- Delacroix in Morocco | Delacroix in Mexico
- The Jews in Europe | The Jews in Europe
- Barbarianism ain’t that bad | Barbarian liberty
- Why did we start farming? | Why farms die (and should die)
- Daily hell of life in the Soviet bloc | reading Bertrand Russell
- the Reformation’s controversies are as relevant as ever
- who stole Burma’s royal rubies?
- the Madras Observatory: from Jesuit cooperation to British rule
- “There are few better illustrations of how a whole host of people can manage to understand absolutely nothing, act in an impulsive and idiotic way, and still drastically change the course of history.“
- MacLean’s new book is bad news for the political Left
- fascism explained via 90-year-old sci-fi film (are you using hyphens correctly?)
- bawdry in the bloodstream (Bohemian nonsense)
- Hokusai and the wave that swept the world
- Xenophobia in South Africa: Historical Legacies of Exclusion and Violence
- Death in Venice: Eighteenth Century Critiques of Republicanism
- 2 Fantastic Exhibitions at the Asian Art Museum
- Not All Libertarian Rightists/Leftists Are “Thick”: A Reminder
- What We Can Learn from Confederate Foreign Policy
That is the title of this piece by Barnaby Rogerson in the Spectator. There are three beautiful pieces of medieval art (two Persian and one Turkish), and those alone are worth the price of the click. There is, of course, a short essay explaining why there is now so much resistance to depicting Mohammed in art (of both the high and low brow variety). Check it out:
Whatever the heritage of their medieval past, Sunni Islam — in the Arab-speaking Middle East — had decisively turned its back on depictions of the Prophet well before the 18th-century emergence of Wahhabism. Once again there are no definite answers. It may have been a gut reaction to the magnificent art produced by their Iranian Shiite rivals but it also reflects a very real fear that Mohammed was slowly being turned into a demi-god and that in the process his actual prophetic message would be ignored. This was especially true in the far eastern frontiers of Islam, such as India and Indonesia (numerically the two largest Muslim nations in the world) with their ancient syncretic traditions. So the attack on imagery can also be seen to have a constructive element embedded within it, concentrating all attention on the text of the Koran and reinforcing the Arab nature of that revelation.
Take this as you will. My instinct is to suspect “the Arab nature of that revelation” as the initial reason for this change in Islamic aesthetics. That is to say, I suspect that a medieval notion of Arab chauvinism is responsible for the shift.