Islamic culture

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Islamic culture and Muslim culture refer to cultural practices common to historically Islamic people. The early forms of Muslim culture, from the Rashidun Caliphate to early Umayyad perioud, were predominantly Arab, Byzantine, Persian and Levantine. With the rapid expansion of the Islamic empires, Muslim culture has influenced and assimilated much from the Persian, Egyptian, Caucasian, Turkic, Mongol, South Asian, Malay, Somali, Berber, Indonesian, and Moro cultures.

Rashidun Caliphate first of the four major caliphates established after the death of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad

The Rashidun Caliphate was the first of the four major caliphates established after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was ruled by the first four successive caliphs (successors) of Muhammad after his death in 632 CE. These caliphs are collectively known in Sunni Islam as the Rashidun, or "Rightly Guided" caliphs. This term is not used in Shia Islam as Shia Muslims do not consider the rule of the first three caliphs as legitimate.

Levant Geographic and cultural region consisting of the eastern Mediterranean between Anatolia and Egypt

The Levant is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean, primarily in Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the historical region of Syria. In its widest historical sense, the Levant included all of the eastern Mediterranean with its islands; that is, it included all of the countries along the Eastern Mediterranean shores, extending from Greece to Cyrenaica.

Caliphate Islamic form of government

A caliphate is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the title of caliph, a person considered a political-religious successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire ummah. Historically, the caliphates were polities based in Islam which developed into multi-ethnic trans-national empires. During the medieval period, three major caliphates succeeded each other: the Rashidun Caliphate (632–661), the Umayyad Caliphate (661–750) and the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258). In the fourth major caliphate, the Ottoman Caliphate, the rulers of the Ottoman Empire claimed caliphal authority from 1517. During the history of Islam, a few other Muslim states, almost all hereditary monarchies, have claimed to be caliphates.


Islamic culture generally includes all the practices which have developed around the religion of Islam. There are variations in the application of Islamic beliefs in different cultures and traditions. [1]

Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic, universal religion teaching that there is only one God, and that Muhammad is the messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers or 24% of the world's population, most commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, viewed by Muslims as the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples of Muhammad.

Language and literature


Arabic literature (Arabic : الأدب العربي / ALA-LC: al-Adab al-‘Arabī) is the writing, both prose and poetry, produced by writers in the Arabic language. The Arabic word used for literature is "Adab", which is derived from a meaning of etiquette, and which implies politeness, culture and enrichment.

Prose form of language which applies ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech

Prose is a form of language that exhibits a natural flow of speech and grammatical structure rather than a regular rhythmic structure as in traditional poetry, where the common unit of verse is based on metre or rhyme. Though, as T. S. Eliot noted, while "the distinction between verse and prose is clear, the distinction between poetry and prose is obscure". Developments in modern literature, including free verse and prose poetry have tended to blur any differences.

Poetry form of literature

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

Adab in the context of behavior, refers to prescribed Islamic etiquette: "refinement, good manners, morals, decorum, decency, humaneness". While interpretation of the scope and particulars of Adab may vary among different cultures, common among these interpretations is regard for personal standing through the observation of certain codes of behavior. To exhibit Adab would be to show "proper discrimination of correct order, behavior, and taste."

Arabic literature emerged in the 5th century with only fragments of the written language appearing before then. The Qur'an, widely regarded by people as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language, [2] would have the greatest lasting effect on Arabic culture and its literature. Arabic literature flourished during the Islamic Golden Age, but has remained vibrant to the present day, with poets and prose-writers across the Arab world, as well as rest of the world, achieving increasing success.

Islamic Golden Age A period in Islamic history from the 8th through 14th centuries

The Islamic Golden Age was a period of cultural, economic and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam, traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 14th century. This period is traditionally understood to have begun during the reign of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid with the inauguration of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, where scholars from various parts of the world with different cultural backgrounds were mandated to gather and translate all of the world's classical knowledge into the Arabic language. This period is traditionally said to have ended with the collapse of the Abbasid caliphate due to Mongol invasions and the Siege of Baghdad in 1258 AD. A few contemporary scholars place the end of the Islamic Golden Age as late as the end of 15th to 16th centuries.


Persian literature comprises oral compositions and written texts in the Persian language and it is one of the world's oldest literatures. [3] [4] [5] It spans over two-and-a-half millennia. Its sources have been within Greater Iran including present-day Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and Turkey, regions of Central Asia (such as Tajikistan) and South Asia where the Persian language has historically been either the native or official language. For instance, Rumi, one of best-loved Persian poets born in Balkh (in what is now the modern-day Afghanistan) or Vakhsh (in what is now the modern-day Tajikistan), wrote in Persian and lived in Konya, then the capital of the Seljuks in Anatolia. The Ghaznavids conquered large territories in Central and South Asia and adopted Persian as their court language. There is thus Persian literature from Iran, Mesopotamia, Azerbaijan, the wider Caucasus, Turkey, western parts of Pakistan, India, Tajikistan and other parts of Central Asia. Not all Persian literature is written in Persian, as some consider works written by ethnic Persians in other languages, such as Greek and Arabic, to be included. At the same time, not all literature written in Persian is written by ethnic Persians or Iranians, as Turkic, Caucasian, and Indic poets and writers have also used the Persian language in the environment of Persianate cultures.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is a pluricentric language primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

Literature written work of art

Literature, most generically, is any body of written works. More restrictively, literature refers to writing considered to be an art form or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage.

Greater Iran Cultural region

Greater Iran is a term used to refer to the regions of the Caucasus, West Asia, Central Asia, and parts of South Asia that have significant Iranian cultural influence due to having been either long historically ruled by the various imperial dynasties of the Iranian Empire, having considerable aspects of Persian culture due to extensive contact with the various imperial dynasties of Iran, or are simply nowadays still inhabited by a significant amount of Iranian peoples who patronize their respective cultures. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains. The Encyclopædia Iranica uses the term Iranian Cultural Continent for this region.

Described as one of the great literatures of humanity, [6] including Goethe's assessment of it as one of the four main bodies of world literature, [7] Persian literature has its roots in surviving works of Middle Persian and Old Persian, the latter of which date back as far as 522 BCE, the date of the earliest surviving Achaemenid inscription, the Behistun Inscription. The bulk of surviving Persian literature, however, comes from the times following the Arab conquest of Persia c. 650 CE. After the Abbasids came to power (750 CE), the Iranians became the scribes and bureaucrats of the Arab empire and, increasingly, also its writers and poets. The New Persian language literature arose and flourished in Khorasan and Transoxiana because of political reasons, early Iranian dynasties such as the Tahirids and Samanids being based in Khorasan. [8]

Middle Persian also known as Pahlavi or Parsik, is the Middle Iranian language or ethnolect of southwestern Iran that during the Sasanian Empire (224–654) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions of the empire as well. Middle Persian is classified as a Western Iranian language. It descends from Old Persian and is the linguistic ancestor of Modern Persian.

Old Persian is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages. Old Persian appears primarily in the inscriptions, clay tablets and seals of the Achaemenid era. Examples of Old Persian have been found in what is now Iran, Romania (Gherla), Armenia, Bahrain, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt, with the most important attestation by far being the contents of the Behistun Inscription. Recent research (2007) into the vast Persepolis Fortification Archive at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago have unearthed Old Persian tablets, which suggest Old Persian was a written language in use for practical recording and not only for royal display.

Behistun Inscription ancient stone inscription in present-day Iran

The Behistun Inscription is a multilingual inscription and large rock relief on a cliff at Mount Behistun in the Kermanshah Province of Iran, near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran, established by Darius the Great. It was crucial to the decipherment of cuneiform script as the inscription includes three versions of the same text, written in three different cuneiform script languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian. The inscription is to cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs: the document most crucial in the decipherment of a previously lost script.

Persian poets such as Ferdowsi, Sa'di, Hafiz, Attar, Nezami, [9] Rumi [10] and Omar Khayyam are also known in the West and have influenced the literature of many countries.

Perso-Indian and Indian

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, is one of the finest example of Indo-Islamic culture and architecture. Taj Mahal Sunset Edit1.jpg
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, is one of the finest example of Indo-Islamic culture and architecture.

For a thousand years, since the invasion of India by the Ghaznavids, the Persian-Islamic culture of the eastern half of the Islamic world started to dominate the Indian culture. Persian was the official language of most Indian empires such as the Ghaznavids, the Delhi Sultanate, the Bengal Sultanate, the Deccan Sultanates (such as the Qutb Shahi dynasty) and the Mughal Empire. Persian artistic forms in literature and poetry such as ghazals have come to significantly affect Urdu and other Indian literature. More Persian literature was produced in India than in the Iranian world. As late as the 20th century, Allama Iqbal chose Persian for some of his major poetic works. The first Persian language newspaper was also published in India, given that printing machines were first implemented in India.

In Bengal, the Baul tradition of mystic music and poetry merged Sufism with many local images.[ citation needed ] The most prominent poets were Hason Raja and Lalon Shah.

During the early 14th century, the liberal poet Kazi Nazrul Islam espoused intense spiritual rebellion against oppression, fascism and religious fundamentalism; and also wrote a highly acclaimed collection of Bengali ghazals. Sultana's Dream by Begum Rokeya, an Islamic feminist, is one earliest works of feminist science fiction.


From the 11th century, there was a growing body of Islamic literature in the Turkic languages. However, for centuries to come the official language in Turkish-speaking areas would remain Persian. In Anatolia, with the advent of the Seljuks, the practise and usage of Persian in the region would be strongly revived. A branch of the Seljuks, the Sultanate of Rum, took Russian language, art and letters to Anatolia. [11] They adopted Persian language as the official language of the empire. [12] The Ottomans, which can "roughly" be seen as their eventual successors, took this tradition over. Persian was the official court language of the empire, and for some time, the official language of the empire, [13] though the lingua franca amongst common people from the 15th/16th century would become Turkish as well as having laid an active "foundation" for the Turkic language as early as the 4th century (see Turkification). After a period of several centuries, Ottoman Turkish (which was highly Arabo-Persianised itself) had developed towards a fully accepted language of literature, which was even able to satisfy the demands of a scientific presentation. [14] However, the number of Persian and Arabic loanwords contained in those works increased at times up to 88%. [14] However, Turkish was proclaimed the official language of the Karamanids in the 17th century, though it didn't manage to become the official language in a wider area or larger empire until the advent of the Ottomans. With the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Turkish (a highly Arabo-Persianised version of Oghuz Turkic) grew in importance in both poetry and prose becoming, by the beginning of the 18th century, the official language of the Empire. Unlike India, where Persian remained the official and principal literary language of both Muslim and Hindu states until the 19th century.


"Wayang Kulit", the Indonesian art of shadow puppetry, reflects a melding of indigenous and Islamic sensibilities. Wayang Pandawa.jpg
"Wayang Kulit", the Indonesian art of shadow puppetry, reflects a melding of indigenous and Islamic sensibilities.
"Advice of the Ascetic", a 16th-century Persian miniature Behzad advice ascetic.jpg
"Advice of the Ascetic", a 16th-century Persian miniature

Public Islamic art is traditionally non-representational, except for the widespread use of plant forms, usually in varieties of the spiralling arabesque. These are often combined with Islamic calligraphy, geometric patterns in styles that are typically found in a wide variety of media, from small objects in ceramic or metalwork to large decorative schemes in tiling on the outside and inside of large buildings, including mosques. However, there is a long tradition in Islamic art of the depiction of human and animal figures, especially in painting and small anonymous relief figures as part of a decorative scheme. Almost all Persian miniatures (as opposed to decorative illuminations) include figures, often in large numbers, as do their equivalents in Arab, Mughal and Ottoman miniatures. But miniatures in books or muraqqa albums were private works owned by the elite. Larger figures in monumental sculpture are exceptionally rare until recent times, and portraiture showing realistic representations of individuals (and animals) did not develop until the late 16th century in miniature painting, especially Mughal miniatures. Manuscripts of the Qur'an and other sacred texts have always been strictly kept free of such figures, but there is a long tradition of the depiction of Muhammad and other religious figures in books of history and poetry; since the 20th century Muhammad has mostly been shown as though wearing a veil hiding his face, and many earlier miniatures were overpainted to use this convention. [15]

Depiction of animate beings

Some interpretations of Islam include a ban of depiction of animate beings, also known as aniconism. Islamic aniconism stems in part from the prohibition of idolatry and in part from the belief that creation of living forms is God's prerogative. Although the Quran does not explicitly prohibit visual representation of any living being, it uses the word musawwir (maker of forms, artist) as an epithet of God. The corpus of hadith (sayings attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad) contains more explicit prohibitions of images of living beings, challenging painters to "breathe life" into their images and threatening them with punishment on the Day of Judgment. [16] [17] Muslims have interpreted these prohibitions in different ways in different times and places. Religious Islamic art has been typically characterized by the absence of figures and extensive use of calligraphic, geometric and abstract floral patterns. However, representations of Muhammad (in some cases, with his face concealed) and other religious figures are found in some manuscripts from lands to the east of Anatolia, such as Persia and India. These pictures were meant to illustrate the story and not to infringe on the Islamic prohibition of idolatry, but many Muslims regard such images as forbidden. [16] In secular art of the Muslim world, representations of human and animal forms historically flourished in nearly all Islamic cultures, although, partly because of opposing religious sentiments, figures in paintings were often stylized, giving rise to a variety of decorative figural designs. [17]


Islamic calligraphy is the artistic practice of handwriting and calligraphy, based upon the alphabet in the lands sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage. It includes Arabic Calligraphy, Ottoman, and Persian calligraphy. [18] [19] It is known in Arabic as khatt Islami (خط اسلامي), meaning Islamic line, design, or construction. [20]

The development of Islamic calligraphy is strongly tied to the Qur'an; chapters and excerpts from the Qur'an are a common and almost universal text upon which Islamic calligraphy is based. However, Islamic calligraphy is not limited to strictly religious subjects, objects, or spaces. Like all Islamic art, it encompasses a diverse array of works created in a wide variety of contexts. [21] The prevalence of calligraphy in Islamic art is not directly related to its non-figural tradition; rather, it reflects the centrality of the notion of writing and written text in Islam. [22] It is noteworthy, for instance, that the Prophet Muhammad is related to have said: "The first thing God created was the pen." [23]

Islamic calligraphy developed from two major styles: Kufic and Naskh. There are several variations of each, as well as regionally specific styles. Islamic calligraphy has also been incorporated into modern art beginning with the post-colonial period in the Middle East, as well as the more recent style of calligraffiti.


Islamic architecture is the range of architectural styles of buildings associated with Islam. It encompasses both secular and religious styles from the early history of Islam to the present day. Early Islamic architecture was influenced by Roman, Byzantine, Persian and all other lands which the Muslims conquered in the 7th and 8th centuries. [24] [25] Further east, it was also influenced by Chinese and Indian architecture as Islam spread to the Southeast Asia. Later it developed distinct characteristics in the form of buildings, and the decoration of surfaces with Islamic calligraphy and geometric and interlace patterned ornament. The principal Islamic architectural types for large or public buildings are: the Mosque, the Tomb, the Palace and the Fort. From these four types, the vocabulary of Islamic architecture is derived and used for other buildings such as public baths, fountains and domestic architecture. [26] [27]

Elements of Islamic style

Islamic architecture may be identified with the following design elements, which were inherited from the first mosque built by Muhammad in Medina, as well as from other pre-Islamic features adapted from churches and synagogues.


The Indonesian puppet of Amir Hamzah, in Wayang theatre COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Houten wajangpop Amir Hamza alias Menak alias Jayengrana voorstellend TMnr 6148-5-4a.jpg
The Indonesian puppet of Amir Hamzah, in Wayang theatre

Whilst theatre is permitted by Islam, [32] Islam does not allow for any performances to depict God, Muhammad, his companions, the angels or matters detailed in the religion that are unseen.

The most popular forms of theatre in the medieval Islamic world were puppet theatre (which included hand puppets, shadow plays and marionette productions) and live passion plays known as ta'ziya, where actors re-enact episodes from Muslim history. In particular, Shia Islamic plays revolved around the shaheed (martyrdom) of Ali's sons Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali. Live secular plays were known as akhraja, recorded in medieval adab literature, though they were less common than puppetry and ta'zieh theatre. [33]

One of the oldest, and most enduring, forms of puppet theatre is the Wayang of Indonesia. Although it narrates primarily pre-Islamic legends, it is also an important stage for Islamic epics such as the adventures of Amir Hamzah (pictured). Islamic Wayang is known as Wayang Sadat or Wayang Menak.

Karagoz, the Turkish Shadow Theatre has influenced puppetry widely in the region. It is thought to have passed from China by way of India. Later it was taken by the Mongols from the Chinese and transmitted to the Turkish peoples of Central Russia. Thus the art of Shadow Theatre was brought to Anatolia by the Turkish people emigrating from Central Asia. Other scholars claim that shadow theatre came to Anatolia in the 16th century from Egypt. The advocates of this view claim that when Yavuz Sultan Selim conquered Egypt in 1517, he saw shadow theatre performed during an extacy party put on in his honour. Yavuz Sultan Selim was so impressed with it that he took the puppeteer back to his palace in Istanbul. There his 47-year-old son, later Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, developed an interest in the plays and watched them a great deal. Thus shadow theatre found its way into the Ottoman palaces. [34]

In other areas the style of shadow puppetry known as khayal al-zill – an intentionally metaphorical term whose meaning is best translated as ‘shadows of the imagination’ or ‘shadow of fancy' survives. This is a shadow play with live music ..”the accompaniment of drums, tambourines and flutes...also...“special effects” – smoke, fire, thunder, rattles, squeaks, thumps, and whatever else might elicit a laugh or a shudder from his audience" [35]

In Iran puppets are known to have existed much earlier than 1000, but initially only glove and string puppets were popular in Iran. [36] Other genres of puppetry emerged during the Qajar era (18th–19th century) as influences from Turkey spread to the region. Kheimeh Shab-Bazi is a Persian traditional puppet show which is performed in a small chamber by a musical performer and a storyteller called a morshed or naghal. These shows often take place alongside storytelling in traditional tea and coffee-houses (Ghahve-Khave). The dialogue takes place between the morshed and the puppets. Puppetry remains very popular in Iran, the touring opera Rostam and Sohrab puppet opera being a recent example.

The Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman. It is considered to be the first opera house linking Islamic culture with classical music.


Many forms of dancing arts are practised in Muslim cultures, both in religious [37] and secular contexts (such as folk and tribal dances, court dances, dances of celebration during weddings and festivals, belly dancing, etc.).

Some scholars of Islamic fiqh pronounced gender based rulings on dance, making it permissible for women within a female only environment, as is often performed at celebrations, [38] but discouraging men to engage in it. [39] Other classical authorities including Al-Ghazzali and Al-Nawawi allow it without this distinction, but criticised dancing which is "languid" or excites carnal lusts. [40] [41]

Most of the religious orders ( tariqa ) which dominate traditional Muslim religious life practice ritualised forms of dance in the context of dhikr ceremonies. Dhikr, "recollection" (of God) is a meditative form of worship different from ritual prayer where the seeker focuses all of his senses and thoughts on God in the hope of attaining maarifat (experiential knowledge of God) and triggering mystic states within him- or herself. Dhikr can be performed individually or with like-minded followers under the direction of a sheikh, and can involve silent meditation or repetition and visualisation of sacred words such as the 99 names of God or Quranic phrases, and may be done at rest or with rhythmic movements and controlling one's breath. Traditional Islamic orders have developed varied dhikr exercises including sometimes highly elaborate ritual dances accompanied by Sufi poetry and classical music.

Al-Ghazzali discussed the use of music and dancing in dhikr and the mystical states it induces in worshippers, as well as regulating the etiquette attached to these ceremonies, in his short treatise on Islamic spirituality The Alchemy of Happiness and in his highly influential work The Revival of the Religious Sciences . Al-Ghazzali emphasized how the practices of music and dance are beneficial to religious seekers, as long as their hearts are pure before engaging in these practices. [42]

Notable examples include the Mevlevi Order founded by Jalaluddin Rumi, which was the main Sunni order of the Ottoman empire, and its sama ritual (known in the West as "the whirling dervishes"). [43] The Mevlevi order, its rituals and Ottoman classical music has been banned in Turkey through much of the 20th century as part of the country's drive towards secular "modernisation", and the order's properties have been expropriated and the country's mosques put out of its control, which has radically diminished its influence in modern Turkey. In 2008, UNESCO confirmed the "Mevlevi Sama Ceremony" of Turkey as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, [44] and the practice is now regaining interest.

In Egypt and the Levant, the Mevlevi form of sama is known as tannoura and has been adopted (with some modifications) by other Sufi orders as well.

The Chishti order, traditionally the dominant Islamic institution in Afghanistan and the Indian subcontinent and the most ancient of the major Sufi orders, also practices forms of sama similar to the Mevlevis, as well as other forms of devotional dance such as dhamaal . The order is strongly associated with the development of Hindustani classical music and semi-classical devotional genres such as qawwali through famed pioneer figures such as Amir Khusrow. The Chishti order remains one of the largest and strongest Muslim religious orders in the world by far, retaining a vast influence on the spirituality and culture of around 500 million Muslims living in the Indian subcontinent.

Other examples of devotional dance are found in the Maghreb where it is associated with gnawa music, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia. The Naqshbandi order, predominant among Iran's Sunni minority, is a notable exception in that they do not use music and dancing in the context of dhikr.

In addition to these strictly religious forms of dance, colourful dancing processions traditionally take place in Muslim communities during weddings and public celebrations such as Mawlid , Eid el-Adha , and so on. Many Islamic cultures have also developed classical forms of dance in the context for instance of Mughal, Ottoman, Persian and Javanese court cultures, as well as innumerable local folk and tribal dances (for instance amongst Bedouin, Tuareg and Pashto peoples), and other forms of dance used for entertainment or sometimes healing such as belly dancing (principally associated with Egyptian culture).

Although tariqas and their rituals have been an omnipresent part of Muslim life for most of Islam's history and were largely responsible for the spread of Islam throughout the world, their following and influence has sharply declined since the late 19th century, having been vigorously opposed and combated in turns by the French and British colonial administrations and by Muslim modernists and secularists like Kemal Ataturk, and in recent decades have been the target of vocal opposition by the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect promoted by Saudi Arabia (where most of the heritage associated with Sufism and tariqa was physically destroyed by the state in the 1930s). Wahhabi militant groups such as ISIS and the Taliban are repeatedly targeting dhikr ceremonies in terrorist attacks, notably in Egypt and Pakistan. [45] [46]


Many Muslims are very familiar to listening to music. The classic heartland of Islam is Arabia as well as other parts of the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Because Islam is a multicultural religion, the musical expression of its adherents is diverse.

The Seljuk Turks, a nomadic tribe that converted to Islam, conquered Anatolia (now Turkey), and held the Caliphate as the Ottoman Empire, also had a strong influence on Islamic music. See Turkish classical music.

Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and the Malay Archipelago also have large Muslim populations, but these areas have had less influence than the heartland on the various traditions of Islamic music. For South India, see: Mappila Songs, Duff Muttu.

All these regions were connected by trade long before the Islamic conquests of the 7th century and later, and it is likely that musical styles travelled the same routes as trade goods. However, lacking recordings, we can only speculate as to the pre-Islamic music of these areas. Islam must have had a great influence on music, as it united vast areas under the first caliphs, and facilitated trade between distant lands. Certainly the Sufis, brotherhoods of Muslim mystics, spread their music far and wide.

See articles on Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, Ashurah (see also Hosay and Tabuik), Mawlid, Lailat al Miraj and Shab-e-baraat.

Family life

In a Muslim family, the birth of a child is attended with some religious ceremonies. Immediately after the birth, the words of Adhan is pronounced in the right ear of the child. [47] In the seventh day, the aquiqa ceremony is performed, in which an animal is sacrificed and its meat is distributed among the poor. [48] The head of the child is also shaved, and an amount of money equaling the weight of the child's hair is donated to the poor. [48] Apart from fulfilling the basic needs of food, shelter, and education, the parents or the elderly members of family also undertake the task of teaching moral qualities, religious knowledge, and religious practices to the children. [49] Marriage, which serves as the foundation of a Muslim family, is a civil contract which consists of an offer and acceptance between two qualified parties in the presence of two witnesses. The groom is required to pay a bridal gift ( mahr ) to the bride, as stipulated in the contract. [50] With Muslims coming from diverse backgrounds including 49 Muslim-majority countries, plus a strong presence as large minorities throughout the world there are many variations on Muslim weddings. Generally in a Muslim family, a woman's sphere of operation is the home and a man's corresponding sphere is the outside world. However, in practice, this separation is not as rigid as it appears. [51]

Certain religious rites are performed during and after the death of a Muslim. Those near a dying man encourage him to pronounce the Shahada as Muslims want their last word to be their profession of faith. After the death, the body is appropriately bathed by the members of the same gender and then enshrouded in a threefold white garment called kafan. [52] Placing the body on a bier, it is first taken to a mosque where funeral prayer is offered for the dead person, and then to the graveyard for burial.

Etiquette and diet

Many practices fall in the category of adab, or Islamic etiquette. This includes greeting others with " as-salamu 'alaykum " ("peace be unto you"), saying bismillah ("in the name of God") before meals, and using only the right hand for eating and drinking. Islamic hygienic practices mainly fall into the category of personal cleanliness and health. Circumcision of male offspring is also practiced in Islam. Islamic burial rituals include saying the Salat al-Janazah ("funeral prayer") over the bathed and enshrouded dead body, and burying it in a grave. Muslims are restricted in their diet. Prohibited foods include pork products, blood, carrion, and alcohol. All meat must come from a herbivorous animal slaughtered in the name of God by a Muslim, Jew, or Christian, with the exception of game that one has hunted or fished for oneself. Food permissible for Muslims is known as halal food. [53]

Martial arts in Muslim countries/cultures

See also

Notes and references

  1. "Minds unmade" via The Economist.
  2. Jones, p. ix.
  3. Spooner, Brian (1994). "Dari, Farsi, and Tojiki". In Marashi, Mehdi (ed.). Persian Studies in North America: Studies in Honor of Mohammad Ali Jazayery. Leiden: Brill. pp. 177–178.
  4. Spooner, Brian (2012). "Dari, Farsi, and Tojiki". In Schiffman, Harold (ed.). Language policy and language conflict in Afghanistan and its neighbors: the changing politics of language choice. Leiden: Brill. p. 94.
  5. Campbell, George L.; King, Gareth, eds. (2013). "Persian". Compendium of the World's Languages (3rd ed.). Routledge. p. 1339.
  6. Arthur John Arberry, The Legacy of Persia, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953, ISBN   0-19-821905-9, p. 200.
  7. Von David Levinson; Karen Christensen, Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, Charles Scribner's Sons. 2002, vol. 4, p. 480
  8. Frye, R. N., "Darī", The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Brill Publications, CD version.
  9. C. A. (Charles Ambrose) Storey and Franço de Blois (2004), "Persian Literature - A Biobibliographical Survey: Volume V Poetry of the Pre-Mongol Period", RoutledgeCurzon; 2nd revised edition (June 21, 2004). p. 363: "Nizami Ganja’i, whose personal name was Ilyas, is the most celebrated native poet of the Persians after Firdausi. His nisbah designates him as a native of Ganja (Elizavetpol, Kirovabad) in Azerbaijan, then still a country with an Iranian population, and he spent the whole of his life in Transcaucasia; the verse in some of his poetic works which makes him a native of the hinterland of Qom is a spurious interpolation."
  10. Franklin Lewis, Rumi Past and Present, East and West, Oneworld Publications, 2000. How is it that a Persian boy born almost eight hundred years ago in Khorasan, the northeastern province of greater Iran, in a region that we identify today as Central Asia, but was considered in those days as part of the Greater Persian cultural sphere, wound up in Central Anatolia on the receding edge of the Byzantine cultural sphere, in which is now Turkey, some 1500 miles to the west? (p. 9)
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Further reading

Related Research Articles

Rumi 13th-century Persian poet

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, Mevlânâ/Mawlānā, Mevlevî/Mawlawī, and more popularly simply as Rumi, was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic originally from Greater Khorasan. Rumi's influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions: Iranians, Tajiks, Turks, Greeks, Pashtuns, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages and transposed into various formats. Rumi has been described as the "most popular poet" and the "best selling poet" in the United States.

Ottoman Empire Former empire in Asia, Europe and Africa

The Ottoman Empire, historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.

The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı, from the house of Osman I, the founder of the dynasty that ruled the Ottoman Empire for its entire 624 years. After the expansion from its home in Bithynia, the Ottoman principality began incorporating other Turkish-speaking Muslims and non-Turkish Christians, becoming the Ottoman Turks and ultimately the Turks of the present. The Ottoman Turks blocked all land routes to Europe by conquering the city of Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzantine Empire, and Europeans had to find other ways to trade with Eastern countries.

Islamic art art associated with Muslim peoples

Islamic art encompasses the visual arts produced in the Islamic world. Islamic art is difficult to characterize because it covers a wide range of lands, periods, and genres, including Islamic architecture, Islamic calligraphy, Islamic miniature, Islamic glass, Islamic pottery, and textile arts such as carpets and embroidery.

Mevlevi Order organization

The Mawlaw'īyya / Mevlevi Order is a Sufi order in Konya founded by the followers of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic theologian and Sufi mystic. The Mevlevi are also known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of whirling as a form of dhikr. Dervish is a common term for an initiate of the Sufi path; the whirling is part of the formal Sama ceremony and the participants are properly known as semazen-s.

Sama (Sufism) Sufi ceremony performed as dhikr

Sama is a Sufi ceremony performed as dhikr. Sama means "listening", while dhikr means "remembrance". These rituals often include singing, playing instruments, dancing, recitation of poetry and prayers, wearing symbolic attire, and other rituals. It is a particularly popular form of worship in Sufism.

Islamic architecture architectural style

Islamic architecture is the range of architectural styles of buildings associated with Islam. It encompasses both secular and religious styles from the early history of Islam to the present day. Early Islamic architecture was influenced by Roman, Byzantine, Persian, Mesopotamian and all other lands which the Muslims conquered in the 7th and 8th centuries. Further east, it was also influenced by Chinese and Indian architecture as Islam spread to Southeast Asia. Later it developed distinct characteristics in the form of buildings, and the decoration of surfaces with Islamic calligraphy and geometric and interlace patterned ornament. The principal Islamic architectural types for large or public buildings are: the Mosque, the Tomb, the Palace and the Fort. From these four types, the vocabulary of Islamic architecture is derived and used for other buildings such as public baths, fountains and domestic architecture.

Dervish someone treading a Sufi Muslim ascetic path

Dervish or darwish in Islam can refer broadly to members of a Sufi fraternity (tariqah), or more narrowly to a religious mendicant, who chose or accepted material poverty. The latter usage is found particularly in Persian and Turkish, corresponding to the Arabic term faqir. Their focus is on the universal values of love and service, deserting the illusions of ego to reach God. In most Sufi orders, a dervish is known to practice dhikr through physical exertions or religious practices to attain the ecstatic trance to reach God. Their most common practice is Sama, which is associated with the 13th-century mystic Rumi.

The culture of Turkey combines a heavily diverse and heterogeneous set of elements that have been derived from the various cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asian region and to a lesser degree, Eastern European, and Caucasian traditions. Many of these traditions were initially brought together by the Ottoman Empire, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious state.

Culture of the Ottoman Empire

Ottoman culture evolved over several centuries as the ruling administration of the Turks absorbed, adapted and modified the cultures of conquered lands and their peoples. There was a strong influence from the customs and languages of Islamic societies, notably Arabic, while Persian culture had a significant contribution through the heavily Persianized Seljuq Turks, the Ottomans' predecessors. Despite newer added amalgamations, the Ottoman dynasty, like their predecessors in the Sultanate of Rum and the Seljuk Empire, were thoroughly Persianised in their culture, language, habits and customs, and therefore, the empire has been described as a Persianate empire." Throughout its history, the Ottoman Empire had substantial subject populations of Orthodox subjects, Armenians, Jews and Assyrians, who were allowed a certain amount of autonomy under the confessional millet system of Ottoman government, and whose distinctive cultures enriched that of the Ottoman state.

Turkish literature genre of literature

Turkish literature comprises oral compositions and written texts in Turkic languages. The Ottoman and Azeri forms of Turkish, which forms the basis of much of the written corpus, were highly influenced by Persian and Arabic literature, and used the Ottoman Turkish alphabet.

Sultanate of Rum Seljuq Sultanate in Western Anatolia

The Sultanate of Rûm (also known as the Rûm sultanate, Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate, Sultanate of Iconium, Anatolian Seljuk State or Turkey Seljuk State was a Turko-Persian Sunni Muslim state established in the parts of Anatolia which had been conquered from the Byzantine Empire by the Seljuk Empire, which was established by the Seljuk Turks. The name Rûm was a synonym for Greek, as it remains in modern Turkish, although it derives from the Arabic name for Romans, الرُّومُ ar-Rūm, itself a loan from Greek Ῥωμαῖοι, "Romans"; ie. citizens superordinately to Latin-speakers.

Sufi whirling physically active Sufi meditation, practiced by Dervish orders, involving spinning in circles to music

Sufi whirling is a form of physically active meditation which originated among Sufis, and which is still practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order and other orders such as the Rifa'i-Marufi. It is a customary meditation practice performed within the Sema, or worship ceremony, through which dervishes aim to reach the source of all perfection, or kamal. This is sought through abandoning one's nafs, egos or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one's body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.

Anatolian beyliks

Anatolian beyliks, sometimes known as Turkmen beyliks, were small principalities in Anatolia governed by Beys, the first of which were founded at the end of the 11th century. A second more extensive period of foundations took place as a result of the decline of the Seljuq Sultanate of Rûm in the second half of the 13th century.

A Persianate society is a society that is based on or strongly influenced by the Persian language, culture, literature, art and/or identity.

Islamic calligraphy

Islamic calligraphy is the artistic practice of handwriting and calligraphy, based upon the alphabet in the lands sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage. It includes Arabic Calligraphy, Ottoman, and Persian calligraphy. It is known in Arabic as khatt Islami, meaning Islamic line, design, or construction.


A khanqah or khaniqah, also known as a ribat (رباط) – among other terms – is a building designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood or tariqa and is a place for spiritual retreat and character reformation. In the past, and to a lesser extent nowadays, they often served as hospices for saliks, Murids (initiates) and talibs. Khanqahs are very often found adjoined to dargahs, mosques and madrasas.

Seljuq dynasty was an Oghuz Turk Sunni Muslim dynasty that gradually became a Persianate society

The Seljuq dynasty, or Seljuqs, was an Oghuz Turk Sunni Muslim dynasty that gradually became a Persianate society and contributed to the Turco-Persian tradition in the medieval West and Central Asia. The Seljuqs established both the Seljuk Empire and the Sultanate of Rum, which at their heights stretched from Iran to Anatolia, and were targets of the First Crusade.

Turco-Persian tradition

The composite Turco-Persian tradition refers to a distinctive culture that arose in the 9th and 10th centuries in Khorasan and Transoxiana. It was Persianate in that it was centered on a lettered tradition of Iranian origin and it was Turkic insofar as it was founded by and for many generations patronized by rulers of Turkic heredity. In subsequent centuries, the Turco-Persian culture would be carried on further by the conquering peoples to neighbouring regions, eventually becoming the predominant culture of the ruling and elite classes of South Asia specifically North India, Central Asia and East Turkestan and large parts of West Asia.

Persianization or persification, is a sociological process of cultural change in which something becomes "Persianate". It is a specific form of cultural assimilation that often includes language assimilation. The term applies not only to cultures but also to individuals, as they acclimate to Persian culture and become "persianized" or "persified".