Study – The Significance of Stars in Islamic Art

Oh my goodness I haven’t posted anything for more than two weeks! I guess I was really occupied with things to do during Ramadhan and what’s with irregular working hours  I have to put up with….it has been a tiring but pleasant Ramadan so far. So to restart the blog, here is a brand new article for you.

As you may know, if you follow this blog from the start, you would notice that Islamic art such as Zellige or Geometric art features heavily on stars. One must wonder why does Islamic art features stars and star shaped motifs, and why it is almost  a definition of Islamic art itself.

In Islam, Muslims are forbidden of drawing animate beings and objects thus figurative art that features human or animal figures were underdeveloped, for the fear of idolatry. Although in the course of the history of Islam and its empires some exceptions are made for example, in Islamic Persia where miniatures flourished and became a significant part of Islamic art in Persia, as it is already has been before the coming of Islam. To go around this restriction, Muslim artists express their creativity in a different way – they turned to geometric art and specifically those which featured stars.

Following are some theories on why Muslim  artists selected star geometric art to convey their creativity  –

  1. Representation of Light – In Islam, God has no image ; meaning that unlike other religions such as Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism, Islam does not take any image to represent their God. The only thing that described God in Islam as in imagery is that God is light, as the Al-Quran proclaims- “God is the light of the heavens and earth”.  Stars produced light in the heavens, so it is not as surprising that Muslims chose stars to represent light to decorate sacred buildings as well as illumination for sacred texts.
  2. Stars are Guides in the Desert – The first Muslims were desert-dwellers and relies on the stars for guidance as in navigation through the deserts or the sea. Besides being the navigational help, stars also play a role in pointing out and deciding the direction of the Qiblah or the direction of the Kaabah, where every Muslims face during their prayers. Thus, stars bears a significance in the early Muslims daily lives and became a part of the Islamic aesthetic.
  3. The Repeating Geometric Patterns are a glimpse into the Spiritual World and Perfection – Geometry has been associated with metaphysical properties long before Islam. For example, the Greeks had contemplated the perfection of Geometry and came to associate it with divine properties. The Muslims, who studied the Greeks mathematical works, amongst other, agreed and integrated Geometric art as a spiritual gate to the divine plane.
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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Study – The Significance of Stars in Islamic Art

  1. maturestudenthanginginthere

    I found your blog by accident today and I’m so glad I did! It is both beautiful and interesting. I didn’t realise that in Islam God has no image. Thank you for your inspirational post. When I have time to spend I will read more of your posts – I’m hooked – off to subscribe. Thank you.

    Jacqueline

    • Hello Jacqueline,
      Thank you for your kind words, it means a lot. And thank you for subscribing! Yes, in Islam God has no image and no Muslims can ever replicate the image of God. Hope to hear more from you!

  2. Rosemary Bastos

    Hello, I like so much the stars in Slamic Art and do not knew about why they used stars in geometrical art. Thank you for your post!

    Rosemary

    • You are very welcome! I just stumbled upon some books about the significance of stars in Islamic Art so I am very glad to spread the info.

  3. Em Poole

    I too love Islamic art – it’s very beautiful, elegant, and full of wonder.
    I travelled to Cordoba, Granada and Seville last year for the full purpose of experiencing Islamic gardens and art. But now I wonder why there are likenesses of lions at the Alhambra?
    Could you let me know?

    Thank you!

    • The beauty of Islamic Art is what this blog is all about. Lucky you for having been to Spain to visit the Islamic architectural masterpieces! As for the lion statues and I assume you are referring to the twelve lion statues in the Court of the Lions, I learned that the sculptures were taken from the Palace of Joseph Ibn Naghrela, a vizier of the Kingdom of Granada. As for the significance, Lion , in Middle Eastern Tradition is an animal that symbolizes bravery and since the poem on the basin of the fountain “The fountain is the Sultan, which smothers with his graces all his subjects and lands, as the water wets the gardens”, the lion could be a form of representation of the Sultan.

  4. Allegra

    Islamic patterns are very pretty especially this one😃😃😃

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