy, the most prominent form...

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A Morisco appeal to the Ottoman Sultan

Islamic political history can been seen a cycle that oscillates between power and weakness. The Abbasid caliphate that contributed much to math and science in from the 8th to 11th centuries eventually came to violent end with the Mongol destruction of Baghdad in 1258. The Ottomans, who rose out of the ashes of that destruction at one point became the most powerful European empire, but eventually ended with a whimper in the aftermath of the First World War. Numerous examples illustrate the rise and fall of Muslim societies. In this rise and fall cycle, there have been times when...

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Religious pluralism in Muslim Spain

The Middle Ages are commonly associated with ideas such as religious intolerance and intellectual backwardness. Images are conjured up of despotic kings using religion as a pretext for destructive wars that prevented Europe from achieving the prosperity and intellectualism it had during the Roman Empire. But that image does not necessarily reflect reality. The long history of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula (711-1492) was characterized much more by religious tolerance and intellectual pursuits of both religious and scientific knowledge. A prime example of this Muslim society that prized religious pluralism is seen in the mid-tenth century, during the...

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How Islam spread in India

Today, there are over 500 million Muslims throughout the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh), making it one of the largest population centers of Muslims in the world. Since Islam first entered India, it has contributed greatly to the area and its people. Today, numerous theories about how India came to be such a largely Muslim land exist. Politically, some (such as the Hindutva movement in India) try to make Islam seem foreign to India, by insisting it only exists because of invasions by Arab and Persian Muslims. The truth, however, is far from that.   The Earliest Muslim...

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