Abdullah Al-Judai’ & Jonas Otterbeck
Area of Research
10/14 What Is Islamic Art? And What Makes Art Islamic?

The main article in this book is an attempt to answer the question “What is Islamic art” and “What makes art Islamic?” This topic has been a field of great interest to the researcher who tackled it in some detailed juristic researches; some of them have already been published and others were presented in some conferences and seminars dealing with the subject of “Rulings of Entertainment.” The article presents a summary of many detailed studies with the hope to add value in discussing this important topic as it has far-reaching effects in our reality. The author pointed out that the topic under discussion with all its details is subject to ijtihad (independent reasoning). He examines various concepts and the legal rulings related to arts and elucidates arts issues including story and poetry, singing and music, dance, and acting. He concludes with emphasizing that art is a kind of expressing different concepts in a way that is compatible with human nature. He argues that it is a good means of recreation and entertainment that wards off boredom and weariness, enriches intellect, and calms souls. It is also a manifestation of beauty that attracts people and all these are sublime objectives considered by the wise Sharia.

In his response to the main article in this book, the respondent offers a social science perspective on the questions “What is Islamic arts?” and “What makes art Islamic?” He starts by highlighting some historical examples on the discussion on music then explains the theoretical perspectives on music which will be followed by a section specifically on Islamic arts including an analysis of the idea of ‘purposeful arts’. The respondent then returns to Muslim scholarly arguments on music and discusses some interesting, present-day artists’ suggestions on how to resolve difficult moral issues that are pressing when dealing with music and Islam. These artists include Native Deen, Maher Zain, Zain Bhikha and Sami Yousuf. He finally returns to address the two main questions and concludes by stressing that as long as Islam is the master referent to the discourse of the art and others accept the claim of the art and artist, the art produced can be said to relate to the concept “Islamic art” and that is what makes art Islamic.

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