The role of Art in preservation of Islamic Works

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The role of Art in preservation of Islamic Works
The German Professor Ernst Kühnel, the Professor of Islamic art at the University of Berlin (1935-1964) in the introduction of the book, the Islamic art states that in comparison to the world of Christianity, here the fact that people have the same religious beliefs, have had greater impact on the cultural activities of different nations. Accordingly having the same religion have bridged the gap that may arise due to the racial differences and ancient traditions of the nations. Therefore, it can astonishingly lead the spiritual interests and traditions and customs of different countries to a specific direction. In the interplay for unification of nations and answering to all life related questions, the Quran has always been regarded as the main source. The revelation of the Quran in Arabic language which was an indication of utter superiority of the Arabic language created a unification which connected the whole Islamic world together and at the same time it was a major factor in creation of any kind of artwork. Accordingly what is famous in the western world as the contrast between the religious and non-religious artwork does no longer exist here. Although due to operational requirements, the worshiping places have been built with specific architectural Shapes but their decorations are exactly based upon the rules which have also been observed regarding the non-religious constructions (The Islamic art, translated by Houshang Taheri, p.7). In the study of symbols and artworks which are related to the period after the advent of Islam, we can realize a significant point and it is the impressive and important role of art in preservation of the Islamic rituals:
Art of calligraphy and preservation of the text of the Quran
According to the history, from the very first day of the revelation of the Quran, the act of producing and collecting the hand-written copies of the Quran was very important for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). So according to his order, a group of his companions who were called “writers of Revelation” were responsible for collecting and writing the texts of the Quran. Whenever a verse or Surah was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), even though it was at night, he summoned one of the writers and then he read the verses for him. As a religious duty, this effort along with Muslims’ attention to preservation of the Quran were the main causes of the preservation of the Quran. After the collection and unification of the interpretations of the Quran during the time of Uthman, many attempts were also made for recollecting the hand-written copies of the Quran with its letter-diacritics and other symbols.
It should be noted that one of the factors which lead to dispute of Muslims over the interpretation of the Quran was failure of collecting the hand-written copies of the Quran that later on when this problem was realized, with the effort of the skilful calligraphers the Quran was written in a correct way. The first person who performed the calligraphy of the Quran was Khalid ibn Abi al-Hayyaj. Considering the necessity of producing the copies of the Quran, this tradition was continued during different centuries. Today, instead of typesetting, almost all the current Qurans are made by the skilful calligraphers. So the calligraphy of the Quran, in addition to the preservation and dissemination of it, has prevented the various interpretation of the Quran and has increased the willingness of the Muslims for recitation of it.
Architectural Art and preservation of the Islamic Arts
God’s house of worship is so important and also people of various religions have a special place for their worship (for example the Christian go to the churches, the Jewish go to synagogues and the Hindus go temples for their worship…). That is why after the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) Hijra (migration) to Mecca and before entering the Medina, he decides to build Qoba Mosque. So after entering Medina, his first major decision is building the mosque. Therefore, we observe that after conquest of different cities, Muslims’ first cultural action had been building a mosque. It has to be said that the Shrines which have been built over the grave of the people with high status for remembering and respecting these people, are all indicate the close relationship between religion and culture. In this regard the Quran has mentioned that a mosque was built next to the cave where the Seven Sleepers were. The Quran says: “Said those who prevailed in the matter, "We will surely take for ourselves over them a masjid (mosque) (in the remembrance of them)” (Surah Al-Kahf-Verse 21).
The constructions which have been built in Islamic cities and have also played an important role as the Islamic cultural heritage are all dependent upon the great Architectural Art (including tile work and plasterwork). In this regard one of the authors state: “During the Islamic periods, the architects adorned the mosques in various ways. For instance, during the Seljuk era, the brickwork was prevalent, during the Ilkhanate era, plasterwork was prevalent and during the Timurid and Safavid dynasty, tile work was more prevalent.”

Sources

Mutual Services of Iran and Islam, pp. 142-141

Muhammad Baqer Hojjati, A study on the history of the Quran, p. 202

Muhammad Hadi Marefat, al tahmid fi 'ulum al-Qur'an, vol. 1, pp. 364 and 4

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