Islamic arts

Islamic arts
Visual, literary, and performing arts of the populations that adopted Islam from the 7th century.

Islamic visual arts are decorative, colourful, and, in religious art, nonrepresentational; the characteristic Islamic decoration is the arabesque. From AD 750 to the mid 11th century, ceramics, glass, metalwork, textiles, illuminated manuscripts, and woodwork flourished; lustred glass became the greatest Islamic contribution to ceramics. Manuscript illumination became an important and greatly respected art, and miniature painting flourished in Iran after the Mongol invasions (1220–60). Calligraphy, an essential aspect of written Arabic, developed in manuscripts and architectural decoration. Islamic architecture finds its highest expression in the mosque and related religious buildings. Early Islamic religious architecture drew upon Christian architectural features such as domes, columnar arches, and mosaics, but also included large courtyards for congregational prayer. Religious architecture came into its own in the period of the caliphates with the creation of the hypostyle mosque in Iraq and Egypt. Islamic literature is written in four main languages: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu. Arabic is of overwhelming importance as the language of the revelation of Islam and of the Qurān. The Persians used the genres, forms, and rules of Arabic poetry in their own language but elaborated on them. They also developed a new genre, the mas̄navī, composed of a series of rhyming couplets, which they employed for epic poetry. Persian literature in turn influenced both Urdu and Turkish literature, especially with regard to vocabulary and metres. In the realm of popular literature, the best-known work is The Arabian Nights' Entertainment, a rich collection of fairy tales from different parts of the Muslim world. Islamic music is monophonic, devoid of harmony, and characterized by distinctive systems of rhythms and melodies, extensive ornamentation of the single melodic line, and virtuoso improvisation. It is usually performed by a small ensemble
a singer and several instrumentalists who alternate solo vocal and instrumental passages. While the theatre has not flourished as a major art under Islam
indeed, conservative Muslims have consistently disapproved of the theatre
there are traditions of folk dance, dance as an entertainment spectacle, and dance as an art form in most Islamic countries. One noteworthy form of devotional dance is that of the dervish. Popular traditions such as mime and shadow-puppet shows have also have persisted, and live popular drama has a strong tradition in Persia, where passion plays took root. See also hypostyle hall; Mozarabic art.

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      the literary, performing, and visual arts of the vast populations of the Middle East and elsewhere that adopted the Islamic faith from the 7th century onward. These adherents of the faith have created such an immense variety of literatures, performing arts, visual arts, and music that it virtually defies any comprehensive definition. In the narrowest sense, the arts of the Islamic peoples might be said to include only those arising directly from the practice of Islam; more commonly, however, the term is extended to include all of the arts produced by Muslim peoples, whether connected with their religion or not. In this article, the subject includes the arts created in pre-Islamic times by Arabs and other peoples in Asia Minor and North Africa who eventually adopted the Islamic faith. On the other hand, arts produced in cultural areas that were only partially Muslim are discussed primarily in articles on arts of those regions; see Central Asian arts; South Asian arts; and Southeast Asian arts.

General considerations
      It is difficult to establish a common denominator for all of the artistic expressions of the Islamic peoples. Such a common denominator would have to be meaningful for miniature painting and historiography, for a musical mode and the form of a poem. The relationship between the art of the Islamic peoples and its religious basis is anything but direct.

      Like most prophetic religions, Islam is not conducive to fine arts. Representation (mimesis) of living beings is prohibited—not in the Qurʾān but in the prophetic tradition. Thus, the centre of the Islamic artistic tradition lies in calligraphy, a distinguishing feature of this culture, in which the word as the medium of divine revelation plays such an important role. Representational art was found, however, in some early palaces and “at the doors of the bathhouses,” according to later Persian poetry. After the 13th century a highly refined art of miniature developed, primarily in the non-Arab countries; it dwells, however, only rarely upon religious subjects. The typical expression of Muslim art is the arabesque, both in its geometric and in its vegetabilic form—one leaf, one flower growing out of the other, without beginning and end and capable of almost innumerable variations—only gradually detected by the eye—which never lose their charm. An aversion to empty spaces distinguishes that art; neither the tile-covered walls of a mosque nor the rich imagery of a poem allows an unembellished area; and the decoration of a carpet can be extended almost without limit.

      The centre of Islamic religion is the clean place for prayer, enlarged into the mosque, which comprises the community and all its needs. The essential structure is similar throughout the Muslim world. There are, of course, period and regional differences—large, wide court mosques of early times; court mosques, with big halls, of Iran and adjacent countries; central buildings with the wonderfully shaped domes of the Ottoman Empire. The implements, however, are the same: a niche (miḥrāb (mihrab))—pointing to Mecca—made of wood, marble, mosaic, stone, tiles; a small pulpit for the Friday sermon; minarets, locally differently shaped but always rising like the call to prayer that is uttered from their tops; the wooden carved stands for the Qurʾān, which is to be written in the most perfect form; sometimes highly artistic lamps (made in Syria and proverbially mentioned all over the Muslim world); perhaps bronze candlesticks, with inlaid ornaments; and rich variations of the prayer mats. If any decoration was needed, it was the words of God, beautifully written or carved in the walls or around the domes. At first connected with the mosques and later independent of them are schools, mausoleums, rooms for the students, and cells for the religious masters.

      The poetry of the Arabs (Arabic literature) consisted in the beginning of praise and satirical poems thought to be full of magic qualities. The strict rules of the outward form of the poems (monorhyme, complicated metre) even in pre-Islamic times led to a certain formalism and encouraged imitation.

      Goethe's (Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von) statement that the stories of The Thousand and One Nights have no goal in themselves shows his understanding of the character of Arabic belles lettres, contrasting them with the Islamic religion, which aims at “collecting and uniting people in order to achieve one high goal.” Poets, on the other hand, rove around without any ethical purpose, according to the Qurʾān. For many pious Muslims, poetry was something suspect, opposed to the divine law, especially since it sang mostly of forbidden wine and of free love. The combination of music and poetry, as practiced in court circles and among the mystics, has always aroused the wrath of the lawyer divines who wielded so much authority in Islamic communities. This opposition may partly explain why Islamic poetry and fine arts took refuge in a kind of unreal world, using fixed images that could be correctly interpreted only by those who were knowledgeable in the art.

      The ambiguity of Persian poetry, which oscillates between the worldly, the divine, and often the political level, is typical of Islamic writings. Especially in Iran and the countries under its cultural influence, this kind of poetry formed the most important part of literature. Epic poetry of all kinds developed exclusively outside the Arabic-speaking countries; Western readers look in vain for an epical structure in such long poems (as in the case of the prose-romances of the Arabs) and find, instead, a rather aimless representation of facts and fictions. A similar characteristic even conditions innumerable historical works in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, which, especially in classical times, contain much valuable information, put together without being shaped into a real work of art; only rarely does the historian or philosopher reach a comprehensive view. The first attempt at a philosophy of history, Ibn Khaldūn's Muqaddimah, in the 14th century, was rarely studied by his Arab compatriots.

      The accumulation of large amounts of material, which is carefully organized up to the present, seems typical of all branches of Islamic scholarship, from theology to natural sciences. There are many minute observations and descriptions but rarely a full view of the whole process. Later, especially in the Persian, Turkish, and Indo-Muslim areas, a tendency to overstress the decorative elements of prose is evident; and the contents even of official chronicles are hidden behind a network of rhymed prose, which is difficult to disentangle.

      This tendency is illustrated in all branches of Islamic art: the lack of “architectural” formation. Instead, there is a kind of carpet-like pattern; the Arabic and Persian poem is, in general, judged not as a closed unity but rather according to the perfection of its individual verses. Its main object is not to convey a deep personal feeling but to perfect to the utmost the traditional rules and inherited metaphors, to which a new image may sometimes be added; thus the personality of the poet becomes visible only through the minimal changes of expression and rhythm and the application of certain preferred metaphors, just as the personality of the miniature painter can be detected by a careful observation of details, of his way of colouring a rock or deepening the shade of a turban. The same holds true for the arabesques, which were developed according to a strict ritual to a mathematical pattern and were refined until they reached a perfection of geometrical complicated figures, as in the dome of the Karatay Medrese in Konya (1251); it corresponds both to the most intricate lacelike Kūfic inscriptions around this dome and to the poetical style of Jalāl ad-Dīn ar-Rūmī, who wrote in that very place and during those years. His immortal mystical poems comprise thousands of variations on the central theme of love. Although such a perfect congruency of poetry and fine arts is not frequently found, the precept about Persian art that “its wings are too heavy with beauty” can also be applied to Persian poetry. Thus, the tile work of a Persian mosque, which combines different levels of arabesque work with different styles of writing, is reminiscent of the way Persian poetry combines at least two levels of reality. And a perfect harmony is reached in some of the miniature manuscripts of Iran, Muslim India, or Ottoman Turkey, which, in their lucid colours and fine details of execution, recall both the perfection of the calligraphy that surrounds them on delicate paper and the subtlety of the stories or poems that they accompany or illustrate.

      Those accustomed to the Western ideals of plasticity or form in the fine arts and literature or to the polyphonic interweaving of melodic lines in music have some difficulties in appreciating this art. The palaces seem to be without a fixed architectural plan; rooms and gardens are simply laid out according to daily needs. The historian offers an astounding amount of detailed reports and facts but with no unifying concept. The Muslim writer prefers this carpet-like form; he adds colour to colour, motif to motif, so that the reader only understands the meaning and end of the whole web from a certain distance. Music, differentiated as it may be in the countries between Morocco and India, follows the same model: variations of highest subtlety on a comparatively simple given subject or theme.

      Drama and opera in the Western sense did not develop in the Islamic countries until the 19th century; and the art of the novel is a very recent development. There was no reason for drama: in the Muslim perception God is the only actor who can do whatever he pleases, whose will is inscrutable. Man is, at best, a puppet on a string, behind whose movement those with insight detect the hand of the play master; neither is the problem of personal guilt and absolution posed as it is in the West, nor is a catharsis, or purging of emotion, needed through drama. The atomist (atomism) theory, widely accepted in Islam since the 10th century, leaves no room for a “dramatic” movement; it teaches that God creates everything anew in every moment, and what is called a “law of nature” is nothing but God's custom, which he can interrupt whenever he pleases.

      It is true that certain other forms are found in the more folkloristic arts (folk art) of Islam. Every region has produced poetry, in regional languages, that is more lively and more realistic than the classical court poetry; but such poetry tends to become restricted to certain fixed forms that can be easily imitated. Attempts at drama in Islam come from these more popular spheres in Iran (and, rarely, in Lebanon and Iraq), where the tragic events of the murder of Ḥusayn (Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī, al-) (680) at Karbalāʾ were dramatized in strange forms, using the vocabulary of traditional Persian poetry and theology. Thus, strangely hybrid forms emerge in the Islamic arts, highly interesting for the historian of religion and the student of literature but not typical of the classical Islamic ideals. Popular illustrations of tales and legends and those of some of the Shīʿah heroes are similarly interesting but atypical. In modern times, of course, there have been imitations of all forms of Western literary and visual arts: paintings in the Impressionist or Cubist style, the use of free verse instead of the stern classical forms; and novels, dramas, motion pictures, and music combining Western and Eastern modes. Belief in the Qurʾānic dictum “Whatever is on earth will perish save His face” discouraged artistic endeavour on a large scale; but the Prophetic tradition “Verily God is beautiful and loves beauty” has inspired numberless artists and artisans, writers and poets, musicians, and mystics to develop their arts and crafts as a reflection of that divine beauty. A theory of aesthetics comprising the various artistic expressions of the Muslim peoples has yet to be written. Although there have been a number of studies in literary criticism, the formal indebtedness of some of the best modern poets and painters to the Islamic heritage has never been studied in full.

      It is notable that the arts of the Islamic peoples have had relatively little impact on other cultures, certainly far less than their artistic merit would appear to warrant.

      Europe has known art objects of Islamic origin since the early Middle Ages, when they were brought home by the crusaders or manufactured by the Arabs in Sicily and Spain. Much admired and even imitated, they formed part of the material culture in those times, so much so that even the coronation robes of the German emperor were decorated with an Arabic inscription. At the same time, Islamic motives wandered into the belles lettres of Europe, and Islamic scientific books formed a basis for the development of Western science. Islamic culture as such, however, was rather an object of hatred than of admiration; a more objective appreciation of both the works of art and of literature did not start until the mid-17th century, when travelers told of the magnificent buildings in Iran and Mughal India, and the first works from Persian literature were translated, influencing German classical literature. Indian miniatures inspired Rembrandt, just as European paintings were imitated by Islamic, especially Mughal, artists. Persian carpets were among the most coveted gifts for princes and princesses.

      A bias against the cultures of the East persisted, however, until after the 18th-century Age of Enlightenment; the indefatigable work of the British scholars at Fort William at Calcutta brought new literary treasures to Europe, where they were studied carefully by specialists in the emerging field of Islamic studies. Poets such as Goethe in Germany in the early 19th century paved the way for a deeper understanding of Islamic poetry. Islamic literatures, however, continue to be known to the larger Western public almost exclusively by The Thousand and One Nights, or The Arabian Nights' Entertainment (translated first in the early 18th century), Omar Khayyam's robāʿīyāt, and the lyrics of Ḥāfeẓ. Even experts who are aware of the immense wealth of the literatures in the different Islamic languages (such as Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu) until now have rarely appreciated the literatures from an aesthetic viewpoint; rather, they have used them as a source for lexicography and for philological and historical research. The situation in Islamic fine arts and architecture is similar. Although the beauty of the Alhambra, for example, had already inspired European scholars and artists in the early 19th century, a thorough study of Islamic art as an independent field began only in the 20th century. There was even less interest in the music of Islamic peoples, the arabesque-like uniformity of which seems strange to Western ideals of harmony.

Islāmic literatures

Nature and scope
      It would be almost impossible to make an exhaustive survey of Islāmic literatures. There are so many works, of which hundreds of thousands are available only in manuscript, that even a very large team of scholars could scarcely master a single branch of the subject. Islāmic literatures, moreover, exist over a vast geographical and linguistic area, for they were produced wherever the Muslims went, pushing out from their heartland in Arabia through the countries of the Near and Middle East as far as Spain, North Africa, and, eventually, West Africa. Iran (Persia) is a major centre of Islām, along with the neighbouring areas that came under Persian influence, including Turkey and the Turkic-speaking peoples of Central Asia. Many Indian vernaculars contain almost exclusively Islāmic literary subjects; there is an Islāmic content in the literature of Malaysia and in that of some East African languages, including Swahili. In many cases, however, the Islāmic content proper is restricted to religious works—mystical treatises, books on Islāmic law and its implementation, historical works praising the heroic deeds and miraculous adventures of earlier Muslim rulers and saints, or devotional works in honour of the prophet Muḥammad.

      The vast majority of Arabic writings are scholarly—the same, indeed, is true of the other languages under discussion. There are superb, historically important translations made by medieval scholars from Greek into Arabic; historical works, both general and particular; a range of religiously inspired works; books on grammar and on stylistics, on ethics and on philosophy. All have helped to shape the spirit of Islāmic literature in general, and it is often difficult to draw a line between such works of “scholarship” and works of “literature” in the narrower sense of that term. Even a strictly theological commentary can bring about a deeper understanding of some problem of aesthetics. A work of history composed in florid and “artistic” language would certainly be regarded by its author as a work of art as well as of scholarship, whereas the grammarian would be equally sure that his keen insights into the structure of Arabic grammar were of the utmost importance in preserving that literary beauty in which Arabs and non-Arabs alike took pride.

      In this treatment of Islāmic literatures, however, the definition of “literature” is restricted to poetry and belles lettres, whether popular or courtly in inspiration. Other categories of writing will be dealt with briefly if these shed light on some peculiar problem of literature.

The range of Islāmic literatures
      Although Islāmic literatures appear in such a wide range of languages and in so many different cultural environments, their unity

is safeguarded by the identity of the basic existential experience, by the identity of the fundamental intellectual interests, by the authoritativeness of certain principles of form and presentation, not to mention the kindred political and social organization within which those peoples aspire to live.

Arabic (Arabic language): language of the Qurʾān
      The area of Islāmic culture extends from western Africa to Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines; but its heartland is Arabia, and the prime importance and special authority of the Arabic language was to remain largely unquestioned after the spread of Islām. The Arabic poetry of pre-Islāmic Arabia was regarded for centuries afterward as the standard model for all Islāmic poetic achievement, and it directly influenced literary forms in many non-Arab literatures. The Qurʾān, Islām's sacred scripture, was accepted by pious Muslims as God's uncreated word and was considered to be the highest manifestation of literary beauty. A whole literature defended its inimitability (iʿjāz) and unsurpassable beauty. Because it was God's own word, the Qurʾān could not legitimately be translated into any other language; the study of at least some Arabic was (Arabic alphabet) therefore required of every Muslim. Arabic script was used by all those peoples who followed Islām, however much their own languages might differ in structure from Arabic. The Qurʾān became the textbook of the Muslims' entire philosophy of life; theology, lexicography, geography, historiography, and mysticism all grew out of a deep study of its form and content; and even in the most secular works there can be found allusions to the holy book. Its imagery not unexpectedly permeates all Islāmic poetry and prose.

      Between the coming of Islām in the 7th century and the 11th, a great deal of poetry and prose in Arabic was produced. One branch of literature in Spain and North Africa matured in perfect harmony with the classical ideals of the Muslim East although its masters, during the 11th and 12th centuries, invented a few strophic forms unknown to classical Arabic poetry. In modern times, North African Muslim literature—mainly from Algeria and Morocco—often uses French (French language) as a means of expression, since the tradition of Arabic writing was interrupted by the French occupation in the 19th century and has had to be built up afresh.

      In 641 the Muslims entered Iran, and Persian influence on literary taste becomes apparent in Arabic literature from the mid-8th century onward. Many stories and tales were transmitted from, or through, Iran to the Arab world and often from there to western Europe. Soon Iran could boast a large literature in its own tongue. Persian literature (Persian language) was more varied in its forms and content than that written in classical Arabic. Although Persian adopted many of the formal rules of the Arabic language (including prosody and rhyme patterns), new genres, including epic poetry, were introduced from Iran. The lyric, elegant and supple, also reached its finest expression in the Persian language.

South Asian
      Persian culture was by no means restricted to Iran itself. Northwestern India (Indian literature) and what is now Pakistan became a centre of Islāmic literature as early as the 11th century, with Delhi and Agra being of special importance. It was to remain a stronghold of Muslim cultural life, which soon also extended to the east (Bengal) and south (Deccan). Persian remained the official language of Muslim India until 1835, and not only its poetry but even its historiography was written in the high-flown manner that exemplified the Persian concept of fine style. Muslim India can further boast a fine heritage of Arabic poetry and prose (theological, philosophical, and mystical works).

      At various times in its history the Indian subcontinent was ruled by princes of Turkish origin (indeed, the words Turk and Muslim became synonymous in some Indian languages). The princes surrounded themselves with a military aristocracy of mainly Turkish extraction, and thus a few poetical and prose works in Turkish were written at some Indian courts. In various regions of the subcontinent an extremely pleasing folk literature has flourished throughout the ages: Sindhi (Sindhi language) in the lower Indus Valley, for example, and Punjabi (Punjābī language) in the Punjab are languages rich in an emotional poetry that uses popular metres and forms. At the Indo-Iranian border the oldest fragments of the powerful Pashto poetry (Pashto language) date from the Middle Ages. The neighbouring Baluchi (Balochi language) poetry consists largely of ballads and religious folksongs. All the peoples in this area have interpreted Islāmic mysticism in their own simple, touching imagery. In the east of the subcontinent, Bengali (Bangladesh) Muslims possess a large Islāmic literary heritage, including religious epics from the 14th and 15th centuries and some lovely religious folksongs. The achievements of modern novelists and lyric poets from Bangladesh are impressive. To the north, where Islām came in the 14th century, a number of classical themes in Islāmic lore were elaborated in Kashmiri lyric and epic poetry. To the south, an occasional piece of Islāmic religious poetry can be found even in Tamil and Malayalam. Some fine Muslim short stories have been produced in modern Malayalam.

      Urdu (Urdu language), now the chief literary language of Muslim India and Pakistan, borrowed heavily from Persian literature during its classical period in the 18th century. In many writings only the verbs are in Urdu, the rest consisting of Persian constructions and vocabulary; and the themes of traditional Urdu literature were often adapted from Persian. Modern Urdu prose, however, has freed itself almost completely from the past, whereas in poetry promising steps have been taken toward modernization of both forms and content (see South Asian arts: Islāmic literatures: 11th–19th century (South Asian arts) and Modern period: 19th and 20th centuries (South Asian arts)).

      An elaborate “classical” style developed in Turkish after the 14th century, reaching its peak in the 17th. Like classical Urdu, it was heavily influenced by Persian in metrics and vocabulary. Many exponents of this “high” style came from the Balkan provinces of the Ottoman Empire. On the other hand, a rich and moving folk poetry in popular syllable-counting metres has always flourished among the Turkish population of Anatolia and Rumelia. The mystical songs of their poet Yunus Emre (died c. 1321) contributed greatly toward shaping this body of literature, which was preserved in the religious centres of the Ṣūfī orders of Islām. From this folk tradition, as well as from Western literature, modern Turkish literature has derived a great deal of its inspiration.

      A great deal of the Muslim literature of Central Asia is written in Turkic languages, which include Uzbek, Tatar, and Kyrgyz. Its main cultural centres ( Samarkand, Bukhara, Fergana) became part of the Muslim empire after 711. Central Asia was an important centre of Islāmic learning until the Tsarist invasions in the 1870s, and the peoples of this region have produced a classical literature in Arabic. Many of the most famous Arabic and Persian scholars and poets writing in the heyday of Muslim influence were Central Asians by birth. Central Asians also possess a considerable literature of their own, consisting in large part of epics, folktales, and mystical “words of wisdom.” The rules of prosody which hold for Arabic and Persian languages have been deliberately imposed on the Turkic languages on several occasions, notably by ʿAlī Shīr Navāʾī (Navāʾī, ʿAlī Shīr) (died 1501), a master of Chagatai poetry and prose in Herāt, and by Bābur (died 1530), the first Mughal emperor in India. Tajik literature is basically Persian, both as it is written today in Tajikistan and as it existed in earlier forms, when it was indistinguishable from classical Persian. After the Russification of the country, and especially after the 1917 Revolution, a new literature emerged that was part and parcel of the former Soviet Union's literature. The same can be said, by and large, about the literatures of other Muslim Turkic peoples of Central Asia.

Other languages
      Smaller fragments of Islāmic literature, in Chinese, are found in China (which has quite a large Muslim population) and in the Philippines. The literary traditions of Indonesia and of Malaysia, where the religion of Islām arrived long ago, are also worth noting. Historical and semimythical tales about Islāmic heroes are a feature of the literature in these areas, a fact of immense interest to folklorists.

      Contact with Islām and its “written” culture also helped to preserve national idioms in many regions. Often such idioms were enriched by Arabic vocabulary and Islāmic concepts. The leaders of the Muslims in such areas in northern Nigeria, for example, preferred to write poetry and chronicles in Arabic, while using their mother tongue for more popular forms of literature (see African arts: Literatures in African languages (African literature)). Of particular interest in this connection is Kurdish literature (Kurdish language), which has preserved in an Iranian language several important, popular heterodox texts and epics.

Islāmic literatures and the West
      Small fragments of Arabic literature have long been known in the West. There were cultural interrelations between Muslim Spain (which, like the Indus Valley, became part of the Muslim empire after 711) and its Christian neighbours, and this meant that many philosophical and scientific works filtered through to western Europe. It is also likely that the poetry of Muslim Spain influenced the growth of certain forms of Spanish and French troubadour poetry and provided an element, however distorted, for medieval Western romances and heroic tales.

      Investigation of Oriental literatures by Western scholars did not begin until the 16th century in the Netherlands and England. First attempts toward an aesthetic understanding of Arabic and Persian poetry came even later: they were made by the British Orientalists of Fort William, Calcutta, and by German pre-Romantics of the late 18th century. In the first half of the 19th century the publication of numerous translations of Oriental poetry, especially into German, began to interest some Europeans. The poetical translations from Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit made by the German Orientalist and poet Friedrich Rückert (Rückert, Friedrich) can scarcely be surpassed, either in accuracy or in poetical mastery. The Persian poet Ḥāfeẓ became well known in German-speaking countries, thanks to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's (Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von) enchanting poems, West-östlicher Divan (1819), a collection which was the first response to Persian poetry and the first aesthetic appreciation of the character of Oriental poetry by an acknowledged giant of European literature. An “Orientalizing style,” which employed Arabo-Persian literary forms such as the ghazal (a short, graceful poem with monorhyme), became fashionable at times in Germany. Later, Edward FitzGerald (FitzGerald, Edward) aroused new interest in Persian poetry with his free adaptations of Omar Khayyam's (Omar Khayyam) robāʿīyāt (The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, 1859). The fairy tales known as The Thousand and One Nights (Thousand and One Nights, The), first translated in 1704, provided abundant raw material for many a Western writer's play, novel, story, or poem about the Islāmic East.

External characteristics
      In order to understand and enjoy Oriental literature, the external characteristics of it have to be studied most carefully. The literatures of the Islāmic peoples are “intellectual”; in neither poetry nor prose are there many examples of subjective lyricism, as it is understood in the West. The principal genres, forms, and rules were inherited from pre-Islāmic Arabic poetry but were substantially elaborated afterward, especially by the Persians.

      Arabic poetry (Arabic literature) is built upon the principle of monorhyme, and the single rhyme, usually consisting in one letter, is employed throughout every poem, long or short. The structure of Arabic permits such monorhymes to be achieved with comparative ease. The Persians and their imitators often extended the rhyming part over two or more syllables (radīf) or groups of words, which are repeated after the dominant rhyming consonant. The metres are quantitative, counting long and short syllables (ʿarūḍ). Classical Arabic has 16 basic metres in five groupings; they can undergo certain variations, but the poet is not allowed to change the metre in the course of his poem. Syllable-counting metres, as well as strophic forms, are used in popular, or “low,” poetry; only in post-classical Arabic were some strophic forms introduced into “high” poetry. Many modern Islāmic poets, from Pakistan to Turkey and North Africa, have discarded the classical system of prosody altogether. In part they have substituted verse forms imitating Western models such as strophic poems with or without rhyme; since about 1950 free verse has almost become the rule, although a certain tendency toward rhyming or to the use of alliterative quasi-rhymes can be observed.

      The chief poetic genres, as they emerged according to traditional rules, are the qaṣīdah, the ghazal, and the qiṭʿah; in Iran and its adjacent countries there are, further, the robāʿī and the manavī.

      The qaṣīdah (qasida) (literally “purpose poem”), a genre whose form was invented by pre-Islāmic Arabs, has from 20 to more than 100 verses and usually contains an account of the poet's journey. In the classic pattern, the parts followed a fixed sequence, beginning with a love-poem prologue (nasīb), followed by a description of the journey itself, and finally reaching its real goal by flattering the poet's patron, sharply attacking some adversaries of his tribe, or else indulging in measureless self-praise. Everywhere in the Muslim world the qaṣīdah became the characteristic form for panegyric. It could serve for religious purposes as well: solemn praise of God, eulogies of the Prophet, and songs of praise and lament for the martyr heroes of Shīʿah (Shīʿite) Islām were all expressed in this form. Later, the introductory part of the qaṣīdah often was taken up by a description of nature or given over to some words of wisdom; or the poet took the opportunity to demonstrate his skill in handling extravagant language and to show off his learning. Such exhibitions were made all the more difficult because, though it varied according to the rank of the person to whom it was addressed, the vocabulary of each type of qaṣīdah was controlled by rigid conventions. This type of poetry, however, could obviously lend itself easily to empty verbosity or to pedantry.

      The ghazal possibly originated as an independent elaboration of the qaṣīdah's introductory section, and it usually embodies a love poem. Ideally, its length varies between five and 12 verses. It can be used either for religious or secular expression, the two often being blended indistinguishably. Its diction is light and graceful, its effect comparable to that of chamber music, whereas the qaṣīdah-writer employs, so to speak, the full orchestral resources.

      Monorhyme is used in both the qaṣīdah and ghazal. But while these two forms begin with two rhyming hemistiches (half-lines of a verse), in the qiṭʿah (“section”) the first hemistich does not rhyme, and the effect is as though the poem had been “cut out” of a longer one (hence its name). The qiṭʿah is a less serious literary form that was used to deal with aspects of everyday life; it served mainly for occasional poems, satire, jokes, word games, and chronograms.

      The form of the robāʿī, which is a quatrain in fixed metre with a rhyme scheme of a a b a, seems to go back to pre-Islāmic Persian poetical tradition. It has supplied the Persian poets with a flexible vehicle for ingenious aphorisms and similarly concise expressions of thought for religious, erotic, or skeptical purposes. The peoples who came under Persian cultural influence happily adopted this form.

Manavī (masnawi)
      Epic poetry was unknown to the Arabs, who were averse to fiction, whether it was expressed in poetry or in prose. The development of epic poetry was thus hindered, just as was the creation of novels or short stories. Nevertheless, manavī—which means literally “the doubled one,” or rhyming couplet, and by extension a poem consisting of a series of such couplets—became a favourite poetical form of the Persians and those cultures they influenced. The manavī enabled the poet to develop the thread of a tale through thousands of verses. Yet even in such poetry, only a restricted number of metres was employed, and no metre allowed more than 11 syllables in a hemistich. Metre and diction were prescribed in accordance with the topic; a didactic manavī required a style and metre different from a heroic or romantic one. The manavī usually begins with a praise of God, and this strikes the keynote of the poem.

Other poetic forms
      There is a variety of other forms that are more or less restricted to folk poetry, such as the sīḥarfī (“golden alphabet”), in which each line or each stanza begins with succeeding letters of the Arabic alphabet. In Muslim India the bārāĩāsa (“12 months”) is a sort of lovers' calendar in which the poet, assuming the role of a young woman of longing, expresses the lover's feelings in accord with the seasons of the year. Apart from these, later writers tried to develop strophic forms. Sometimes ghazals with the same metre were bound together as “stanzas” to form a longer unit through the use of a linking verse. When the linking verse was recurrent, the poem was called a tarjīʿ-band (literally “return-tie”); when the linking verse was varied, the poem was called a tarkīb-band (literally “composite-tie”). True stanzas of varying lengths were also invented. Among these, mainly in Urdu and Turkish, a six-line stanza known as musaddas became the form used for the marīyeh (dirge for the martyrs of Karbalāʾ). Because it had come to be associated with lofty feeling and serious thought, musaddas later was used for the first reformist modern poems.

      The Arabs inherited a love for rhymed prose from pre-Islāmic Arabia. Although the extent of prose literature, even in the field of belles lettres, is very large, the novel and novella were introduced only after contact with European literatures.

      The most typical expression of the Arabic—and Islāmic—spirit in prose is the maqāmah (gathering, assembly), which tells basically simple stories in an extremely and marvelously complicated style (abounding in word plays, logographs, double entendre, and the like) and which comes closest to the Western concept of the short story.

      The versatility and erudition of the classical maqāmah authors is dazzling, but the fables and parables that, during the first centuries of Islām, had been told in a comparatively easy flowing style, later became subject to a growing trend toward artificiality, as did almost every other literary genre, including expository prose. Persian historiographers and Turkish biographers, Indo-Muslim writers on mysticism and even on science all indulged in a style in which rhyme and rhetoric often completely obscured the meaning. It is only since the late 19th century that a matter-of-fact style has slowly become acceptable in literary circles; the influence of translations from European languages, the role of journalism, and the growing pride in a pure language freed from the cobwebs of the past worked together to make Islāmic languages more pliable and less artificial.

      In all forms of poetry and in most types of prose, writers shared a common fund of imagery that was gradually refined and enlarged in the course of time. The main source of imagery was the Qurʾān, its figures and utterances often divested of their sacred significance. Thus, the beautiful Joseph (sūrah 12) is a fitting symbol for the handsome beloved; the nightingale may sing the psalms of David (sūrah 21:79 a.o); the rose sits on Solomon's wind-borne throne (sūrah 21:81 a.o), and its opening petals can be compared to Joseph's shirt rent by Potiphar's wife (sūrah 12:25 ff.), its scent to that of Joseph's shirt, which cured blind Jacob (sūrah 12:94). The tulip reminds the poet of the burning bush before which Moses stood (sūrah 20:9 ff.), and the coy beloved refuses the lover's demands by answering, like God to Moses, “Thou shalt not see me” (sūrah 7:143); but her (or his) kiss gives the dying lover new life, like the breath of Jesus (sūrah 3:49). Classical Persian poetry often mentions knights and kings from Iran's history alongside those from Arabic heroic tales. The cup of wine offered by the “old man of the Magians” is comparable to the miraculous cup owned by the Iranian mythical king Jamshīd or to Alexander's mirror, which showed the marvels of the world; the nightingale may sing “Zoroastrian tunes” when it contemplates the “fire temple of the rose.” Central scenes from the great Persian manavīs contributed to the imagery of later writers in Persian-, Turkish-, and Urdu-speaking areas. Social and political conditions are reflected in a favourite literary equation between the “beautiful and cruel beloved” and “the Turk”: since in Iran and India the military caste was usually of Turkish origin, and since the Turk was always considered “white” and handsome, in literary imagery he stood as the “ruler of hearts.” Minute arabesque-like descriptions of nature, particularly of garden scenes, are frequent: the rose and the nightingale have almost become substitutes for mythological figures. The versatile writer was expected to introduce elegant allusions to classical Arabic and Persian literature and to folklore and to know enough about astrology, alchemy, and medicine to use the relevant technical terms accurately. Images inspired by the pastimes of the grandees—chess, polo, hunting, and the like—were as necessary for a good poem as were those referring to music, painting, and calligraphy. Similarly, allusions in poetic imagery to the Arabic letters—often thought to be endowed with mystical significance or magical properties—were very common in all Islāmic literatures. The poet had to follow strict rules laid down by the masters of rhetoric, rigidly observing the harmonious selection of similes thought proper to any one given sphere (four allusions to Qurʾānic figures, for example; or three garden images all given in a single verse). The poet was expected to invent new fantastic etiologies (ḥosn-e taʿīīl): he had to describe natural phenomena in some elegant and surprising metaphor. Thus, “The narcissus has strewn silver in the way of the bride rose . . .” means simply “The narcissus has withered”—for when the rose (dressed in red, like an Oriental bride) appears in late spring it is time for the narcissus to shed its white petals, just as people would shed silver coins in the way of a bridal procession.

Skills required of the writer
      The writer was also expected to use puns and to play with words of two or more meanings. He might write verses that could provide an intelligible meaning even when read backward. He had to be able to handle chronograms, codes based on the numerical values of a phrase or verse, which, when understood, gave the date of some relevant event. Later writers sometimes supplied the date of a book's compilation by hiding a chronogram in its title. A favourite device in poetry was the “question and answer” form, employed in the whole poem, or only in chosen sections.

      One was expected to show his talent at both improvisation and elaboration on any theme if he wished to attract the interest of a generous patron. His poetry was judged according to the perfection of its individual verses. Only in rare cases was the poem appreciated as a whole: the lack of coherent argument, which often puzzles the Western reader in ghazal poetry, is in fact deliberate.

      It would be idle to look for the sincere expression of personal emotion in Arabic, Turkish, or Persian poetry. The conventions are so rigid that the reader is allowed only a rare glimpse into the poet's feelings. Indeed, such feelings were put through the sieve of intellect, and personal experiences were thereby transformed into arabesque-like work of artistry, if not art. In the hands of mediocre versifiers and prose writers, however, literature became mannered and completely artificial. The reader soon tires of the constantly recurring moon faces, hyacinth curls, ruby lips, and cypress statures (that is, tall and slender). Yet the great masters of poetry and rhetoric (who all have their favourite imagery, rhymes, and rhythmical patterns) will sometimes allow the patient reader a glimpse into their hearts by a slight rhythmical change or by a new way of expressing a conventional thought.

      These are, of course, quite crude generalizations. Folk poetry, for instance, has to be judged by different standards, though even here conventional forms and inherited imagery make it, on the whole, more standardized than might be wished. Only in the 20th century has a complete break with classical ideals been made—sincerity instead of monotonous imitation, political and social commitment instead of empty panegyric, realism instead of escapism: these are the characteristic features of modern literatures of the Muslim countries.

Historical developments: pre-Islāmic literature
      The first known poetic compositions of the Arabs are of such perfect beauty and, at the same time, are so conventionalized, that they raise the question as to how far back an actual poetic tradition does stretch. A great number of pre-Islāmic poems, dating from the mid-6th century, were preserved by oral tradition. The seven most famous pieces are al-Muʿallaqāt (“The Suspended Ones,” known as The Seven Odes (Muʿallaqāt, Al-)), and these are discussed more fully below. The term muʿallaqāt is not fully understood: later legend asserts that the seven poems had been hung in the most important Arab religious sanctuary, the Kaʿbah in Mecca, because of their eloquence and beauty and had brought victory to their authors in the poetical contests traditionally held during the season of pilgrimage. Apart from these seven, quite a number of shorter poems were preserved by later scholars. An independent genre in pre-Islāmic poetry was the elegy, often composed by a woman, usually a deceased hero's sister. Some of these poems, especially those by the poetess al-Khansāʾ (Khansāʾ, al-) (died after 630) are notable for their compact expressiveness.

      The poet (called a shāʿir, a wizard endowed with magic powers) was thought to be inspired by a spirit (jinn, shayṭān). The poet defended the honour of his tribe and perpetuated their deeds. Religious expression was rare in pre-Islāmic poetry. In the main it reflects the sense of fatalism that was probably needed if the harsh circumstances of Bedouin life in the desert were to be endured.

      The most striking feature of pre-Islāmic poetry is the uniformity and refinement of its language. Although the various tribes, constantly feuding with one another, all spoke their own dialects, they shared a common language for poetry whether they were Bedouins or inhabitants of the small capitals of al-Ḥīrah (Ḥīrah, al-) and Ghassān (where the influence of Aramaic culture was also in evidence).

      Arabic was even then a virile and expressive language, with dozens of synonyms for the horse, the camel, the lion, and so forth; and it possessed a rich stock of descriptive adjectives. Because of these features, it is difficult for foreigners and modern Arabs alike to appreciate fully the artistic qualities of early Arabic poetry. Imagery is precise, and descriptions of natural phenomena are detailed. The sense of universal applicability is lacking, however, and the comparatively simple literary techniques of simile and metaphor predominate. The imaginative power that was later to be the hallmark of Arabic poetry under Persian influence had not yet become evident.

      The strikingly rich vocabulary of classical Arabic, as well as its sophisticated structure, is matched by highly elaborate metrical schemes, based on quantity. The rhythmical structures were analyzed by the grammarian Khalīl (Khalīl ibn Aḥmad, al-) of Basra (died c. 791), who distinguished 16 metres. Each was capable of variation by shortening the foot or part of it; but the basic structure was rigidly preserved. One and the same rhyme letter had to be maintained throughout the poem. (The rules of rhyming are detailed and very complicated but were followed quite strictly from the 6th to the early 20th century.)

      As well as rules governing the outward form of poetry, a system of poetic imagery already existed by this early period. The sequence of a poem, moreover, followed a fixed pattern (such as that for the qaṣīdah). Pre-Islāmic poetry was not written down but recited; and therefore sound and rhythm played an important part in its formation, and the rāwīs (reciters) were equally vital to its preservation. A rāwī was associated with some famous bard and, having learned his master's techniques, might afterward become a poet himself. This kind of apprenticeship to a master whose poetic style was thus continued became a common practice in the Muslim world (especially in Muslim India) right up to the 19th century.

      From pre-Islāmic times the seven authors of The Seven Odes, already described, are usually singled out for special praise. Their poems and miscellaneous verses were collected during the 8th century and ever since have been the subject of numerous commentaries in the East. They have been studied in Europe since the early 19th century.

      The poet Imruʾ al-Qays (died c. AD 550), of the tribe of Kindah, was foremost both in time and in poetic merit. He was a master of love poetry; his frank descriptions of dalliance with his mistresses are considered so seductive that (as orthodox Puritanism claims) the Prophet Muḥammad called him “the leader of poets on the way to Hell.” His style is supple and picturesque. It grips the attention whether his poems sing of his love adventures or describe a seemingly endless rainy night. Of all classical Arabic poets he is probably the one who appeals most to modern taste. At the other extreme stands Zuhayr (Zuhayr ibn Abī Sulmā), praising the chiefs of the rival tribes of ʿAbs and Dhubyān for ending a long feud. He is chiefly remembered for his serious qaṣīdah in which, old, wise, and experienced, he meditates upon the terrible escalation of war. Various aspects of Bedouin life, as well as the attitude of the Arabs to the rulers of the small kingdom of al-Ḥīrah on the Euphrates, are reflected in the poems of an-Nābighah adh-Dhubyānī (Nābighah al-Dhubyānī, al-), ʿAmr (Amr ibn Kulthūmʿ), and Ṭarafah (Ṭarafah ibn al-ʿAbd). The boastful pride of the self-centred Arab warrior can be observed best in the poems of al-Ḥārith, who became proverbial for his arrogance. ʿAntarah, son of a black slave girl, won such fame on the battlefield and for his poetry that he later became the hero of an Arabic folk romance.

      Two other masters can stand beside these seven. Exciting for their savagery and beauty are some poems by Taʾabbaṭa Sharran and Shanfarā, both outlaw warriors. Their verses reveal the wildness of Bedouin life, with its ideals of bravery, revenge, and hospitality. Taʾabbaṭa Sharran is the author of a widely translated “Song of Revenge” (for his uncle), composed in a short, sharp metre. Shanfarā's lāmīyah (literally “poem rhyming in l”) vividly, succinctly, and with a wealth of detail tells of the experiences to be had from life in the desert. This latter poem has sometimes been considered a forgery, created by a learned grammarian. The suggestion highlights the question, often posed, of how much pre-Islāmic poetry is genuine and how much is the product of later scholars. Some modern critics—without proper justification—would dismiss the entire corpus as counterfeit.

      While poetry forms the most important part of early Arabic literature and is an effective historical preservation of the Arabs' past glory, there is also a quantity of prose. Of special interest is the rhymed prose (saj ʿ) peculiar to soothsayers, which developed into an important form of ornate prose writing in every Islāmic country. Tales about the adventures and battle days of the various tribes (ayyām al-ʿArab, or “The Days of the Arabs”) were told and handed down from generation to generation, usually interspersed with pieces of poetry. Proverbs and proverbial sayings were as common as in most cultures at a comparable level of development. The “literary” genre most typical of Bedouin life is the musāmarah, or “nighttime conversation,” in which the central subject is elaborated not by plot but by carrying the listener's mind from topic to topic through verbal associations. Thus, the language as language played a most important role. The musāmarah form inspired the later maqāmah literature.

      It has been said—and this certainly holds true for the musāmarah—that Arabic literature demands attention from its listeners only in short bursts; for listeners are carried from verse to verse, from anecdote to anecdote, from pun to pun, along a theme whose broad outline is entirely familiar. Western Orientalists have for this reason spoken of the “molecular,” or “atomic,” structure both of classical Arabic literature and of traditional Islāmic thought. An audience listening to one of the ancient bards—or to a modern poet or orator in the Muslim world—would be able to listen without tiring. The sheer emotive power of the Arabic language to enrapture and bewitch its listeners by sound alone should be kept in mind when considering any piece of Arabic literature. Only a people endowed with peculiar sensibility to the word could properly appreciate the refinement of pre-Islāmic poetry and be ready to accept the concept of divine revelation appearing through the word in the Qurʾān.

Early Islāmic literature
      With the coming of Islām the attitude of the Arabs toward poetry seems to have changed. The new Muslims, despite their long-standing admiration for powerful language, often shunned poetry as reminiscent of pagan ideals now overthrown. For the Qurʾān, in sūrah 26:225 ff., condemned the poets “who err in every valley, and say what they do not do. Only the perverse follow them!” The Qurʾān, as the uncreated word of God, was now considered the supreme manifestation of literary beauty. It became the basis and touchstone of almost every cultural and literary activity and attained a unique position in Arabic literature.

Age of the caliphs
      It might be expected that a new and vigorous religion would stimulate a new religious literature to sing of its greatness and glory. This, however, was not the case. Maybe the once boastful poets felt, at least for a while, that they were nothing but humble servants of Allāh. At any rate, no major poet was inspired by the birth and astonishingly rapid expansion of Islām. Only much later did poets claim that their work was the “heritage of prophecy” or draw upon a tradition that calls the tongues of the poets “the keys of the treasures beneath the Divine Throne.” The old, traditional literary models were still faithfully followed: a famous ode by Kaʿb, the son of Zuhayr, is different from pre-Islāmic poetry only insofar as it ends in praise of the Prophet, imploring his forgiveness, instead of eulogizing some Bedouin leader. Muḥammad's rather mediocre eulogist, Ḥassān ibn Thābit (died c. 659), also slavishly repeated the traditional patterns (even including the praise of wine that had been such a common feature of pre-Islāmic poetry at the court of al-Ḥīrah, despite the fact that wine had been by then religiously prohibited).

      Religious themes are to be found in the khuṭbah (khutbah)s, or Friday sermons, which were delivered by governors of the provinces. In these khuṭbahs, however, political considerations frequently overshadow the religious and literary aspects. The quṣṣāṣ (storytellers), who interpreted verses from the Qurʾān, attracted large audiences and may be regarded as the inventors of a popular religious prose. Their interpretations were highly fanciful, however, and hardly squared with the theologian's orthodoxy.

      The desire to preserve words of wisdom is best reflected in the sayings attributed to Alīʿ, the fourth caliph (died 661). These, however, were written down, in superbly concise diction, only in the 10th century under the title Nahj al-balāghah (“The Road of Eloquence”), a work that is a masterpiece of the finest Arabic prose and that has inspired numerous commentaries and poetical variations in the various Islāmic languages.

      The time of the “Four Righteous Caliphs,” as it is called, ended with ʿAlī's assassination in 661. The Umayyad dynasty then gained the throne, and a new impetus in poetry soon became perceptible. The Umayyads were by no means a pious dynasty, much enjoying the pleasures of life in their residence in Damascus and in their luxurious castles in the Syrian desert. One of their last rulers, the profligate al-Walīd ibn Yazīd (Walīd ibn Yazīd, al-) (died 744), has become famous not so much as a conqueror (although in 711 the Muslims reached the lower Indus basin, Transoxania, and Spain) but as a poet who excelled in frivolous love verses and poetry in praise of wine. He was fond of short, light metres to match his subjects and rejected the heavier metres preferred by qaṣīdah writers. His verses convey a sense of ease and gracious living. Al-Walīd was not, however, the first to attempt this kind of poetry: a remarkable poet from Mecca, Umar ibn Abī Rabīʿahʿ (died c. 712 or 720), had contributed in large measure to the separate development of the love poem (ghazal) from its subordinate place as the opening section of the qaṣīdah. Gentle and charming, in attractive and lively rhythms, his poems sing of amorous adventures with the ladies who came to Mecca on pilgrimage. His gay, melodious poems still appeal to modern readers.

      In Medina, on the other hand, idealized love poetry was the vogue; its invention is attributed to Jamīl (died 701), of the tribe ʿUdhrah, “whose members die when they love.” The names of some of these “martyrs of love,” together with the names of their beloved, were preserved and eventually became proverbial expressions of the tremendous force of true love. Such was Qays, who went mad because of his passion for Laylā and was afterward known as Majnūn (the “Demented One”). His story is cherished by later Persian, Turkish, and Urdu poets; as a symbol of complete surrender to the force of love, he is dear both to religious mystics and to secular poets.

      Notwithstanding such new developments, the traditional qaṣīdah form of poetry was by no means neglected during the Umayyad period. Moreover, as the satirists of Iraq rose to fame, the naqāʾiḍ (“polemic poetry matches”) between Jarīr (died c. 729) and al-Farazdaq (Farazdaq, al-) (died c. 728 or 730) excited and delighted tribesmen of the rival settlements of Basra and Kūfah (places that later also became rival centres of philological and theological schools). The work of these two poets has furnished critics and historians with rich material for a study of the political and social situation in the early 9th century. The wealth of al-Farazdaq's vocabulary led one of the old Arabic critics to declare: “If Farazdaq's poetry did not exist, one-third of the Arabic language would be lost.” Philologists, eager to preserve as much of the classical linguistic heritage as possible, have also paid a great deal of attention to the largely satirical poetry of al-Ḥuṭayʾah (died 674). The fact that Christians as well as Muslims were involved in composing classical Arabic poetry is proved by the case of al-Akhṭal (Akhṭal, al-) (died c. 710), whose work preserves the pre-Islāmic tradition of al-Ḥīrah in authentic form. He is particularly noted for his wine songs. Christians and Jews had been included among the pre-Islāmic poets.

      Prose literature was still restricted to religious writing. The traditions (Ḥadīth) of the Prophet began to be compiled, and, after careful sifting, those regarded as trustworthy were preserved in six great collections during the late 9th century. Two of these—that of al-Bukhārī (Bukhārī, al-) and that of Muslim ibn al-Ḥajjāj—were considered second only to the Qurʾān in religious importance. The first studies of religious law and legal problems, closely connected with the study of the Qurʾān, also belong to that period.

The ʿAbbāsids (Abbāsid Dynastyʿ)
      It was not until the ʿAbbāsids assumed power in 750, settling in Baghdad, that the golden age of Arabic literature began. The influx of foreign elements added new colour to cultural and literary life. Hellenistic thought and the influence of the ancient cultures of the Near East, for example, contributed to the rapid intellectual growth of the Muslim community. Its members, seized with insatiable intellectual curiosity, began to adapt elements from all the earlier high cultures and to incorporate them into their own. They thus created the wonderful fabric of Islāmic culture that was so much admired in the Middle Ages by western Europe. Indian and Iranian threads were also woven into this fabric, and a new sensitivity to beauty in the field of poetry and the fine arts was cultivated.

      The classical Bedouin style was still predominant in literature and was the major preoccupation of grammarians. These men were, as the modern critic Sir Hamilton Gibb has emphasized, the true humanists of Islām. Their efforts helped to standardize “High Arabic,” giving it an unchangeable structure once and for all. By now the inhabitants of the growing towns in Iraq and Syria were beginning to express their love, hatred, religious fervour, and frivolity in a style more appealing to their fellow townsmen. Poets no longer belonged exclusively to what had been the Bedouin aristocracy. Artisans and freed slaves, of non-Arab origin, were included among their number. Bashshār ibn Burd (died c. 784), the son of a Persian slave, was the first representative of the new style. This ugly, blind workman excelled as a seductive love poet and also as a biting satirist—“Nobody could be secure from the itch of his tongue,” it was later said—and he added a new degree of expressiveness to the old forms. The category of zuhdīyāt (didactic-ascetic poems) was invented by the poet Abū al-ʿAtāhīyah (Abū al-ʿAtāhiyah) (died 825 or 826) from Basra, the centre of early ascetic movements. His pessimistic thoughts on the transitory nature of this world were uttered in an unpretentious kind of verse that rejected all current notions of style and technical finesse. He had turned to ascetic poetry after efforts at composing love songs.

      The same is said of Abū Nuwās (died c. 813), the most outstanding of the ʿAbbāsid poets. His witty and cynical verses are addressed mainly to handsome boys; best known are his scintillating drinking songs. His line “Accumulate as many sins as you can” seems to have been his motto; and compared with some of his more lascivious lines, even the most daring passages of pre-Islāmic poetry sound chaste. Abū Nuwās had such an incomparable command over the language, however, that he came to be regarded as one of the greatest Arabic poets of all time. Nevertheless, orthodox Muslims would quote of him and of his imitators the Prophet's alleged saying that “poetry is what Satan has spit out,” since he not only described subjects prohibited by religious law but praised them with carefree lightheartedness.

The “new” style
      The new approach to poetry that developed during the 9th century was first accorded scholarly discussion in the Kitāb al-badī ʿ (“Book of the Novel and Strange”) by Ibn al-Muʿtazz (died 908), caliph for one day, who laid down rules for the use of metaphors, similes, and verbal puns. The ideal of these “modern” poets was the richest possible embellishment of verses by the use of tropes, brilliant figures of speech, and farfetched poetic conceits. Many later handbooks of poetics discussed these rules in minute detail, and eventually the increasing use of rhetorical devices no longer produced art but artificiality. (Ibn al-Muʿtazz was himself a fine poet whose descriptions of courtly life and nature are lovely; he even tried to compose a tiny epic poem, a genre otherwise unknown to the Arabs.) The “modern” poets, sensitive to colours, sounds, and shapes, also were fond of writing short poems on unlikely subjects: a well-bred hunting dog or an inkpot; delicious sweetmeats or jaundice; the ascetic who constantly weeps when he remembers his sins; the luxurious garden parties of the rich; an elegy for a cat; or a description of a green ewer. Their amusing approach, however, was sooner or later bound to lead to mannered compositions. The growing use of colour images may be credited to the increasing Persian influence upon ʿAbbāsid poetry; for the Persian poets were, as has been often observed, on the whole more disposed to visual than to acoustic imagery.

      New attitudes toward love, too, were being gradually developed in poetry. Eventually, what was to become a classic theme, that of ḥubb ʿudhrī (“ʿUdhrah love”)—the lover would rather die than achieve union with his beloved—was expounded by the Ẓāhirī theologian Ibn Dāʾūd (died 910) in his poetic anthology Kitāb az-zahrah (“Book of the Flower”). This theme was central to the ghazal poetry of the following centuries. Although at first completely secular, it was later taken over as a major concept in mystical love poetry. (The first examples of this adoption, in Iraq and Egypt, took place in Ibn Dāʾūd's lifetime.) The wish to die on the path that leads to the beloved became commonplace in Persian, Turkish, and Urdu poetry; and most romances in these languages end tragically. Ibn Dāʾūd's influence also spread to the western Islāmic world. A century after his death, the theologian Ibn Ḥazm (died 1064), drawing upon personal experiences, composed in Spain his famous work on “pure love” called Ṭawq al-ḥamāmah (The Ring of the Dove). Its lucid prose, interspersed with poetry, has many times been translated into Western languages.

      The conflict between the traditional ideals of poetry and the “modern” school of the early ʿAbbāsid period also led to the growth of a literary criticism, the criteria of which were largely derived from the study of Greek philosophy.

      Traditional poetry, meanwhile, was not neglected. But its style was somewhat modified in accordance with the new ideas. Two famous anthologies of Bedouin poetry, both called Ḥamāsah (“Poems of Bravery”), were collected by the Syrian Abū Tammām (died 845 or 846) and his disciple al-Buḥturī (Buḥturī, al-) (died 897), both good classical poets in their own right. They provide an excellent survey of those poems from the stock of early Arabic poetry that were considered worth preserving. A century later Abū al-Faraj al-Iṣbahānī (died 967), in a multivolume work entitled Kitāb al-aghānī (“Book of Songs”), collected a great number of poems and biographical notes on poets and musicians. This material gives a colourful and valuable panorama of literary life in the first four centuries of Islām.

      In the mid-10th century a new cultural centre emerged at the small court of the Ḥamdānids (Ḥamdānid Dynasty) in Aleppo. Here the Central Asian scholar al-Fārābī (Fārābī, al-) (died 950) wrote his fundamental works on philosophy and musical theory. Here, too, for a while, lived Abū aṭ-Ṭayyib al-Mutanabbī (Mutanabbī, al-) (died 965), who is in the mainstream of classical qaṣīdah writers but who surpasses them all in the extravagance of what has been called his “reckless audacity of imagination.” He combined some elements of Iraqi and Syrian stylistics with classical ingredients. His compositions—panegyrics of rulers and succinct verses (which are still quoted)—have never ceased to intoxicate the Arabs by their daring hyperbole, their marvelous sound effects, and their formal perfection. The Western reader is unlikely to derive as much aesthetic pleasure from Mutanabbī's poetry as does one whose mother tongue is Arabic. He will probably prefer the delicate verses about gardens and flowers by Mutanabbī's colleague in Aleppo, aṣ-Ṣanawbarī (died 945), a classic exponent of the descriptive style. This style in time reached Spain, where the superb garden and landscape poetry of Ibn Khafājah (died 1139) displayed an even higher degree of elegance and sensitivity than that of his Eastern predecessors.

      Before turning to the development of prose, it is necessary to mention a figure unique among those writing in Arabic. This was Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (Maʿarrī, al-) (died 1057), a blind poet of Syria, whose verses have appealed greatly to young Arabs of the present because of the poems' sincerity and humanity. But al-Maʿarrī's vocabulary is so difficult, his verses, with their double rhymes, are so compressed in meaning, that even his contemporaries, flocking to his lectures, had to ask him to interpret their significance. His outlook is deeply pessimistic and skeptical. Although his poems display a mastery of the Arabic traditional stylistic devices, they run counter to the conventional ideals of Arab heroism by speaking of bitter disappointment and emphasizing asceticism, compassion, and avoidance of procreation.

Taking reason for his guide he judges men and things with a freedom which must have seemed scandalous to the rulers and privileged classes of the day. Among his meditations on the human tragedy a fierce hatred of injustice, hypocrisy, and superstition blazes out. Vice and folly are laid bare in order that virtue and wisdom may be sought . . .

      says Reynold A. Nicholson, al-Maʿarrī's foremost interpreter in the West, who has also translated his Risālat al-ghufrān (“Epistle of Pardon”), which describes a visit to the Otherworld. Maʿarrī's extremely erudite book also contains sarcastic criticism of Arabic literature. His Al-Fuṣūl wa al-ghāyāt (“Paragraphs and Periods”) is an ironic commentary on man and nature but is presented as a sequence of pious exhortations in rhymed prose. It has scandalized the pious, some of whom see it as a parody of the Qurʾān. Maʿarrī's true intention in this book, which came to light only recently, is unknown.

Development of literary prose
      During the ʿAbbāsid period, literary prose also began to develop. Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (died c. 756), of Persian origin, translated the fables of Bidpai (Panchatantra) into Arabic under the title Kalīlah wa Dimnah. These fables provided Islāmic culture with a seemingly inexhaustible treasure of tales and parables, which are to be found in different guises throughout the whole of Muslim literature. He also introduced into Arabic the fictitious chronicles of the Persian Khwatāy-nāmak (“Book of Kings”). This was the source of a kind of pre-Islāmic mythology that the literati preferred above the somewhat meagre historical accounts of the Arab pagan past otherwise available to them. These activities demanded a smooth prose style, and Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ has therefore rightly been regarded as the inaugurator of what is called “secretarial literature” (that produced by secretaries in the official chancelleries). He also translated writings on ethics and the conduct of government, which helped to determine the rules of etiquette ( adab). His works are the prototype of the “Mirror for Princes” literature, which flourished during the late Middle Ages both in Iran and in the West. In this literature, a legendary Persian counselor, Bozorgmehr, was presented as a paragon of wise conduct. Later, stories were invented that combined Qurʾānic heroes with historical characters from the Iranian past.

      A growing interest in things outside the limits of Bedouin life was reflected in a quantity of didactic yet entertaining prose by such masters as the broadminded and immensely learned al-Jāḥiẓ (Jāḥiẓ, al-) (died 869). In response to the wide-ranging curiosity of urban society, the list of his subjects includes treatises on theology, on misers, on donkeys, and on thieves. His masterpiece is Kitāb al-Ḥayawān (“Book of Animals”), which has little to do with zoology but is a mine of information about Arab proverbs, traditions, superstitions, and the like. Al-Jāḥiẓ's style is vigorous, loquacious, and uninhibited. His work, however, is not well constructed, and it lacks the clear sobriety of the “secretarial style.” Yet the glimpses it affords into the life of various strata of society during the 9th century have rightly attracted the special interest of Western scholars. Less impressive, but almost as multifaceted, are the treatises of Ibn Abī ad-Dunyā (died 894).

      The concept of adab was soon enlarged to include not only educational prose dealing with etiquette for all classes of people but belles lettres in general. The classic example of Arabic style for prose writers in this field, accepted as such for almost a millennium, is the writing of the Persian Ibn Qutaybah (died 889). His ʿUyūn al-akhbār (“Fountains of Stories”), in 10 books, each dealing with a given subject, provided a model to which numberless essayists in the Muslim world conformed. In his book on poetry and poets, Ibn Qutaybah dared, for the first time, to doubt openly that pre-Islāmic poetry was incomparable. The most vigorous prose style was achieved by Abū Ḥayyān at-Tawḥīdī (died 1023), who portrayed the weaknesses of the two leading viziers, both notorious for their literary ambitions, “. . . with such bitterness,” as Gibb remarks, “that the book was reputed to bring misfortune upon all who possessed a copy.” This work, like others by Tawḥīdī that have quite recently been discovered, reveals the author's sagacity and striking eloquence. His correspondence on problems of philosophy with Miskawayh (Ibn Miskawayh) (died 1030), the author of a widely circulated book on ethics and of a general history, helps to complete the picture of this extraordinary writer.

      Some time about 800 the Arabs had learned the art of papermaking from the Chinese. Henceforth, cheap writing material was available, and literary output was prodigious. The Fihrist (“Index”), compiled by the bookseller Ibn an-Nadīm in 988, gave a full account of the Arabic literature extant in the 10th century. This Index covered all kinds of literature, from philology to alchemy; but most of these works unfortunately have been lost. In those years manuals of composition (inshāʾ) were written elaborating the technique of secretarial correspondence, and they grew into an accepted genre in Arabic as well as in Persian and Turkish literature. The devices thought indispensable for elegance in modern poetry were applied to prose. The products were mannered, full of puns, verbal tricks, riddles, and the like. The new style, which was also to affect the historian's art in later times, makes a good deal of this post-classical Arabic prose look very different from the terse and direct expression characteristic of the early specimens. Rhymed prose, which at one time had been reserved for such religious occasions as the Friday sermons, was now regarded as an essential part of elegant style.

      This rhetorical artistry found its most superb expression in the maqāmah, a form invented by Badiʿ az-Zamān al- Hamadhānī (Hamadhānī, al-) (died 1008). Its master, however, was al-Ḥarīrī (Ḥarīrī, al-) (died 1122), postmaster (head of the intelligence service) at Basra and an accomplished writer on grammatical subjects. His 50 maqāmahs, which tell the adventures of Abū Zayd as-Sarūjī, with a wealth of language and learning, come closer to the Western concept of short story than anything else in classical Arabic literature. They abound in verbal conceits, ambivalence, assonance, alliteration, palindromes; they change abruptly from earnest to jest, from the crude to the most sublime, as the modern scholar G.E. von Grunebaum has pointed out in his evaluation of this form, which he regards as the most typical literary reflection of the Islāmic spirit. The work of al-Ḥarīrī has certainly been widely admired in the East; it has been imitated in Syriac and in Hebrew and has formed part of the syllabus in Muslim high schools of India. The pleasure to be derived from the brilliant artifice and ingenuity behind such compositions has led to their being imitated in other literary fields: quite often, in later Persian literature, one finds poems—sometimes whole books—composed of letters without diacritical marks (which distinguish otherwise similar-looking letters) or even made up entirely of unconnected letters. Even a commentary on the Qurʾān, in undotted letters, has been written in India (by Fayẕī, died 1595).

Achievements in the western Muslim world
      The Arabic literature of Moorish Spain and of the whole Maghrib developed parallel with that of the eastern countries but came to full flower somewhat later. Córdoba, the seat of the Umayyad rulers, was the centre of cultural life. Its wonderful mosque has inspired Muslim poets right up to the 20th century (such as Sir Muḥammad Iqbāl (Iqbāl, Sir Muḥammad), whose Urdu ode, “The Mosque of Córdoba,” was written in 1935). Moorish Spain was a favourite topic for reformist novelists of 19th-century Muslim India, who contrasted their own country's troubled state with the glory of classical Islāmic civilization. Moorish Spain reached its cultural, political, and literary heyday under ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān III (912–961). Literary stylistic changes, as noted in Iraq and Syria, spread to the west: there the old Bedouin style had always been rare and soon gave way to descriptive and love poetry. Ibn Hāniʾ (died 973) of Sevilla (Seville) has been praised as the Western counterpart of al-Mutanabbī, largely because of his eulogies of the Fāṭimid caliph al-Muʿizz, who at that time still resided in North Africa. The entertaining prose style of Ibn ʿAbd Rabbihi (died 940) in his al-ʿIqd al-farīd (“The Unique Necklace”) is similar to that of his elder contemporary Ibn Qutaybah, and his book in fact became more famous than that of his predecessor. Writers on music and philology also flourished in Spain; literary criticism was practiced by Ibn Rashīq (died 1064) and, later, by al-Qarṭājannī (died 1285) in Tunis. Ibn Ḥazm (died 1064), theologian and accomplished writer on pure love, has already been mentioned.

Philosophy (Arabic philosophy): Averroës and Avicenna
      Philosophy, medicine, and theology, all of which flourished in the ʿAbbāsid East, were also of importance in the Maghrib; and from there strong influences reached medieval Europe. The influences often came through the mediation of the Jews, who, along with numerous Christians, were largely Arabized in their cultural and literary outlook. The eastern Muslim countries could boast of the first systematic writers in the field of philosophy, including al-Kindī (died c. 870), al-Fārābī (died 950), and especially Avicenna (Ibn Sīnā, died 1037). Avicenna's work in philosophy, science, and medicine was outstanding and was appreciated as such in Europe. He also composed religious treatises and tales with a mystical slant. One of his romances was reworked by the Maghribi philosopher Ibn Ṭufayl (died 1185) in his book Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān (“Alive Son of Awake”), or Philosophus Autodidactus (the title of its first Latin translation, made in 1671). It is the story of a self-taught man who lived on a lonely island and who, in his maturity, attained the full knowledge taught by philosophers and prophets. This theme was elaborated often in later European literature.

      The dominating figure in the kingdom of the Almohads, however, was the philosopher Averroës (Ibn Rushd, died 1198), court physician of the Berber kings in Marrākush (Marrakech) and famous as the great Arab commentator on Aristotle. The importance of his frequently misinterpreted philosophy in the formation of medieval Christian thought is well known. Among his many other writings, especially notable is his merciless reply to an attack on philosophy made by Ghazālī (Ghazālī, al-) (died 1111). Ghazālī had called his attack Tahāfut al-falāsifah (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), while Averroës' equally famous reply was entitled Tahāfut at-tahāfut (The Incoherence of the Incoherence). The Persian-born Ghazālī had, after giving up a splendid scholarly career, become the most influential representative of moderate Ṣūfism. His chief work, Iḥyāʾ ʿulūm ad-dīn (“The Revival of the Religious Sciences”), was based on personal religious experiences and is a perfect introduction to the pious Muslim's way to God. It inspired much later religious poetry and prose. The numerous writings by mystics, who often expressed their wisdom in rather cryptic language (thereby contributing to the profundity of Arabic vocabulary), and the handbooks of religious teaching produced in eastern Arab and Persian areas (Sarrāj, Kalābādhī, Qushayrī, and, in Muslim India, al-Hujwīrī) are generally superior to those produced in western Muslim countries. Yet the greatest Islāmic theosophist of all, Ibn al-ʿArabī (died 1240), was Spanish in origin and was educated in the Spanish tradition. His writings, in both poetry and prose, shaped large parts of Islāmic thought during the following centuries. Much of the later literature of eastern Islām, particularly Persian and Indo-Persian mystical writings, indeed, can be understood only in the light of his teachings. Ibn al-ʿArabī's lyrics are typical ghazals, sweet and flowing. From the late 9th century, Arabic-speaking mystics had been composing verses often meant to be sung in their meetings. At first a purely religious vocabulary was employed, but soon the expressions began to oscillate between worldly and heavenly love. The ambiguity thus achieved eventually became a characteristic feature of Persian and Turkish lyrics.

      Among the Arabs, religious poetry mainly followed the classical qaṣīdah models, and the poets lavishly decorated their panegyrics to the Prophet Muḥammad with every conceivable rhetorical embellishment. Examples of this trend include al-Burdah (“The Mantle”) of al-Buṣīrī (Būṣīrī, al-) (died 1298), upon which dozens of commentaries have been written (and which has been translated into most of the languages of Muslims because of the power to bless attributed to it). More sophisticated but less well known is an ode on the Prophet by the Iraqi poet Ṣafī ad-Dīn al-Ḥilli (died 1350), which contains 151 rhetorical figures. The “letters of spiritual guidance” developed by the mystics are worth mentioning as a literary genre. They have been popular everywhere; from the western Islāmic world the letters of Ibn ʿAbbād (died 1390) of Ronda (in Spain) are outstanding examples of this category, being written clearly and lucidly.

Geographical (geography) literature
      The Maghrib also made a substantial contribution to geographical literature, a field eagerly cultivated by Arab scholars since the 9th century. The Sicilian geographer ash-Sharīf al-Idrīsī (Idrīsī, ash-Sharīf al-) produced a famous map of the world and accompanied it with a detailed description in his Kitāb nuzhat al-mushtāq fī ikhtirāq al-āfāq (“The Delight of Him Who Wishes to Traverse the Regions of the World,” 1154), which he dedicated to his patron, Roger II. The Spanish traveler Ibn Jubayr (died 1217), while on pilgrimage to Mecca, kept notes of his experiences and adventures. The resulting book became a model for the later pilgrims' manuals that are found everywhere in the Muslim world. The Maghribi explorer Ibn Baṭṭūṭah (died 1368/69 or 1377) described his extensive travels to the Far East, India, and the region of the Niger in a book filled with information about the cultural state of the Muslim world at that time. The value of his narrative is enhanced by the simple and pleasing style in which it is written.

      In the field of poetry, Spain, which produced a considerable number of masters in the established poetical forms, also began to popularize strophic poetry, possibly deriving from indigenous models. The muwashshaḥ (“girdled”) poem, written in the classical short metres and arranged in four- to six-line stanzas, was elaborated, enriched by internal rhymes, and, embodying some popular expressions in the poem's final section, soon achieved a standardized form. The theme is almost always love. Among the greatest lyric poets of Spain was Ibn Zaydūn of Córdoba (died 1071), who was of noble birth. After composing some charming love songs dedicated to the Umayyad princess Wallādah, he turned his hand to poetic epistles. He is the author of a beautiful muwashshaḥ about his hometown, which many later poets imitated. When the muwashshaḥ was transplanted to the eastern Arabic countries, however, it lost its original spontaneity and became as stereotyped as every other lyric form of expression during the later Middle Ages. Another strophic form developed in Spain is the songlike zajal (melody), interesting for its embodiment of dialect phrases and the use of occasional words from Romance languages. Its master was Ibn Quzmān of Córdoba (died 1160), whose life-style was similar to that of Western troubadours (troubadour). His approach to life as expressed in these melodious poems, together with their mixed idiom, suggests an interrelationship with the vernacular troubadour poetry of Spain and France.

      Any survey of western Muslim literary achievements would be incomplete if it did not mention the most profound historiographer of the Islāmic world, the Tunisian Ibn Khaldūn (died 1406). History has been called the characteristic science of the Muslims because of the Qurʾānic (Qurʾān) admonition to discover signs of the divine in the fate of past peoples. Islāmic historiography has produced histories of the Muslim conquests, world histories, histories of dynasties, court annals, and biographical works classified by occupation—scholars, poets, and theologians. Yet, notwithstanding their learning, none of the earlier writers had attempted to produce a comprehensive view of history. Ibn Khaldūn, in the famous Muqaddimah or introduction to a projected general history, Kitāb al-ʿibar, sought to explain the basic factors in the historical development of the Islāmic countries. His own experiences, gained on a variety of political missions in North Africa, proved useful in establishing general principles that he could apply to the manifestations of Islāmic civilization. He created, in fact, the first “sociological” study of history, free from bias. Yet his book was little appreciated by his fellow historians, who still clung to the method of accumulating facts without shaping them properly into a well-structured whole. Ibn Khaldūn's work eventually attracted the interest of Western Orientalists, historians, and sociologists alike; and some of his analyses are still held in great esteem.

Decline of the Arabic language
      Ibn Khaldūn, who had served in his youth as ambassador to Pedro I the Cruel, of Castile, and in his old age as emissary to Timur, died in Cairo. After the fall of Baghdad in 1258, this city had become the centre of Muslim learning. Historians there recorded every detail of the daily life and the policies of the Mamlūk sultans; theologians and philologists worked under the patronage of Turkish and Circassian rulers who often did not speak a word of Arabic. The amusing, semicolloquial style of the historian Ibn Iyās (died after 1521) is an interesting example of the deterioration of the Arabic language. While classical Arabic was still the ideal of every literate man, it had become exclusively a “learned” language. Even some copyists who transcribed classical works showed a deplorable lack of grammatical knowledge. It is hardly surprising that poetry composed under such circumstances should be restricted to insipid versification and the repetition of well-worn clichés.

Middle Period: the rise of Persian and Turkish poetry
The new Persian style
      During the ʿAbbāsid period, the Persian influence upon the Arabic had grown considerably: at the same time, a distinct Modern Persian literature came into existence in northeastern Iran, where the house of the Sāmānids (Sāmānid Dynasty) of Bukhara and Samarkand had revived the memory of Sāsānian glories.

      The first famous representative of this new literature was the poet Rūdakī (died 940/941), of whose qaṣīdahs only a few have survived. He also worked on a Persian version of Kalīlah wa Dimnah, however, and on a version of the Sendbād-nāmeh. Rūdakī's poetry, modeled on the Arabic rules of prosody that without exception had been applied to Persian, already points ahead to many of the characteristic features of later Persian poetry. The imagery in particular is sophisticated, although when compared with the mannered writing of subsequent times his verse was considered sadly simple. From the 10th century onward, Persian poems were written at almost every court in the Iranian areas, sometimes in dialectical variants (for example, in Ṭabarestāni dialect at the Zeyārid (Zeyārid Dynasty) court). In many cases the poets were bilingual, excelling in both Arabic and Persian (a gift shared by many non-Arab writers up to the 19th century).

Influence of Maḥmūd of Ghazna
      The first important centre of Persian literature existed at Ghazna (present-day Ghaznī, Afg.), at the court of Maḥmūd of Ghazna (died 1030) and his successors, who eventually extended their empire to northwestern India. Himself an orthodox warrior, Maḥmūd in later love poetry was transformed into a symbol of “a slave of his slave” because of his love for a Turkmen officer, Ayāz. Under the Ghaznavids (Ghaznavid Dynasty), lyric and epic poetry both developed, as did the panegyric. Classical Iranian topics became the themes of poetry, resulting in such diverse works as the love story of Vāmeq and ʿAzrā (possibly of Greek origin) and the Shāh-nāmeh (“Book of Kings”). A number of gifted poets praised Maḥmūd, his successors, and his ministers. Among them was Farrokhī of Seistan (died 1037), who was the author of a powerful elegy on Maḥmūd's death, one of the finest compositions of Persian court poetry.

Epic and romance
      The main literary achievement of the Ghaznavid period, however, was that of Ferdowsī (died 1020). He compiled the inherited tales and legends about the Persian kings in one grand epic, the Shāh-nāmeh, which contains between 35,000 and 60,000 verses in short rhyming couplets. It deals with the history of Iran from its beginnings—that is, from the “time” of the mythical kings—passing on to historical events, giving information about the acceptance of the Zoroastrian faith, Alexander's invasion, and, eventually, the conquest of the country by the Arabs. A large part of the work centres on tales of the hero Rostam. These stories are essentially part of a different culture, thus revealing something about the Indo-European sources of Iranian mythology. The struggle between Iran and Tūrān (the central Asian steppes from which new waves of nomadic conquerors distributed Iran's urban culture) forms the central theme of the book; and the importance of the legitimate succession of kings, who are endowed with royal charisma, is reflected throughout the composition. The poem contains very few Arabic words and is often considered the masterpiece of Persian national literature, although it lacks proper historical perspective. Its episodes have been the inspiration of miniaturists since the 14th century. Numerous attempts have been made to emulate it in Iran, India, and Turkey.

      Other epic poems, on a variety of subjects, were composed during the 11th century. The first example is Asadī's (died c. 1072) didactic Garshāsb-nāmeh (“Book of Garshāsb”), whose hero is very similar to Rostam. The tales of Alexander (Alexander the Great) and his journeys through foreign lands were another favourite topic. Poetical romances (romance) were also being written at this time; they include the tale of Varqeh o-Golshāh by ʿEyyūqī (11th century) and Vīs o-Rāmīn by Fakhr od-Dīn Gorgānī (died after 1055), which has parallels with the Tristan story of medieval romance. These were soon superseded, however, by the great romantic epics of Neẓāmī of Ganja (died c. 1209), in Caucasia. The latter are known as the Khamseh (“Quintet”) and, though the names of Vīs or Vāmeq continued for some time to serve as symbols of the longing lover, it was the poetical work of Neẓāmī that supplied subsequent writers with a rich store of images, similes, and stories to draw upon. The first work of his Khamseh, Makhzan ol-asrār (“Treasury of Mysteries”), is didactic in intention; the subjects of the following three poems are traditional love stories. The first is the Arabic romance of Majnūn, who went mad with love for Laylā. Second is the Persian historical tale of Shīrīn, a Christian princess, loved by both the Sāsānian ruler Khosrow II Parvīz and the stonecutter Farhād. The third story, Haft peykar (“Seven Beauties”), deals with the adventures of Bahrām Gūr (Bahrām V), a Sāsānian prince, and seven princesses, each connected with one day of the week, one particular star, one colour, one perfume, and so on. The last part of the Khamseh is Eskandar-nāmeh, which relates the adventures of Alexander III the Great in Africa and Asia, as well as his discussions with the wise philosophers. It thus follows the traditions about Alexander and his tutor, Aristotle, emphasizing the importance of a counselor-philosopher in the service of a mighty emperor. Neẓāmī's ability to present a picture of life through highly refined language and a wholly apt choice of images is quite extraordinary. Human feelings, as he describes them, are fully believable; and his characters are drawn with a keen insight into human nature. Not surprisingly, Neẓāmī's work inspired countless poets' imitations in different languages—including Turkish, Kurdish, and Urdu—while painters constantly illustrated his stories for centuries afterward.

Other poetic forms
      In addition to epic poetry, the lesser forms, such as the qaṣīdah and ghazal, developed during the 11th and 12th centuries. Many poets wrote at the courts of the Seljuqs (Seljuq) and also at the Ghaznavid court in Lahore, where the poet Masʿūd-e Saʿd-e Salmān (died 1121) composed a number of heartfelt qaṣīdahs during his political imprisonment. They are outstanding examples of the category of ḥabsīyah (prison poem), which usually reveals more of the author's personal feelings than other literary forms. Other famous examples of ḥabsīyahs include those written by the Arab knight Abū Firās (died 968) in a Byzantine prison; those by Muḥammad II al-Muʿtamid (Muʿtamid, al-) of Sevilla (died 1095) in the dungeons of the Almohads; those by the 12th-century Persian Khāqānī; those by the Urdu poets Ghālib (Ghālib, Mīrzā Asadullāh Khān), in the 19th, and Faiz, in the 20th century; and by the contemporary Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet (Hikmet, Nazım) (died 1963).

      The most complicated forms were mastered by poets of the very early period, the limits of artificiality being reached in Azerbaijani qaṣīdahs by the poet Qaṭrān (died 1072), whose work displays virtuosity for virtuosity's sake. The court poets tried to top one another in the accumulation of complex metaphors and paradoxes, each hoping to win the coveted title “Prince of Poets.” Anvarī (died c. 1189), whose patrons were the Seljuqs, is considered the most accomplished writer of panegyrics in the Persian tongue. His verses contain little descriptive material but abound in learned allusions. His “Tears of Khorāsān,” mourning the passing of Seljuq glory, is among the best known of Persian qaṣīdahs. In the west of Iran, Anvarī's contemporary Khāqānī (died c. 1190), who wrote mainly at the court of the Shīrvān-Shāhs of Transcaucasia, is the outstanding master of the hyperbolic style. His mother was a Christian, and his imagery has more than the usual amount of allusions to Christian themes. His vocabulary seems inexhaustible; he uses uncommon rhetorical devices and very strong language. His poems, with their long chains of oath-formulae (sowgandnāmeh), are as impressive as his poignant antithetic formulations. Khāqānī's verses on the ruined Ṭāq Kisrā at Ctesiphon on the Tigris have become proverbial. His qaṣīdahs on the pilgrimage to Mecca, which also inspired his manavī, Tuḥfat al-‘Irāqayn ol-ʿErāqeyn (“Gift of the Two Iraqs”), translate most eloquently the feelings of a Muslim at the festive occasion. In the hand of lesser poets, however, qaṣīdah writing became more and more conventionalized, repeating outworn clichés and employing inflated terms entirely devoid of feeling.

Scholarship: al-Bīrūnī (Bīrūnī, al-)
      The Ghaznavid and Seljuq periods produced first-rate scholars such as al-Bīrūnī (died 1048) who, writing in Arabic, investigated Hinduism and gave the first unprejudiced account of India—indeed, of any non-Islāmic culture. He also wrote notable books on chronology and history. In his search for pure knowledge he is undoubtedly one of the greatest minds in Islāmic history. Interest in philosophy is represented by Nāṣer-e Khosrow (Nāṣir-i Khusraw) (died 1087/88) who acted for a time as a missionary for the Ismāʿīlī branch of Shīʿah Islām. His book about his journey to Egypt, entitled Safar-nāmeh, is a pleasing example of simple, clearly expressed, early Persian prose. His poetical works in the main seek to combine Greek wisdom and Islāmic thought: the gnostic Ismāʿīlī (Ismāʿīlīte) interpretation of Islām seemed, to him, an ideal vehicle for a renaissance of the basic Islāmic truths.

Robāʿīyāt: Omar Khayyam
      The work done in mathematics by early Arabic scholars and by al-Bīrūnī was continued by Omar Khayyam (died 1122), to whom the Seljuq empire in fact owes the reform of its calendar. But Omar has become famous in the West through the free adaptations by Edward FitzGerald (FitzGerald, Edward) of his robāʿīyāt. These quatrains have been translated into almost every known language and are largely responsible for colouring European ideas about Persian poetry. The authenticity of these verses has often been questioned. The quatrain is an easy form to use—many have been scribbled on Persian pottery of the 13th century—and the same verse has been attributed to many different authors. The latest research into the question of the robāʿīyāt has established that a certain number of the quatrains can, indeed, be traced back to the great scientist who condensed in them his feelings and thoughts, his skepticism and love, in such an enthralling way that they appeal to every reader. The imagery he uses, however, is entirely inherited; none of it is original. (One of the most noted, and notorious, writers of this genre was the poetess Mahsaṭī [first half of the 12th century], who frequently addressed members of different professions in rather frivolous lines.) The quatrain was also popular as a means of embodying pieces of mystical wisdom. One has to do away with the old theory that the first author of such mystical robāʿīyāt was Abū Saʿīd ibn Abū al-Khayr (died 1049). A number of his contemporaries, however, including Bābā Ṭāher ʿOryān (Bābā Ṭāhir) (died after 1055), used simpler forms of the quatrain, sometimes in order to express their mystical concepts.

The mystical poem
      Whereas the mystical thought stemming from Iran had formerly been written in Arabic, writers from the 11th century onward turned to Persian. Along with works of pious edification and theoretical discussions, what was to be one of the most common types of Persian literature came into existence: the mystical poem. Khwajah ʿAbd Allāh al-Anṣārī of Herāt (died 1088), a prolific writer on religious topics in both Arabic and Persian, first popularized the literary “prayer,” or mystical contemplation, written in Persian in rhyming prose interspersed with verses. Sanāʾī (died 1131?), at one time a court poet of the Ghaznavids, composed the first mystical epic, the didactic Ḥadīqat al-ḥaqīqat wa sharī ʿat aṭ-ṭariqah (“The Garden of Truth and the Law of the Path”), which has some 10,000 verses. In this lengthy and rather dry poem, the pattern for all later mystical manavīs is established: wisdom is embodied in stories and anecdotes; parables and proverbs are woven into the texture of the story, eventually leading back to the main subject, although the argument is without thread and the narration puzzling to follow. Among Sanāʾī's smaller manavīs, Sayr al-ʿibād ilā al-maʿād (“The Journey of the Servants to the Place of Return”) deserves special mention. Its theme is the journey of the spirit through the spheres, a subject dear to the mystics and still employed in modern times as, for example, by Iqbāl in his Persian Jāvīd-nāmeh (1932). Sanāʾī's epic endeavours were continued by one of the most prolific writers in the Persian tongue, Farīd od-Dīn ʿAṭṭār (Aṭṭār, Farīd al-Dīnʿ) (died c. 1220). He was a born storyteller, a fact that emerges from his lyrics but even more so from his works of edification. The most famous among his manavīs is the Manṭiq uṭ-ṭayr (The Conference of the Birds), modeled after some Arabic allegories. It is the story of 30 birds, who, in search of their spiritual king, journey through seven valleys. The poem is full of tales, some of which have been translated even into the most remote Islāmic languages. (The story of the pious Sheykh Ṣanʿān, who fell in love with a Christian maiden, is found, for example, in Kashmiri.) ʿAṭṭār's symbolism of the soul-bird was perfectly in accord with the existing body of imagery beloved of Persian poetry, but it was he who added a scene in which the birds eventually realize their own identity with God (because they, being sī morgh, or “30 birds,” are identified with the mystical Sēmorgh, who represents God). Also notable are his Elāhī-nāmeh, an allegory of a king and his six sons, and his profound Moṣībat-nāmeh (“Book of Affliction”), which closes with its hero's being immersed in the ocean of his soul after wandering through the 40 stages of his search for God. The epic exteriorizes the mystic's experiences in the 40 days of seclusion.

Importance of Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn ar-Rūmī (Rūmī)
      The most famous of the Persian mystical manavīs is by Mawlānā (“Our Lord”) Jalāl ad-Dīn ar-Rūmī (died 1273) and is known simply as the Manavī. It comprises some 26,000 verses and is a complete—though quite disorganized—encyclopaedia of all the mystical thought, theories, and images known in the 13th century. It is regarded by most of the Persian-reading orders of Ṣūfīs as second in importance only to the Qurʾān. Its translation into many Islāmic languages and the countless commentaries written on it up to the present day indicate its importance in the formation of Islāmic poetry and religious thought. Jalāl ad-Dīn, who hailed from Balkh and settled in Konya, the capital of the Rūm, or Anatolian Seljuqs (and hence was surnamed “Rūmī”), was also the author of love lyrics whose beauty surpasses even that of the tales in the Manavī. Mystical love poetry had been written since the days of Sanāʾī, and theories of love had been explained in the most subtle prose and sensitive verses by the Ṣūfīs of the early 12th century. Yet Rūmī's experience of mystical love for the wandering mystic, Shams ad-Dīn of Tabriz, was so ardent and enraptured him to such an extent that he identified himself completely with Shams, going so far as to use the beloved's name as his own pen name. His dithyrambic lyrics, numbering more than 30,000 verses altogether, are not at all abstract or romantic. On the contrary, their vocabulary and imagery are taken directly from everyday life, so that they are vivid, fresh, and convincing. Often their rhythm invites the reader to partake in the mystical dance practiced by Rūmī's followers, the Mawlawīyah. His verses sometimes approach the form of popular folk poetry; indeed, Rūmī is reputed to have written mostly under inspiration; and despite his remarkable poetical technique, the sincerity of his love and longing is never overshadowed, nor is his personality veiled. In these respects he is unique in Persian literature.

Zenith of Islāmic literature
      During the 13th century, the Islāmic lands were exposed, on the political plane, to the onslaught of the Mongols and the abolition of the ʿAbbāsid caliphate, while vast areas were laid to waste. Yet this was in fact the period in which Islāmic literatures reached their zenith. Apart from Rūmī's superb poetry, written in the comparative safety of Konya, there was also the work of the Egyptian Ibn al-Fārīd (Ibn al-Fāriḍ) (died 1235), who composed some magnificent, delicately written mystical poems in qaṣīdah style, and that of Ibn al-ʿArabī, who composed love lyrics and numerous theosophical works that were to become standard. In Iran, one of the greatest literati, Moṣleḥ od-Dīn Saʿdī (Saʿdī) (died 1292), returned in about 1256 to his birthplace, Shīrāz, after years of journeying; his Būstān (“The Orchard”) and Golestān (“Rose Garden”) have been popular ever since. The Būstān is a didactic poem telling wise and uplifting moral tales, written in polished, easy-flowing style and a simple metre; the Golestān, completed one year later, in 1258, has been judged “. . . the finest flower that could blossom in a Sultan's garden” (Herder). Its eight chapters deal with different aspects of human life and behaviour. At first sight, its prose and poetical fragments appear to be simple and unassuming; but not a word could be changed without destroying the perfect harmony of the sound, imagery, and content. Saʿdī's Golestān is thus essential in discovering the nature of the finest Persian literary style. Since the mid-17th century, its moralizing stories have been translated into many Western languages. Saʿdī was likewise the author of some spirited ghazals; he may have been the first writer in Iran to compose the sort of love poetry that is now thought of as characteristic of the ghazal. A few of his qaṣīdahs are also of note, although he is at his best in shorter forms. His elegant aphoristic poems, words of wisdom, and sensible advice all display what has been called the philosophy of common sense—how to act in any given situation so as to make the best of it both for oneself and others, basing one's conduct on the virtues of gentleness, elegance, modesty, and polite behaviour.

      The influence of mysticism, on the one hand, and of the elaborate Persian poetical tradition, on the other, is apparent during the later decades of the 13th century, both in Anatolia and in Muslim India. The Persian mystic, Fakhr-ud-Dīn Irāqīʿ (died 1289), a master of delightful love lyrics, lived for almost 25 years in Multān (in present-day Pakistan), where his lively ghazals are still sung. His short treatises, in a mixture of poetry and prose (and written under Ibn al-ʿArabī's influence), have been imitated often. While in Multān he may have met the young Amīr Khosrow of Delhi (died 1325), who was one of the most versatile authors to write in Persian, not only in India but in the entire realm of Persian culture. Amīr Khosrow, son of a Turkish officer, but whose mother was Indian, is often styled, because of the sweetness of his speech, “the parrot of India.” (In Persian, it should be noted, parrots are always “sugar-talking”; they are, moreover, connected with Paradise and are thought of as wise birds—thus models of the sweet-voiced sage.) He wrote panegyrics of seven successive kings of Delhi and was also a pioneer of Indian Muslim music. Imitating Neẓāmī's Khamseh, Khosrow introduced a novelistic strain into the manavī by recounting certain events of his own time in poetical form, some parts of which are lyrics. His style of lyrical poetry has been described as “powdered”; and his ghazals contain many of the elements that in the 16th and 17th centuries were to become characteristic of the “Indian” style. Khosrow's poetry surprises the reader in its use of unexpected forms and unusual images, complicated constructions and verbal plays, all handled fluently and presented in technically perfect language. His books on the art of letter writing prove his mastery of high-flown Persian prose. Khosrow's younger contemporary, Ḥasan of Delhi (died 1328), is less well known and had a more simple style. He nevertheless surpassed Khosrow in warmth and charm, qualities that have earned him the title of “the Saʿdī of Hindustan.”

      As for the literary developments in Turkey around 1300, the mystical singer Yunus Emre is the first and most important in a long line of popular poets. Little is known about his life, which he probably spent not far from the Sakarya River of Asia Minor. Before him, in Central Asia, the religious leader Ahmed Yesevi (died 1166) had written some rather dry verses on wisdom in Turkish. Yunus, in Anatolia, however, was the first known poet to have caught something of Rūmī's fervour and translated it into a provincial setting, creating “. . . a Turkish vernacular poetry that was to be the model for all subsequent literary productions of popular religion.” Sometimes he used the inherited Arabo-Persian prosody, but his best poems are those written in four-line verses using syllable-counting metres. Yunus drew heavily on the reservoir of imagery that had been collected by the great Persian writing mystics, notably Rūmī; but his classical technique did not hinder the expression of his own unself-conscious simplicity, which led him to introduce new images taken from everyday life in Anatolian villages. His ilahis (hymns), probably written to be sung at the meetings of the Ṣūfīs in the centres of their orders, are still loved by the Turks and memorized by their children.

Influence of Yunus Emre
      The Turkish people rightly claim Yunus as the founder of Turkish literature proper. His poetry is considered the chief pillar of poetry of the Bektāshīyah (Bektashi) Ṣūfī order, and many poets of this and other orders have imitated his style (though without reaching the same level of poetic truth and human warmth). Among the later poets claimed by the Bektāshīs may be mentioned Kaygusuz Abdal (15th century), who probably came from the European provinces of the Ottoman Empire. His verses are full of burlesque and even coarse images: in their odd mixture of worldliness and religious expression they are often as amusing as they are puzzling. In the 16th century, Pir Sultan Abdal (executed c. 1560) is noted for a few poems of austere melancholy. He was executed for collaboration with the Ṣafavids, the archenemies of the Ottomans; and in this connection it is worth remembering that the founder of the Iranian Ṣafavid dynasty, Shāh Esmāʿīl I (Ismāʿīl I) (died 1524), wrote Turkish poetry under the pen name Khaṭāʾī and is counted among the Bektāshī poets.

Religious poetry
      Mystically tinged poetry has always been very popular in Turkey, both in cities and rural areas. The best loved religious poem of all was, and still is, Süleyman Çelebi's (Süleyman Çelebi) (died 1419) Mevlûd, a quite short manavī in honour of the Prophet Muḥammad's birth. This type of poetry has been known in the Islāmic countries since at least the 12th century and was soon adopted wherever Islām spread. There are a great number of mevlûd written in Turkish, but it was Süleyman Çelebi's unpretentious description of the great religious event that captured the hearts of the Turks; and it is still sung on many occasions (on the anniversary of a death, for example). The poem makes an excellent introduction to an understanding of the deep love for the Prophet felt by the pious Muslim.

Persian literature: 1300–1500
      In the Iran of the Middle Ages, a vast number of poets flourished at the numerous courts. Not only professional poets but even the kings and princes contributed more or less successfully to the body of Persian poetry. Epics, panegyrics, and mystico-didactical poetry had all reached their finest hour by the end of the 13th century; the one genre to attain perfection slightly later was the ghazal, of which Moḥammad Shams od-Dīn Ḥāfeẓ (Ḥāfeẓ) (died 1389/90) is the incontestable master.

Lyric poetry: Moḥammad Shams od-Dīn Ḥāfeẓ
      Ḥāfeẓ lived in Shīrāz; his pen name—“Who Knows the Qurʾān by Heart”—indicates his wide religious education, but little is known about the details of his life. The same is true of many Persian lyrical poets, since their products rarely contain much trustworthy biographical material. Ḥāfeẓ's comparatively small collection of work—his Dīvān contains about 400 ghazals—was soon acclaimed as the finest lyrical poetry ever written in Persian. The discussion of whether or not to interpret its wine and love songs on a mystical plane has continued for centuries. Yet this discussion seems sterile since Ḥāfeẓ, whose verbal images shine like jewels, is an outstanding exponent of the ambiguous and oscillating style that makes Persian poetry so attractive and so difficult to translate. The different levels of experience are all expressed through the same images and symbols: the beloved is always cruel, whether a chaste virgin (a rare case in Persian poetry!) or a professional courtesan, or, as in most cases, a handsome young boy, or God himself, mysterious and unattainable—or even, on the political plane, the remote despot, the wisdom of whose schemes must never be questioned by his subjects. Since mystical interpretation of the world order had become almost second nature to Persians during the 13th century, the human beloved could effortlessly be regarded as God's manifestation; the rose became a symbol of highest divine beauty and glory; the nightingale represented the yearning and complaining soul; wine, cup, and cupbearer became the embodiment of enrapturing divine love. The poets' multicoloured images were not merely decorative embroidery but were a structural part of their thought. One must not expect Ḥāfeẓ (or any other poet) to unveil his personal feelings in a lyrical poem of experience. But no other Persian poet has used such complex imagery on so many different levels with such harmonious and well-balanced lucidity as did Ḥāfeẓ. His true greatness lies in this rather than in the content of his poetry. It must be stressed again that, according to the traditional view, each verse of a ghazal should be unique, precious for its own sake, and that the apparent lack of logic behind the sequence of verses was considered a virtue rather than a defect. (It may help to think of the glass pieces in a kaleidoscope, which appear in different patterns from moment to moment, yet themselves form no logical pattern.) To what extent an “inner rhythm” and a “contrapuntal harmony” can be detected in Ḥāfeẓ's poetry is still a matter for discussion; but that he perfected the ghazal form is indisputable. Whether he is praised as a very human love poet, as an interpreter of esoteric lore, or, as has been recently suggested, as a political critic, his verses have a continuing appeal to all lovers of art and artistry.

Parodies of classic forms
      Ḥāfeẓ's contemporary in Shīrāz was the satirist ʿObeyd-e Zākānī (died 1371), noted for his obscene verses (even the most moralistic and mystical poets sometimes produced surprisingly coarse and licentious lines) and for his short manavī called Mūsh o-gorbeh (“Mouse and Cat”), an amusing political satire. Since few new forms or means of expression were open to them, ʿObeyd and other poets began ridiculing the classic models of literature: thus, Bosḥāq (died c. 1426) composed odes and ghazals exclusively on the subject of food.

      The Timurid (Timurid Dynasty) period in Iran produced only moderately good poetry, despite the rulers' interest in art. Allegorical manavīs were much in vogue, such as the Shabestān-e khayāl (“Bedchamber of Fantasy”) by the prolific writer Fattāḥī of Nīshāpūr (died 1448) and Gūy o-chowgān (“Ball and Polo-stick”) by ʿĀrefī (died 1449); the latter work is an elaboration of the cliché that the lover is helpless before the will of his beloved, just as the ball is subject to the will of the polo-stick (“. . . the head of the lover in the polo-stick of the beloved's tresses”).

Eclecticism of ʿAbd or-Raḥmān Jāmī
      The last great centre of Islāmic art in the region of Iran was the Timurid court of Herāt, where Dowlatshāh (died 1494) composed his much-quoted biographical work on Persian poets. The leading figure in this circle was ʿAbd or-Raḥmān Jāmī (died 1492), who is sometimes considered the last and most comprehensive of the “seven masters” in Persian literature, since he was a master of every literary genre and did not specialize in one form only, as Anvarī and Ḥāfeẓ, among others, had done. Jāmī wrote an excellent imitation of Neẓāmī's Khamseh, enlarging it by the addition of two mystical manavīs into a septet called Haft owrang (“The Seven Thrones,” or “Ursa Major”). His interest in Ṣūfism—he was initiated into the Naqshbandīyah order—is clear from his famous biographies of the Ṣūfī saints (which were an elaboration of a similar work by the 11th-century ʿAbd Allāh al-Anṣārī). In imitation of Saʿdī, Jāmī also composed the Bahārestān (“Orchard of Spring”), written in prose interspersed with verses. He left no less than three large divans, which contain work of high quality and demonstrate his gift for inventing picturesque images. Although his work abounds in lavishly ornamented verses, his style on the whole lacks the perfect beauty of Ḥāfeẓ's lyrics and is already tending toward the heavier, more opaque “Indian” style. Jāmī also wrote treatises about literary riddles and various kinds of intellectual games, of which Muslim society in the late 15th century was very fond and which remain a feature of erudite Persian and Turkish poetry. His influence on the work of later poets, especially in Ottoman Turkey, was very powerful.

      An interesting aspect of the Timurid court in Herāt was the attention given to Chagatai Turkish, which was spoken in the eastern regions of Islām. ʿAlī Shīr Navāʾī (Navāʾī, ʿAlī Shīr), minister at the court (and a close friend of Jāmī), emphasized the beauties of his Turkic mother tongue as compared with Persian in his Muḥākamat al-lughatayn (“Judgment of the Two Languages”). He composed most of his lyrics and epics in Chagatai, which previously had been used by some members of the Timurid family and their courtiers for poetry but which became, thanks to him, an established literary medium. Even the arts-loving ruler of Herāt, Ḥusayn Bayqara (died 1506), wrote poetry in Turkic, following in every respect conventional literary taste.

Prose works: the “Mirror for Princes”
      During the first five centuries of Modern Persian literary life, a multitude of prose works were written. Among them, the “Mirror for Princes” deserves special mention. This genre, introduced from Persian into Arabic as early as the 8th century, flourished once more in Iran during the late 11th century. One important example is the Qābūs-nāmeh by the Zeyārid prince ʿOnṣor ol-Maʿalī Keykāvūs (died 1098), which presents “a miscellany of Islāmic culture in pre-Mongol times.” At the same time, Niẓām al-Mulk (died 1092), the grand vizier of the Seljuqs, composed his Seyāsat-nāmeh (“Book of Government”), a good introduction to the statesman's craft according to medieval Islāmic standards. The Seyāsat-nāmeh was heavily influenced by pre-Islāmic Persian tradition. In the same period and environment, even a mystic like al-Ghazālī (Ghazālī, al-) felt disposed to write a Naṣīḥat al-mulūk (Counsel for Kings), although the idealized relationship he makes between religious theory and practical statesmanship was not very realistic. A later mystic to compose a similar work was Sayyid ʿAlī Hamadhānī (died 1385), who had settled in Kashmir and initiated its Sūfi poetry. Others, especially in India, exhorted rulers in their writings.

      Belles lettres proper found a fertile soil in Iran. The fables of Kalīlah wa Dimnah, for example, were retold several times in Persian. The most famous version, though a rather turgid one, is called Anvār-e soheylī (“Lights of Canopus”) and was composed by a famous mystic, Ḥoseyn Wāʿeẓ-e Kāshefī of Herāt (died 1504). The “cyclic story” form (in which several unconnected tales are held together by a common framework or narrator device), inherited from India, became as popular in Iran as it had been in the Arabic-speaking countries. The Sendbād-nāmeh and the Ṭūṭī-nāmeh (“Parrot Book”), which is based on Indian tales, are both good examples of the popular method whereby a variety of instructive stories are skillfully strung together within a basic “running” story. The first comprehensive collection of entertaining prose is Jawāmīʿ al-ḥikayat (“Collections of Stories”), a veritable storehouse of tales and anecdotes, by ʿOwfī (died c. 1230). Anecdotes were an important feature of the biographical literature that became popular in Iran and Muslim India. Biographies of the poets of a certain age or of a specified area were collected together. They provide the reader with few concrete facts about the subjects concerned; but they abound in anecdotes, sayings, and verses attributed to the subjects, thus preserving material that otherwise might have been lost. Many of these biographical manuals, such as ʿOwfī's Lubāb al-albāb (“Quintessence of the Hearts”) or Dowlatshāh's Tazkirat ash-shuʿarā (“Biography of the Poets”), make agreeable reading. The authors concerned wished to demonstrate their own erudition and rhetorical technique as much as to immortalize their subjects; consequently, their books are important equally as stylistic documents and as historical sources. One of the most remarkable works in this field is Chahār maqāleh (“Four Treatises”) by Neẓāmī-ye ʿArūẕī, a writer from eastern Iran. Written in about 1156, this little book is an excellent introduction to the ideals of Persian literature and its writers, discussing in detail what is required to make a perfect poet, giving a number of instances of the sort of poetic craftsmanship thought especially admirable, and allowing glimpses into the various arts in which the literary man was expected to excel.

      This tendency toward “anecdotal” writing, which is also manifest in the work of a number of Arab historians, can be observed in the cosmographical books and in some of the historical books produced in medieval Iran. Ḥamdollāh Mostowfī's (died after 1340) cosmography, Nuzhat al-qulūb (“Pleasure of the Hearts”), like many earlier works of this genre, underlined the mysterious aspects of the marvels of creation and was the most famous of several instructive collections of mixed folkloristic and scientific material. Early miniaturists, too, loved to illustrate the most unlikely tales and pieces of information given in such works. Historical writing proper had been begun by the Persians as early as the late 10th century, when Balʿamī's abridged translation of aṭ-Ṭabarī's (Ṭabarī, aṭ-) (died 923) vast Arabic chronicle first acquainted them with this outstanding piece of early Arabic historical literature. The heyday of historiography in Iran, however, was the Il-Khanid (Il-Khanid Dynasty) period (mid-13th to mid-14th century). Iran was then ruled by the successors of Genghis Khan, and scholars began to extend their interest back to the history of pre-Islāmic Central Asia, whence the rulers had come. Tārīkh-e jehān-goshāy (“History of the World Conqueror”) by ʿAṭā Malek-e Joveynī (Joveynī, ʿAṭā Malek) (died 1283) and Jāmiʿ at-tawārīkh (“Collector of Chronicles”) by the physician and vizier Rashīd ad-Dīn (executed 1318) are both outstanding examples of histories filled with valuable information. Although the writing of history became a firmly established art in Iran and the adjacent Muslim countries, the facts were unfortunately all too often concealed in a bombastic style and a labyrinth of cumbersome, long-winded sentences. A history written by Vaṣṣāf (died 1323) is the most notorious example of turgidity, but even his style was surpassed by some later writers. These stylistic tendencies deeply influenced Turkish prose writing: 17th-century Turkish historical works, such as those of Peçevi (died c. 1650) and Naima (Naima, Mustafa) (died 1716), for this reason almost defy translation. Later Persian prose in India suffered from the same defects. This development in Persian and Turkish prose is also reflected in the handbooks on style and letter writing that were written during the 14th and 15th centuries and afterward. They urged the practice of all the artificial tricks of rhetoric by this time considered essential for an elegant piece of prose.

Popular literature
      Islāmic literatures, however, should not be thought to consist only of erudite and witty court poetry, of frivolous or melancholy love lyrics full of literary conceits, or of works deeply mystical in content. Such works are counterbalanced by a great quantity of popular literature, of which the most famous expression is Alf laylah wa laylah (The Thousand and One Nights (Thousand and One Nights, The), also known as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment). The tales collected under this title come from different cultural areas; their nucleus is of Indian origin, first translated into Persian as Hazār afsānak (“Thousand Tales”) and then into Arabic. These fanciful fairy tales were later expanded with stories and anecdotes from Baghdad. Subsequently, some tales—mainly from the lower strata of society—about rogues, tricksters, and vagabonds were added in Egypt. Independent series of stories, such as that of Sindbad the Sailor, were also included. The entire collection is very important as a reflection of several aspects of Oriental folklore and allows, now and then, glimpses into the court life of the various dynasties. Since its first translation into French (1704), it has inspired many Western readers' dreams about the “romantic” East.

      From pre-Islāmic times the Arabs had recounted tales of the ayyām al-ʿArab (“Days of the Arabs”), which were stories of their tribal wars, and had dwelt upon tales of the heroic deeds of certain of their brave warriors, such as ʿAntarah. Modern research, however, suggests that his story in its present setting belongs to the period of the Crusades. The Egyptian queen, Shajar ad-Durr (died 1250), and the first brave Mamlūk ruler, Baybars I (died 1277), as well as the adventures of the Bedouin tribe Banū Hilāī on its way to Tunisia, are all the subjects of lengthy popular tales.

      In Iran, many of the historical legends and myths had been borrowed and turned into high literature by Ferdowsī. Accounts of the glorious adventures of heroes from early Islāmic times were afterward retold throughout Iran, India, and Turkey. Thus, the Dāstān-e Amīr Ḥamzeh, a story of Muḥammad's uncle Ḥamzah ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, was slowly enlarged by the addition of more and more fantastic details. This form of dāstān, as such literature is called, to some extent influenced the first attempts at novel writing in Muslim India during the 19th century. The epics of Köroğlu are common to both Iranian and Turkish tradition. He was a noble warrior-robber who became one of the central figures in folk literature from Central Asia to Anatolia.

      Some popular epics were composed in the late Middle Ages, having as their basis local traditions. One such epic had as its basis the Turco-Iranian legend of an 8th-century hero, Abū Muslim, another the Turkish tales of the knight Dānishmend. Other epics, such as the traditional Turkish tale of Dede Korkut, were preserved by storytellers who improvised certain parts of their tales (which were noted down only afterward). Also, the role of the Ṣūfī orders and of the artisans' lodges in preserving and transmitting such semihistorical popular epics seems to have been considerable. Apart from heroic figures, the Muslim peoples further share a comic character—basically a type of low-class theologian, called Nasreddin Hoca in Turkish, Juḥā in Arabic, and Mushfiqī in Tadzhik. Anecdotes about this character, which embody the mixture of silliness and shrewdness displayed by this “type,” have amused generations of Muslims.

      Shortly after the introduction of the printing press, Turkey and Iran began to produce cheap books, sometimes illustrated, containing popular romantic love stories. Large numbers of fairy tales were published in these cheap editions, and still other fairy tales have been collected by European and Muslim folklorists.

      A truly popular poetry is everywhere to be found: lullabies sung by Baluchi, Kurdish, and Ibo mothers have obvious similarities; workers sing little rhythmical poems to accompany their work, and nomads remember the adventures of their ancestors in their ballads. Such popular poems often contain dialect expressions, and the metres differ from the classical quantitative system. Some of these simple verses, such as a two-line lanḍay in Pashto, are among the most graceful products of Islāmic poetry. Many folksongs—lullabies, wedding songs, and dirges—have a distinct mystical flavour and reflect the simple Muslim's love for the Prophet and his trust in God's grace even under the most difficult circumstances. Irony and wit are features of the riddle poem, a favourite form among Muslims everywhere. Folk poets were also fond of humorous descriptions of imaginary disputations between two entities—they might compose dialogues between coffee and tobacco (Morocco), between a big and a small mosque (Yemen), between a cat and a dog, or between a boy and a girl. This kind of literature in the semicolloquial or dialectical Arabic poetry of the 17th and 18th centuries in Yemen, Upper Egypt, and central Arabia would bear a thorough study. All the Iranian and Turkic languages, too, possess a rich heritage of popular poetry, which in many cases appeals more immediately to modern tastes than does the rather cerebral high literature of the urban and court cultures.

The period from 1500 to 1800
      According to Persian tradition, the last classic author in literature was Jāmī, who died in 1492. In that year, Christopher Columbus discovered America, and the Christians reconquered Granada, the last Moorish stronghold of Spain. The beginning of the 16th century was as crucial in the history of the Muslim East as in that of the Western Hemisphere. In 1501, the young Esmāʿīl (Ismāʿīl I) founded the Ṣafavid (Ṣafavid Dynasty) rule in Iran, and the Shīʿah persuasion of Islām was declared the state religion. At the same time, the kingdoms of the last Timurid rulers in Central Asia were overthrown by the Uzbeks, who, for a while, tried to continue the cultural tradition in both Persian and Turkic at their courts in Bukhara. In 1526, after long struggles, one member of the Timurid house, Bābur, laid the foundation of the Mughal Empire (Mughal Dynasty) in India. In the Near East, the Ottoman Turks, having expanded their empire (beginning in the late 13th century) from northwestern Anatolia into the Balkans, conquered crumbling Mamlūk Egypt and adjacent countries, including the sacred places of Mecca and Medina in 1516–17. Thus, three main blocks emerged, and the two strongholds of Sunnī Islām—Ottoman Turkey and Mughal India—were separated by Shīʿah Iran.

Decentralization of Islāmic literatures
      Ṣafavid Iran, as it happened, lost most of its artists and poets to the neighbouring countries: there were no great masters of poetry in Iran between the 16th and 18th centuries. And while the Persian Shāh Esmāʿīl wrote Turkish mystical verses, his contemporary and enemy, Sultan Selim I of Turkey (died 1520), composed quite elegant Persian ghazals. Bābur (died 1530), in turn, composed his autobiography in Eastern Turkic.

      Bābur's autobiography is a fascinating piece of Turkish prose and at the same time one of the comparatively rare examples of Islāmic autobiographical literature. The classic example in this genre, however, was a lively Arabic autobiography by Usāmah ibn Munqidh (died 1188), which sheds much light upon the life and cultural background of a Syrian knight during the Crusades. A number of mystics, too, had written their spiritual autobiographies in a variety of languages, with varying degrees of artistic success. Bābur's book, however, gives a wonderful insight into the character of this intrepid conqueror. It reveals him as a master of concise, matter-of-fact prose, as a keen observer of daily life, full of pragmatic common sense, and also as a good judge of poetry. Bābur even went so far as to write a treatise in Turkish about versification. Many of his descendants, both male and female, inherited his literary taste and talent for poetry; among them are remarkably good poets in Persian, Turkish, and Urdu, as well as accomplished authors of autobiographies ( Jahāngīr) and letters ( Aurangzeb). Among the nobility of India, the Turkish language remained in use until the 19th century. Lovely Turkish verses were written, for example, by Akbar's general, Khān-e Khānān ʿAbd-ur-Raḥīm (died 1626), who was a great patron of fine arts and poetry.

      In the Arab world, there was hardly a poet or original writer of note during the three centuries that followed the Ottoman conquest, apart from some theologians (ʿAbd al-Wahhāb ash-Shaʿrānī, died 1565; ʿAbd al-Ghanī an-Nābulusī, died 1731) and grammarians. Yet Arabic still remained the language of theology and scholarship throughout the Muslim world; both Turkey and India could boast a large number of scholars who excelled in the sacred language. In Ottoman Turkey, Taşköprüzāde (died 1560) compiled a historical survey of outstanding Turkish intellectuals in Arabic. Although a fine example of Islāmic learning, it does not compare in usefulness with the bibliographical work in Arabic by Hacı Halifa (Kâtib Çelebî (Kâtip Çelebi); died 1658), which is a valuable source for modern knowledge of literary history.

New importance of Indian literature
      India's share in the development of Arabic literature at this time was especially large. In addition to the quantity of theological work written in the language of the Qurʾān, from the conquest of Sind in 711 right up until the 19th century, much philosophical and biographical literature in Arabic was also being written in the subcontinent. Persian taste predominated in the northwest of India, but in the southern provinces there were long-standing commercial and cultural relationships with the Arabs, especially in Yemen and Ḥaḍramawt, and an inclination toward preserving these intact. Thus, much poetry in conventional Arabic style was written during the 16th and 17th centuries, mainly in the kingdom of Golconda. There are even attempts at the epic form. A century after the heyday of Arabic in the Deccan, Āzād Bilgrami (died 1786) composed numerous poetical and biographical works in Persian; but his chief fame was as the “Ḥassān of Hind,” since he, like the Prophet Muḥammad's protégé Ḥassān ibn Thābit, wrote some powerful Arabic panegyrics in honour of the Prophet of Islām. He even attempted to make a comparison of the characteristics of Arabic and Sanskrit poetry and tried to prove that India was the real homeland of Islām. It should be added that al-Sayyid Murtaḍā az-Zabīd (died 1791), a leading philologist, author of the fundamental work of lexicography Tāj al-ʿarūs (“The Bride's Crown”), and commentator on Ghazālī's main work, was of Indian origin. Laudatory poems and belles lettres in Arabic were still popular in the early 19th century at the Shīʿite court of Lucknow, then the chief centre of Urdu poetry.

Indian literature in Persian (Persian language)
      Nevertheless, the main contribution of Muslim India to high literature was made in the Persian tongue. Persian had been the official language of the country for many centuries. The numerous annals and chronicles that were compiled during the 14th and 15th centuries, as well as the court poetry, had been composed exclusively in this language even by Hindus. During the Mughal period, its importance was enhanced both by Akbar's (Akbar) attempt to have the main works of classical Sanskrit literature translated into Persian and by the constant influx of poets from Iran who came seeking their fortune at the lavish tables of the Indian Muslim grandees. At this time what is known as the “Indian” style of Persian emerged. The translations from Sanskrit enriched the Persian vocabulary, and new stories of Indian origin added to the reservoir of classical imagery. The poets, bound to the inherited genres of manavī, qaṣīdah, and ghazal, tried to outdo each other in the use of complex rhyme patterns and unfamiliar, often stiff, metres. It became fashionable to conceive a poem according to a given zamīn (“ground”), in emulation of a classical model, and then to enrich it with newly invented tropes. The long-held ideal of “harmonious selection of images” was not always met. Difficult, even awkward grammatical constructions and inverted metaphors can be found. At times, pseudo-philosophical utterances in the second hemistich of a verse contrast strangely with semicolloquial expressions elsewhere. Objects recently introduced to India, such as the eyeglass or hourglass, were eagerly adopted as images by the poets, who wanted new-fangled conceits to bolster their tortuous inventiveness. Notwithstanding the colourful descriptive poems written in praise of such subjects as Mughal palaces, marvelously illuminated manuscripts, rare elephants, or court scenes, the general mood of lyric poetry became more gloomy. The transitory nature of the world, also a central theme in classical Persian poetry, was stressed and depicted in bizarre images: “burnt nest,” “breakdown,” “yawning” (indicating insatiable thirst); these were some of the new “stylish” words.

      Yet some truly great poets are to be found even in this period. ʿUrfī, who left Shīrāz for India and died in his mid-30s in Lahore (1592), is without doubt one of the few genuine masters of Persian poetry, especially in his qaṣīdahs. His verses pile up linguistic difficulties; yet their dark, glowing quality cannot fail to touch the hearts and minds even of critical modern readers—more so than the elegant but rather cerebral verses of his colleague Fayẕī (died 1595), one of Akbar's favourites. Fayẕī's brother Abū-ul-Faẕī ʿAllāmī (Abu al-Faḍl ʿAllāmī) (died 1602), the author of an important, though biased, historical work, deeply influenced the Emperor's religious ideas. Among 17th-century Mughal court poets, the most outstanding is Abū Ṭālib Kalīm (died 1651), who came from Hamadan. Abounding in descriptive passages of great virtuosity, his poignant and often pessimistic verses have become proverbial, thanks to their compact diction and fluent style. Also of some importance is Ṣāʾib of Tabriz (died 1677), who spent only a few years in India before returning to Iran. Yet, of his immense poetical output (300,000 couplets), the great majority belongs to the stock-in-trade expression of the Persian-speaking world. Other poets described the lives and adventures of members of the royal families, usually in verbose manavīs (this kind of descriptive historical poetry was practiced throughout Muslim India and also in Ottoman Turkey). Outside the Mughal environment, the lyrics and manavīs by Ẓuhūrī (died 1615) at the court of Bijāpur are charming and enjoyable. The heir apparent of the Mughal Empire, Dārā Shikōh (executed 1659), also followed Akbar's path. His inclination to mysticism is reflected in both his prose and poetry. The Persian translation of the Upaniṣads, which he sponsored (and in part wrote himself), enriched Persian religious prose and made a deep impression on European idealistic philosophy in the 19th century. A group of interesting poets gathered about him, none of them acceptable to orthodoxy. They included the convert Persian Jew Sarmad (executed 1661), author of mystical robāʿīyāt, and the Hindu Brahman (died 1662), whose prose work Chahār chaman (“Four Meadows”) gives an interesting insight into life at court. With the long rule of Dārā Shikōh's brother, the austere Aurangzeb (died 1707), the heyday of both poetry and historical writing in Muslim India was over. Once more, orthodox religious literature gained preeminence, while poets tried to escape into a fantasy world of dreams. The style of the two leading poets of this age, Nāṣir ʿAlī Sirhindī (died 1697) and Mīrzā Bēdil (died 1721), is convoluted and obscure, prompting the Persian poet Ḥazīn (died 1766), who came to India in the early 18th century, to write ironic comments about its incomprehensibility. Bēdil, however, was a very interesting writer. His lyric poetry is difficult but often rewarding, while his many philosophical manavīs deserve deep study. His prose work, interspersed with poetry, is called Chahār ʿunṣur (“Four Elements”) and contains some biographical details. His prose is nearly as difficult as his poetry, and consequently his works rarely have been read west of India. His poetry, however, has had a great influence in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Many Persian-speaking people there consider him the forerunner of Tadzhik literature, since virtually everyone in Bukhara and Transoxania who tried his hand at poetry followed Bēdil's example. His ideas, sometimes astoundingly modern and progressive, have also impressed the 20th-century poet and philosopher Muḥammad Iqbāl in Muslim India.

      With Bēdil, the “Indian summer” of Persian literature comes to an end, even though the output of Persian poetry and prose during the 18th century in the subcontinent was immense. Some of the biographical dictionaries and handbooks of mysticism are valuable for the scholar but are less interesting as part of the general history of literature. The main vehicle of poetry now became Urdu, while mystical poetry flourished in Sindhi (Sindhi language) and Punjabi.

Pashto (Pashto language) poetry: Khushḥāl Khān Khaṭak
      From the borderlands of the Persian-speaking zone, culturally under the Mughal rule, one man deserves special attention. The chief of the Pashtun tribe of Khaṭak, Khushḥāl Khān (died 1689), rightly deserves to be called the “father” of Pashto poetry, for he virtually created a literature of his own in his mother tongue. His skill in translating the sophisticated traditions of Persian literature into the not too highly developed idiom of the Pashtuns is astonishing. His lively lyric poems are his finest works, reflecting that passionate love of freedom for which he fought against the Mughals. The poems he wrote from prison in “hell-like hot India” are as dramatic as they are touching in their directness. Many members of his family took to poetry; and during the 18th century original works, both religious and secular, were composed in Pashto, and the classics of Persian literature were translated into that language.

      The development of literature in Ottoman Turkey is almost parallel with that of Iran and India. Yunus Emre had introduced a popular form of mystical poetry; yet the mainstream of secular and religious literature followed Persian models (although it took some time to establish the Persian rules of prosody because of the entirely different structure of the Turkish language). In the religious field, the vigour and boldness expressed in the poems of Nesimî (Nesimi, Seyid İmadeddin) (executed 1417) left their traces in the work of later poets, none of whom, however, reached his loftiness and grandeur of expression. The 14th- and 15th-century representatives of the classical style had displayed great charm in their literary compositions, their verses simple and pleasing. Sultan Cem (Jem; died 1495), son of Mehmed the Conqueror, is an outstanding representative of their number. But soon the high-flown style of post-classical Persian was being imitated by Ottoman authors, rhetoric often being more important to them than poetical content. The work of Bâkî (Bāqī; died 1600) is representative of the entire range of these Baroque products. Yet his breathtaking command of language is undeniable; it is brilliantly displayed in his elegy on Süleyman the Magnificent. In his time, according to a popular saying, one could find “a poet under every stone of Istanbul's (Istanbul) pavement.” Istanbul was the unique cultural centre of the Near East, praised throughout the ages by all who lived in the imperial city.

Poetry of Fuzûlî (Fuzuli, Mehmed bin Süleyman) of Baghdad
      Much greater than most of these minor poets, however, was a writer living outside the capital, Fuzûlî of Baghdad (died 1556), who wrote in Arabic, Persian, and Azeri Turkish. Apart from his lyrics, his Turkish manavī on the traditional subject of the lovers Majnūn and Laylā is admirable. From earliest times, Turkish poets had emulated the classical Persian romantic manavīs, sometimes surpassing their models in expressiveness. Fuzûlî's diction is taut, his command of imagery masterly. His style unfortunately defies poetical translation, and his complicated fabric of plain and inverted images, of hidden and overt allusions is well-nigh impossible for all but the initiated Muslim reader to disentangle. Fuzûlî, moreover, like his fellow poets, would blend Arabic, Persian, and Turkish constructions and words to make up a multifaceted unit. The same difficulty is found in Turkish prose literature of the same period. It is a major task to unravel the long trailing sentences of a writer such as Evliya Çelebî (Evliya Çelebi) (died after 1679), who, in an account of his travels (Seyahatnâme), has left extremely valuable information about the cultural climate in different parts of the Ottoman Empire.

Later developments
      Growing interest in the Indo-Persian style, particularly in ʿUrfī's qaṣīdahs, led the 17th-century Ottoman poets to a new integrated style and precision of diction. An outstanding representative was Nefʿî (Nefʾi), whose bent for merciless satire made him dreaded in the capital and eventually led to his assassination. At the start of the 18th century, a marked but short-lived movement in Turkish art known as the “Tulip Period” was the Ottoman counterpart of European Rococo. The musical poems and smooth ghazals of Nedim (Nedim, Ahmed) (died 1730) reflect the manners and style of the slightly decadent, relaxed, and at times licentious high society of Istanbul and complement the miniatures of his contemporary Levnî (Levnî, Abdülcelil). Good Turkish poetry is characterized by an easy grace, to be found even in such mystically tinged poems (thousands of which were written throughout the centuries) as those of Niyazî Misrî (died 1697). The Mevlevî (Mawlawī) poet Gâlib Dede (died 1799) was already standing at the threshold of what can now be recognized as modern poetical expression in some of the lyrical parts of his manavī, called Hüsn u aşk (“Beauty and Love”), which brought fresh treatment to a well-worn subject of Iran's philosophical and secular literature. His work cannot be properly understood, however, without a thorough knowledge of mystical psychology, expressed in multivalent images.

Folk poetry
      One branch of literature, however, was totally neglected by the sophisticated inhabitants of the Ottoman capital. Nobody thought much of the folk poets who wandered through the forgotten villages of Anatolia singing in simple syllable-counting verses of love, longing, and separation. The poems of the mid-17th-century figure Karacaoğlan, one of the few historically datable folk poets, give a vivid picture of village life, of the plight of girls and boys in remote Anatolian settlements. This kind of poetry was rediscovered only after the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923 and then became an important influence on modern lyric poetry.

European and Colonial influences: emergence of Western forms
The rise of nationalism
      For the Islāmic countries, the 19th century marks the beginning of a new epoch. Napoleon's conquest of Egypt, as well as British colonialism, brought the Muslims into contact with a world whose technology was far in advance of their own. The West had experienced the ages of Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment, whereas the once-flourishing Muslim civilization had for a long while been at a near stagnation point despite its remarkable artistic achievements. The introduction of Muslim intellectuals to Western literature and scholarship—the Egyptian aṭ-Ṭahṭāwī (Ṭahṭāwī, Rifāʿah Rāfiʿ aṭ-) (died 1873), for example, studied in France—ushered in a new literary era the chief characteristic of which was to be “more matter, less art.” The literatures from this time onward are far less “Islāmic” than those of the previous 1,000 years, but new intellectual experiences also led to “the liberation of the whole creative impulse within the Islāmic peoples” (Kritzeck). The introduction of the printing press and the expansion of newspapers helped to shape a new literary style, more in line with the requirements of the modern times, when “the patron prince has been replaced by a middle-class reading public” (Badawi). Translations from Western languages provided writers with the model examples of genres previously unknown to them, including the novel, the short story, and dramatic literature. Of those authors whose books were translated, Guy de Maupassant (Maupassant, Guy de), Sir Walter Scott (Scott, Sir Walter, 1st Baronet), and Anton Chekhov (Chekhov, Anton) have been most influential in the development of the novel and the novella. Important also was the ideological platform derived from Tolstoy (Tolstoy, Leo), whose criticism of Western Christianity was gratefully adopted by writers from Egypt to Muslim India. Western influences can further be observed in the gradual discarding of the time-hallowed static (and turgid) style of both poetry and prose; in the tendency toward simplification of diction; and in the adaptation of syntax and vocabulary to meet the technical demands of emulating Western models. Contact with the West also encouraged a tendency toward retrospection. Writers concentrated their attention on their own country and particular heritage, such as the “pharaoic myth” of Egypt, the Indo-European roots of Iran, and the Central Asian past of Turkey. In short, there was an emphasis on differentiation, inevitably leading to the rise of nationalism, instead of an emphasis on the unifying spirit and heritage of Islām.

Arab literatures
      Characteristically, therefore, given this situation, the heralds of Arab nationalism (as reflected in literature) were Christians. The historical novels of Jurjī Zaydān (died 1914), a Lebanese living in Egypt, made a deep impression on younger writers by glorifying the lion-hearted national heroes of past times. Henceforth, the historical novel was to be a favourite genre in all Islāmic countries, including Muslim India. The inherited tradition of the heroic or romantic epic and folktale was blended with novelistic techniques learned from Sir Walter Scott. Two writers in the front rank of Arab intellectuals were: Amīr Shakīb Arslān (died 1946), of Druze origin, and Muḥammed Kurd ʿAlī (died 1953), the founder of the Arab Academy of Damascus, each of whom, by encouraging a new degree of awareness, made an important contribution to the education of modern historians and men of letters. An inclination toward Romanticism can be detected in prose writing but not, surprisingly, in poetry; thus, the Egyptian al-Manfalūṭī (Manfalūṭī, Muṣṭafā Luṭfī al-) (died 1924) poured out his feelings in a number of novels that touch on Islāmic as well as national issues.

      It is fair to say of this transition period that the poetry being written was not as interesting as the prose. The qaṣīdah (qasida)s of the “Prince of Poets,” Aḥmad Shawqī (Shawqī, Aḥmad) (died 1932), are for the most part ornate imitations of classical models. Even the “Poet of the Nile,” Muḥammad Ḥāfiẓ Ibrahim (Ḥāfiẓ Ibrāhīm, Muḥammad) (died 1932), who was more interested in the real problems of the day, was nonetheless content to follow conventional patterns. In his poems, Khalīl Muṭrān (died 1949) attempted to achieve a unity of structure hitherto almost unknown; and he also adopted a more subjective approach to expressive lyricism. Thus, he can be said to have inaugurated an era of “Romantic” poetry, staunchly defended by those men of letters who had come under English rather than French influence. These included the poet and essayist Ibrāhīm al-Māzinī (died 1949) and the prolific writer of poetry and prose ʿAbbās Maḥmūd al-ʿAqqād (Aqqād, ʿAbbās Maḥmūd al-ʿ) (died 1964).

      A major contribution to the development of modern prose in the Arabic language was made by a number of writers born between 1889 and 1902. One of them, the “humanist” Taha Hussein (Ṭāhā Ḥusayn), became well known in the West as a literary critic who attacked the historical authenticity of pre-Islāmic poetry and stressed the importance of Greek and Latin for the literatures of the modern Near East. He is also the author of a successful novel called The Tree of Misery; but his best creative writing is in his autobiographical notes, al-Ayyām (“The Days”), which describe in simple language the life of a blind Egyptian village boy. Taha Hussein's generation became more and more absorbed by the problems of the middle classes (to which most of them belonged), and this led them to realism in fiction. Some turned to fierce social criticism, depicting in their writings the dark side of everyday life in Egypt and elsewhere. The leading writer of this group is Maḥmūd Taymūr, who wrote short stories, a genre developed in Arabic by a Lebanese Christian who settled in the United States, the noted and versatile poet Khalil Gibran (Gibran, Khalil) (Jibrān Khalīl Jibrān; died 1931). Muḥammad Ḥusayn Haykal (died 1956), a leading figure of Egyptian cultural and political life and the author of numerous historical studies, touched for the first time, in his novel Zaynab (1913), on the difficulties of Egyptian villagers. This subject quickly afterward became fashionable, although not all the writers had firsthand knowledge of the feelings and problems of the fellahin. The most fertile author of this group was al-ʿAqqād, who tirelessly produced biographies, literary criticism, and romantic poetry. To what extent the Islāmic reform movement led by Muḥammad ʿAbduh (Abduh, Muḥammadʿ) (died 1905) and his disciples, which centred on the journal al-Manār (“The Lighthouse”), has influenced present-day Arabic prose style cannot yet be ascertained. It has, however, been important in shaping the religious outlook of many authors writing in the 1920s and 1930s.

The diaspora
      A considerable amount of Arabic literature has been produced by numerous writers who settled in non-Islāmic countries, especially in the United States and Brazil. Most of these writers came from Christian Lebanese (Lebanon) families. A feeling of nostalgia often led them to form literary circles or launch magazines or newspapers. (The Arabic-language newspaper al-Hudā [or Al-Hoda, “The Guidance”], established in 1898, was published in New York City as al-Hudā al-jadīdah [Al-Hoda Aljadidah, or “The New Al-Hoda,” or “The New Guidance”].) It was largely because of their work that the techniques of modern fiction and modern free verse entered Arabic literature and became a decisive factor in it.

      One of the best known authors in this group was Amīn ar-Rīḥānī (died 1941), whose descriptions of his journeys through the Arab world are informative and make agreeable reading. The fact that so many Lebanese emigrated to foreign countries led to the creation of a standard theme in Lebanese fiction: the emigrant who returns to his village. Iraqi modern literature is best represented by “the poet of freedom” Maʿrūf ar-Ruṣāfī (died 1945), and Jamīl Sidqī az-Zahāwī (died 1936), whose satire “Rebellion in Hell” has incurred the wrath of the traditionalists.

Turkish literatures
      The same changing attitude toward the function of literature and the same shift toward realism can be observed in Turkey. After 1839, Western ideas and forms were taken up by a group of modernists: Ziya Paşa (died 1880), the translator of Rousseau's Émile (which became a popular textbook for 19th-century Muslim intellectuals), was among the first to write in a less traditional idiom and to complain in his poetry—just as Ḥālī was to do in India a few years later—about the pitiable conditions of Muslims under the victorious Christians. Ziya Paşa, together with Şinasi (Şinasi, İbrahim) (died 1871) and Namık Kemal (Kemal, (Mehmed) Namık) (died 1888), founded an influential Turkish journal, Tasvir-i Efkâr (“Picture of Ideas”). The essential theme of the articles, novels, poems, and dramas composed by these authors is their fatherland (vatan), and they dared to advocate freedom of thought, democracy, and constitutionalism. Abdülhak Hâmid (died 1935), though considerably their junior, shared in their activities. In 1879 he published his epoch-making Sahra (“The Country”), a collection of ten Turkish poems that were the first to be composed in Western verse forms and style. Later, he turned to weird and often morbid subject matter in his poetic dramas. He, like his colleagues, had to endure political restrictions on writing, imposed as part of the harsh measures taken by Sultan Abdülhamid II against the least sign of liberal thought. Influenced by his work, later writers aimed to simplify literary language: Ziya Gökalp (Gökalp, Ziya) (died 1924) laid the philosophical foundations of Turkish nationalism; and Mehmed Emin, a fisherman's son, sang artless Turkish verses of his pride in being a Turk, throwing out the heavy rhetorical ballast of Arabo-Persian prosody and instead turning to the language of the people, unadulterated by any foreign vocabulary. The stirrings of social criticism could be discerned after 1907. Mehmed Akif (died 1936), in his masterly narrative poems, gave a vivid critical picture of conditions in Turkey before World War I. His powerful and dramatic style, though still expressed in traditional metres, is a testimony to his deep concern for the people's sorrows. It was he who composed the Turkish National Anthem after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's victory; but soon afterward he left the country, disappointed with the religious policies of the Kemalists.

      Atatürk's struggle for freedom also marks the real beginning of modern Turkish literature. The mainstream of novels, stories, and poems written during the 19th century had been replete with tears, world-weariness, and pessimism. But a postwar novel, Ateşten gömlek (“The Fire Shirt”), written by a woman, Halide Edib (Adıvar, Halide Edib), reflected the brave new self-awareness of the Turkish nation. Some successful short stories about village life came from the pen of Ömer Seyfeddin (Seyfeddin, Omer) (died 1920). The most gifted interpreter and harshest critic of Turkey's social structure was Sabaheddin Ali, who was murdered on his flight to Bulgaria in 1948. His major theme was the tragedy of the lower classes, and his writing is characterized by the same merciless realism that was later to be a feature of stories by many left-wing writers throughout the Islāmic world. The “great old man of Turkish prose,” Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu (Karaosmanoğlu, Yakup Kadri), displayed profound psychological insight, whether ironically describing the lascivious life in a Bektāshī centre or a stranger's tragedy in an Anatolian village. Most of the Turkish novelists of the 1920s and 1930s concentrated on the problems of becoming a modern nation, and in particular they reinterpreted the role of women in a liberated society.

      Literary energies were set completely free when Atatürk (Atatürk, Kemal) introduced the Latin alphabet in 1928, hoping that his people would forget their Islāmic past along with the Arabic (Arabic alphabet) letters. From this time onward, especially after the language reform that was meant to rediscover the pre-Islāmic roots of the Turkish language, Turkish literature followed the pattern of Western literature in all major respects, though with local overtones. Poets experimented with new forms and new topics. They discovered the significance of the Anatolian village, neglected—even forgotten—during the Ottoman period. Freeing themselves from the traditional rules of Persian poetry, they adopted simpler forms from Europe. In some cases the skillful blending of inherited Ottoman grace and borrowed French lyricism produced outstandingly beautiful poems, such as those of Ahmed Haşim (died 1933) and of Yahya Kemal Beyatlı (died 1958), in which the twilight world of old Istanbul is mirrored in soft, evocative hues and melodious words. At the same time, the figure of Nazım Hikmet (Hikmet, Nazım) (died 1963) looms large in Turkish poetry. Expressing his progressive social attitude in truly poetical form, he used free rhythmical patterns quite brilliantly to enrapture his readers; his style, as well as his powerful, unforgettable images, has deeply influenced not only Turkish but also progressive Urdu and Persian poetry from the 1930s onward.

Persian literatures
      In Iran, the situation to a certain extent resembled that in Turkey. While the last “classical” poet, Qāʾānī (died 1854), had been displaying the traditional glamorous artistry, his contemporary, the satirist Yaghmā (died 1859), had been using popular and comprehensible language to make coarse criticisms of contemporary society. As in the other Islāmic countries, a move toward simplicity is discernible during the last decades of the 19th century. The members of the polytechnic college Dār ol-Fonūn (founded 1851), led by its erudite principal Reẕā Qolī Khān Hedāyat, helped to shape the “new” style by making translations from European languages. Shāh Naṣer od-Dīn (Nāṣer od-Dīn Shāh) himself described his journeys to Europe in the late 1870s in a simple, unassuming style and in so doing set an example to future prose writers.

      At the turn of the century, literature became for many younger writers an instrument of modernization and of revolution in the largest sense of the word. No longer did they want to complain, in inherited fixed forms, of some boy whose face was like the moon. Instead, the feelings and situation of women were stated and interpreted. Their oppression, their problems, and their grievances are a major theme of literature in this transition period of the first decades of the 20th century. The “King of Poets,” Bahār (Bahār, Muḥammad Taqī) (died 1951), who had been actively working before World War I for democracy, now devoted himself to a variety of cultural activities. But his poems, though highly classical in form, were of great influence; they dealt with contemporary events and appealed to a wide public.

      One branch of modern Persian literature is closely connected with a group of Persian authors who lived in Berlin after World War I. There they established the Kaviani Press (named after a mythical blacksmith called Kaveh, who had saved the Iranian kingdom), and among the poems they printed were several by ʿĀref Qazvīnī (died 1934), one of the first really modern writers. They also published the first short stories of Moḥammad ʿAlī Jamālzādeh (Jamalzadah, Muhammad ʿAli), whose outspoken social criticism and complete break with the traditional inflated and pompous prose style inaugurated a new era of modern Persian prose. Many young writers adopted this new form, among them Ṣādeq Hedāyat (Hedayat, Sadeq) (died 1951), whose stories—written entirely in a direct, everyday language with a purity of expression that was an artistic achievement—have been translated into many languages. They reflect the sufferings of living individuals; instead of dealing in literary clichés, they describe the distress and anxiety of a hopeless youth. The influence of Franz Kafka (some of whose work Hedāyat translated) is perceptible in his writing, and he has a tendency toward psychological probing shared by many Persian writers.

      As in neighbouring countries, women played a considerable role in the development of modern Persian literature. The lyrics of Parvīn Eʿteṣāmī (died 1940) are regarded as near classics, despite a trace of sentimentality in their sympathetic treatment of the poor. Some Persian writers whose left-wing political ideas brought them into conflict with the government left for the Tadzhik S.S.R. Of these, the gifted poet Lāhūtī (died 1957) is their most important representative.

India: Urdu and Persian
      Persian literature in the Indian subcontinent did not have such importance as in earlier centuries, for English replaced Persian as the official language in 1835. Nevertheless, there were some outstanding poets who excelled in Urdu. One of them was Mīrzā Asadullāh Khān Ghālib (Ghālib, Mīrzā Asadullāh Khān) (died 1869), the undisputed master of Urdu lyrics (Urdu literature). He regarded himself, however, as the leading authority on high Persian style and was an accomplished writer of Persian prose and poetry. But much more important was a later poet, Sir Muḥammad Iqbāl (Iqbāl, Sir Muḥammad) (died 1938), who chose Persian to convey his message not only to the peoples of Muslim India but also to Afghans and Persians. Reinterpreting many of the old mystical ideas in the light of modern teachings, he taught the quiescent Muslim peoples self-awareness, urging them to develop their personalities to achieve true individualism. His first manavī (masnawi), called Asrār-e khudī (1915; “Secrets of the Self”), deeply shocked all those who enjoyed the dreamlike sweetness of most traditional Persian poetry. One of his later Persian works, Payām-e Mashriq (1923; “Message of the East”), is an effective answer to Goethe's West-östlicher Divan (1819). In the Jāvīd-nāmeh (1932) he poetically elaborated the old topic of the “heavenly journey,” discussing with the inhabitants of the spheres a variety of political, social, and religious problems. Iqbāl's approach is unique. Although he used the conventional literary forms and leaned heavily on the inspiration of Jalāl ad-Dīn ar-Rūmī, he must be considered one of the select few poets of modern Islām who, because of their honesty and their capacity for expressing their message in memorable poetic form, appeal to many readers outside the Muslim world.

The modern period
      The modern period of Islāmic literatures can be said to begin after World War II. The topics discussed before then still appeared, but outspoken social criticism became an even more important feature. Literature was no longer a leisurely pastime for members of the upper classes. Writers born in the villages and from non-privileged classes began to win literary fame through their firsthand knowledge of social problems. Many writers started their careers as journalists, developing a literary style that retained the immediacy of journalistic observation.

      In Egypt, a great change in literary preoccupations came about after 1952. The name of Najīb Maḥfūẓ (Mahfouz, Naguib) is of particular importance. He was at first a novelist mainly concerned with the lower middle classes (his outstanding work is a trilogy dealing with the life of a Cairo family); but afterward he turned to socially committed literature, using all the techniques of modern fiction—of which he is the undisputed master in Arabic. Yūsuf Idrīs (Idrīs, Yūsuf) deals first and foremost with the problems facing poor and destitute villagers, a subject also treated in Sharqāwī's novel al-Arḍ (The Earth; 1954). In Turkey, Yaşar Kemal's (Kemal, Yaşar) village story İnce Memed has won acclaim for its stark realism. The young left-wing writers in Iraq and Syria share the critical and aggressive attitudes of their contemporaries in Turkey and Egypt and are involved in every political issue. Most of them have responded to the works of Bertolt Brecht and Karl Marx. They are also quite familiar with at least the externals of modern psychology. Freudian influence—often in its crudest form—can be detected in many modern short stories or novels in the Islāmic countries; and it is often the prelude to coarse descriptions of sexuality, appealing to the lowest instincts of the reading public. In the Near and Middle East, the existentialist philosophy gained many followers who tried to reflect its interpretation of life in their literary works. In fact, almost every current of modern Western philosophy and psychology, every artistic trend and attitude, has been eagerly adopted—though often only half-understood—by young Arab, Turkish, or Persian writers. Some of them, nevertheless, have achieved interesting results from time to time: an example is Laylā Baʿlabakkī, whose semiautobiographical novel, I Live, is regarded as an outstanding literary achievement in Arabic.

      The new attitudes that have informed literature are even more conspicuous in poetry than in prose. Arabic poetry has at last freed itself completely from the fetters of classical tradition. Both French and English influences helped to shape the new art. The danger is that Western fashions are imitated uncritically, just as Arabic, Persian, or Turkish models were slavishly followed in the past. T.S. Eliot's poetry and criticism were influential in dethroning the Romanticism that many poets had adopted earlier, in the 1920s and '30s. One of the first and most important attempts at creating a modern Arabic poetic diction was made in the late 1940s by the Iraqi poet and critic Nāzik al-Malāʾikah, whose poems, in free but rhyming verse, give substance to the shadow of her melancholia. Free rhythm and a colourful imagination distinguish the best poems of the younger Arabs: even when their poems do not succeed, their experimentation, their striving for sincerity, their burning quest for identity, their rebellion against social injustice can be readily perceived. Indeed, one of the most noticeable aspects of contemporary Arabic poetry is its political engagement, evident in the poems of Palestinian writers such as Maḥmūd Darwīsh (Darwīsh, Maḥmūd), whose verses once more prove the strength, expressiveness, and vitality of the Arabic language. An Iraqi, ʿAbdul Wahhāb al-Bayātī, combines political engagement with lyrical mysticism. Others, without withdrawing into a world of uncommitted dreams, manage to create an atmosphere that breaks up the harsh light of reality into its colourful components. Poets like the Lebanese Adonis (ʿAlī Aḥmad Saʿīd) and Tawfīq aṣ-Ṣāʾigh, or the Egyptian dramatist Ṣalāḥ ʿAbd aṣ-Ṣabur, make use of traditional imagery in a new, sometimes esoteric, often fascinating and daring way.

      Almost the same situation developed in Iran. One notable poet was Forugh Farrokhzād, who wrote powerful yet very feminine poetry. Her free verses, interpreting the insecurities of the age, are full of longing; though often bitter, they are yet truly poetic. Poems by such critically minded writers as Seyāvūsh Kasrāʾī also borrow the classical heritage of poetic imagery, transforming it into expressions that win a response from modern readers.

      In Turkey, the adoption of Western forms began in the 1920s. Of major importance in modern Turkish literature was Orhan Veli Kanık (Kanık, Orhan Veli), who combined perfect technique with “Istanbulian” charm. His work is sometimes melancholy, sometimes frivolous, but always convincing. He strongly influenced a group of poets whose names are connected with the avant-garde literary magazine Varlik (“Existence”). The powerful poetry of the leftist writer Nazım Hikmet has influenced progressive poets all over the Muslim world. It is still too early, however, to determine what will be most representative of modern Turkish poetry: a return to Anatolian subjects, sometimes in picturesque diction, influenced by earlier folk-poetry, or the continuation of lovely poems in praise of Istanbul; surrealism or a somewhat detached and ironic approach to a subject. The same question, indeed, could be raised of almost any contemporary literature in Islāmic lands.

Contemporary features
      In the Arab-speaking world, the problem of language has loomed large for many years. Classical high Arabic is still the common literary language of Morocco and Iraq, Tunisia and Kuwait. Spoken Arabic in dialectal variations is beginning to be used—but tentatively—in higher literature. It is more frequently employed in the popular spheres of theatre and cinema. But the local differences that exist in Arabic spoken from country to country have today become perceptible in literature; popular grammatical forms and syntactical constructions are occasionally used in modern poetry. A special problem arises in the North African countries, where French (French language) continues to be the chief literary language for most writers, especially in Morocco and Algeria. Yet there is no hard and fast rule: a leading member of the Senegal community, Amadou Bamba, who founded the politically important group of the Murīdīs, wrote (quite apart from practical words of wisdom in his mother tongue) some 20,000 mystically tinged verses in classical Arabic (Arabic language).

      Throughout the Islāmic countries, the press and radio have helped to disseminate literary works; prizes for literary achievements have stimulated interest in writing; low-priced books have made the more or less valuable output of a growing number of writers available to the majority—the more so since literacy among the population steadily increases. But to what degree this means a continuation of the cultural role that Islāmic literatures have played in the formation and education of society over the centuries is not yet clear. Literature was never restricted to a privileged high society; in olden times even the illiterate villager and the “uneducated” womenfolk had a fund of poems, proverbs, songs, and quotations from classical sources that they knew by heart and to which they turned for both pleasure and spiritual strength.

      One final symptom should be noted. The introduction of modern methods of criticism (literary criticism), of psychology and philosophy, has kindled a new interest in significant figures of the Islāmic past. Thus, to quote one instance, the figure of al-Ḥallāj (Ḥallāj, al-) (executed 922), who often served as a symbol figure of “the martyr of love” in both classical and folk poetry after the 11th century, has in recent years been made the subject of a Turkish drama, a Persian passion play, and an Arabic tragedy and plays an important role in Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and Indian (Indian literature) Muslim lyrical poetry. He is interpreted as a symbol of suffering for one's ideals, and he is therefore acceptable both to conservative Muslims and to progressive social critics.

Study and evaluation
Early Islāmic criticism
      The development of literature during the early Middle Ages soon produced among the Arabs much lively literary criticism. Even the choice of quotations made by the ancient grammarians from the classical stock of poetry implies a degree of critical (though subjective) activity. Attempts toward making a more objective study of poetic technique were first made in the late 9th century, when for the first time “beauties” and “faults” of verses were discussed and the ideals of the “new style” were defined by Ibn al-Muʿtazz in his Kitāb al-badīʿ. The relation between laf (word) and maʿnā (meaning) has been a matter of some controversy—many earlier critics stress the importance of outward form rather than of content. There was some question, too, as to whether the most “poetical” verse was that which was the most “untrue”—that is to say, hyperbolic—or that which was closer to the heart of things. The matter was debated along with the problem of inspiration and imagination and their function in poetry. The most thorough analysis of the art of poetry was made by ʿAbd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī, who allowed equal weight to the idea and to the way it was expressed. An illuminating work about poetics was composed by the Tunisian critic al-Qarṭājannī (13th century), and this has been carefully studied by the German scholar Wolfhart Heinrichs in Arabische Dichtung und griechische Poetik (1969). This study analyzes al-Qarṭājannī's theories in relation to Aristotle's theories of poetics. (Heinrichs, one of the few Islāmic scholars specializing in the study of literary problems, has shown that classical Arabic criticism rarely interested itself in the poem as a whole but concentrated upon individual verses.) In later centuries, manuals of poetics and rhetoric written in every Islāmic country reveal the prevailing interest in purely formal problems.

Modern criticism
      A similar interest long dominated the work of Western Orientalists. The first scholars who attempted to introduce Persian poetry to Western readers (such as Sir William Jones (Jones, Sir William) in the 18th century) thought it necessary to compare it with the compositions of Greek and Latin poetry. The verbal ingenuity of Ḥarīrī's (Ḥarīrī, al-) Maqāmāt attracted the European scholars, who took great pleasure in disentangling the grammatically difficult forms. Pre-Islāmic poetry at first interested only the grammarian-antiquarian until its importance as a source of knowledge of early Bedouin life was recognized. The art of versification and problems of classical Arabic metrics are forever matters of discussion among Orientalists.

      Although a large amount of translation, mainly from Persian poetry, was produced in the 18th and 19th centuries, most of it suffered for lack of proper understanding: the translators took the poetical statements about wine and love or the outbursts against established religious forms at their face value and failed to recognize them for the stereotyped forms and images they are. A deep study of the imagery of Persian, Turkish, and Arabic is required before their poetry and belles lettres can be properly understood and enjoyed. This was realized as early as 1818 by the Austrian Orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (whose own translations from the three great Islāmic languages are, nevertheless, failures).

      In the 20th century the critical study of imagery in Oriental poetry was taken up by Hellmut Ritter in his booklet Über die Bildersprache Niẓāmīs (1927; “On the Imagery of Neẓāmī” (Neẓāmī)), which gives a most sensitive philosophical interpretation of Neẓāmī's metaphorical language and of the role of imagery in the structure of Neẓāmī's thought. Ritter's criticism is basic to the study of many other Persian poets. Slightly later, the Polish scholar Tadeusz Kowalski tried to interpret the “molecular” structure of Arabic literature—the absence of large units of thought or architectural structure—typical of the greater part of Islāmic literatures, which might be described as “carpetlike.” This “molecular” structure can be related to the atomist (atomism) theories and occasionalist world view embodied in Islāmic theology, which, unlike Christianity, does not admit of secondary causes and requires only short spans of hope from the faithful. In a number of articles, and in many books, E.G. von Grunebaum has pioneered this interpretation of literary structure. Other important critical works include S.A. Bonebakker's book on the rhetorical importance of tawrīyah (ambiguous wording); Manfred Ullmann's excellent study of rajaz-poetry and its place in Arabic literature; and C.H. de Fouchécour's detailed analysis of the descriptions of nature in early Persian poetry.

      Among the Arabs themselves, modern literary criticism began during the early 1920s. Most famous was Ṭaha Ḥussein's (Ṭāhā Ḥusayn) attempt to prove the whole corpus of pre-Islāmic poetry as counterfeit. All the Islāmic countries, from Turkey to Pakistan, and especially Iran have sponsored reviews in which Western-trained scholars critically survey the literary achievements of the Islāmic world.

      A full evaluation of literature as the most faithful mirror of past (and to some extent present-day) Islāmic life is still lacking. Notwithstanding the conventionalized style of most Islāmic poetry, a deeper study of individual poets' expressions, use of verbal and nominal forms, rhythmical preferences, and the like would certainly reveal more about the personalities of outstanding writers. The impact of poetry on the Islāmic mind was, and to some extent still is, much deeper than a modern Western reader might suppose. The poets must be viewed, therefore, in relation to their society, for their work corresponded to the measure of receptiveness, their new modes of expression developed according to the widening awareness of their audiences. They had to use a language and imagery to which those whom they addressed were accustomed. A new idea, embodied in traditional imagery and a beguiling metre, could capture the attention of thousands of people. The role of the poet as religious and political herald (even though his political thought was all too often subservient to courtly flattery) was widely acknowledged, and the impact of a poet like Muḥammad Iqbāl bears witness to the real power of poetical expression. Thus, even the most conventional Persian (Persian literature) or Turkish poem (Turkish literature) can reflect certain attitudes of the Muslim mind more accurately than many a learned lecture. A modern short story, even if not particularly well wrought, often tells the reader more about the feelings and reactions of the people than scholarly sociological research papers can. The magic of language is still a living force in the East.

Annemarie Schimmel

      The period of Islāmic music begins with the advent of Islām in about 610. A new art emerged, elaborated both from pre-Islāmic Arabian music and from important contributions by Persians, Byzantines, Turks, Berbers, and Moors. In this development the Arabian element acted as a catalyst, and, within a century, the new art was firmly established from Central Asia to the Atlantic. Such a fusion of musical styles succeeded because there were strong affinities between Arabian music and the music of the nations occupied by the expanding Arabic peoples. Not all Arab-dominated areas adopted the new art; Indonesia and parts of Africa, for example, retained native musical styles. The folk music of the Berbers in North Africa, the Moors in Mauretania, and other ethnic groups (e.g., in Turkey) also remained alien to classical Islāmic music. The farther one looks from the axis reaching from the Nile Valley to Persia, the less one finds undiluted Islāmic music.

      (It should be remembered that the word music and its concept were reserved for secular art music; separate names and concepts belonged to folk songs and to religious chants.)

Nature and elements of Islāmic music
      Islāmic music is characterized by a highly subtle organization of melody (melody type) and rhythm, in which the vocal component predominates over the instrumental. It is based on the skill of the individual artist, who is both composer and performer and who benefits from a relatively high degree of artistic freedom. The artist is permitted, and indeed encouraged, to improvise. He generally concentrates on the details forming a work, being less concerned with following a preconceived plan than with allowing the music's structure to emerge empirically from its details. Melodies are organized in terms of maqāmāt (maqām) (singular maqām), or “modes (mode),” characteristic melodic patterns with prescribed scales, preferential notes, typical melodic and rhythmic formulas, variety of intonations, and other conventional devices. The performer improvises within the framework of the maqām, which is also imbued with ethos (Arabic taʾthīr), a specific emotional or philosophical meaning attached to a musical mode. Rhythms are organized into rhythmic modes, or īqāʿāt (singular īqāʿ), cyclical patterns of strong and weak beats.

      Classical Islāmic music is the aristocratic music of the court and the upper class, which underwent development and modification in the hands of gifted musicians throughout several centuries. Rhythmic and melodic modes grew in number and complexity, and new vocal and instrumental genres arose. In addition, a body of theoretical works grew up, influencing both Islāmic and—in some cases—European music. Its later popularization did not alter its intimate and entertaining character.

The relation of music to poetry and dance
      In pre-Islāmic times music was closely connected with poetry and dance. Being essentially vocal, pre-Islāmic music was an emotional extension of the solemn declamation of poems in Bedouin society. Later, the art of vocal composition itself was largely based upon prosody: only by respecting the poetic metre in the music could the text, when sung, be clear in meaning and correct in pronunciation and grammatical inflection. In turn, prosody itself was used to explain the musical rhythm.

      Words and rhetorical speech were the principal means through which the Bedouin expressed feelings. The shāʿir, or poet-musician, said to be possessed by supernatural powers, was feared and respected. His satirical song poems were a formidable arm against enemies, and his poems of praise enhanced the prestige of his tribe. Musician-poets, especially women, accompanied the warriors, inciting them by their songs, and those who fell in battle benefited from the elegies of the singer-poets. Musically, these elegies resembled the ḥudāʾ (“caravan song”), possibly used by camel drivers as a charm against the desert spirits, or jinn.

      Music and dance were closely associated from early times. Bedouin music had a pronounced collective character, with well-defined functions and usages, and dance occupied an important place in Bedouin life. Most common was a simple communal dance that emphasized common, or social, rather than individual movement. Places of entertainment in the towns and oases employed professional dancers, mainly women. Art dancing embellished events in the courts of the Sāsānians, the pre-Islāmic rulers of Persia. In the Islāmic period, solo and ensemble forms of dance were an integral part of the intense musical activity in the palaces of the caliphs and in wealthy houses. Dance also was prominent in the dhikr ceremony of certain mystical fraternities; forms ranged from obsessional physical movements to refined styles similar to those of secular art dancing.

      After the advent of Islām a deep change occurred in the social function of music. Emphasis was laid on music as entertainment and sensual pleasure rather than as a source of high spiritual emotion, a change mainly resulting from Persian influence. Knowledge of music was obligatory for the cultured person. Skilled professional musicians were highly paid and were admitted to the caliphs' palaces as courtesans and trusted companions. The term ṭarab, which designates a whole scale of emotions, characterizes the musical conception of the time and even came to mean music itself.

Music and religion
      Fashionable secular music—and its clear association with erotic dance and drinking—stimulated hostile reactions from religious authorities. As Muslim doctrine does not sanction permitting or prohibiting a given practice by personal decision, the antagonists relied on forced interpretations of a few unclear passages in the Qurʾān (the sacred scripture of Islām) or on the Ḥadīth (traditions of the Prophet, sayings and practices that had acquired force of law). Thus both supporters and adversaries of music found arguments for their theses.

      In the controversy, four main groups emerged: (1) uncompromising purists opposed to any musical expression; (2) religious authorities admitting only the cantillation of the Qurʾān and the call to prayer, or adhān; (3) scholars and musicians favouring music, believing there to be no musical difference between secular and religious music; and (4) important mystical fraternities, for whom music and dance were a means toward unity with God.

      Except in the Ṣūfī brotherhoods, Muslim religious music is relatively curtailed because of the opposition of religious leaders. It falls into two categories: the call to prayer, or adhān (in some places, aān), by the muʾadhdhin, or muezzin, and the cantillation of the Qurʾān. Both developed from relatively solemn cantillation to a variety of forms, both simple and highly florid. The cantillation of the Qurʾān reflected the ancient Arabic practice of declamation of poetry, with careful regard to word accents and inflections and to the clarity of the text. Yet it was possibly also influenced by early secular art song. Opponents of music considered the cantillation of the Qurʾān to be technically distinct from singing, and it acquired a separate terminology. Synagogues and the Eastern Christian churches, unhampered by such opposition, developed extensive musical repertories based on melodic modes: the Eastern churches used the eight modes of Byzantine music, while synagogue music followed the maqām system of Muslim art music.

Aesthetic traditions
      Even in its most complicated aspects, Islāmic music is traditional and is transmitted orally. A rudimentary notational (musical notation) system did exist but it was used only for pedagogical purposes. A large body of medieval writing about music survives in which musical theory is related to various areas of intellectual activity, hence the extreme importance of understanding music as an element of the culture involved. The medieval writings fall mainly into two categories: (1) literary, encyclopaedic, and anecdotal sources, and (2) theoretical, speculative sources. The first group includes precious information on musical life, musicians, aesthetic controversies, education, and the theory of musical practice. The second deals with acoustics, intervals (distances between notes), musical genres, scales, measures of instruments, the theory of composition, rhythm, and the mathematical aspects of music. These documents show that, as in the modern era, medieval Islāmic music was principally an individual, soloistic art. Small ensembles were actually groups of soloists with the principal member, usually the singer, predominating. Being an essentially vocal music, it displayed many singing and vocal techniques, such as special vocal colour, guttural nasality, vibrato, and other stylistic ornaments. Although the music was based upon strict rules, preexisting melodies, and stylistic requirements, the performer enjoyed great creative freedom. The artist was expected to bring his contribution to a given traditional piece through improvisation, original ornamentation, and his own approach to tempo, rhythmic pattern, and the distribution of the text over the melody. Thus the artist functioned as both performer and composer.

Melodic organization
      Islāmic music is monophonic (monophony); i.e., it consists of a single line of melody. In performance everything is related to the refinement of the melodic line and the complexity of rhythm. The notion of harmony is completely absent, although occasionally a simple combination of notes, octaves, fifths, and fourths, usually below the melody notes, may be used as an ornamentation. Among the elements contributing to the enrichment of the melody are microtonality (microtonal music) (the use of intervals (interval) smaller than a Western half step or lying between a half step and a Western whole step) and the variety of intervals used. Thus the three-quarter tone, introduced into Islāmic music in the 9th or 10th century, exists alongside larger and smaller intervals. Musicians show a keen sensibility to nuances of pitch, often slightly varying even the perfect consonances, the fourth and fifth.

      As the fourth is the basic melodic frame, theorists organized the intervals and their nuances into genres, or small units, often tetrachords (units the highest and lowest notes of which are a fourth apart), combining genres into larger units, or systems. More than 130 systems resulted; on these are based the musical scales (scale) of the maqāmāt, or modes. The scale of a maqām can thus be broken down into small units that are of importance in the formation of melodies. A maqām is a complex musical entity given distinct musical character by its given scale, small units, range and compass, predominant notes, and preexisting typical melodic and rhythmic formulas. It serves the musician as rough material for his own composition. Each maqām has a proper name that may refer to a place (as Hejaz, Iraq), to a famous man, or to an object, feeling, quality, or special event. Emotional or philosophical meaning (ethos, or taʾthīr) and cosmological background are attached to a maqām and also to the rhythmic modes. The Arabic term maqām is the equivalent of dastgāh in Persia, naghmah in Egypt, and cbāṭ in North Africa.

Rhythmic organization
      Rhythms and their organization into cycles of beats and pauses of varying lengths (rhythmic modes, or īqāʿāt) are much discussed in theoretical writings and are of supreme importance in performance. Each cycle consists of a fixed number of time units with a characteristic distribution of strong and weak beats and pauses. In performance some of the pauses may be filled in, but the underlying pattern must be maintained. Parallel to the growth of the number of melodic modes—from 12 in the 8th century to more than 100 in the 20th—is the increase in the number of rhythmic modes from eight in the 9th century to more than 100 in the 20th.

Musical forms
      The repertoire in common use comprises a wide variety of forms. One category includes unmeasured improvised pieces, such as the layālī, in which the singer puts forth the characteristics of the maqām, using long vocalises and meaningless syllables. An equivalent instrumental improvisation is called taqsīm, and this in some cases may be accompanied by a uniform pulsation, called taqsīm ʿala al-wuḥdah. The category of metrical songs embraces various poetic forms and metric structures, such as qaṣīdah, dor, and muwashshaḥ. Both categories, metrical and unmeasured, are almost always accompanied by either one or more instruments to enrich the performance. Important traditional forms combined both categories to create large compositions similar to a suite, using vocal and instrumental features. The whole was linked by the unity of the mode and a defined rhythmical development. Examples are the Andalusian nūbah, which survives in North Africa, the Persian dastgāh, the Turkish fāṣil, the Egyptian waṣla, and the Iraqi macam. Under the pressure of modernization and westernization have emerged new forms showing the influence of light dance music, operetta, and musical (musical instrument) comedy.

Instruments of music
      Instrumental music is not considered an independent art from vocal music. Yet many instruments were fully described by early writers, and their use in folk, art, religious, and military music pointed out. The most favoured instrument of ancient Near Eastern civilization, the harp, was gradually overshadowed by both long- and short-necked lutes.

Percussion instruments (percussion instrument)
      Among idiophones (idiophone) (instruments the hard bodies of which vibrate to produce sound) commonly used are the qaḍīb (“percussion stick”), the zil and sunūj (“cymbals”), and the kāṣāt, or small finger cymbals. Membranophones (membranophone), or vibrating membrane instruments, include a variety of tambourines (tambourine), or frame drums (drum), which all fall under the generic name duff. These include the North African ghirbāl and bendīr, instruments that have a number of “snares” across the skin and are used for folk dances; and the dāʾirah, or ṭar, with jingling plates or rings set in the frame. The dāʾirah and the vase-shaped drum darabukka (in Iran, ẕarb) are used in folk and art music, and the small kettledrums naqqārah (naker) and nuqayrat are used in art music and in military music (such as janissary music, the Turkish ensemble adopted by European military musicians). The large two-headed cylindrical drum, the ṭabl (Turkish davul), is generally played with the oboe-like zornā or gayta in processions and open-air ceremonies.

Wind instruments (wind instrument)
      Classed with the zornā and gayta as aerophones (aerophone), or wind instruments, are the būq, or horn, the nafīr, or long trumpet, and a variety of flutes called nāy or shabbābah. Clarinetlike (single-reed) double-piped instruments such as the dunay, zammārah, and urghūl are used in folk events and open-air ceremonies.

Stringed instruments (stringed instrument)
      Chordophones (chordophone), or stringed instruments, constitute the most important family. The favourite instrument of Islāmic classical music is the ūdʿ, a short-necked lute having four or five strings and resembling the Western lute, which derived from the ʿūd. In addition to holding musical supremacy, it was important in medieval theoretical and cosmological speculations. It has two derivatives in North Africa, the kuwītra and the gunbrī. The long-necked lutes favoured in Turkey, Iran, and the countries eastward include the ṭunbūr, tār, and setār. Another plucked instrument is the qānūn, or trapezoid-shaped psaltery, played at least from early medieval times. The trapezoidal dulcimer, or sanṭūr, the strings of which are struck with two thin sticks, is widespread and is especially prominent in Persian art music. Bowed lutes, or fiddles, include the rabāb, used by epic singers and beggars, and the kamān, or kamanjā, a hemispherically-shaped fiddle the body of which, like that of the rabāb, is pierced by the length of wood forming the neck (such instruments are known as spike fiddles). The violin, played either on the knee like the kamanjā, or beneath the collarbone, is also common.

The relation of Islāmic music to music of other cultures
      The relation of Islāmic music to the West reveals itself in both musical theory and practice. By the 9th century many Greek treatises had been translated into Arabic. Arabic culture preserved Greek musical writings, and most of those that reached the West did so in their Arabic versions. Arab theorists followed Greek models, often developing them further. The Muslim occupation of Spain and Portugal and the Crusades to the Near East brought Europeans in contact with Arabic theoretical writings and the flourishing Islāmic art music. Musical instruments such as the lute, the rebec (a small bowed instrument derived from the rabāb), and the kettledrum (in the form of a pair of small kettledrums called nakers, from the Arabic naqqārah) became firmly established in European music. Arabic writings were translated, among them the De scientiis, a work on the arts and sciences by the great 10th-century philosopher and musician al-Fārābī (Latinized as Alpharabius). Such translations give further indication of the influence exerted by Muslim writers. Arabian influence on European medieval music is difficult to prove. Borrowed elements were possibly completely transformed. The influence of Islāmic music on European music is, at present, a subject of controversy.

      As early as 711, Arab conquerors reached India, and Mongol and Turkmen armies later invaded the Near East, with resulting contact between Islāmic and Far Eastern music. There are similarities between the modal systems of India (the rāgas) and of the Near East (the maqām system) and between some cosmological and ethical conceptions of music. The migration of musical instruments from the Islāmic area to the Far East can also be traced. The Chinese oboe, the suona, apparently derived its name from its Near Eastern counterpart, the zornā, or sornā. The Indian long-necked lute sitar, having a different number of strings from the Persian setār, received its name, and perhaps part of its form, from the setār. The Chinese dulcimer, yang chʾin (yangqin) (“foreign zither”), originated in the Middle Eastern sanṭūr. On the other hand, the musical instruments appearing in the pre-Islāmic Ṭāq-e Bostān reliefs in Persia show a mouth organ similar to the Chinese sheng, indigenous to the Far East.

The history of Islāmic music
      The earliest extant writings on Islāmic music are from the end of the 9th century, more than 250 years after the advent of Islām. In the absence of historical documents, musicians, writers, and philosophers began to speculate on the origins of their music. They filled the gaps by legendary sources or vague traditions. Thus Lamak is said to have made the first lute from the leg of his dead son, whose loss he lamented with it. His lamentation is considered to be the first song.

The pre-Islāmic period
      In nomadic encampments music emphasized every event in man's life, embellished social meetings, incited the warriors, encouraged the desert traveler, and exhorted the pilgrims to the black stone of the Kaʿbah (in Mecca), a holy shrine even in pre-Islāmic times. Among the earliest songs were the ḥudāʾ from which the ghināʾ derived, the naṣb, sanad, rukbānī, and the hazāj, a dancing song. In the markets of the Arabs, particularly the fair at the western Arabian town of ʿUkāẓ, competitions of poetry and musical performances were held periodically, attracting the most distinguished poet-musicians. Their music, more sophisticated than that practiced in the nomadic encampments, was related to that of the qaynāt (“singing girls”), who performed at court, in noble households, and in scattered taverns. Cultural contact with Byzantium (Byzantine art) was strong in the kingdom of Ghassān, where, in the 7th century, five Byzantine qaynāt were known to have performed songs of their homeland at court. The culture of the other Arabic kingdom of al-Ḥīrah (Ḥīrah, al-) under the Lakhmid dynasty was closely connected with that of Persia under the pre-Islāmic Sāsānian (Sāsānian dynasty) empire. The Sāsānians esteemed both secular and religious music. In the belief of the Mazdak (Mazdakism) sect (a dualistic Persian religion related to Manichaeanism, a Gnostic religion), music was considered as one of the four spiritual powers. In the king's entourage musicians occupied high rank. Some became famous, such as Bārbad, to whom is attributed the invention of the complicated pre-Islāmic system of modes. The compositions of Bārbad, who became a model of artistic achievement in Arabic literature, survived at least until the 10th century.

The beginning of Islām and the first four caliphs
      Muḥammad was said to have been hostile to music and musicians; yet there are indications that he tolerated functional music such as war songs, pilgrimage chants, and public or private festival songs. In addition, he himself instituted in 622 or 623 the adhān (“call to prayer”), chanted by the muʾadhdhin ( muezzin). For this task he chose the Abyssinian singer Bilāl, who became the patron of the muʾadhdhin and their guilds throughout the Islāmic world. Within 12 years after Muḥammad's death, the armies of Islām took possession of Syria, Iraq, Persia, Armenia, Egypt, and Cyrenaica (in modern Libya). The contact with the refined cultures of the conquered and the appearance of a new class of warriors who benefited from the spoils of the conquered nations deeply affected Arabian society. In spite of the austere regime of the four orthodox caliphs (632–660), joy of life and eagerness for pleasure dominated the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Wealthy men acquired slave musicians, who were often liberated and became the pillars of musical life. The wealthy competed with one another in the brilliance of the concerts held in their houses, and in sophisticated literary and musical salons, contests revealed and rewarded the best talents. In this milieu the great Islāmic musical tradition began to take shape, to be firmly established and codified in subsequent periods. A new generation of musicians was educated in the traditional manner and refined through constant hearing of the best music performed by the best masters. Through the contributions of the conquered “foreigners,” and through intense emulation of their music, new techniques, improved instruments, and elaborated musical forms developed. Persian lute tuning was adopted for the lute (ʿūd), which became the classical instrument of the Arabs. Melodies and rhythms were regulated by a modal system that was later codified. Among the most famous female musicians was ʿAzza al-Maylāʾ, who excelled in al-ghināʾ ar-raqīq, or “gentle song.” Her house was the most brilliant literary salon of Medina, and most of the famous musicians of the town came under her tutelage. Also famed were the female musician Jamīla, around whom clustered musicians, poets, and dignitaries; the male musician Ṭuways, who, attracted by the melodies sung by Persian slaves, imitated their style; and Ṣāʾib Khāthir, the son of a Persian slave. Songs were generally accompanied by the lute (ʿūd), the frame drum (duff), or the percussion stick (qaḍīb).

The Umayyad (Umayyad Dynasty) and ʿAbbāsid dynasties (Abbāsid Dynastyʿ): classical Islāmic music
      Under the Umayyad caliphate (661–750) the classical style of Islāmic music developed further. The capital was moved to Damascus (in modern Syria) and the courts were thronged with male and female musicians, who formed a class apart. Many prominent musicians were Arab by birth or acculturation, but the alien element continued to play a predominant role in Islāmic music. The first and the greatest musician of the Umayyad era was Ibn Misjaḥ, often honoured as the father of Islāmic music. Born in Mecca of a Persian family, he was a musical theorist and a skilled singer and lute player. Ibn Misjaḥ traveled to Syria and Persia, learning the theory and practice of Byzantine and Persian music and incorporating much of his acquired knowledge into the Arabian art song. Although he adopted new elements such as foreign musical modes, he rejected other musical traits as unsuitable to Arabian music. Knowledge of his contributions is contained in the most important source of information about music and musical life in the first three centuries of Islām. This is the 10th-century Kitāb al-Aghānī, or “Book of Songs,” by Abū al-Faraj al-Iṣbahānī. In the 8th century Yūnus al-Kātib, author of the first Arabic book of musical theory, compiled the first collection of songs. Other notable musicians of the period were Ibn Muḥriz, of Persian ancestry; Ibn Surayj, son of a Persian slave and noted for his elegies and improvisations (murtajal); his pupil al-Gharīḍ, born of a Berber family; and the Negro Maʿbad. Like Ibn Surayj, Maʿbad cultivated a special personal style adopted by following generations of singers.

      By the end of the Umayyad period, the disparate elements of conqueror and conquered were fused into the style of classical Islāmic music. With the establishment of the ʿAbbāsid caliphate in 750, Baghdad (in modern Iraq) became the leading musical centre. The ʿAbbāsid caliphate is the period of the Golden Age in Islāmic music. Music, obligatory for every learned man, was dealt with in varied aspects—among them virtuosity, aesthetic theory, ethical and therapeutic goals, mystical experience, and mathematical speculation. The artist was required to possess technical proficiency, creative power, and almost encyclopaedic knowledge. Among the finest artists of the period were Ibrāhīm al-Mawṣilī and his son Isḥāq. Members of a noble Persian family, they were chief court musicians and close companions of the caliphs Hārūn ar-Rashīd and al-Maʾmūn.

      Isḥāq, a singer, composer, and virtuoso lutenist, was the outstanding musician of his time. A man of wide culture, he is credited with authorship of nearly 40 works on music, which were subsequently lost. According to the “Book of Songs,” he is the originator of the earliest Islāmic theory of melodic modes. Called aṣbiʿ (“fingers”), it structured the modes according to the frets of the lute and the fingers corresponding to them. Indications above each song in the “Book of Songs” show the mode, the type of third (major, minor, or neutral), and often the rhythmic mode. (The third is the interval encompassing three notes of the scale. It can vary considerably in exact size without losing its character. Western music uses the major and the minor third; much non-Western and folk music also uses a neutral third, between the major and minor in size.) The neutral third, introduced into Islāmic music about this time, increased the number of melodic modes from eight to 12 by making more intervals available from which to build melodies. At this time the number of rhythmic modes varied from six to eight, their actual structure and content differing from author to author.

      Isḥāq and Ibrāhīm al-Mawṣilī actively participated in the contemporary controversy between modernism, a Persian romantic style tending toward exuberance of embellishments, and Arabian classicism, characterized by simplicity and artistic severity. The Mawṣilīs represented the older classical tradition; the proponents of modernism were Ibn Jāmiʿ and the celebrated singer Prince Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mahdī.

      In the second half of the 8th century, the extensive Islāmic literature of music theory began to flourish. Greek treatises were translated into Arabic, and scholars, who were acquainted with the Greek writings, began to devote books or sections of books to the theory of music. In their works they expanded, changed, improved, or shed new light on Greek musical theory. The well-known philosopher al-Kindī (Kindī, Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq aṣ-Ṣabāḥ, al-), who was deeply immersed in Greek learning, wrote more than 13 musical treatises, including the earliest Arabic musical treatise that is known to have survived. He also dealt with the theory of ethos (taʾthīr) and with cosmological aspects of music. Members of the Ikhwān aṣ-Ṣafā (Ikhwān aṣ-Ṣafāʾ), an important 10th-century brotherhood, dealt also with these two themes and advanced a theory of sound that went well beyond ancient Greek theories. Philosophers such as al-Fārābī (Fārābī, al-), author of the monumental Kitāb al-musīqī al-Kabīr (“Grand Book on Music”), and Ibn Sīnā (known in Europe as Avicenna) dealt with such topics as the theory of sound, intervals, genres and systems, composition, rhythm, and instruments, as did others such as as-Sarakhsī, his contemporary Thābit ibn Qurrah (Thābit ibn Qurra), and Avicenna's pupil Ibn Zaylā. The last important theorist to emerge during the ʿAbbāsid period was Ṣafī ad-Dīn, who codified the elements of the modal practice as it was then known into a highly sophisticated system. His achievement became the chief model for subsequent generations. In the numerous treatises written between the 13th and 19th centuries, the system devised by Ṣafī ad-Dīn was split into multiple local traditions.

Islāmic music in Spain
      Parallel to the flourishing of music at the eastern centres of Damascus and Baghdad, another important musical centre developed in Spain, first under the survivors of the Umayyad rulers and later under the Berber Almoravids (rulers of North Africa and Spain in the 11th and 12th centuries) and Almohads, who expanded into Spain after the fall of the Almoravids. In Spain, encounter with different cultures stimulated the development of the Andalusian, or Moorish, branch of Islāmic music. The most imposing figure in this development is Ziryāb (fl. 9th century), a pupil of Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī, who, because of the jealousy of his teacher, emigrated from Baghdad to Spain. A virtuoso singer and the leading musician at the court of Córdoba, Ziryāb introduced a fifth string to the lute, devised a number of new forms of composition, and developed a variety of new methods of teaching singing in his well-known school of music. Musical activity spread to large towns, and Sevilla (Seville) became a leading centre of musical-instrument manufacture.

      New poetic forms were developed, such as the muwashshaḥ and the zajal, that were freer in rhyme and metre than the classical qaṣīdah or formal ode. These innovations in prosody opened the way to further musical developments. Especially important was the nawbah (“suite”), a form that included songs and instrumental music, free or metrical, that were linked together by melodic mode and rhythmic patterns. The 24 traditional nawbahs were invested with symbolic and cosmological significance. After the expulsion of the Muslims from Spain in 1492 this musical tradition was transported to North African centres, where it partially survived.

      After the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258 and the Spanish reconquest of Granada in 1492, the magnificence of Islāmic culture gradually waned. Music continued to be cultivated, receiving new influences from Mongol and Turkmen conquerors. Persia enjoyed artistic independence for about 450 years, until 1918; but during this period a huge area, from the Balkans to Tunisia, was submitted to a strong Turkish influence, which itself was heavily influenced by Arab and Persian music.

The modern period
      From the beginning of the 19th century, Islāmic music was affected by the intensification of contacts and relationships with Western music. For the first time Islāmic music existed in juxtaposition with Western music. For example, European composers and musicians were summoned to create military bands and conservatories in Turkey (1826) and in Persia (art and architecture, Iranian) (1856), and Giuseppe Verdi's opera Aida inaugurated the opera house in Cairo in 1871. Expanding contact with Western music caused certain alterations in traditional musical styles. There was a widespread musical renaissance, with two main centres: the leading school in Egypt was open to modernism and Western influences, while in Syria and Iraq traditional music was supported. Music in Syria and Iraq, together with North African, Iranian, and Turkish music, remained restricted to its own periphery. The Egyptian school developed Middle Eastern music in what can be called the mainstream style; and this music was widely diffused through the media of radio, television, recordings, and the cinema. Mainstream music borrowed instruments such as the cello, saxophone, and accordion; melodies and rhythms from European serious and light music; the concept of large ensembles; and the use of electronic amplification. Emphasis shifted from the display of individual virtuosity and personal creativity to performance as an ensemble, and the use of short songs underscored the separation, rather than the traditional union, of composer and performer. Classical and local genres coexist, however, with the innovative mainstream style.

      Persian art music continues to be organized into 12 traditional modes, or dastgāh, each of which contains a repertory of from 20 to 50 small pieces called gūshehs (“corners”). In performance of instrumental and vocal music, the artist improvises on the chosen gūshehs of a dastgāh in a specific order.

      Vocal music still predominates even in countries such as Iran, in which instrumental music is cultivated independently. Thus almost all of the Near Eastern musicians who are well known are singers; those particularly influential in the modern renaissance, in chronological order, include ʿAbduh al-Ḥamūlī, Dāhūd Ḥussnī, Sayyid Darwīsh, ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (Abd al-Wahhāb, Muḥammadʿ), Umm Kulthūm, Farid al-Aṭrash, Fayrouz, Rashid al-Hundarashi, Ṣadīqa al-Mulāya, and Muḥammad al-Gubanshi.

      Modern Arab theorists also have produced valuable treatises. For example, the 19th-century theorists Michel Muchaqa of Damascus and Mohammed Chehab ad-Dīn of Cairo introduced the theoretical division of the scale into 24 quarter tones (microtonal music). In 1932 the international Congress of Arabian Music was held in Cairo, providing a forum for current analysis of subjects such as musical scales, modes, rhythms, and musical forms.

Amnon Shiloah

      The performing arts have received comparatively little attention in the otherwise rich literature of the Islāmic peoples. This is most probably a result of the suspicions entertained by some orthodox Muslim scholars concerning the propriety of the dance and the theatre. Because this applies particularly in relation to the vexing theological question of human portrayal and its connection with idolatry, the performing arts have traditionally been regarded by the faithful with more than usual caution. Even as late as the 19th and early 20th centuries, most research on the subject, in what may loosely be called the Islāmic world, was carried out by Western scholars, chiefly from European nations; and only in the 20th century have indigenous scholars started publishing significant research on the subject.

 There are no known references to the dance or theatre in pre-Islāmic Arabia, although nomad tribes were probably acquainted with the dance. The Islāmic peoples themselves seem to have developed this particular art form less than they did music or architecture; and, in addition to medieval Islām's cool attitude toward dance and theatre as art forms, it must be added that most women, leading a life of seclusion, could hardly be expected to play an active part in them. Nevertheless, there has been an active tradition of folk dance in most Islāmic countries, in addition to dancing as an entertainment spectacle and, particularly in Persia, as an art form. A ritual dance was instituted in the Ṣūfī mystical order of the Mawlawīyah (Mevleviyah) in Turkey. The dance, performed by dervishes (members of the mystical order), is considered to be a manifestation of mystical ecstasy rather than an entertainment or an expression of aesthetic urges.

      The theatre has not flourished as a major art under Islām, although as a form of popular entertainment, particularly in mime and shadow-puppet shows, it has persisted vigorously. Nevertheless, the theatre with live actors received support from the Ottomans in Turkey, and a live popular drama has been strong in Persia, where a passion play also took root. Otherwise, the theatrical record of Islām is meagre. Moreover, few neighbouring peoples had a well-developed theatre of their own; hence, outside stimulus was lacking, and the Islāmic disapproval of idolatry was so intense that, when the shadow theatre evolved in the East in the late Middle Ages, the puppets were regularly punched with holes to show that they were lifeless. Nonetheless, drama has had some ties with religion, as in Iran and other areas where the Shīʿite branch of Islām is concentrated. Here a passion play developed, rooted in traumatic memories of the bloody warfare of Islām's early years. This was a local phenomenon, uninfluenced by Christian Europe, and, though stereotyped, it movingly reenacted Shīʿite martyrdom.

      A popular theatre, frequently including dance, evolved independently from about the 17th century in some Muslim countries. West European and, later, U.S. influences were largely the main factors in the development of an artistic theatre in the 19th and 20th centuries. But conservative Muslims have consistently disapproved of theatre, and in Saudi Arabia, for example, no native theatrical establishment exists. In such an atmosphere, women's parts were at first taken by men; later, Christian and Jewish women took the roles, and only in the 20th century have Muslim women participated.

Types and social functions of dance and theatre
The dance
      Folk dancing existed among medieval Islāmic peoples; but such sources as exist are mainly concerned with artistic dance, which was performed chiefly at the caliph's palace by skilled women. The aristocracy was quick to imitate this patronage by providing similar performances, its members vying with one another on festive occasions. One of these dances, the kurrağ (some times called kurra), developed into a song and dance festival held at the caliph's court. Since the latter part of the 19th century, the dancing profession has lost ground to the performance of U.S., Latin-American, and western European dances in cabarets. In a reaction that set in after World War II, fervent nationalists have tried to create native dance troupes, revive traditional motifs in costume and interpretation, and adapt tribal figures to modern settings. Few traditional dances have survived unchanged; among those that have are the dervish dances, performed mainly in Turkey.

      Though now performed and fostered chiefly as an expression of national culture, folk dances were long regarded as pure entertainment and were either combined with theatrical shows or presented alone. Dance performances, accompanied by music, took place in a special hall or outdoors; many dancers, particularly the males, were also mimes. Sometimes the dance enacted a pantomime, as in Turkey, of physical love or of a stag hunt, representing the pursuit of a suspicious husband deceived by his wife.

      Folk dance, except in Iran, has almost always been mimetic or narrative, a tradition still fostered by many tribes.

Dance as entertainment
 The Turks (Turkey) considered dancing as a profession for the low-born; as a result, most dancers were members of minority groups: mostly Greeks, Jews, and Armenians. This judgment has usually applied to the status of professional dancers and indeed to most professional entertainers at most periods and in most societies until modern times. In 19th-century Egypt, both male and female dancers were regarded as public entertainers. Many of the women entertainers (ghawāzī) belonged to a single tribe and were usually considered little better than prostitutes. The erotic element in dancing has become focused in the belly dance, which has become the leading form of exhibition dance in modern Turkey and the Arab countries.

      The mimetic tradition of folk dance has blended well in countries of the Sunnite persuasion with comedy and with the passion-play tragedy in Shīʿite countries. In recent years, however, the theatre has been increasingly divorced from the dance, with most plays being consciously modeled on European patterns; only in the operetta does the old combination remain.

Dance as an art form
      In pre-Islāmic times in Iran (art and architecture, Iranian), dance was both an art form and a popular entertainment. There are pictures of dancers in miniatures, on pottery, and on walls, friezes, and coins. Some of these ancient dances lived on partially in tribal dances, but again, under Islām's restrictions on women, the art became a male monopoly. Women were permitted to dance in private, however, as in the harem. Iran is perhaps the only Muslim country with a tradition of dance regarded as an art form. When revived after World War II, folk dancing was encouraged and adapted for the foundation of a national ballet. Muslim orthodoxy's very uncertainty over the exact status of the artistic dance ensured that it was always considered as an adjunct to music. Accordingly, although there are many detailed treatises on Islāmic music, none is available on dance.

dervish dancing
      There is one outstanding example of pure dance: that of the whirling dervishes, an art that has been practiced for more than seven centuries. The procedure is part of a Muslim ceremony called the dhikr, the purpose of which is to glorify God and seek spiritual perfection. Not all dervish orders dance; some simply stand on one foot and move the other foot to music. Those who dance or, rather, whirl are the Mawlawī dervishes (Mawlawīyah), an order that was founded by the Persian poet and mystic Jalāl al-Dīn al-Rūmī (Rūmī) at Konya, in Anatolia, in the 13th century.

      The performance, for which all of the participants don tall, brown, conical hats and black mantles, takes place in a large hall in the tekke (zāwiyah), the building in which the dervishes live. The dervishes sit in a circle listening to music. Then, rising slowly, they move to greet the shaykh, or master, and cast off the black coat to emerge in white shirts and waistcoats. They keep their individual places with respect to one another and begin to revolve rhythmically. They throw back their heads and raise the palms of their right hands, keeping their left hands down, a symbol of giving and taking. The rhythm accelerates, and they whirl faster and faster. In this way they enter a trance in an attempt to lose their personal identities and to attain union with the Almighty. Later they may sit, pray, and begin all over again. The dhikr ceremony always ends with a prayer and a procession.

The theatre
      In lands where the Sunnite sect was strong, mime shows were frequent and popular attractions during the later Middle Ages. The Ottoman (Ottoman Empire) sultans were accompanied on military campaigns by their own troupe of actors; and, as the Ottoman Empire grew larger and richer, the court became ever more partial to entertainment, whether at the accession of a sultan, a royal wedding, a circumcision, an official visit, or a victory. On such occasions, dances and theatrical performances played their part along with parades, fireworks, music, mock fights, and circus performances in one huge, sumptuous pageant. This lavishing of entertainment reached a height of splendour that the admiring Ottoman aristocracy strove to imitate throughout the empire. In Arabia and North Africa, popular shows on a lesser scale were performed in the open air. Another aspect of the Islāmic theatre was represented in the shadow plays, which were given chiefly to pass the time during the month of fasting, Ramaḍān (the sacred ninth month of the Muslim year).

      Among Shīʿites the passion play was regularly performed, by both professional and amateur actors. The performance always took place during the first 10 days of the month of Muḥarram (the first in the Muslim year), the period when the suffering and death of the descendants and relatives of the fourth caliph ʿAlī were commemorated. For generations this largely theatrical event served as a focal point of the year, gripping audiences in total involvement with its blend of symbolism and realism.

Mime shows
      In the medieval Muslim theatre, mime shows aimed to entertain rather than to uplift their audiences. Regrettably, few mime shows were recorded in writing, and those that were recorded were set down primarily to serve as guidelines for directors, who might tamper with the wording, as in the improvisation of the Italian commedia dell'arte. Some plays were on historical themes, but preference was for comedies or farces with an erotic flavour. The audience was largely composed of the poor and uneducated.

      A rudimentary theatrical form, the mime show long enjoyed widespread popularity in Anatolia and other parts of the Ottoman Empire. Called meddah (eulogist) or mukallit (imitator) in Turkish, the mimic had many similarities to his classical Greek forerunners. Basically he was a storyteller who used mimicry as a comic element, designed to appeal to his largely uneducated audience. By gesture and word he would imitate animals, birds, or local dialects; he was very popular in Arabic- and Turkish-speaking areas. Even today, he has not been wholly supplanted in the Islāmic world by literacy or by such modern entertainments as radio, television, and the cinema. Sometimes several meddahs performed together, and this may have been the source of a rural theatrical performance.

      The ortaoyunu (middle show) was the first type of genuine theatre the Turks, and possibly other Muslim peoples, ever had. The Ottoman sultans provided subsidies for ortaoyunu companies of actors, who consequently became generally accepted; also some were retained by the princes of the Romanian principalities under Ottoman rule. The fact that they continued to enjoy popularity to World War I may be explained by their simple dramatic appeal, which was coupled with sharp satire of the well-to-do and the ruling classes (but hardly ever of Islām). This irreverence frequently resulted in fines and imprisonment for the actors, but it never produced a basic change of style.

      During the 19th and 20th centuries, the ortaoyunu was generally performed in an open square or a large coffeehouse. There was no stage, and props were simple: they generally comprised a table or movable screen, while other objects were represented by paintings glued on paper. An orchestra of about four musicians enlivened the show and gave the performers, who were all male, their cues. Roles were generally stereotyped, with stock characters, such as a dandy, the foreign physician, and regional types (Kurds, Albanians, Armenians, Arabs, and Jews) quarreling and fighting in slapstick style. Mimicry was important, and some actors changed roles and costumes. The plot was flimsy, a mere frame for the dialogue, which was itself frequently improvised.

The marionette theatre
      In comparison with ortaoyunu, the marionette theatre, although popular in Turkistan (under the name of çadir hayâl) and other parts of Muslim Central Asia, never really caught on in the Ottoman Empire.

Shadow plays (shadow play) (Karagöz)
 On the other hand, the shadow play had been widely popular for many centuries in Turkish- or Arabic-speaking countries. Its essence, like that of the mime shows, was entertainment without moral import; and few plays were recorded in writing beyond a sketch of the action. Most were comedies and farces that were performed for the enjoyment of an audience that was, for the most part, very poor and uneducated.

      In Turkey, the Karagöz (a character, “Black-eye”) theatre was the prevalent form of shadow play. This art apparently came from China or perhaps from Southeast Asia, as the French term ombres chinoises indeed hints, though the prevailing element of the grotesque was probably inherited from ancient Greece by way of Byzantium. The Karagöz was well known in Turkey during the 16th century but was so fully developed that it must have been introduced much earlier, and it quickly spread from Syria to North Africa and the Greek islands. Its performers were in great demand at the sultan's court as well as elsewhere, and they soon organized their own guild. Since only the framework of the play was sketched in writing, there was scope for a great deal of impromptu wit, and Karagöz shows, like the ortaoyunu, were inevitably satirical. But with the coming of motion pictures the Karagöz declined, and performances are now mostly confined to the month of Ramaḍān.

      In the traditional performance of the Karagöz, the stage is separated from the audience by a frame holding a sheet; the latter has shrunk over the years from about six by 7 1/2 feet (1.8 by 2.3 metres) to about three by two feet (0.9 by 0.6 metres). The puppets (puppetry), which are flat and made of leather, are controlled by the puppeteers with rods and are placed behind the screen. An oil lamp is then placed still farther back so that it will throw the puppets' shadows onto the screen.

      A standard shadow play has three main elements: introduction, dialogue, and plot. The introduction is fairly stereotyped and consists of an argument and usually a quarrel between Karagöz and Hacivat, the two most common characters. The former is a simple, commonsense fellow, while the latter is more formal and polished, if shallow and pedantic. The dialogue between the two varies with the occasion but always contains impromptu repartee, though most puppet masters have at least 28 different plots in stock—a different one for each night of Ramaḍān. Some are historical, many ribald, but all are popular entertainment. Additional characters or animals may be introduced, calling for great skill on the part of the puppet master and his assistant in manipulating several simultaneously, as well as in reciting the text in changing tones and playing music. Some have one or two musicians to help.

      Mimicry and caricature, while essential to both the meddah and the ortaoyunu, are technically more developed in the shadow play. Here entire productions are based on a comedy of manners or of character. In addition to the stock characters from various ethnic groups, there is, for example, the drug addict who wraps his narcotic in dissolving gum before the fast begins so as not to sin, the light-headed Turk (“he who eats his inheritance”) who is a prodigal and a debauchee, the highway robber, the stutterer, and the policeman.

      Karagöz is the most frequently performed but not the sole type of shadow play in Muslim countries. In Egypt a shadow theatre is known to have existed as early as the 13th century, long before records of Karagöz shows were kept in Turkey. A physician, Muḥammad ibn Dāniyāl, wrote three shadow plays that have survived. They were performed in the 13th century and display humour and satire and the lampooning of match-making and marriage. These plays also introduce a parade of popular contemporary characters, many of whom earn their living in shady or amusing trades. A positively phallic element is as evident here as it is in the Karagöz.

Iranian popular theatre
      Popular theatre existed among the Iranians, who were proud of a long-lived cultural tradition and preserved their national language under Arab domination: indeed, even their branch of Islām, Shīʿism, set them apart from the Sunnism of the majority of Islām. The Ottomans' failure to conquer Iran increased competition between the respective intellectual elites. Iran had inherited a considerable theatrical tradition from pre-Islāmic times; it is not surprising that a popular comic theatre flourished there. The central figure of this theatre was the Katchal Pahlavān (or “bald actor”), and mimicry was important, both in comedy and in pantomime. The Baqqal-Bāzī (“Play of the Grocer”), in which a grocer repeatedly quarrels with his good-for-nothing servant, is a typical example of the popular comic tradition. The marionette theatre, or Lobet-Bāzī, while using Iranian puppets, was similar to its Turkish counterpart. At least five puppets appeared, and singing was an integral part of a production that sometimes resembled Italian and French puppet shows. The ortaoyunu, particularly in the region of Azerbaijan, is almost identical with the Turkish of the same name. The shadow play in Iran, however, has always been less popular and obscene than the Ottoman or Arab Karagöz.

Passion plays (Passion play) (taʿziyah)
      Quite different was the passion play, derived mainly from early Islāmic lore and assembled as a sequence of tragedies representing Shīʿite martyrdom. Both shadow and passion play were interlarded with musical prologues, accompaniment, and interludes; but these were not necessarily an integral part, serving rather to create a mood.

      A preoccupation with religion is characteristic of Persian theatrical performances, and, during the first 10 days of the month of Muḥarram, the martyrdom of ʿAlī's descendants at the hands of the Umayyads is reenacted. Although these shows are also performed among Shīʿite Turks in Central Asia and Shīʿite Arab communities in Iraq and elsewhere, Iran is their centre. Some plays are satirical, directed against wrongdoers, but most form a set of tragedies, performed as passion plays on these 10 successive days. Named taʿziyah (“consolation”), this type of drama is an expression of Persian patriotism and, above all, of piety, both elements combining in an expression of the national religion, Shīʿism.

      In order to understand the mood of the taʿziyah it is necessary to remember that storytellers in Iran recite the gruesome details of the martyrdom of Ḥasan, Ḥusayn (Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī, al-), and other descendants of ʿAlī all year long. Thus prepared, people swell the street processions during the days of Muḥarram, chain themselves, flagellate their bodies, and pierce their limbs with needles, shouting in unison and carrying images of the martyrs, made of straw and covered with blood—contrary to the injunctions of Islām. Sometimes men walk in the processions with heads hidden and collars bloodied, all part of a pageant dating from the 9th or 10th century. Its peak is reached daily in the play describing the martyrdom of ʿAlī's family and entourage, which used to be presented in the large mosques, but which, when the mosques proved too small, was given a special place. The roles of reciter of the martyrdom and of participant in a procession have blended over the years to produce the taʿziyah play, in which the reciters march in procession to the appointed place and there recite their pieces, which can be considered as a prologue before the play itself begins.

      The chief incidents narrated in the taʿziyah are not necessarily presented in chronological order, but in any case the taʿziyah texts (manuscripts from the 17th and 18th centuries, thenceforth, printed texts) give an inadequate impression of their forceful effect. Indeed, the audience identifies itself so closely with the play that foreigners have, on occasion, been manhandled. Since half of the actors play the supporters of the ʿAlids and half play their opponents, the latter are sometimes attacked and beaten at the end of the play. The decor, too, is half-realistic and half-symbolic: blood is real, yet sand is represented by straw. The stage effects are frequently overdone, and this clearly further excites the audience. For instance, Ḥusayn's gory head is made to recite holy verses; or an armless warrior is seen to kill his opponent with a sword he holds in his teeth. The horses are real, although most of the other animals are played by humans. In general, the actors, though chiefly nonprofessional, infect the audience with their enthusiasm and absorption.

Dance and theatre in modern times
Developments in dance
      Insofar as dance is related to the modern theatre, there is little difference between Muslim production and its European or American counterpart. Dance and drama are combined according to the artistic needs of the production or the personal tastes of the producer and director. Perhaps more important is the dance itself, independently performed as artistic self-expression. The geographical centre of folk dance is in the area east of the Mediterranean, though remnants of other cultures have survived. There are Balkan traces in western and northern Turkey, for example, and Berber and even black African traces in Morocco and elsewhere in North Africa.

Arab countries
      In some Arab countries, dancing is popular, varying in town, village, or with nomad tribe. In the town, dancing is generally reserved for special occasions, chiefly Western social dances. On the other hand, villages have such favourites as the dabkah. The dabkah is danced mainly by men and is quite common in festivities in the area between northern Syria and southern Israel; for instance, the Druzes (sectarian Arab communities located in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel) are very fond of it. The performers dance in a straight line, holding handkerchiefs high in the air, while the first dancer in the row gives the sign for stepping or jumping. Among the Bedouin almost any pretext suffices for dancing, although since the mid-20th century dancing has been practiced most often at weddings and similar festivities. Usually two male dancers, or two rows of male dancers, repeatedly advance toward each other or the audience and retire. To this basic figure, there are numerous variations that give the different dances their names.

      The Turks are also lovers of music and dance and when they meet frequently sing and dance. There is no single national dance popular throughout the country; dances vary in the numbers required, some being for solo performance, others designed for pairs or groups, though nearly all have instrumental accompaniment. As illustration of the possibilities of a basic step, there are at least 40 variations of the group dance known as bar, a chain dance. Again, several folk dances have characteristics akin to pantomime, breaking up into five main types of imitation: village life, nature, combat, courtship, and animals or birds.

      Opera is popular in Turkey, reflected in a long tradition of invitations to foreign companies, and the musical theatre, which frequently includes dancing, is also widespread. On the other hand, classical ballet was unknown until a school of ballet was opened by foreign teachers with government encouragement. Although most of the ballet performances are in Istanbul, they are well received on tour.

      In Iran a national dance company was formed with government support after World War II, and ancient customs were revived. Until it was closed in 1979, the Iranian ballet company was outstanding in the Muslim world, drawing on ancient war dances, fire-priest dances, dervish dances, and tribal folklore, as well as on scenes and decor from painting, sculpture, and the rich imagery of classical Persian poetry. Various folk dances are likewise performed all over Iran; they are accompanied by music and reflect local traditions and customs. Some are mimetic, others erotic, others, again, war dances (chiefly in the mountain areas) and comic dances (usually with masks). Many of these are dying out as new tastes and customs evolve, and Iranian dance companies have tried to preserve some of these dying forms.

The contemporary theatre
      The modern Muslim theatre is almost wholly a western European importation, unconnected with the traditional medieval theatre, which has almost completely disappeared, although there are vestiges of it.

Arab countries
      Contemporary Arabic theatre owes much to the imaginative daring of the Naqqāsh family in 19th-century Beirut, which was then under Turkish rule. Significantly, they were Christians, then better educated and more cosmopolitan than Muslims, and they had the advantages of Beirut's contacts with Europe and position as the headquarters of missionary activity. A Beirut Maronite (a Roman Catholic following the Syrio-Antiochene rite, widespread in the area), Mārūn al-Naqqāsh (died 1855), who knew French and Italian as well as Arabic and Turkish, adapted Molière's L'Avare (“The Miser”) and presented it on a makeshift stage in Beirut in 1848. He did so before a select audience of foreign dignitaries and local notables, and he wrote his play in colloquial Arabic and revised the plot to suit the taste and views of his audience. Further, he changed the locale to an Arab town and Arabicized the names of the participants. Other touches included instrumental and vocal music and the playing of women's roles by men, in the traditional manner. The above features characterized the Arabic theatre for about half a century. Al-Naqqāsh, together with his family, composed and presented two other musical plays, one based on Molière's Tartuffe, the other on the story, in The Thousand and One Nights, of Abū al-Ḥasan, who became caliph for a day.

      Soon the main centre of Arabic theatre moved to Egypt, whose comparatively tolerant autonomy offered an atmosphere for literary and artistic creativity more congenial than other parts of the Ottoman Empire. Syrian (Syria) and Lebanese intellectuals and actors emigrated there, particularly after the anti-Christian riots of 1860 in Syria. Though a somewhat crippled Arabic theatre continued in Syria, its influence was carried into Egypt by émigrés and later spread to other Arabic-speaking regions. The number of theatres, a potentially large public, the munificence of Egypt's rulers, increasing prosperity under British rule after 1882, and increasing education soon made Egypt the centre of Arabic theatre, a position it has successfully maintained since.

      The colloquial Arabic of Egypt was increasingly employed in the theatre, and several companies toured the country and neighbouring parts. The composition of these companies was fluid, for the actors were prone to be fickle in their loyalties; nevertheless, certain types of Egyptian theatre can be discerned in the late 19th century and during the early 20th. Some, like the company of Salāmah Ḥijāzī, used music to such an extent that their productions approached being labelled opera or operetta. Others, like that of ʿAlī al-Kassār, specialized in downright farce, expressed in revue form, with a Nubian hero, the “Barbarin,” who made a specialty of ridicule and mimicry. Yet others, like the company of Najīb al-Rīḥānī, oscillating between outright farce and comedy, skillfully depicted contemporary Egyptian manners; in particular, Najīb al-Rīḥānī created a character called Kish-Kish Bey, whose misadventures and unsolicited advice on every subject have made him a classic creation. A conventional theatre sprang up in Egypt, too, catering to a growing number of intellectuals and presenting dramas and tragedies in polished, literary Arabic. Its chief exponent was Jūrj Abyaḍ, who had spent time studying acting in Paris. In contrast, Yūsuf Wahbī's National Troupe performed realistic plays, usually dramas or melodramas, using either colloquial or literary Arabic and sometimes a combination of both.

      The plays (dramatic literature) performed by the Egyptian troupes and others in Arabic-speaking lands developed through three overlapping but distinguishable stages: adaptations, translations, and original plays. Adaptations came first in the 19th century (see above). Translations of established works appealed to a discriminating public, but original plays, part of the evolution of modern Arabic literature, reflected a growing interest in political and social problems. The decline of foreign influence and the arrival of political independence encouraged creativity, which, however much under European influence, has some original works to its credit. Two 20th-century Arabic playwrights, both Egyptian, are Tawfīq al-Ḥakīm (Ḥakīm, Tawfīq al-), a sensitive shaper of both social and symbolic dramas, and Maḥmūd Taymūr, a novelist and comedy writer who strikes deep into Egypt's social problems.

      The development of the modern Turkish theatre strongly resembles its Arabic counterpart. In Istanbul, theatrical performances were not unusual among the diplomatic and international set, and some local Turks were acquainted with them. Nonetheless, Turkish plays for live actors—barring ortaoyunu—date only from 1839. The first Turkish playhouse was built in Pera (now Beyoğlu), significantly in the middle of the foreign and embassy quarter of Istanbul. Many of the actors were members of non-Muslim minorities, such as the Armenian; and the first plays presented in Turkish were adaptations from the French, chiefly Molière. They were done during the 1840s, when music was an important item.

      The Gedik Paşa Theatre, which is named for the area in Istanbul where it was located, was the first theatre in which Turkish plays were produced by native actors speaking in Turkish. The actors received a salary, and local writers presented their own plays. Originally built for foreign companies, the theatre was reconstructed in 1867 and reopened in 1868 for a Turkish company headed by an Armenian, Agop, who was later converted to Islām and changed his name to Yakup. For almost 20 years the Gedik Paşa Theatre was the dramatic centre of the city; and plays in translation were soon followed by original plays, several with a nationalist appeal, such as Namık Kemal's (Kemal, (Mehmed) Namık) Vatan yahut Silistre (Fatherland), which was first produced in 1873. The actors had to struggle against prejudice and the playwrights against censorship (some of them were imprisoned or exiled), but the Turkish theatre spread beyond Istanbul in the 1870s and 1880s to such places as Adana (in southern Anatolia) and Bursa (just south of Istanbul, across the Sea of Marmara).

      After the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, censorship was not relaxed, but interest in the theatre grew, particularly over political matters; and plays about the new constitution were written and performed. After the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the state subsidized several theatre companies and a school for dramatic arts, and an opera house was built in Ankara. Official support not only gave financial encouragement but also implied a change of attitude over such matters as the participation of Muslim women in productions.

      By the middle of the 20th century, theatrical life was mostly centred on Istanbul and Ankara, although theatres and companies continued in the small towns too. A growing number of original plays, some of which were influenced by American literature, have been written and produced; the standard has been higher than it was before World War I, when Turkish poetry and fiction were rather more impressive than the drama. Subjects, too, have been more diverse since that time. To topics such as the position of women, marriage and divorce, and the character of Islāmic institutions—all popular under the Ottomans—have been added the Greco-Turkish War, education, village conditions, secularization, class struggle, and psychological problems. The Dormen Theatre was founded in Istanbul in 1955 by Haldun Dormen; in the 1971 World Theatre season in London the company performed A Tale of Istanbul, a comedy that included elements of folklore, a puppet show, singing, and a belly dance. The Dormen Theatre also produces 20th-century Western plays.

      In Iran the birth of the modern theatre dates from the second half of the 19th century. Adaptations and translations from European plays appeared in Persian, often with the location and names suited to Iran. Molière, again, was a favourite and western European influence considerable, though Russian literature also left its mark, particularly in Azerbaijan, whose northern population had a chance to watch Russian actors during World War I.

      Playwrights began to write original plays almost at once; one of the earliest playwrights was an Azerbaijani, named Akhundof, living in the Caucasus. He wrote seven comedies ridiculing Persian and Causasian Muslim society; all were translated into Persian and printed in 1874. Other plays likewise showed pronounced yearnings for social reform presented in a satirical style; some of these were published in a magazine called Tyatr (“Theatre”), which first appeared in 1908. Another type was the patriotic play, extolling Iran's history.

      Some pre-World War I pieces were designed for reading rather than production. They were performed usually in schools, but there were hardly any professional actors, and the stage and props were very simple. After World War I, suitable halls were built in Tehrān and other cities, but the iron hand of Reza Shah (1925–41) curtailed development through continuous censorship and surveillance. After 1942 many new companies were formed, and there was speedy development, with growing interest in social and political subjects, though competition from foreign films was considerable. The revolutionary Islāmic regime established in 1979 severely curtailed theatrical activity.

Jacob M. Landau

Visual arts (art)
      In order to answer whether or not there is an aesthetic, iconographic, or stylistic unity to the visually perceptible arts of Islāmic peoples, it is first essential to realize that no ethnic or geographical entity was Muslim from the beginning. There is no Islāmic art, therefore, in the way there is a Chinese art or a French art. Nor is it simply a period art, like Gothic art or Baroque art, for once a land or an ethnic entity became Muslim it remained Muslim, a small number of exceptions like Spain or Sicily notwithstanding. Political and social events transformed a number of lands with a variety of earlier histories into Muslim lands. But, since early Islām as such did not possess or propagate an art of its own, each area could continue, in fact often did continue, whatever modes of creativity it had acquired. It may then not be appropriate at all to talk about the visual arts of Islāmic peoples, and one should instead consider separately each of the areas that became Muslim: Spain, North Africa, Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Iran, Anatolia, India. Such, in fact, has been the direction taken by some recent scholarship. Even though tainted at times with parochial nationalism, the approach has been useful in that it has focused attention on a number of permanent features in different regions of Islāmic lands that are older than and independent from the faith itself and from the political entity created by it. Iranian art, in particular, exhibits a number of features (certain themes such as the representation of birds or an epic tradition in painting) that owe little to its Islāmic character since the 7th century. Ottoman art shares a Mediterranean tradition of architectural conception with Italy rather than with the rest of the Muslim world.

      Such examples can easily be multiplied, but it is probably wrong to overdo their importance. For if one looks at the art of Islāmic lands from a different perspective, a totally different picture emerges. The perspective is that of the lands that surround the Muslim world or of the times that preceded its formation. For even if there are ambiguous examples, most observers can recognize a flavour, a mood in Islāmic visual arts that is distinguishable from what is known in East Asia (China, Korea, and Japan) or in the Christian West. This mood or flavour has been called decorative, for it seems at first glance to emphasize an immense complexity of surface effects without apparent meanings attached to the visible motifs. But it has other characteristics as well; it is often colourful, both in architecture and in objects; it avoids representations of living things; it gives much prominence to the work of artisans and counts among its masterpieces not merely works of architecture or of painting but also the creations of weavers, potters, and metalworkers. The problem is whether these uniquenesses of Islāmic art, when compared to other artistic traditions, are the result of the nature of Islām or of some other factor or series of factors.

      These preliminary remarks suggest at the very outset the main epistemological peculiarity of Islāmic art: it consists of a large number of quite disparate traditions that, when seen all together, appear distinguishable from what surrounded them and from what preceded them through a series of stylistic and thematic characteristics. The key question is how this was possible, but no answer can be given before the tradition itself has been properly defined.

      Such a definition can only be provided in history, through an examination of the formation and development of the arts through the centuries. For a static sudden phenomenon is not being dealt with, but rather a slow building up of a visual language of forms with many dialects and with many changes. Whether or not these complexities of growth and development subsumed a common structure is the challenging question facing the historian of this artistic tradition. What makes the question particularly difficult to answer is that the study of Islāmic art is still so new. Many monuments are unpublished or at least insufficiently known, and only a handful of scientific excavations have investigated the physical setting of the culture and of its art. Much, therefore, remains tentative in the knowledge and appreciation of works of Islāmic art, and what follows is primarily an outline of what is known with a number of suggestions for further work into insufficiently investigated areas.

      Each artistic tradition has tended to develop its own favourite mediums and techniques. Some, of course, such as architecture, are automatic needs of every culture; and, for reasons to be developed later, it is in the medium of architecture that some of the most characteristically Islāmic works of art are found. Other techniques, on the other hand, acquire varying forms and emphases. Sculpture in the round hardly existed as a major art form, and, although such was also the case of all Mediterranean arts at the time of Islām's growth, one does not encounter the astounding rebirth of sculpture that occurred in the West. Wall painting existed but has generally been poorly preserved; the great Islāmic art of painting was limited to the illustration of books. The unique feature of Islāmic techniques is the astounding development taken by the so-called decorative arts (decorative art)—e.g., woodwork, glass, ceramics, metalwork, textiles. New techniques were invented and spread throughout the Muslim world—at times even beyond its frontiers. In dealing with Islām, therefore, it is quite incorrect to think of these techniques as the “minor” arts. For the amount and intensity of creative energies spent on the decorative arts transformed them into major artistic forms, and their significance in defining a profile of the aesthetic and visual language of Islāmic peoples is far greater than in the instances of many other cultures. Furthermore, since, for a variety of reasons to be discussed later, the Muslim world did not develop until quite late the notion of “noble” arts, the decorative arts have reflected far better the needs and ambitions of the culture as a whole. The kind of conclusion that can be reached about Islāmic civilization through its visual arts thus extends far deeper than is usual in the study of an artistic tradition, and it requires a combination of archaeological, art-historical, and textual information.

      An example may suffice to demonstrate the point. Among all the techniques of Islāmic visual arts, the most important one was the art of textiles (decorative art). Textiles, of course, were used for daily wear at all social levels and for all occasions. But clothes (dress) were also the main indicators of rank, and they were given as rewards or as souvenirs by princes, high and low. They were a major status symbol, and their manufacture and distribution were carefully controlled through a complicated institution known as the ṭirāz. Major events were at times celebrated by being depicted on silks. Many texts have been identified that describe the hundreds of different kinds of textiles that existed. Since textiles could easily be moved, they became a vehicle for the transmission of artistic themes within the Muslim world and beyond its frontiers. In the case of this one technique, therefore, one is not dealing simply with a medium of the decorative arts but with a key medium in the definition of a given time's taste, of its practical functions, and of the ways in which its ideas were distributed. The more unfortunate point is that the thousands of fragments that have remained have not yet been studied in a sufficiently systematic way, and in only a handful of instances has it been possible to relate individual fragments to known texts. When more work has been completed, however, a study of this one medium should contribute significantly to the commercial, social, and aesthetic history of Islām, as well as explain much of the impact that Islāmic art had beyond the frontiers of the Muslim world.

      The following survey of Islāmic visual arts, therefore, will be primarily a historical one, for it is in development through time that the main achievements of Islāmic art can best be understood. At the same time, other features peculiar to this tradition will be kept in mind: the varying importance of different lands, each of which had identifiable artistic features of its own, and the uniqueness of some techniques of artistic creativity over others.

Earlier artistic traditions
      Islāmic visual arts were created by the confluence of two entirely separate kinds of phenomena: a number of earlier artistic traditions and a new faith. The arts inherited by Islām were of extraordinary technical virtuosity and stylistic or iconographic variety. All the developments of arcuated and vaulted architecture that had taken place in Iran and in the Roman Empire were available in their countless local variants. Stone, baked brick, mud brick, and wood existed as mediums of construction, and all the complicated engineering systems developed particularly in the Roman Empire were still utilized from Spain to the Euphrates. All the major techniques of decoration were still used, except for monumental sculpture. In secular and in religious art, a more or less formally accepted equivalence between representation and represented subject had been established. Technically, therefore, as well as ideologically, the Muslim world took over an extremely sophisticated system of visual forms; and, since the Muslim conquest was accompanied by a minimum of destruction, all the monuments, and especially the attitudes attached to them, were passed on to the new culture.

      The second point about the pre-Islāmic traditions is the almost total absence of anything from Arabia itself. While archaeological work in the peninsula may modify this conclusion in part, it does seem that Islāmic art formed itself entirely in some sort of relationship to non-Arab traditions. Even the rather sophisticated art created in earlier times by the Palmyrenes or by the Nabataeans had almost no impact on Islāmic art, and the primitively conceived ḥaram in Mecca, the only pre-Islāmic sanctuary maintained by the new faith, remained as a unique monument that was almost never copied or imitated despite its immense religious significance. The pre-Islāmic sources of Islāmic art are thus entirely extraneous to the milieu in which the new faith was created. In this respect the visual arts differ considerably from most other aspects of Islāmic culture.

      This is not to say that there was no impact of the new faith on the arts, but to a large extent it was an incidental impact, the result of the existence of a new social and political entity rather than of a doctrine. Earliest Islām as seen in the Qurʾān or in the more verifiable accounts of the Prophet's life simply do not deal with the arts, either on the practical level of requiring or suggesting forms as expressions of the culture or on the ideological level of defining a Muslim attitude toward images. In all instances, concrete Qurʾānic passages later used for the arts had their visual significance extrapolated.

      There is no prohibition against representations of living things, and not a single Qurʾānic passage refers clearly to the mosque, eventually to become the most characteristically Muslim religious building. In the simple, practical, and puritanical milieu of early Islām, aesthetic or visual questions simply did not arise.

The mosque
      The impact of the faith on the arts occurred rather as the fledgling culture encountered the earlier non-Islāmic world and sought to justify its own acceptance or rejection of new ways and attitudes. The discussion of two examples of particular significance illustrates the point. One is the case of the mosque. The word itself derives from the Arabic masjid, “a place where one prostrates one's self (in front of God).” It was a common term in pre-Islāmic Arabic and in the Qurʾān, where it is applied to sanctuaries in general without restriction. If a more concrete significance was meant, the word was used in construct with some other term, as in masjid al-ḥaram to refer to the Meccan sanctuary. There was no need in earliest times for a uniquely Muslim building, for any place could be used for private prayer as long as the correct direction ( qiblah, originally Jerusalem, but very soon Mecca) was observed and the proper sequence of gestures and pious statements was followed. In addition to private prayer, which had no formal setting, Islām instituted a collective prayer on Fridays, where the same ritual was accompanied by a sermon from the imām (leader of prayer, originally the Prophet, then his successors, and later legally any able-bodied Muslim) and by the more complex ceremony of the khuṭbah (khutbah), a collective swearing of allegiance to the community's leadership. This ceremony served to strengthen the common bond between all members of the ummah, the Muslim “collectivity,” and its importance in creating and maintaining the unity of early Islām has often been emphasized. There were two traditional locales for this event in the Prophet's time. One was his private house, whose descriptions have been preserved; it was a large open space with private rooms on one side and rows of palm trunks making a colonnade on two other sides, the deeper colonnade being on the side of the qiblah. The Prophet's house was not a sanctuary but simply the most convenient place for the early community to gather. Far less is known about the second place of gathering for the Muslim community. It was used primarily on major feast days, such as the end of the fasting period or the feast of sacrifice. It was called a muṣallā, literally “a place for prayer,” and muṣallās were usually located outside city walls. Nothing is known about the shape taken by muṣallās, but in all probability they were as simple as pre-Islāmic pagan sanctuaries: large enclosures surrounded by a wall and devoid of any architectural or ornamental feature.

      Altogether then there was hardly anything that could be identified as a holy building or as an architectural form. To be complete, one should add two additional features. One is an action, the call to prayer ( adhān). It became, fairly rapidly, a formal moment preceding the gathering of the faithful. One man would climb on the roof and proclaim that God is great and that men must congregate to pray. There was no formal monument attached to the ceremony, though it led eventually to the ubiquitous minaret. The other early feature was an actual structure. It was the minbar, a chair with several steps on which the Prophet would climb in order to preach. The monument itself had a pre-Islāmic origin, but Muḥammad transformed it into a characteristically Muslim form.

      With the exception of the minbar, only a series of actions was formulated in early Islāmic times. There were no forms attached to them, nor were any needed. But, as the Muslim world grew in size, the contact with many other cultures brought about two developments. On the one hand there were thousands of examples of beautiful religious buildings that impressed the conquering Arabs. But, more importantly, the need arose to preserve the restricted uniqueness of the community of faithful and to express its separateness from other groups. Islāmic religious architecture began with this need and, in ways to be described later, created a formal setting for the activities, ceremonies, and ideas that had been formless at the outset.

The prohibition against images
      A second and closely parallel development of the impact of the Islāmic religion on the visual arts is the celebrated question of a Muslim iconoclasm (aniconism). As has already been mentioned, the Qurʾān does not utter a word for or against the representation (mimesis) of living things. It is equally true that from about the middle of the 8th century a prohibition had been formally stated, and thenceforth it would be a standard feature of Islāmic thought, even though the form in which it is expressed has varied from absolute to partial and even though it has never been totally followed. The justification for the prohibition tended to be that any representation of a living thing was an act of competition with God, for he alone can create something that is alive. It is striking that this theological explanation reflects the state of the arts in the Christian world at the time of the Muslim conquest—a period of iconoclastic controversy. It may thus be suggested that Islām developed an attitude toward images as it came into contact with other cultures and that its attitude was negative because the arts of the time appeared to lead easily to dreaded idolatry. While it is only by the middle of the 8th century that there is actual proof of the existence of a Muslim doctrine, it is likely that, more or less intuitively, the Muslims felt a certain reluctance toward representations from the very beginning. For all monuments of religious art are devoid of any representations; even a number of attempts at representational symbolism in the official art of coinage were soon abandoned.

      This rapid crystallization of Islāmic attitudes toward images has considerable significance. For practical purposes, representations are not found in religious art, although matters are quite different in secular art. Instead there occurred very soon a replacement of imagery with calligraphy and the concomitant transformation of calligraphy into a major artistic medium. Furthermore, the world of Islām tended to seek means of representing the holy other than by images of men, and one of the main problems of interpretation of Islāmic art is that of the degree of means it achieved in this search. But there is a deeper aspect to this rejection of holy images. Although the generally Semitic or specifically Jewish sources that have been given to Islāmic iconoclasms have probably been exaggerated, the reluctance imposed by the circumstances of the 7th century transformed into a major key of artistic creativity the magical fear of visual imagery that exists in all cultures but that is usually relegated to a secondary level. This uniqueness is certainly one of the main causes of the abstract tendencies that are among the great glories of the tradition. Even when a major art of painting did develop, it remained always somehow secondary to the mainstream of the culture's development.

      Both in the case of the religious building and in that of the representations, therefore, it was the contact with pre-Islāmic cultures in Muslim-conquered areas that compelled Islām to transform its practical and unique needs into monuments and to seek within itself for intellectual and theological justifications for its own instincts. The great strength of early Islām was that it possessed within itself the ideological means to put together a visual expression of its own, even though it did not develop at the very beginning a need for such an expression.

      One last point can be made about the origins of Islāmic art. It concerns the degree of importance taken by the various artistic and cultural entities conquered by the Arabs in the 7th and 8th centuries, for the early empire had gathered in regions that had not been politically or even ideologically related for centuries. During the first century or two of Islām, the main models and the main sources of inspiration were certainly the Christian centres around the Mediterranean. But the failure to capture Constantinople and to destroy the Byzantine Empire also made these Christian centres inimical competitors, whereas the whole world of Iran became an integral part of the empire, even though the conquering Arabs were far less familiar with the latter than with the former. A much more complex problem is posed by conversions, for it is through the success of the militant Muslim religious mission that the culture expanded so rapidly. Insofar as one can judge, it is the common folk, primarily in cities, who took over the new faith most rapidly; and thus there was added in early Islāmic culture a folk element whose impact may have been larger than has hitherto been imagined.

      These preliminary considerations on the origins of Islāmic art have made it possible to outline several of the themes and problems that remained constant features of the tradition: a self-conscious sense of uniqueness when compared to others; a continuous reference to its own Qurʾanic sources; a constant relationship to many different cultures; a folk element; and a variety of regional developments. None of these features remained constant, not even those aspects of the faith that affected the arts. But while they changed, the fact of their existence, their structural presence, remained a constant of Islāmic art.

Early period: the Umayyad (Umayyad Dynasty) and ʿAbbāsid dynasties (Abbāsid Dynastyʿ)
 Of all the recognizable periods of Islāmic art, this is by far the most difficult one to explain properly, even though it is quite well documented. There are two reasons for this difficulty. On the one hand, it was a formative period, a time when new forms were created that identify the aesthetic and practical ideals of the new culture. Such periods are difficult to define when, as in the case of Islām, there was no artistic need inherent to the culture itself. The second complication derives from the fact that Muslim conquest hardly ever destroyed former civilizations with its own established creativity. Material culture, therefore, continued as before, and archaeologically it is almost impossible to distinguish between pre-Islāmic and early Islāmic artifacts. Paradoxical though it may sound, there is an early Islāmic Christian art of Syria and Egypt, and in many other regions the parallel existence of a Muslim and of a non-Muslim art continued for centuries. What did happen during early Islāmic times, however, was the establishment of a dominant new taste, and it is the nature and character of this taste that has to be explained. It occurred first in Syria and Iraq, the two areas with the largest influx of Muslims and with the two successive capitals of the empire, Damascus under the Umayyads and Baghdad under the early ʿAbbāsids. From Syria and Iraq this new taste spread in all directions and adapted itself to local conditions and local materials, thus creating considerable regional and chronological variations in early Islāmic art.

      From a historical point of view two major dynasties are involved. One is the Umayyad dynasty, which ruled from 661 to 750 and whose monuments are datable from 680 to 745. It was the only Muslim dynasty ever to control the whole of the Islāmic-conquered world. The second dynasty is the ʿAbbāsid dynasty; technically its rule extended as late as 1258, but in reality its princes ceased to be a significant cultural factor after the second decade of the 10th century. The ʿAbbāsids no longer controlled Spain, where an independent Umayyad caliphate had been established; and in Egypt as well as in northeastern Iran a number of more or less independent dynasties appeared, such as the Ṭūlūnids or the Sāmānids (Sāmānid Dynasty). Although recent research tends to make the conclusion less certain than it used to be for the Sāmānids and northeast Iran, the initial impulse for the artistic creativity of these dynasties came from the main ʿAbbāsid centres in Iraq. While in detailed studies it is possible to distinguish between Umayyad and ʿAbbāsid art or between the arts of various provinces, the key features of the first three centuries of Islāmic art (roughly through the middle of the 10th century) are the interplay between local or imperial impulses and the creation of new forms and functions.

      It is possible to study these centuries as a succession of clusters of monuments, but, since there are so many of them, a study can easily end up as an endless list. It is preferable, therefore, to centre the discussion of Umayyad and ʿAbbāsid monuments on the functional and morphological characteristics that identify the new Muslim world and only secondarily be concerned with stylistic progression or regional differences.

Early religious buildings
      The one obviously new function developed during this period is that of the mosque, or masjid. The earliest adherents of Islām used the private house of the Prophet in Medina as the main place for their religious and other activities and muṣallās without established forms for certain holy ceremonies. The key phenomenon of the first decades that followed the conquest is the creation outside of Arabia of masjids in every centre taken over by the new faith. These were not simply or even primarily religious centres. They were rather the community centres of the faithful, in which all social, political, educational, and individual affairs were transacted. Among these activities were common prayer and the ceremony of the khuṭbah. The first mosques were built primarily to serve as the restricted space in which the new community would take its own collective decisions. It is there that the treasury of the community was kept, and early accounts are full of anecdotes about the immense variety of events, from the dramatic to the scabrous, that took place in mosques. Since even in earliest times the Muslim community consisted of several superimposed and interconnected social systems, mosques reflected this complexity, and, next to large mosques for the whole community, tribal mosques and mosques for various quarters of a town or city are also known.

      None of these early mosques has survived, and no descriptions of the smaller ones have been preserved. There do remain, however, accurate textual descriptions of the large congregational buildings erected at Kūfah and Basra in Iraq and at al-Fusṭāṭ (Fusṭāṭ, Al-) in Egypt. At Kūfah a larger square was marked out by a ditch, and a covered colonnade known as a ẓullah (a shady place) was put up on the qiblah side. In 670 a wall pierced by many doors was built in place of the ditch, and colonnades were put up on all four sides, with a deeper one on the qiblah. In all probability the Basra mosque was very similar, and only minor differences distinguished the ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ mosque (Amr ibn al-ʿĀṣ, Mosque ofʿ) at al-Fusṭāṭ. Much has been written about the sources of this type of building, but the simplest explanation may be that this is the very rare instance of the actual creation of a new architectural type. The new faith's requirement for centralization, or a space for a large and constantly growing community, could not be met by any existing architectural form. Almost accidentally, therefore, the new Muslim cities of Iraq created the hypostyle mosque (hypostyle hall) (a building with the roof resting on rows of columns). A flexible architectural unit, a hypostyle structure could be square or rectangular and could be increased or diminished in size by the addition or subtraction of columns. The single religious or symbolic feature of the hypostyle mosque was a minbar (a pulpit) for the preacher, and the direction of prayer was indicated by the greater depth of the colonnade on one side of the structure.

      The examples of Kūfah, Basra, and al-Fusṭāṭ are particularly clear because they were all built in newly created cities. Matters are somewhat more complex when discussing the older urban centres taken over by Muslims. Although it is not possible to generalize with any degree of certainty, two patterns seem to emerge. In some cases, such as Jerusalem and Damascus and perhaps in most cities conquered through formal treaties, the Muslims took for themselves an available unused space and erected on it some shelter, usually a very primitive one. In Jerusalem this space happened to be a particularly holy one—the area of the Jewish Temple built by Herod I the Great, which had been left willfully abandoned and ruined by the triumphant Christian empire. In Damascus it was a section of a huge Roman temple area, on another part of which there was a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Unfortunately too little is known about other cities to be able to demonstrate that this pattern was a common one. The very same uncertainty surrounds the second pattern, which consisted in forcibly transforming sanctuaries of older faiths into Muslim ones. This was the case at Ḥamāh in Syria and at Yazd-e Khvāst in Iran, where archaeological proof exists of the change. There are also several literary references to the fact that Christian churches, Zoroastrian fire temples, and other older abandoned sanctuaries were transformed into mosques. Altogether, however, these instances probably were not too numerous, because in most places the Muslim conquerors were quite anxious to preserve local tradition and because few older sanctuaries could easily serve the primary Muslim need of a large centralizing space.

      During the 50 years that followed the beginning of the Muslim conquest, the mosque, until then a very general concept in Islāmic thought, became a definite building reserved for a variety of needs required by the community of faithful in any one settlement. Only in one area, Iraq, did the mosque acquire a unique form of its own, the oriented hypostyle. Neither in Iraq nor elsewhere is there evidence of symbolic or functional components in mosque design. The only exception is that of the maqṣūrah (literally “closed-off space”), an enclosure, probably in wood, built near the centre of the qiblah wall. Its purpose was to protect the caliph or his replacement, for several attacks against major political figures had taken place. But the maqṣūrah was never destined to be a constant fixture of mosques, and its typological significance is limited.

Three great mosques
 During the rule of the Umayyad prince al-Walīd I (Walīd, al-) (705–715), a number of complex developments within the Muslim community were crystallized in the construction of three major mosques, at Medina, Jerusalem, and Damascus. The very choice of these three cities is indicative: the city in which the Muslim state was formed and in which the Prophet was buried; the city held in common holiness by Jews, Christians, and Muslims, to which was rapidly accruing the mystical hagiography surrounding the Prophet's ascension into heaven; and the ancient city that became the capital of the new Islāmic empire. A first and essential component of al-Walīd's mosques was, thus, their imperial character; they were to symbolize the permanent establishment of the new faith and of the state that derived from it. They were no longer purely practical shelters but willful monuments.

      Although the plans of al-Aqṣā Mosque in Jerusalem and of the mosque of Medina can be reconstructed with a fair degree of certainty, only the one at Damascus has been preserved with comparatively minor alterations and repairs. In plan the three buildings appear at first glance to be quite different from each other. The Medina mosque was essentially a large hypostyle with a courtyard. The colonnades on all four sides were of varying depth. Al-Aqṣā Mosque consisted of an undetermined number of naves (possibly as many as 15) parallel to each other in a north–south direction. There was no courtyard because the rest of the huge esplanade of the former Jewish temple served as the open space in front of the building. The Umayyad Mosque (Damascus, Great Mosque of) of Damascus is a rectangle 515 by 330 feet (157 by 100 metres) whose outer limits and three gates are parts of a Roman temple (a fourth Roman gate on the qiblah side was blocked). The interior consists of an open space surrounded on three sides by a portico and of a covered space of three equal long naves parallel to the qiblah wall that are cut in the middle by a perpendicular nave.

      The three buildings share several important characteristics. They are all large spaces with a multiplicity of internal supports; and although only the Medina mosque is a pure hypostyle, the Jerusalem and Damascus mosques have the flexibility and easy internal communication characteristic of a hypostyle building. All three mosques exhibit a number of distinctive new practical elements and symbolic meanings. Many of these occur in all mosques; others are only known in some of them. The miḥrāb (mihrab), for example, appears in all mosques. This is a niche of varying size that tends to be heavily decorated. It occurs in the qiblah wall, and, in all probability, its purpose was to commemorate the symbolic presence of the Prophet as the first imām, although there are other explanations. It is in Damascus only that the ancient towers of the Roman building were first used as minarets (minaret) to call the faithful to prayer and to indicate from afar the presence of Islām (initially minarets tended to exist only in predominantly non-Muslim cities). All three mosques are also provided with an axial nave, a wider aisle unit on the axis of the building, which served both as a formal axis for compositional purposes and as a ceremonial one for the prince's retinue. Finally, all three buildings were heavily decorated with marble, mosaics, and woodwork. At least in the mosque of Damascus, it is further apparent that there was careful concern for the formal composition—a balance between parts that truly makes this mosque a work of art. This is particularly evident in the successful relationship established between the open space of the court and the facade of the covered qiblah side.

      When compared to the first Muslim buildings of Iraq and Egypt, the monuments of al-Walīd are characterized by the growing complexity of their forms, by the appearance of uniquely Muslim symbolic and functional features, and by the quality of their construction. While the dimensions, external appearance, and proportions of any one of them were affected in each case by unique local circumstances, the internal balance between open and covered areas and the multiplicity of simple and flexible supports indicate the permanence of the early hypostyle tradition.

Other classic mosques
 Either in its simplest form, as in Medina, or in its more formalized shape, as in Damascus, the hypostyle tradition dominated mosque architecture from 715 to the 10th century. As it occurs at Nīshāpūr (Neyshābūr) in northeastern Iran, Sīrāf in southern Iran, al-Qayrawān (Kairouan) (Kairouan) in Tunisia, and Córdoba in Spain, it can indeed be considered as the classic early Islāmic type. Its masterpieces occur in Iraq and in the West. The monumentalization of the early Iraqi hypostyle is illustrated by the two ruined structures in Sāmarrāʾ, with their enormous sizes (790 by 510 feet [240 by 156 metres] for one and 700 by 440 feet [213 by 135 metres] for the other), their multiple entrances, their complex piers, and, in one instance, a striking separation of the qiblah area from the rest of the building. The best preserved example of this type is the mosque of Ibn Ṭūlūn at Cairo (876–879), where a semi-independent governor, Aḥmad ibn Ṭūlūn (Aḥmad ibn Ṭūlūn, Mosque of), introduced Iraqi techniques and succeeded in creating a masterpiece of composition.

 Two classic examples of early mosques in the western Islāmic world of interest are preserved in Tunisia and Spain. In al-Qayrawān the Great Mosque was built in stages between 836 and 866. Its most striking feature is the formal emphasis on the building's T-like axis punctuated by two domes, one of which hovers over the earliest preserved ensemble of miḥrāb, minbar, and maqṣūrah. At Córdoba (Córdoba, Mosque-Cathedral of) the earliest section of the Great Mosque was built in 785–786. It consisted simply of 11 naves with a wider central one and a court. It was enlarged twice in length, first between 833 and 855 and again from 961 to 965 (it was in the latter phase that the celebrated maqṣūrah and miḥrāb, comprising one of the great architectural ensembles of early Islāmic art, were constructed). Finally, in 987–988 an extension of the mosque was completed to the east that increased its size by almost one-third without destroying its stylistic unity. The constant increases in the size of this mosque are a further illustration of the flexibility of the hypostyle and its adaptability to any spatial requirement. The most memorable aspects of the Córdoba mosque, however, lie in its construction and decoration. The particularly extensive and heavily decorated miḥrāb area exemplifies a development that started with the Medina mosque and would continue: an emphasis on the qiblah wall.

      Although the hypostyle mosque was the dominant plan, it was not the only one. From very early Islāmic times, a fairly large number of aberrant plans also occur. Most of them were built in smaller urban locations or were secondary mosques in larger Muslim cities. It is rather difficult, therefore, to evaluate whether their significance was purely local or whether they were important for the tradition as a whole. Since a simple type of square subdivided by four piers into nine-domed units occurs at Balkh in Afghanistan, at Cairo, and at Toledo, it may be considered a pan-Islāmic type. Other types, a single square hall surrounded by an ambulatory, or a single long barrel-vault parallel or perpendicular to the qiblah, are rarer and should perhaps be considered as purely local. These are particularly numerous in Iran, where it does seem that the mainstream of early Islāmic architecture did not penetrate very deeply. Unfortunately, the archaeological exploration of Iran is still in its infancy, and many of the mud-brick buildings from the early Islāmic period have been destroyed or rebuilt beyond recognition. As a result, it is extremely difficult to determine the historical importance of monuments found at Neyrīz, Moḥammadīyeh (near Nāʾīn), Fahraj (near Yazd), or Hazareh (near Samarkand). For an understanding of the mosque's development and of the general dynamics of Islāmic architecture however, an awareness of these secondary types, which may have existed outside of Iran as well, is essential.

Other types of religious buildings
      The function of the mosque, the central gathering place of the Muslim community, became the major and most original completely Muslim architectural effort. The mosque was not a purely religious building, at least not at the beginning; but, because it was restricted to Muslims, it is appropriate to consider it as such. This, however, was not the only type of early Islāmic building to be uniquely Muslim. Three other types can be defined architecturally, and a fourth one only functionally.

      The first type, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, is a unique building. Completed in 691, this masterwork of Islāmic architecture is the earliest major Islāmic monument. Its octagonal plan, use of a high dome, and building techniques are hardly original, although its decoration is unique. Its purpose, however, is what is most remarkable about the building. Since the middle of the 8th century, the Dome of the Rock has become the focal centre of the most mystical event in the life of the Prophet: his ascension into heaven from the rock around which the building was erected. According to an inscription preserved since the erection of the dome, however, it would seem that the building did not originally commemorate the Prophet's ascension but rather the Christology of Islām and its relationship to Judaism. It seems preferable, therefore, to interpret the Dome of the Rock as a victory monument of the new faith's ideological and religious claim on a holy city and on all the religious traditions attached to it.

      The second distinctly Islāmic type of religious building is the little-known ribāṭ. As early as in the 8th century, the Muslim empire entrusted the protection of its frontiers, especially the remote ones, to warriors for the faith (murābiṭūn (marabout), “bound ones”) who lived, permanently or temporarily, in special institutions known as ribāṭs. Evidence for these exist in Central Asia, Anatolia, and North Africa. It is only in Tunisia that ribāṭs have been preserved. The best one is at Sūsah (Sousse), Tunisia; it consists of a square fortified building with a single fairly elaborate entrance and a central courtyard. It has two stories of private or communal rooms. Except for the prominence taken by an oratory, this building could be classified as a type of Muslim secular architecture. Since no later example of a ribāṭ is known, there is some uncertainty as to whether the institution ever acquired a unique architectural form of its own.

 The last type of religious building to develop before the end of the 10th century is the mausoleum. Originally Islām was strongly opposed to any formal commemoration of the dead. But three independent factors slowly modified an attitude that was eventually maintained only in the most strictly orthodox circles. One factor was the growth of the Shīʿite heterodoxy, which led to an actual cult of the descendants of the Prophet through his son-in-law ʿAlī. The second factor was that, as Islām strengthened its hold on conquered lands, a wide variety of local cultic practices and especially the worship of certain sacred places began to affect the Muslims, resulting in a whole movement of Islāmization of ancient holy places by associating them with deceased Muslim heroes and holy men or with prophets. The third factor is not, strictly speaking, religious, but it played a major part. As more or less independent local dynasties began to grow, they sought to commemorate themselves through mausoleums. Not many mausoleums have remained from these early centuries, but literary evidence is clear on the fact that the Shīʿite sanctuaries of Karbalāʾ and al-Najaf, both in Iraq, and Qom, Iran, already possessed monumental tombs. At Sāmarrāʾ an octagonal mausoleum had been built for three caliphs. The masterpieces of early funerary architecture occur in Central Asia, such as the royal mausoleum of the Sāmānids (Sāmānid Dynasty) (known incorrectly as the mausoleum of Esmāʿīl the Sāmānid) at Bukhara (before 942), which is a superb example of Islāmic brickwork. In some instances a quasi-religious character was attached to the mausoleums, such as the one at Tim (976), which already has the high facade typical of so many later monumental tombs. In all instances the Muslims took over or rediscovered the ancient tradition of the centrally planned building as the characteristic commemorative structure.

      The fourth kind of Muslim building is the madrasah, an institution for religious training set up independently of mosques. It is known from texts that such privately endowed schools existed in the northeastern Iranian world as early as in the 9th century, but no description exists of how they were planned or looked.

Secular architecture
      Whereas the functions of the religious buildings of early Islām could not have existed without the new faith, the functions of secular Muslim architecture have a priori no specifically Islāmic character. This is all the more so since one can hardly point to a significant new need or habit that would have been brought from Arabia by the conquering Muslims and since so little was destroyed in the conquered areas. It can be assumed, therefore, that all pre-Islāmic functions such as living, trading, and manufacturing continued in whatever architectural setting they may have had. Only one exception is certain. With the disappearance of Sāsānian kingship, the pre-Islāmic Iranian imperial tradition ceased, and elsewhere conquered minor kings and governors left their palaces and castles. A new imperial power was created, located first in Damascus, then briefly in the northern Syrian town of al-Ruṣāfah, and eventually in Baghdad and Sāmarrāʾ in Iraq. New governors and, later, almost independent princes took over provincial capitals, which were sometimes old seats of government and, at other times, were new Muslim centres. In all instances, however, there is no reason to assume that for an architecture of power or of pleasure early Muslims would have felt the need to modify pre-Islāmic traditions. In fact there is much in early Islāmic secular architecture that can be used to illustrate secular arts elsewhere—in Byzantium, for example, or even in the West. If any new political or social entity is to succeed in preserving an identity of its own, however, it must give to its secular needs certain directions and emphases that will eventually establish a unique cultural image. This is what happened in the development of Umayyad and early ʿAbbāsid secular architecture.

      Three factors contributed to the evolution of a new secular architecture. One was that the accumulation of an immense wealth of ideas, workers, and money in the hands of the Muslim princes settled in Syria and Iraq gave rise to a unique palace architecture. The second factor was the impetus given to urban life and to trade. New cities were founded from Sijilmāssah on the edge of the Moroccan Sahara to Nīshāpūr in northeastern Iran, and 9th-century Arab merchants traded as far away as China. Thus the second topic, to be treated below, will be the urban design and commercial architecture. The third factor is that, for the first time since Alexander the Great, a world extending from the Mediterranean to India became culturally unified. As a result, decorative motifs, design ideas, structural techniques, and artisans and architects—which until then had belonged to entirely different cultural traditions—were available in the same places. Early Islāmic princely architecture has become the best known and most original aspect of early Islāmic secular buildings.

      There are basically three kinds of these princely structures. The first type consists of 10 large rural princely complexes (desert palace) found in Syria, Palestine, and Transjordan dating from around 710 to 750: al-Ruṣāfah, Qaṣr al-Ḥayr East, Qaṣr al-Ḥayr West, Jabal Says, Khirbat Minyah, Khirbat al-Mafjar, Mshattā, Qaṣr ʿAmrah, Qaṣr al-Kharānah, and Qaṣr al-Ṭūbah. Apparently these examples of princely architecture belong to a group of more than 60 ruined or only textually identifiable rural complexes erected by Umayyad princes. In the past a romantic theory had developed about their locations, suggesting that the remoteness of their sites expressed an atavistic hankering on the part of the Umayyad Arab rulers for the desert or at least the semiarid steppe that separates the permanently cultivated areas of Syria and Palestine from their original home in the north Arabian wilderness. This theory has been disproved, for every one of these has turned out to have been a major agricultural or trade centre, some of which were developed even before the Muslim conquest. Private palaces were built, notably at al-Ruṣāfah, Qaṣr al-Ḥayr West, Khirbat al-Mafjar, Qaṣr ʿAmrah, and Mshattā. These must be considered as early medieval equivalents of the villae rusticae so characteristic in the ancient Roman period. Although each of these had a number of idiosyncrasies that were presumably inspired by the needs and desires of its owner, all of these structures tend to share a number of features that can best be illustrated by Khirbat al-Mafjar.

      This palace, the richest of them all, contained a residential unit consisting of a square building with an elaborate entrance, a porticoed courtyard, and a number of rooms or halls arranged on two floors. Few of these rooms seem to have any identifiable function, although at Khirbat al-Mafjar a private oratory, a large meeting hall, and an anteroom leading to a cool underground pool have been identified. The main throne room was on the second floor above the entrance. Its plan is not known but probably resembled the preserved throne rooms or reception halls at Qaṣr ʿAmrah and Mshattā, which consisted of a three-aisled hall ending in an apse (semicircular or polygonal domed projection) in the manner of a Roman basilica.

      Next to an official residence, there usually was a small mosque, generally a miniaturized hypostyle in plan. The most original feature of these establishments was the bath (Islāmic bath). The bathing area itself is comparatively small, but every bath had its own elaborate entrance and contained a large hall that, at least in the instance of Khirbat al-Mafjar, was heavily decorated and of an unusual shape. It would appear that these halls were for pleasure—places for music, dancing, and probably occasional orgies. In some instances, as at Qaṣr ʿAmrah, the same setting may have been used for both pleasure and formal receptions.

      These palaces are important illustrations of the luxurious taste and way of life of the new Near Eastern aristocrats, who settled in the countryside and transformed some of it into places of pleasure. This aspect of these establishments is peculiar to the Umayyad dynasty in Syria and Palestine. Outside of this area and period only one comparable structure has been found—at Ukhayḍir in Iraq, which dates from the early ʿAbbāsid period. A number of princely residences of the Central Asian or North African countryside are still too little known but appear not to have had the same development. The other important lesson to draw from them is that few of their features are original. All of them derive from the architectural vocabulary of pre-Islāmic times, and it is in the artistic traditions of the Mediterranean world that most of their sources are found, although the Mshattā throne room does have a number of Sāsānian elements. For this reason these palaces should be considered as major examples of pre-Islāmic secular architecture, for as interesting as these monuments are, they are not part of the Islāmic tradition.

      A second type of princely architecture—the urban palace—has been preserved only in texts or literary sources, with the exception of the palace at Kūfah in Iraq. Datable from the very end of the 7th century, this example of princely architecture seems to have functioned both as a residence and as the dār al-imārah, or centre of government. This dual function is reflected in the use of separate building units and in the absence of much architectural decoration, which suggests that it reflected an austere official taste. Although suggestions concerning the plans used are occasionally encountered in literary sources, this information is not sufficient to define these early urban official buildings of the Muslims. Nothing is known, for instance, about the great Umayyad palace in Damascus aside from the fact that it had a green dome.

      Also poorly documented is a development in urban aristocratic buildings that seems to have begun with the ʿAbbāsids during the last decades of the 8th century. This involved the construction of smaller palaces, probably pavilions in the midst of gardens in or around major cities.

      The third type of early Islāmic princely architecture is the palace-city. Several of these huge palaces are part of the enormous mass of ruins at Sāmarrāʾ, the temporary ʿAbbāsid capital from 838 to 883. Jawsaq al-Khāqānī, for instance, is a walled architectural complex nearly one mile to a side that in reality is an entire city. It contains a formal succession of large gates and courts leading to a cross-shaped throne room, a group of smaller living units, basins and fountains, and even a racetrack. Too little is known about the architectural details of these huge walled complexes to lead to more than very uncertain hypotheses. Their existence, however, suggests that they were settings for the very elaborate ceremonies developed by the ʿAbbāsid princes, especially when receiving foreign ambassadors. An account, for instance, in Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī's (died 1071) Ta'rīkh Baghdad (“History of Baghdad”) of the arrival in Baghdad of a Byzantine envoy in 914 illustrates this point. The meeting with the caliph was preceded by a sort of formal presentation intended to impress the ambassador with the Muslim ruler's wealth and power. Treasures were laid down, thousands of soldiers and slaves in rich clothes guarded them, lions roared in the gardens, and on gilded artificial trees mechanical devices made silver birds chirp. The ceremony was a fascinating mixture of a traditional attempt to recreate paradise on earth and a rather vulgar exhibition of wealth that required a huge space, as in the Sāmarrāʾ palaces. Another important aspect of these palace-cities is that they became part of a myth. The walled enclosure in which thousands lived a life unknown to others and into which simple mortals did not penetrate without bringing their own shroud was transformed into legend. It became the mysterious City of Brass of The Thousand and One Nights, and it is from its luxurious glory that occasionally a caliph such as Hārūn al-Rashīd escaped into the “real” world. Even though there is inadequate information on the ʿAbbāsid palace-city, it was clearly a unique early Islāmic creation, and its impact can be detected from Byzantium to Hollywood.

Urban design (urban planning)
      Islāmic secular architecture has left considerable information about cities, for systematic urbanization was one of the most characteristic features of early Muslim civilization. It is much too early to draw any sort of conclusion about the actual physical organization of towns, about their subdivisions and their houses, for only at al-Fusṭāṭ (Cairo) and Sīrāf in Iran is the evidence archaeologically clear, and much of it has not yet been properly published. A huge task remains to be done of relating immense amounts of textual material with scraps of archaeological information scattered from Central Asia to Spain, such as the outer walls and impressive gateway preserved at al-Raqqah (Raqqah, Al-) in Syria. In general it can be said that there does not seem to have been any idealized master plan for the internal arrangement of an urban site in contradistinction to Hellenistic or Roman towns. Even mosques or palaces were often located eccentrically and not in the middle of the town. Extraordinary attention was paid to water distribution and conservation, as demonstrated by the magnificent 9th-century cisterns in Tunisia, the 9th-century Nilometer (a device to measure the Nile's level) in Cairo, and the elaborate dams, canals, and sluices of Qaṣr al-Ḥayr in Syria. The construction of commercial buildings on a monumental scale occurred. The most spectacular example is the caravansary of Qaṣr al-Ḥayr East, with its magnificent gate.

      The concern for palaces and cities that characterized early Islāmic secular architecture shows itself most remarkably in the construction of Baghdad between 762 and 766–767 by the ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Manṣūr. It was a walled round city whose circular shape served to demonstrate Baghdad's symbolic identity as the navel of the universe. A thick ring of residential quarters was separated by four axial, commercial streets entered through spectacular gates. In the centre of the city there was a large open space with a palace, a mosque, and a few administrative buildings. By its size and number of inhabitants, Baghdad was unquestionably a city; however, its plan so strongly emphasized the presence of the caliph that it was also a palace.

Building (building construction) materials and technology
      The early Islāmic period, on the whole, did not innovate much in the realm of building materials and technology but utilized what it had inherited from older traditions. Stone and brick (brick and tile) continued to be used around the Mediterranean, while mud brick usually covered with plaster predominated in Iraq and Iran, with a few notable exceptions like Sīrāf, where a masonry of roughly cut stones set in mortar was more common. The most important novelty was the rapid development in Iraq of a baked brick architecture in the late 8th and 9th centuries. Iraqi techniques were later used in Syria at al-Raqqah and Qaṣr al-Ḥayr East and in Egypt. Iranian brickwork appears at Mshattā in Jordan. The mausoleum of the Sāmānids in Bukhara is the earliest remaining example of the new brick architecture in northeastern Iran. Wood was used consistently but has usually not been very well preserved, except in Palestine and Egypt where climatic (extreme dryness of Egypt), religious (holiness of Jerusalem sanctuaries), or historic (Egypt was never conquered) factors contributed to the continuous upkeep of wooden objects or architectural elements.

      As supports for roofs and ceilings, early Islāmic architecture used walls (wall) and single supports. Walls were generally continuous, often buttressed with half towers, and rarely (with exceptions in Central Asia) were they articulated or broken by other architectural features. The most common single support was the base–column–capital combination of Mediterranean architecture. Most columns (column) and capitals were either reused from pre-Islāmic buildings or were directly imitated from older models. In the 9th century in Iraq a brick pier was used, a form that spread to Iran and Egypt. Columns and piers were covered with arches (arch). Most often these were semicircular arches; the pointed, or two-centred, arch was known, but it does not seem that its property of reducing the need for heavy supports had been realized. The most extraordinary technical development of arches occurs in the Great Mosque at Córdoba, where, in order to increase the height of the building in an area with only short columns, the architects created two rows of superimposed horseshoe arches. Almost immediately they realized that such a succession of superimposed arches constructed of alternating stone and brick could be modified to create a variety of patterns that would alleviate the inherent monotony of a hypostyle (hypostyle hall) building. A certain ambiguity remains, however, as to whether ornamental effect or structural technology was the predominate concern in the creation of these unique arched columns.

      The majority of early Islāmic ceilings were flat. Gabled wooden roofs (roof), however, were erected in the Muslim world west of the Euphrates and simple barrel vaults (vault) to the east. Vaulting, either in brick or in stone, was used, especially in secular architecture. Domes (dome) were employed frequently in mosques, consistently in mausoleums, and occasionally in secular buildings. Almost all domes are on squinches (squinch) (supports carried across corners to act as structural transitions to a dome). Most squinches, as in the al-Qayrawān domes, are classical Greco-Roman niches, which transform the square room into an octagonal opening for the dome. In Córdoba's Great Mosque a complex system of intersecting ribs is encountered, while at Bukhara the squinch is broken into halves by a transverse half arch. The most extraordinary use of the squinch occurs in the mausoleum at Tim, where the surface of this structural device is broken into a series of smaller three-dimensional units rearranged into a sort of pyramidal pattern. This rearrangement is the earliest extant example of muqarnas, or stalactite-like decoration that would later be an important element of Islāmic architectural ornamentation. The motif is so awkwardly constructed at Tim that it must have derived from some other source, possibly the ornamental device of using curved stucco panels to cover the corners and upper parts of walls found in Iran at Nīshāpūr.

Architectural decoration
 Early Islāmic architecture (ornament) is most original in its decoration. Mosaics (mosaic) and wall paintings (mural) followed the practices of antiquity and were primarily employed in Syria, Palestine, and Spain. Stone sculpture existed, but stucco (stuccowork) sculpture, first limited to Iran, spread rapidly throughout the early Islāmic world. Not only were stone or brick walls covered with large panels of stucco sculpture, but this technique was used for sculpture in the round in the Umayyad palaces of Qaṣr al-Ḥayr West and Khirbat al-Mafjar. The latter was a comparatively short-lived technique, although it produced some of the few instances of monumental sculpture anywhere in the early Middle Ages. A variety of techniques borrowed from the industrial arts were used for architectural ornamentation. The miḥrāb wall of al-Qayrawān (Kairouan)'s Great Mosque, for example, was covered with ceramics, while fragments of decorative woodwork have been preserved in Jerusalem and Egypt.

      The themes and motifs of early Islāmic decoration can be divided into three major groups. The first kind of ornamentation simply emphasizes the shape or contour of an architectural unit. The themes used were vegetal bands for vertical or horizontal elements, marble imitations for the lower parts of long walls, chevrons or other types of borders on floors and domes, and even whole trees on the spandrels or soffits (undersides) of arches as in the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus or the Dome of the Rock; (Dome of the Rock) all these motifs tend to be quite traditional, being taken from the rich decorative vocabularies of pre-Islāmic Iran or of the ancient Mediterranean world.

      The second group consists of decorative motifs for which a concrete iconographic meaning can be given. In the Dome of the Rock and the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, as well as possibly the mosques of Córdoba and of Medina, there were probably iconographic (iconography) programs. It has been shown, for example, that the huge architectural and vegetal decorative motifs at Damascus were meant to symbolize a sort of idealized paradise on earth, while the crowns of the Jerusalem sanctuary are thought to have been symbols of empires conquered by Islām. But it is equally certain that this use of visual forms in mosques for ideological and symbolic purposes was not easily accepted, and most later mosques are devoid of iconographically significant themes. The only exceptions fully visible are the Qurʾānic inscriptions in the mosque of Ibn Ṭūlūn (Aḥmad ibn Ṭūlūn, Mosque of) at Cairo, which were used both as a reminder of the faith and as an ornamental device to emphasize the structural lines of the building. Thus the early Islāmic mosque eventually became austere in its use of symbolic ornamentation, with the exception of the miḥrāb, which was considered as a symbol of the unity of all believers.

      Like religious architecture, secular buildings seem to have been less richly decorated at the end of the early Islāmic period than at the beginning. The paintings, sculptures, and mosaics of Qaṣr al-Ḥayr West, Khirbat al-Mafjar, Qaṣr ʿAmrah, and Sāmarrāʾ primarily illustrated the life of the prince. There were official iconographic compositions, such as the monarch enthroned, or ones of pleasure and luxury, such as hunting scenes or depictions of the prince surrounded by dancers, musicians, acrobats, and unclad women. Few of these so-called princely themes were iconographic inventions of the Muslims. They usually can be traced back either to the classical world of ancient Greece and Rome or to pre-Islāmic Iran and Central Asia.

 The third type of architectural decoration consists of large panels, most often in stucco, for which no meaning or interpretation is yet known. These panels might be called ornamental in the sense that their only apparent purpose was to beautify the buildings in which they were installed, and their relationship to the architecture is arbitrary. The Mshattā facade's decoration of a huge band of triangles is, for instance, quite independent of the building's architectural parts. Next to Mshattā, the most important series of examples of the third type of ornamentation come from Sāmarrāʾ, although striking examples are also to be found at Khirbat al-Mafjar, Qaṣr al-Ḥayr East and West, al-Fusṭāṭ, Sīrāf, and Nīshāpūr. Two decorative motifs were predominately used on these panels: a great variety of vegetal motifs and geometric forms. At Sāmarrāʾ these panels eventually became so abstract that individual parts could no longer be distinguished, and the decorative design had to be viewed in terms of the relationships between line and shape, light and shade, horizontal and vertical axes, and so forth. Copied consistently from Morocco to Central Asia, the aesthetic principles of this latter type of a complex overall design influenced the development of the principle of arabesque ornamentation.

      Islāmic architectural ornamentation does not lend itself easily to chronological stylistic definition. In other words, it does not seem to share consistently a cluster of formal characteristics. The reason is that in the earliest Islāmic buildings the decorative motifs were borrowed from an extraordinary variety of stylistic sources: classical themes illusionistically rendered (e.g., the mosaics of the Umayyad Mosque (Damascus, Great Mosque of) of Damascus), hieratic Byzantine themes (e.g., the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus and Qaṣr ʿAmrah), Sāsānian motifs, Central Asian motifs (especially the sculpture from Umayyad palaces), and the many regional styles of ornamentation that had developed in all parts of the pre-Islāmic world. It is the wealth of themes and motifs, therefore, that constitutes the Umayyad style of architectural decoration. The ʿAbbāsids, on the other hand, began to be more selective in their choice of ornamentation.

      Very little is known about early Islāmic gold and silver (metalwork) objects, although their existence is mentioned in many texts as well as suggested by the wealth of the Muslim princes. Except for a large number of silver plates and ewers belonging to the Sāsānian tradition, nothing has remained. These silver objects were probably made for Umayyad and ʿAbbāsid princes, although there is much controversy among scholars regarding their authenticity and date of manufacture.

 For entirely different reasons it is impossible to present any significant generalities about the art of textiles (decorative art) in the early Islāmic period. Problems of authenticity are few. Dating from the 10th century are a large number of Būyid (Būyid Dynasty) silks, a group of funerary textiles with plant and animal motifs as well as poetic texts. Very little order has yet been made of an enormous mass of often well-dated textile fragments, and therefore, except for the Būyid silks, it is still impossible to identify any one of the textile types mentioned in early medieval literary sources. Furthermore, since it can be assumed that pre-Islāmic textile factories were taken over by the Muslims and since it is otherwise known that textiles were easily transported from one area of the Muslim world to the other or even beyond it, it is still very difficult to define Islāmic styles as opposed to Byzantine or to Coptic ones. The obvious exception lies in those fragments that are provided with inscriptions, and the main point to make is therefore that one of the characteristic features of early Islāmic textiles is their use of writing for identifying and decorative purposes. But, while true, this point in no way makes it possible to deny an Islāmic origin to fragments that are not provided with inscriptions, and thus one must await further investigations of detail before being able to define early Islāmic textiles.

      The most important medium of early Islāmic decorative arts is pottery. Initially Muslims continued to sponsor whatever varieties of ceramics had existed before their arrival. Probably in the last quarter of the 8th century new and more elaborate types of glazed pottery were produced. This new development did not replace the older and simpler types of pottery but added a new dimension to the art of Islāmic ceramics. Because of the still incompletely published studies on the unfinished excavations carried out at Nīshāpūr (Nishapur pottery), Sīrāf, Qaṣr al-Ḥayr East, and al-Fusṭāṭ, the scholarship on these ceramics is likely to be very much modified. Therefore, this section will treat only the most general characteristics of Islāmic ceramics, avoiding in particular the complex archaeological problems posed by the growth and spread of individual techniques.

      The area of initial technical innovation seems to have been Iraq. Trade with Central Asia brought Chinese ceramics to Mesopotamia, and Islāmic ceramicists sought to imitate them. It is probably in Iraq, therefore, that the technique of lustre (lustreware) glazing was first developed in the Muslim world. This gave the surface of a clay object a metallic, shiny appearance. Egypt also played a leading part in the creation of the new ceramics. Since the earliest datable lustre object (a glass goblet with the name of the governor who ruled in 773, now in the Cairo Museum of Islamic Art) was Egyptian, some scholars feel that it was in Egypt and not Iraq that lustre was first used. Early pottery was also produced in northeastern Iran, where excavations at Afrāsiyāb (Samarkand (Samarkand ware)) and Nīshāpūr have brought to light a new art of painted underglaze pottery. Its novelty was not so much in the technique of painting designs on the slip and covering them with a transparent glaze as in the variety of subjects employed.

 While new ceramic techniques may have been sought to imitate other mediums (mostly metal) or other styles of pottery (mostly Chinese), the decorative devices rapidly became purely and unmistakably Islāmic in style. A wide variety of motifs were combined: vegetal arabesques or single flowers and trees; inscriptions, usually legible and consisting of proverbs or of good wishes; animals that were usually birds drawn from the vast folkloric past of the Near East; occasionally human figures drawn in a strikingly abstract fashion; geometric designs; all-over abstract patterns; single motifs on empty fields; and simple splashes of colour, with or without underglaze sgraffito designs (i.e., designs incised or sketched on the body or the slip of the object). All of these motifs were used on both the high-quality ceramics of Nīshāpūr and Samarkand as well as on Islāmic folk pottery.

 Although ceramics has appeared to be the most characteristic medium of expression in the decorative arts during the early Islāmic period, it has only been because of the greater number of preserved objects. Glass was as important, but examples have been less well preserved. A tradition of ivory carving developed in Spain, and the objects dating from the last third of the 10th century onward attest to the high quality of this uniquely Iberian art. Many of these carved ivories certainly were made for princes; therefore it is not surprising that their decorative themes were drawn from the whole vocabulary of princely art known through Umayyad painting and sculpture of the early 8th century. These ivory carvings are also important in that they exemplify the fact that an art of sculpture in the round never totally disappeared in the Muslim world—at least in small objects.

      There are three general points that seem to characterize the art of the early Islāmic period. It can first be said that it was an art that sought self-consciously, like the culture sponsoring it, to create artistic forms that would be identifiable as being different from those produced in preceding or contemporary non-Islāmic artistic traditions. At times, as in the use of the Greco-Roman technique of mosaics or in the adoption of Persian and Roman architectural building technology, early Islāmic art simply took over whatever traditions were available. At other times, as in the development of the mosque as a building type, it recomposed into new shapes the forms that had existed before. On the other hand, in ceramics or the use of calligraphic ornamentation, the early Islāmic artist invented new techniques and a new decorative vocabulary. Whatever the nature of the phenomenon, it was almost always an attempt to identify itself visually as unique and different. Since there was initially no concept about what should constitute an Islāmic tradition in the visual arts, the early art of the Muslims often looks like only a continuation of earlier artistic styles, forms, subjects, and techniques. Many mosaics, silver plates, or textiles, therefore, were not considered to be Islāmic until recently. In order to be understood, then, as examples of the art of a new culture, these early buildings and objects have to be seen in the complete context in which they were created. When so seen they appear as conscious choices by the new Islāmic culture from its immense artistic inheritance.

      A second point of definition concerns the question of whether there is an early Islāmic style or perhaps even several styles in some sort of succession. The fascinating fact is that there is a clear succession only in those artistic features that are Islāmic inventions—nonfigurative ornament and ceramics. For it is only in development of these features that one can assume to find the conscious search for form that can create a period style. Elsewhere, especially in palace art, the Muslim world sought to relate itself to an earlier and more universal tradition of princely art; its monuments, therefore, are less Islāmic than typological. In the new art of the Muslim bourgeoisie, however, uniquely Islāmic artistic phenomena began to evolve.

      Finally, the geographical peculiarities of early Islāmic art must be reiterated. Its centres were Syria, Iraq, Egypt, northwestern Iran, and Spain. Of these, Iraq was probably the most originally creative, and it is from Iraq that a peculiarly Islāmic visual koine (a commonly accepted and understood system of forms) was derived and spread throughout the Islāmic world. This development, of course, is logical since the capital of the early empire and some of the first purely Muslim cities were in Iraq. In western Iran, in Afghanistan, in northern Mesopotamia, and in Morocco the more atypical and local artistic traditions were more or less affected by the centralized imperial system of Iraq. This tension between a general pan-Islāmic vocabulary and a variable number of local vocabularies was to remain a constant throughout the history of Islāmic art and is certainly one of the reasons for the difficulty, if not impossibility, one faces in trying to define an Islāmic style.

Middle period
      The middle period in the development of Islāmic art extends roughly from the year 1000 to 1500, when a strong central power with occasional regional political independence was replaced by a bewildering mosaic of overlapping dynasties. Ethnically this was the time of major Turkish and Mongol invasions that brought into the Muslim world new peoples and institutions. At the same time, Berbers, Kurds, and Iranians, who had been within the empire from the beginning of Islām, began to play far more effective historical and cultural roles, shortlived for the Kurds, but uniquely important for the Iranians. Besides political and ethnic confusion, there was also religious and cultural confusion during the middle period. The 10th century, for example, witnessed the transformation of the Shīʿite heterodoxy into a major political and possibly cultural phenomenon, while the extraordinary development taken by the personal and social mysticism known as Ṣūfism modified enormously the nature of Muslim piety. Culturally the most significant development was perhaps that of Persian literature as a highly original new verbal expression existing alongside the older Arabic literary tradition. Finally, the middle period was an era of expansion in all areas except Spain, which was completely lost to the Muslims in 1492 with the conquest of the Kingdom of Granada by Ferdinand II and Isabella. Anatolia and the Balkans, the Crimea, much of Central Asia and northern India, and parts of eastern Africa all became new Islāmic provinces. In some cases this expansion was the result of conquests, but in others it had been achieved through missionary work.

      The immense variety of impulses that affected the Muslim world during these five centuries was one of the causes of the bewildering artistic explosion that also characterizes the middle period. Although much work has been done on individual monuments, scholarship is still in its infancy. It is particularly difficult, therefore, to decide on the appropriate means of organizing this information: by geographical or cultural areas (e.g., Iran, Egypt, Morocco), by individual dynasties (e.g., Seljuqs, Timurids), by periods (e.g., 13th century before the Mongol invasions), or even by social categories (e.g., the art of princes, the art of cities). Thus, the five following divisions of Fāṭimid, Seljuq, Western Islāmic, Mamlūk, and Mongol Iran (Il-Khanid and Timurid) art are partly arbitrary and to a large extent tentative. Their respective importance also varies, for what is known as Seljuq art certainly overwhelms almost all others in its importance.

Fāṭimid (Fāṭimid Dynasty) art (909–1171)
 The Fāṭimids were technically an Arab dynasty professing with missionary zeal the beliefs of the Ismāʿīlī sect of the Shīʿite branch of Islām. The dynasty was established in Tunisia and Sicily in 909. In 969 the Fāṭimids moved to Egypt and founded the city of Cairo. They soon controlled Syria and Palestine. In the latter part of the 11th century, however, the Fāṭimid empire began to disintegrate internally and externally; the final demise occurred in 1171. But it is not known which of the obvious components of the Fāṭimid world was more significant in influencing the development of the visual arts: its heterodoxy, its Egyptian location, its missionary relationship with almost all provinces of Islām, or the fact that during its heyday in the 11th century it was the only wealthy Islāmic centre and could thus easily gather artisans and art objects from all over the world.

      The great Fāṭimid mosques of Cairo—al-Azhar (started in 970) and al-Ḥākim (c. 1002–03)—were designed in the traditional hypostyle plan with axial cupolas. It is only in such architectural details as the elaborately composed facade of al-Ḥākim, with its corner towers and vaulted portal, that innovations appear, for most earlier mosques did not have large formal gates, nor was much attention previously given to the composition of the exterior facade. The Fāṭimids' architectural traditionalism was certainly a conscious attempt to perpetuate the existing aesthetic system.

      Although much less is known about it, the Great Palace of the Fāṭimids belonged to the tradition of the enormous palace-cities typical of the ʿAbbāsids. Mediterranean rather than Iranian influences, however, played a greater part in the determination of its uses and functions. The whole city of Cairo (Arabic: al-Qāhirah, meaning “the Victorious”), on the other hand, has many symbolic and visual aspects that suggest a willful relationship to Baghdad.

      The originality of Fāṭimid architecture does not lie in works sponsored by the caliphs themselves, even though Cairo's well-preserved gates and walls of the second half of the 11th century are among the best examples of early medieval military architecture. It is rather the patronage of lower officials and of the bourgeoisie, if not even of the humbler classes, that was responsible for the most interesting Fāṭimid buildings. The mosques of al-Aqmar (1125) and of al-Ṣāliḥ (c. 1160) are among the first examples of monumental small mosques constructed to serve local needs. Even though their internal arrangement is quite traditional, their plans were adapted to the space available in the urban centre. These mosques were elaborately decorated on the exterior, exhibiting a conspicuousness absent from large hypostyle mosques.

      A second innovation in Fāṭimid architecture was the tremendous development of mausoleums. This may be explained partially by Shīʿism's emphasis on the succession of holy men, but the development of these buildings in terms of both quality and quantity indicates that other influential social and religious issues were also involved. Most of the mausoleums were simple square buildings surmounted by a dome. Many of these have survived in Cairo and Aswān. Only a few, such as the mashhad at Aswān, are somewhat more elaborate, with side rooms. The most original of these commemorative buildings is the Juyūshī Mosque (1085) overlooking the city of Cairo. Properly speaking, it is not a mausoleum but a monument celebrating the reestablishment of Fāṭimid order after a series of popular revolts.

      The Fāṭimids introduced, or developed, only two major constructional techniques: the systematization of the four-centred “keel” arch and the squinch. The latter innovation is of greater consequence because the squinch became the most common means of passing from a square to a dome, although pendentives were known as well. A peculiarly Egyptian development was the muqarnas squinch, which consisted of four units: a niche bracketed by two niche segments, superimposed with an additional niche. The complex profile of the muqarnas became an architectural element in itself used for windows, while the device of using niches and niche segments remained typical of Egyptian decorative design for centuries. It still is impossible to say whether the muqarnas was invented in Egypt or inspired by other architectural traditions (most likely Iranian). Fāṭimid domes were smooth or ribbed and developed a characteristic “keel” profile.

      In the use of materials (brick, stone, wood) and structural concepts, Fāṭimid architecture continued earlier traditions. Occasionally local styles were incorporated, among them features of Tunisian architecture in the 10th century or of upper Mesopotamian in the late 11th century.

 Stone sculpture, stucco work (stuccowork), and carved wood were utilized for architectural decorations (ornament). The Fāṭimids also employed mosaicists (mosaic), who mostly worked in places like Jerusalem, where they imitated or repaired earlier mosaic murals (mural). Many fragments of Fāṭimid wall paintings have survived in Egypt. Most of them, however, are too small to allow for making any iconographic or stylistic conclusions, with the exception of the mid-12th-century ceiling of the Cappella Palatina at Palermo. Built by the Norman kings of Sicily, the palace chapel was almost certainly decorated by Fāṭimid artists, or at least the artists adhered to Fāṭimid models. The hundreds of facets in the muqarnas ceiling were painted, notably with many purely ornamental vegetal and zoomorphic designs but also with scenes of daily life and many subjects that have not yet been explained. Stylistically influenced by Iraqi ʿAbbāsid art, these paintings are innovative in their more spatially aware representation of personages and of animals. Very similar tendencies appear also in the stucco and wood sculptures of Fāṭimid decoration. The stunning abstraction of the architectural decoration at Sāmarrāʾ tends to give way to more naturalistically conceived vegetal and animal designs; occasionally whole narrative scenes appear carved on wood. Another decorative trend is especially used on 12th-century miḥrābs: explicitly complicated geometric patterns, usually based on stars, which in turn generate octagons, hexagons, triangles, and rectangles. Geometry becomes a sort of network in the midst of which small vegetal units continue to remain, often as inlaid pieces. Long inscriptions written in very elaborate calligraphies also became a typical form of architectural decoration on most of the major Fāṭimid buildings.

 A clear separation must be made between the decorative arts sought by Fāṭimid princes and the arts produced within their empire. Little has been preserved of the former, notably a small number of superb ewers in rock crystal. A text has survived, however, that describes the imperial treasures looted in the middle of the 11th century by dissatisfied mercenary troops. It lists gold, silver, enamel, and porcelain objects that have all been lost, as well as textiles (perhaps the cape of the Norman king Roger II [Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna] is an example of the kind of textiles found in this treasure). The inventory also records that the Fāṭimids had in their possession many works of Byzantine, Chinese, and even Greco-Roman provenance. Altogether, then, it seems that the imperial art of the Fāṭimids was part of a sort of international royal taste that downplayed cultural or political differences.

  Ceramics, on the other hand, were primarily produced by local urban schools and were not an imperial art. The most celebrated type of Fāṭimid wares were lustre-painted (lustreware) ceramics from Egypt itself. A large number of artisans' names have been preserved, thereby indicating the growing prestige of these craftsmen and the aesthetic importance of their pottery. Most of the surviving lustre ceramics are plates on which the decoration of the main surface has been emphasized. The decorative themes used were quite varied and included all the traditional Islāmic ones: e.g., calligraphy, vegetal and animal motifs, arabesques. The most distinguishing feature of these Fāṭimid ceramics, however, is the representation of the human figure. Some of these ceramics have been decorated with simplified copies of illustrations of the princely themes, but others have depictions of scenes of Egyptian daily life. The style in which these themes have been represented is simultaneously the hieratic, ornamental manner traditional to Islāmic painting combined with what can almost be called spatial illusionism. Wheel-cut rock crystal, glass, and bronze objects, especially animal-shaped aquamaniles (a type of water vessel) and ewers, are also attributed to the Fāṭimids.

Book illustration (illuminated manuscript)
      Manifestations of nonprincely Fāṭimid art also included the art of book illustration. The few remaining fragments illustrate that probably after the middle of the 11th century there developed an art of representation other than the style used to illustrate princely themes. This was a more illusionistic style that still accompanied the traditional ornamental one in the same manner as in the paintings on ceramics.

      In summary it would appear that Fāṭimid art was a curiously transitional one. Although much influenced by earlier Islāmic and non-Islāmic Mediterranean styles, the Fāṭimids devised new structural systems and developed a new manner of painting representational subjects, which became characteristic of all Muslim art during the 12th century. Neither documentary nor theoretical research in Islāmic art, however, has developed sufficiently to clearly establish whether the Fāṭimids were indeed innovators or whether their art was a local phenomenon that is only accidentally relatable to what followed.

Seljuq art
      During the last decades of the 10th century, at the Central Asian frontiers of Islām, a migratory movement of Turkic peoples began that was to affect the whole Muslim world up to and including Egypt. The dominant political force among these Turks was the dynasty of the Seljuqs, but it was not the only one; nor can it be demonstrated, as far as the arts are concerned, that it was the major source of patronage in the period to be discussed anywhere but in Anatolia in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Seljuq empire, therefore, consisted of a succession of dynasties, and all but one (the Ayyūbids of Syria, Egypt, and northern Mesopotamia) were Turkic.

      A complex feudal system was established and centred on urban areas. Cities were established or expanded, particularly in western Iran, Anatolia, and Syria. Militant Muslims, the Seljuqs also sought to revive Muslim orthodoxy. Although politically unruly and complicated in their relationships to one another, the successive and partly overlapping dynasties of the Ghaznavids, Ghūrids, the Great Seljuqs, Qarakhānids, Zangids, Ayyūbids, Seljuqs of Rūm, and Khwārezm-Shāhs (considering only the major ones) seem to have created a comparatively unified culture from India to Egypt. The art of the Seljuq period, however, is difficult to discuss coherently both because of the wealth of examples and because of the lack of synchronization between various technical and regional developments. This complex world fell apart under the impact of the Mongol invasions that, from 1220 until 1260, swept through the Muslim lands of the Near East.

Characteristic architectural forms
      The functions of monumental architecture in the Seljuq period were considerably modified. Large congregational mosques were still built. The earliest Seljuq examples occur in the two major new provinces of Islām—Anatolia and northwestern India—as well as in the established Muslim region of western Iran. In some areas, such as the Eṣfahān region, congregational mosques were rebuilt, while in other parts of Islām, such as Syria or Egypt, where there was no need for new large mosques, older ones were repaired and small ones were built. The latter were partly restricted to certain quarters or groups or were commissioned by various guilds, particularly in Damascus.

      A curious side aspect of the program of building, rebuilding, or decorating mosques was the extraordinary development of minarets (minaret). Particularly in Iran, dozens of minarets are preserved from the 12th and 13th centuries, while the mosques to which they had been attached have disappeared. It is as though the visual function of the minaret was more important than the religious institution to which it was attached.

 Small or large, mausoleums increased in numbers and became at this time the ubiquitous monument they appear to be. Most of the mausoleums, such as the tomb tower of Abū Yazīd al-Bisṭāmī (died 874) at Basṭām, were dedicated to holy men—both contemporary Muslim saints and all sorts of holy men dead for centuries (even pre-Islāmic holy men, especially biblical prophets, acquired a monument). The most impressive mausoleums, however, ones like the one of Sanjar at Merv, were built for royalty. Pilgrimages were organized and in many places hardly mentioned until then as holy places (e.g., Meshed, Basṭām, Mosul, Aleppo); a whole monastic establishment serving as a centre for the distribution of alms was erected with hostels and kitchens for the pilgrims.

      Although enormously expanded, mosques, minarets, and mausoleums were not new types of Islāmic architecture. The madrasah (“school”), however, was a new building type. There is much controversy as to why and how it really developed. Although early examples have been discovered in Iran, such as the 11th-century madrasah of Khargird in Iran and at Samarkand, it is from Anatolia, Syria, and Egypt that most of the information about the madrasah has been derived. In the latter regions it was usually a privately endowed establishment reserved for one or two of the schools of jurisprudence of orthodox Islām. It had to have rooms for teaching and living quarters for the students and professors. Often the tomb of the founder was attached to the madrasah. Later madrasahs were built for two or three schools of jurisprudence, and the Mustanṣirīyah in Baghdad was erected in 1233 to be a sort of ecumenical madrasah for the whole of Sunnī Islām.

      In the Seljuq period there occurred a revival of the ribāṭ inside cities. Khānqāhs, monasteries, and various establishments of learning other than formal madrasahs were also built.

      An impressive development of secular architecture occurred under the Seljuqs. The most characteristic building of the time was the citadel, or urban fortress (fortification), through which the new princes controlled the usually alien city they held in fief. The largest citadels, like those of Cairo and Aleppo, were whole cities with palaces, mosques, sanctuaries, and baths. Others, like the Citadel of Damascus, were simpler constructions. Occasionally, as in the Euphrates valley, single castles were built, possibly in imitation of those constructed by the Christian crusaders. Walls surrounded most cities, and all of them were built or rebuilt during the Seljuq period.

      Little is known about Seljuq palaces or private residences in general. A few fragments in Konya or in Mosul are insufficient to give a coherent idea about urban palaces, and it is only in Anatolia and in Central Asia that an adequate idea of other types can be obtained. Anatolian palaces are on the whole rather small villa-like establishments; but, in Afghanistan and Central Asia, excavations at Tirmidh, Lashkarī Bāzār, and Ghaznī have brought to light a whole group of large royal palaces erected in the 11th and early 12th centuries.

 Commercial architecture became very important. Individual princes and cities probably were trying to attract business by erecting elaborate caravansaries (caravansary) on the main trade routes such as Ribāṭ-i Malik built between Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan. The most spectacular caravansaries were built in the 13th century in Anatolia. Equally impressive, however, although less numerous, are the caravansaries erected in eastern Iran and northern Iraq. Bridges also were rebuilt and decorated like the one at Cizre in Turkey.

      The forms of architecture developed by the Seljuqs were remarkably numerous and varied considerably from region to region. Since the Iranian innovations dating from the 11th century and first half of the 12th century are the earliest and, therefore, probably influenced all other areas of the Seljuq empire, they will be discussed first.

Architecture in Iran
      Even though it is not entirely typical, the justly celebrated Great Mosque of Eṣfahān (Eṣfahān, Great Mosque of) was one of the most influential of all early Seljuq religious structures. Probably completed around 1130 after a long and complicated history of rebuildings, it consisted of a large courtyard on which opened four large vaulted halls known as eyvāns; the eyvāns created the compositional axes of each side of the court. On the side of the qiblah the hall of the main eyvān was followed by a huge cupola. The area between eyvāns was subdivided into a large number of square bays covered by domes. The Eṣfahān mosque also had a unique feature: on the north side a single domed hall positioned on the main axis of the building was in all probability a formal hall for princes to change their clothes before entering into the sanctuary of the mosque.

 The two features of the Great Mosque at Eṣfahān that became characteristic of Seljuq mosques were the eyvān and the dome. The eyvān was an architectural element known already in Sāsānian (Sāsānian dynasty) architecture that had been used in residential buildings from Egypt to Central Asia before the 11th century. In fact, the use of the eyvān was not restricted to just mosques, but it also appears in palaces (Lashkarī Bāzār), caravansaries (Rebāṭ-e Sharaf), and in madrasahs. The eyvān was, in other words, a unit of architectural composition that had no specific use and, therefore, no meaning. In the mosques of the 12th century, four eyvāns were used, at least in the clearly definable architectural school of western Iran (e.g., Ardestān, Zavāreh). This kind of composition had two principal effects. One was that the eyvāns centralized the visual effect of the mosque by making the courtyard the centre of the building. The other effect of this composition was that it broke up into four areas what had for centuries been a characteristic of the mosque: its single, unified space. The reasons for these developments are still speculative.

      Whether large or small, cupolas or domes were used in mosques, caravansaries, and palaces. They were the main architectural features of almost all mausoleums, where they were set over circular or polygonal rooms.

 Two characteristic Iranian architectural forms are not present in the Great Mosque of Eṣfahān but occur elsewhere in the city. One is the tower. Those narrow and tall (up to about 150 feet [50 metres]) were minarets, of which several dozen have been preserved all over Iran and Central Asia (such as the one at Jām). Shorter and squatter towers were mausoleums. These were particularly typical of northern Iran. The other characteristic architectural type exists only in Eṣfahān in a much-damaged state. It is the pīshṭāq, or a formal gateway that served to emphasize a building's presence and importance.

      Domes and eyvāns indicate the central concern of Iranian construction during the Seljuq period: vaulting (vault) in baked brick became the main vehicle for any monumental construction (mud brick was used for secondary parts of a building, frequently for certain secular structures). A large and forcefully composed octagonal base developed the muqarnas squinch from a purely ornamental feature into one wherein both structural and decorative functions combined. In some later buildings, such as the mausoleum of Sanjar at Merv, a system of ribs was used to vault an octagonal zone. Seljuq architects sought to make their domes visible from afar and for this reason invented the double dome. Its outer shell was raised on a high drum, while the interior kept the traditional sequence: square base, zone of transition, and dome. Using this structural device, therefore, exterior height was achieved without making the exterior dome too heavy and without complicating the task of decorating the interior, always a problem in countries like Iran with limited supplies of wood for scaffolding. Domes along the eyvāns were another factor in contributing to the growing separation between the exterior and interior view of a building. There was also an emphasis on the visibility of a building from the exterior that is indicated by the construction of tall circular or polygonal minarets and high facades.

      Architectural decoration was intimately tied to structure. Two mediums predominated. One was stucco, which continued to be used to cover large wall surfaces. The other was brick (brick and tile). Originating in the 10th-century architecture of northeastern Iran, brick came to be employed as a medium of construction as well as a medium of decoration. The complex decorative designs worked out in brick often had a rigidly geometric effect. Especially cut shapes of terra-cotta and brick, frequently produced in unusual sizes, served to soften these geometric patterns by modifying their tactile impact and by introducing additional curved or beveled lines to the straight lines of geometry.

      Paintings were used for architectural decoration (ornament), especially in palaces. From the second half of the 12th century coloured tiles (tile) began to be utilized to emphasize the contour of a decorative area in a structural unit; tiles were not used, however, to cover whole walls. There are also examples of architectural sculpture of animals and people.

      Most of the decorative designs tended to be subordinated to geometry, and even calligraphic or vegetal patterns were affected by a seemingly mathematically controlled aesthetic. It has been suggested that these complex geometric designs were a result of an almost mystical passion for number theories that were popularized in 11th-century Iran by such persons as the scholar and scientist al-Bīrūnī (Bīrūnī, al-) or the poet-mathematician Omar Khayyam. But even if the impulses for geometric design were originally created at the highest intellectual level, the designs themselves rapidly became automatic patterns. Their quality was generally high, but a tendency toward facility can be observed in such buildings as Rebāṭ-e Sharaf.

Architecture in Iraq, Syria, and Anatolia
      In Iraq, northern Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt (after 1171), the architectural monuments do not, on the whole, appear as overwhelmingly impressive as those of Iran, largely because the taste of Umayyad and ʿAbbāsid times continued to dominate mosque architecture. It is in the construction of new building types, particularly the madrasah, that the most originality is apparent. The Syrian madrasahs in Damascus, like al-ʿĀdilīyah, al-Ẓāhirīyah, or the works of Nureddin, tended also to follow a comparatively standardized plan: an elaborate facade led into a domed hallway and then into a court with at least one eyvān. Most of these madrasahs were small and were fitted into a preexisting urban pattern. The use of eyvāns and the construction of the many minarets found in Mosul or on the Euphrates certainly attest to the influence of Iranian Seljuq design.

      The main achievement of Ayyūbid (Ayyūbid dynasty), Zangid (Zangid Dynasty), or Seljuq architecture in the Fertile Crescent was the translating into stone of new structural systems first developed in brick. The most impressive instance of this lies in the technically complex muqarnas domes and half domes or in the muqarnas pendentives of Syrian buildings. Elaborate miḥrāb (mihrab)s were also made of multicoloured stones that were carefully cut to create impressive patterns. The architecture of the Fertile Crescent, therefore, was still dominated by the sheer force of stone as a material for both construction as well as decoration, and, therefore, the architecture was more Mediterranean in effect than were the buildings of Iran.

      This Mediterranean tendency was also evident in the 13th-century architecture of Seljuq Anatolia. This new province of Islām was rapidly populated with new immigrants and consequently gathered themes and motifs from throughout the Muslim world, as well as from the several native Anatolian traditions of Byzantine, Armenian, and Georgian architecture. The resulting assimilation of styles produced an overwhelmingly original architecture, for each building in Konya, Kayseri, Sivas, Divriği, Erzurum, or on the roads between them is a unique monument.

 Functionally the buildings in Anatolia do not differ from those in other parts of the Muslim world. All the structural forms found in Syria and Iran can be found in Anatolia as well, although they have often been adapted to local materials. Three uniquely Anatolian architectural features, however, can be distinguished. One was limited to Konya at this time but would have an important widespread development later on. As it appears in the Ince or Karatay medreses, it consists of the transformation of the central courtyard into a domed space while maintaining the eyvān. Thus the centralized aspect of the eyvān plan becomes architecturally explicit. The second feature is the creation of a facade that usually consisted of a high central portal—often framed by two minarets—with an elaborately sculpted decorative composition that extended to two corner towers. The third distinguishing feature of Anatolian Seljuq architecture is the complexity of the types of funerary monuments that were constructed.

      From the point of view of construction, most of Anatolian architecture is of stone. In Konya and a number of eastern Anatolian instances, brick was used. Barrel vaults, groin vaults, muqarnas vaults, squinch domes, pendentive domes, and the new pendentive known as “Turkish triangle” (a transformation of the curved space of the traditional pendentive into a fanlike set of long and narrow triangles built at an angle from each other) were all used by Anatolian builders, thereby initiating the great development of vault construction in Ottoman architecture (see below).

      Architectural decoration consisted primarily in the stone sculpture found on the facades of religious and secular buildings. Although influenced by Iran and Syria in many details, most Anatolian themes were original, although some exhibit Armenian and possibly Western influences. The exuberance of Anatolian architectural decoration can perhaps be best demonstrated in the facades of Sivas' Gök Medrese and of Konya's Ince Minare. In addition to the traditional geometric, epigraphic, and vegetal motifs, a decorative sculpture in the round or in high relief was created that included many representations of human figures and especially animals. Whether this sculpture is essentially a reflection of the decorative wealth of pre-Islāmic monuments in Anatolia, or whether it is the vestige of a pagan Turkish art that originated in Central Asia, is still an unsolved historical problem.

      There are few examples of wall painting from Anatolia. Especially in Konya, however, a major art of painted-tile decoration did evolve, possibly developed by Iranian artists who fled from the Mongol onslaught.

      In summing up the architectural development of the Seljuq period, three points seem to be particularly significant. One is the expansion of building typology and the erection of new monumental architectural forms, thus illustrating an expansion of patronage and a growing complexity of taste. The second point is that, regardless of the quality and interest of monuments in the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, and Anatolia, the most inventive and exciting architecture in the 11th and 12th centuries was that of Iran. But, far more than in the preceding period, regional needs and regional characteristics seem to predominate over synchronic and pan-Islāmic ones. Finally, there was a striking growth of architectural decoration both in sophistication of design and in variation of technique.

Other arts
      Although probably not as varied as architecture, the other arts of the Seljuq period also underwent tremendous changes. They demonstrate an extraordinary artistic energy, a widening of the social patronage of the arts, and a hitherto unknown variety of topics and modes of expression. It was as though the Seljuq period was gathering a sort of aesthetic momentum, but this effort seems to have been curtailed by the Mongol invasion. Chronologically, almost all surviving documentation and examples of these arts date from the latter part of the period, after 1150. It is unclear whether this apparent date is merely an accidental result of what has been preserved and is known through 20th-century scholarship or whether it corresponds to some precise event or series of events.

 Glass and textiles continued to be major mediums during the Seljuq period. Ceramics underwent many changes, especially in Iran, where lustre painting became widespread and where new techniques were developed for colouring pottery. Furthermore, the growth of tile decoration created a new dimension for the art of ceramics.

      Inlaid metalwork became an important technique. First produced at Herāt in Iran (now in Afghanistan) in the middle of the 12th century, this type of decoration spread westward, and a series of local schools were established in various regions of the Seljuq domain. In this technique, the surfaces of utilitarian metallic objects (candlesticks, ewers, basins, kettles, and so forth) were engraved, and then silver was inlaid in the cut-out areas to make the decorative design more clearly visible.

 Manuscript illustration also became an important art. Scientific books, including the medical manuals of Dioscorides and of Galen, or literary texts such as the picaresque adventures of a verbal genius known as the Maqāmāt, were produced with narrative illustrations throughout the text.

      All of the technical novelties of the Seljuqs seem to have had one main purpose: to animate objects and books and to provide them with clearly visible and identifiable images. Even the austere art of calligraphy became occasionally animated with letters ending in human figures. The main centres for producing these arts were located in Iran and the Fertile Crescent. For reasons yet unknown, Egypt and Anatolia were far less involved. One reason may be that these two Seljuq provinces did not witness the same rise of an urban middle class as did Iran, Iraq, or Syria. It would seem from a large number of art objects whose patrons are known that the main market for these works of art was the mercantile bourgeoisie of the big cities and not, as has often been believed, the princes. Seljuq decorative arts and book illustration, therefore, reflect an urban taste.

 The themes and motifs used were particularly numerous. In books they tend to be illustrations of the text, even if a manuscript such as the Schefer Maqāmāt (1237; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris) sought to combine a strict narrative with a fairly naturalistic panorama of contemporary life. Narrative scenes taken from books or reflecting folk stories are also common on Persian ceramics. In all mediums, however, the predominant vocabulary of images is the one provided by the older art of princes; but its meaning is no longer that of illustrating the actual life of princes but rather that of symbolizing a good and happy life. The motifs, therefore, do not have to be taken literally. Next to princely and narrative themes, there are depictions of scenes of daily life, astronomical motifs, and a myriad of topics that can be described but not understood.

      While it is possible within certain limits to generalize about the subject matter of Seljuq art, regional stylistic definitions tend to be more valid. Thus the bronzes produced in northeastern Iran in the 12th century are characterized by simple decorative compositions rather than by the very elaborate ones created by the so-called school of Mosul (Mosul school) in Iraq during the 13th century. In general, the art of metalwork exhibits a consistently growing intricacy in composition and in details to the point that individual subjects are at times lost in overlapping planes of arabesques. Ceramic pieces of Iran have usually been classified according to a more or less fictitious provenance. Kāshān ware (lakabi ware) exhibits a perfection of line in the depiction of moon-faced personages with heavily patterned clothes, while Rayy (Rayy ware) ceramic work is less sophisticated in design and execution but more vividly coloured. Sāveh and Gurgān are still other Iranian varieties of pottery. With the exception of Kāshān ware, where dynasties of ceramicists are known, all these types of Iranian pottery were contemporary with each other. In Syria, Raqqah (Raqqah ware) pottery imitated Iranian ceramic wares but with a far more limited vocabulary of designs.

      The main identifiable group of miniature (miniature painting) painters (painting) was the so-called Baghdad school of the first half of the 13th century. The group should be called the Arab school because the subject matter and style employed could have been identified with any one of the major artistic centres of Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, and very little evidence currently exists to limit this school to one city. The miniatures painted by these artists are characterized by the colourful and often humorous way in which the urbanized Arab is depicted. The compositions, often lacking in any strong aesthetic intent, are documentary caricatures in which the artist has recorded the telling and recognizable gesture or a known and common setting or activity. In many images or compositional devices one can recognize the impact of the richer Christian Mediterranean tradition of manuscript illumination. A greater attention to aesthetic considerations is apparent in the illustrated manuscript of the Persian epic Varqeh o-Golshāh (Topkapı Saray Museum, Istanbul), unique in the Seljuq period.

Western (North Africa) Islāmic art: Moorish (Moor)
      The 11th to 13th centuries were not peaceful in the Maghrib. Berber dynasties overthrew each other in Morocco and the Iberian Peninsula. The Christian reconquest gradually diminished Muslim holdings in Spain and Portugal, and Tunisia was ruined during the Hilālī invasion when Bedouin tribes were sent by the Fāṭimids to prevent local independence.

 Two types of structures characterize the Almoravid (Almoravids) (1056–1147) and Almohad (Almohads) (1130–1269) periods in Morocco and Spain. One comprises the large, severely designed Moroccan mosques such as those of Tinmel, of Ḥasan in Rabat, or of the Kutubiyyah (Koutoubia) in Marrakech. They are all austere hypostyles with tall, massive, square minarets. The other distinctive type of architecture was that built for military purposes, including fortifications and, especially, massive city gates with low-slung horseshoe arches, such as the Oudaia Gate at Rabat (12th century) or the Rabat Gate at Marrakech (12th century). Palaces built in central Algeria by minor dynasties such as the Zīrids were more in the Fāṭimid tradition of Egypt than in the Almoravid and Almohad traditions of western Islām. Almost nothing is known or has been studied about North African arts other than architecture because the puritanical world of the Berber dynasties did not foster the arts of luxury.

 In North Africa the artistic milieu did not change much in the 14th and 15th centuries. Hypostyle mosques such as the Great Mosque of Algiers continued to be built; madrasahs were constructed with more elaborate plans; the Bū ʿInānīyah madrasah at Fès is one of the few monumental buildings of the period. A few mausoleums were erected such as the so-called Marīnid tombs near Fès (second half of the 14th century) or the complex of Chella at Rabat (mostly 14th century). Architectural decoration in stucco or sculpted stone was usually limited to elaborate geometric patterns, epigraphic themes, and a few vegetal motifs.

 A stunning exception to the austerity of North African architecture exists in Spain in the Alhambra palace complex at Granada. The hill site of the Alhambra had been occupied by a citadel and possibly by a palace since the 11th century, but little of these earlier constructions has remained. In the 14th century two successive princes, Yūsuf I and Muḥammad V, transformed the hill into their official residence. Outside of a number of gates built like triumphal arches and several ruined forecourts, only three parts of the palace remain intact. First there is the long Court of the Myrtles leading to the huge Hall of Ambassadors located in one of the exterior towers. This was the part of the Alhambra built by Yūsuf I. Then there is the Court of the Lions, with its celebrated lion fountain in the centre. Numerous rooms open off this court, including the elaborately decorated Hall of the Two Sisters and the Hall of the Abencerrajes. The third part, slightly earlier than the first two, is the Generalife; it is a summer residence built higher up the hill and surrounded by gardens with fountains, pavilions, and portico walks.

      The Alhambra is especially important because it is one of the few palaces (palace) to have survived from medieval Islāmic times. It illustrates superbly a number of architectural concerns occasionally documented in literary references: the contrast between an unassuming exterior and a richly decorated interior to achieve an effect of secluded or private brilliance; the constant presence of water, either as a single, static basin or as a dynamic fountain; the inclusion of oratories and baths; the lack of an overall plan (the units are simply attached to each other).

      The architectural decoration of the Alhambra was mostly of stucco. Some of it is flat, but the extraordinarily complex cupolas of muqarnas, such as in the Hall of the Two Sisters, appear as huge multifaceted diadems. The decoration of the Alhambra becomes a sort of paradox as well as a tour de force. Weighty, elaborately decorated ceilings, for example, are supported by frail columns or by walls pierced with many windows (light permeates almost every part of the large, domed halls). Much of the design and decoration of the Alhambra is symbolically oriented. The poems that adorn the Alhambra as calligraphic ornamentation celebrate its cupolas as domes of heaven rotating around the prince sitting under them.

      Islāmic art as such ceased to be produced in Spain after 1492, when Granada, the last Moorish kingdom in Spain, fell to the Christians; but the Islāmic tradition continued in North Africa, which remained Muslim. In Morocco the so-called Sharīfian dynasties from the 16th century onward ornamentally developed the artistic forms created in the 14th century.

      Most of the best known monuments of western Islāmic art are buildings, although a very original calligraphy was developed. The other arts cannot be compared in wealth and importance either with what occurred elsewhere in Islām at the same time or with earlier objects created in Spain. There are some important examples of metalwork, wood inlaid with ivory, and a lustre-glaze (lustreware) pottery known as Hispano-Moresque ware. The fact that the latter was made in Valencia or Málaga after the termination of Muslim rule demonstrates that Islāmic traditions in the decorative arts continued to be adhered to, if only partially. The term Mudéjar (Mudejar), therefore, is used to refer to all the things made in a Muslim style but under Christian rule. Numerous examples of Mudéjar art exist in ceramics and textiles, as well as in architectural monuments such as the synagogues of Toledo and the Alcazba in Sevilla (Seville), where even the name of the ruling Christian prince, Don Pedro, was written in Arabic letters. The Mudéjar spirit, in fact, permeated most of Spanish architectural ornament and decorative arts for centuries, and its influence can even be found in Spanish America.

      Mudéjar art must be carefully distinguished from Mozarabic art: the art of Christians under Muslim rule. Mozarabic art primarily flourished in Spain during the earlier periods of Muslim rule. Its major manifestations are architectural decorations, decorative objects, and illuminated manuscripts. Dating mostly from the 10th and 11th centuries, the celebrated illuminations for the commentary on the Revelation to John by an 8th-century Spanish abbot, Beatus of Liébana, are purely Christian subjects treated in styles possibly influenced by Muslim miniature painting or book illustration. The most celebrated example, known as the “Saint-Sever Apocalypse,” is in the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

Mamlūk art
      The Mamlūks were originally white male slaves, chiefly Turks and Circassians from the Caucasus and Central Asia who formed the mercenary army of the various feudal states of Syria and Egypt. During the 13th century the importance of this military caste grew as the older feudal order weakened and military commanders took over power generally as nonhereditary sultans. They succeeded in arresting the Mongol onslaught in 1260 and, through a judicious but complicated system of alliance with the urban elite class, managed to maintain themselves in power in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria until 1517.

 During the Mamlūk period Egypt and Syria were rich commercial emporiums. This wealth explains the quality and quantity of Mamlūk art. Most of the existing monuments in the old quarters of Cairo, Damascus, Tripoli, and Aleppo are Mamlūk; in Jerusalem almost everything visible on the Ḥaram al-Sharīf, outside the Dome of the Rock, is Mamlūk. Museum collections of Islāmic art generally abound with Mamlūk metalwork and glass. Someof the oldest remaining carpets are Mamlūk. This creativity required, of course, more than wealth; it also required a certain will to transform wealth into art. This will was in part the desire of parvenu rulers and their cohorts to be remembered. Furthermore, architectural patronage flourished because of the institutionalization of the waqf, an economic system in which investments made for holy purposes were inalienable. This law allowed the wealthy to avoid confiscation of their properties at the whim of the caliph by investing their funds in religious institutions. In the Mamlūk period, therefore, there was a multiplication of madrasahs, khānqāhs, ribāṭs, and masjids, often with tombs of founders attached to them. The Mamlūk establishment also repaired and kept up all the institutions, religious or secular, that had been inherited by them, as can be demonstrated by the well-documented repairs carried on in Jerusalem and Damascus.

 The Mamlūks created a monumental setting for Syria and Egypt that lasted until the 20th century. It was at its most remarkable in architecture, and nearly 3,000 major monuments have been preserved or are known from texts in cities from the Euphrates to Cairo. No new architectural types came into being, although many more urban commercial buildings and private houses have been preserved than from previous centuries. The hypostyle form continued to be used for mosques and oratories, as in the Cairene mosques of Baybars I (1262–63), Nāṣir (1335), and Muʾayyad Shaykh (1415–20). Madrasahs used eyvāns, and the justly celebrated madrasah of Sultan Ḥasan in Cairo (1356–62) is one of the few perfect four-eyvān madrasahs in the Islāmic world. Mausoleums were squares or polygons covered with domes. In other words, there were only minor modifications in the typology of architecture, and even the 15th-century buildings with interiors totally covered with ornamentation have possible prototypes in the architecture of the Seljuqs. Yet there are formal and functional features that do distinguish Mamlūk buildings. One is the tendency to build structures of different functions in a complex or cluster. Thus the Qalāʾūn mosque (Qalāʾūn complex) (1284–85) in Cairo has a mausoleum, a madrasah, and a hospital erected as one architectural unit. Another characteristic is the tendency of Mamlūk patrons to build their major monuments near each other. As a result, certain streets of Cairo, such as Bayn al-Qaṣrayn, became galleries of architectural masterpieces. The plans of these buildings may have had to be adapted to the exigencies of the city, but their spectacular facades and minarets competed with each other for effect. From the second half of the 14th century onward, building space for mausoleums began to be limited in Cairo, and a vast complex of commemorative monuments was created in the city's western cemetery. In Aleppo and Damascus similar phenomena can be observed.

      Although Mamlūk architecture was essentially conservative in its development of building types, more originality is evident in the constructional systems used, although traditional structural features continued to be employed—e.g., cupolas raised on squinches or more commonly pendentives, barrel and groin vaults, and wooden ceilings covering large areas supported by columns and piers. The main innovations are of three kinds. First, minarets (minaret) became particularly elaborate and, toward the end of the period, almost absurd in their ornamentation. Facades were huge, with overwhelming portals 25 to 35 feet high.

 A second characteristically Mamlūk feature was technical virtuosity in stone construction. At times this led to a superb purity of form, as in the Gate of the Cotton Merchants in Jerusalem or the complex of the Barqūq mosque in Cairo. At other times, as in the Mamlūk architecture of Baybars and Qāʾit Bāy, there was an almost wild playfulness with forms. Another aspect of Mamlūk masonry was the alternation of stones of different colours to provide variations on the surfaces of buildings.

      The third element of change in Mamlūk art was perhaps the most important: almost all formal artistic achievements rapidly became part of the common vocabulary of the whole culture, thus ensuring high quality of construction and decorative technique throughout the period.

      With the exception of portals and qiblah walls, architectural decoration was usually subordinated to the architectural elements of the design. Generally the material of construction (usually stone) was carved with ornamental motifs. Stucco decoration was primarily used in early Mamlūk architecture, while coloured tile was a late decorative device that was rarely employed.

Other arts
 Like architecture, the other arts of the Mamlūk period achieved a high level of technical perfection but were often lacking in originality. The so-called “Baptistère de Saint Louis” (c. 1310, Louvre) is the most impressive example of inlaid metalwork preserved from this period. Several Mamlūk illustrated manuscripts, such as the Maqāmāt (1334) in the Nationalbibliothek, Vienna, display an amazing ornamental sense in the use of colour on gold backgrounds. Mamlūk mosque lamps provide some of the finest examples of medieval glass. The wooden objects made by Mamlūk craftsmen were widely celebrated for the quality of their painted, inlaid, or carved designs. And the bold inscriptions that decorate the hundreds of remaining bronzes testify to the Mamlūks' mastery of calligraphy. None of these examples, however, exhibits much inventiveness of design.

Mongol Iran: Il-Khanid (Il-Khanid Dynasty) and Timurid (Timurid Dynasty) periods
      Seen from the vantage point of contemporary or later chronicles, the 13th century in Iran (art and architecture, Iranian) was a period of destructive wars and invasions. Such cities as Balkh, Nīshāpūr (Neyshābūr), or Rayy, which had been centres of Islāmic culture for nearly six centuries, were eradicated as the Mongol army swept through Iran. The turning point toward some sort of stability took place in 1295 with the accession of Maḥmūd Ghāzān (Ghāzān, Maḥmūd) to the Mongol throne. Under him and his successors (the Il-Khan dynasty), order was reestablished throughout Iran, and cities in northeastern Iran, especially Tabriz (Tabrīz) and Solṭānīyeh, became the main creative centres of the new Mongol regime. At Tabriz, for example, the Rashīdīyeh (a sort of academy of sciences and arts to which books, scholars, and ideas from all over the world were collected) was established in the early 14th century.

 Existing under the Mongol rulers were a number of secondary dynasties that flourished in various provinces of Iran: the Jalāyirid dynasty, centred in Baghdad, controlled most of western Iran; the Moẓaffarid dynasty of southwestern Iran contained the cities of Eṣfahān, Yazd, and Shīrāz; and the Karts reigned in Khorāsān. Until the last decade of the 14th century, however, all the major cultural centres were in western Iran. Under Timur (1336–1405; the Timurid dynasty) and his successors, however, northeastern Iran, especially the cities of Samarkand and Herāt, became focal points of artistic and intellectual activity. But Timurid culture affected the whole of Iran either directly or through minor local dynasties. Many Timurid monuments, therefore, are found in western or southern Iran.

      Stylistically, Il-Khanid architecture is defined best by buildings such as the mosque of Varāmīn (1322–26) and the mausoleums at Sarakhs, Merv, Rād-Kān, and Marāgheh. In all of these examples, the elements of architectural composition, decoration, and construction that had been developed earlier were refined by Il-Khanid architects. Eyvāns were shallower but better integrated with the courts; facades were more thoughtfully composed; the muqarnas became more linear and varied; and coloured tiles were used to enhance the building's character.

 The architectural masterpiece of the Il-Khanid period is the mausoleum of Öljeitü at Solṭānīyeh. With its double system of galleries, eight minarets, large blue-tiled dome, and an interior measuring 80 feet (25 metres), it is clear that the building was intended to be imposing. Il-Khanid attention to impressiveness of scale also accounted for the ʿAlī Shāh mosque in Tabriz, whose eyvān measuring 150 by 80 by 100 feet (45 by 25 by 30 metres) was meant to be the largest ever built. The eyvān vault collapsed almost immediately after it had been constructed, but its walls, 35 feet (10 metres) thick, remain as a symbol of the grandiose taste of the Il-Khanids. In the regions of Eṣfahān and Yazd numerous smaller mosques (often with unusual plans) and less pretentious mausoleums, as well as palaces with elaborate gardens, were built in the 14th century. These buildings were constructed to provide a monumental setting for the Islāmic faith and for the authority of the state. The study of these buildings began only in the mid-20th century, and therefore no definitive conclusions have been reached as to whether regional or pan-Iranian stylistic and formal features predominated.

      The Timurid period began architecturally in 1390 with the sanctuary of Aḥmad Yasavī (Ahmed Yesevi) in Turkistan. Between 1390 and the last works of Sultan Ḥusayn Bayqara almost a century later, hundreds of buildings were constructed at Herāt, many of which have been preserved, although few have been studied except by Central Asian scholars. The most spectacular examples of Timurid architecture are found in Samarkand, Herāt, Meshed, Khargird, Tayābād, Baku, and Tabriz, although important Timurid structures were also erected in southern Iran.

      Architectural projects were well patronized by the Timurids as a means to commemorate their respective reigns. Every ruler or local governor constructed his own sanctuaries, mosques, and, especially, memorial buildings dedicated to holy men of the past. While the Shāh-e Zendah in Samarkand—a long street of mausoleums comparable to the Mamlūk cemetery of Cairo—is perhaps the most accessible of the sites of Timurid commemorative architecture, more spectacular ones are to be seen at Meshed, Torbat-e Sheykh Jām, and Mazār-e Sharīf. The Timurid princes also erected mausoleums for themselves, such as the Gūr-e Amīr and the ʿIshrat-Khāneh in Samarkand.

      Major Timurid buildings, such as the so-called mosque of Bībī Khānom, the Gūr-e Amīr mausoleum, the mosque of Gowhar Shād in Meshed, or the madrasahs at Khargird and Herāt, are all characterized by strong axial symmetry. Often the facade on the inner court repeats the design of the outer facade, and minarets are used to frame the composition. Changes took place in the technique of dome construction. The muqarnas was not entirely abandoned but was often replaced by a geometrically rigorous net of intersecting arches that could be adapted to various shapes by modifying the width or span of the dome. The Khargird madrasah and the ʿIshrat-Khāneh mausoleum in Samarkand are particularly striking examples of this structural development. The Timurids also made use of double domes on high drums.

 In the Timurid period the use of colour in architecture reached a high point. Every architectural unit was divided, on both the exterior and interior, into panels of brilliantly coloured tiles that sometimes were mixed with stucco or terra-cotta architectural decorations.

 A new period of Persian painting began in the Mongol era, and, even though here and there one can recognize the impact of Seljuq painting, on the whole it is a limited one. Although the new style was primarily expressed in miniature painting, it is known from literary sources that mural painting flourished as well. Masterpieces of Persian literature were illustrated: first the Shāh-nāmeh (“Book of Kings”) by the 11th-century poet Ferdowsī and then, from the second half of the 14th century, lyrical and mystical works, primarily those by the 12th-century poet Neẓāmī. Historical texts or chronicles such as the Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh (“Universal History of Rashīd al-Dīn”) were also illustrated, especially in the early Mongol period.

      The first major monument of Persian painting in the Mongol period is a group of manuscripts of the Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh (British Museum, London; University Library, Edinburgh; and Topkapı Saray Museum, Istanbul). The miniatures are historical narrative scenes. Stylistically they are related to Chinese painting—an influence introduced by the Mongols during the Il-Khanid period.

 Chinese influence can still be discovered in the masterpiece of 14th-century Persian painting, the so-called Demotte Shāh-nāmeh. Illustrated between 1320 and 1360, its 56 preserved miniatures have been dispersed all over the world. The compositional complexity of these paintings can be attributed to the fact that several painters probably were involved in the illustration of this manuscript and that these artists drew from a wide variety of different stylistic sources (e.g., Chinese, European, local Iranian traditions). Its main importance lies in the fact that it is the earliest known illustrative work that sought to depict in a strikingly dramatic fashion the meaning of the Iranian epic. Its battle scenes, its descriptions of fights with monsters, its enthronement scenes are all powerful representations of the colourful and often cruel legend of Iranian kingship. The artists also tried to express the powerlessness of man confronted by fate in a series of mourning and death scenes.

 The Demotte Shāh-nāmeh is but the most remarkable of a whole series of 14th-century manuscripts, all of which suggest an art of painting in search of a coherent style. At the very end of the period a manuscript such as that of the poems of Sultan Aḥmad (Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) still exhibits an effective variety of established themes, while some of the miniatures in the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, Berlin, and in the Topkapı Saray, Istanbul, illustrate the astounding variety of styles studied or copied by Persian masters.

 A more organized and stylistically coherent period in Persian painting began around 1396 with the Khwāju Kermānī manuscript (British Museum) and culminated between 1420 and 1440 in the paintings produced by the Herāt school, where the emperor Baysunqur created an academy in which classical Iranian literature was codified, copied, and illustrated. Although several Shāh-nāmehs are known from this time, the mood of these manuscripts is no longer epic but lyrical. Puppet-like figures almost unemotionally engage in a variety of activities always set in an idealized garden or palace depicted against a rich gold background. It is a world of sensuous pleasure that also embodies the themes of a mystically interpreted lyrical poetry, for what is represented is not the real world but a divine paradise in the guise of a royal palace or garden. These miniatures easily became clichés, for later artists endlessly repeated stereotyped formulas. But at its best, as in the Metropolitan Museum Neẓāmī, this style of Persian painting succeeds in defining something more than mere ornamental colourfulness. It expresses in its controlled lyricism a fascinating search for the divine, similar to the search of such epic characters as Neẓāmī, Rūmī, or Ḥāfeẓțat times earthly and vulgar, at other times quite ambiguous and hermetic, but often providing a language for the ways in which human beings can talk about God.

 Another major change in Persian painting occurred during the second half of the 15th century at Herāt under Ḥusayn Bayqara. This change is associated with the first major painter of Islāmic art, Behzād. Many problems of attribution are still posed about Behzād's art, and, in the examples that follow, works by his school, as well as images by the master's own hand, are included. In the Garrett Ẓafar-nāmeh (c. 1490), the Egyptian Cairo National Library's Būstān (1488), or the British Museum's Neẓāmī (1493–94), the stereotyped formulas of the earlier lyric style were endowed with new vitality. Behzād's interest in observing his environment resulted in the introduction of more realistic poses and the introduction of numerous details of daily life or genre elements. His works also reflect a concern for a psychological interpretation of the scenes and events depicted. It is thus not by chance that portraits have been attributed to Behzād.

 Persian art of the Mongol period differs in a very important way from any of the other traditions of the middle period of Islāmic art. Even though Iran, like all other areas at that time, was not ethnically homogeneous, its art tended to be uniquely “national.” In architecture nationalism was mostly a matter of function, for during this period the Shīʿites grew in importance, and new monumental settings were required for their holy places. Iranian individualism is especially apparent in painting, in which Chinese and other foreign styles were consistently adapted to express intensely Iranian subjects, thereby creating a uniquely Persian style.

Late period
      The last period of an Islāmic artistic expression created within a context of political and intellectual independence was centred in the Ottoman, Ṣafavid, and Mughal empires. Although culturally very different from each other, these three imperial states shared a common past, a common consciousness of the nature of their ancestry and of the artistic forms associated with it. Painters and architects moved from one empire to the other, especially from Iran to India; Ottoman princes wrote Persian poetry, and Ṣafavid rulers spoke Turkish. But most of all, they were aware of the fact that they were much closer to each other than to any non-Islāmic cultural entity. However different their individual artistic forms may have been, they collected each other's works, exchanged gifts, and felt that they belonged to the same world.

      The Ottomans were originally only one of the small Turkmen principalities (beyliks) that sprang up in Anatolia around 1300 after the collapse of Seljuq rule. In many ways, all the beyliks shared the same culture, but it was the extraordinary political and social attributes of the Ottomans that led them eventually to swallow up the other kingdoms, to conquer the Balkans, to take Constantinople in 1453, and to control almost the whole of the Arab world by 1520. Only in the 19th century did this complex empire begin to crumble. Thus, while Ottoman art, especially architecture, is best known through the monuments in Turkey, there is, in fact, evidence of Ottoman art extending from Algiers to Cairo in North Africa, to Damascus in the Levant, and in the Balkans from Sarajevo, Yugos., to Sofia, Bulg.

      The grand tradition of Ottoman architecture, established in the 16th century, was derived from two main sources. One was the rather complex development of new architectural forms that occurred all over Anatolia, especially at Manisa, İznik, Bursa, and Selçuk in the 14th and early 15th centuries. In addition to the usual mosques, mausoleums, and madrasahs, a number of buildings called tekke (zāwiyah)s were constructed to house dervishes (members of mystical fraternities) and other holy men who lived communally. The tekke (or zeviye) was often joined to a mosque or mausoleum. The entire complex was then called a külliye. All these buildings continued to develop the domed, central-plan structure, constructed by the Seljuqs in Anatolia. The other source of Ottoman architecture is Christian art. The Byzantine (Byzantine art) tradition, especially as embodied in Hagia Sophia, became a major source of inspiration. Byzantine influence appears in such features as stone and brick used together or in the use of pendentive dome construction. Also artistically influential were the contacts that the early Ottomans had with Italy. Thus, in several mosques at Bursa, Tur., there are stylistic parallels in the designs of the exterior facade and of windows, gates, and roofs to features found in Italian architecture. A distinctive feature of Ottoman architecture is that it drew from both Islāmic and European artistic traditions and was, therefore, a part of both.

  The apogee of Ottoman architecture was achieved in the great series of külliyes and mosques that still dominate the Istanbul skyline: the Fatih külliye (1463–70), the Bayezid Mosque (after 1491), the Selim Mosque (1522), the Şehzade külliye (1548), and the Süleyman külliye (after 1550). The Şehzade and Süleyman külliyes were built by Sinan, the greatest Ottoman architect, whose masterpiece is the Selim Mosque (Selim, Mosque of) at Edirne, Tur. (1569–75). All of these buildings exhibit total clarity and logic in both plan and elevation; every part has been considered in relation to the whole, and each architectural element has acquired a hierarchic function in the total composition. Whatever is unnecessary has been eliminated. This simplicity of design in the late 15th and 16th centuries has often been attributed to the fact that Sinan and many Ottoman architects were first trained as military engineers. Everything in these buildings was subordinated to an imposing central dome. A sort of cascade of descending half domes, vaults, and ascending buttresses leads the eye up and down the building's exterior. Minarets, slender and numerous, frame the exterior composition, while the open space of the surrounding courts prevents the building from being swallowed by the surrounding city. These masterpieces of Ottoman architecture seem to be the final perfection of two great traditions: a stylistic and aesthetic tradition that had been indigenous to Istanbul since the construction of the Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia in the 6th century and the other Islāmic tradition of domical construction dating to the 10th century.

 The tragedy of Ottoman architecture is that it never managed to renew its 16th-century brilliance. Later buildings, such as the impressive Sultan Ahmed mosque in Istanbul, were mostly variations on Sinan's architecture, and sometimes there were revivals of older building types, especially in the provinces. Occasionally, as in the early 18th-century Nûruosman mosque in Istanbul, interesting new variants appear illustrating the little-known Turkish Baroque (Baroque period) style. The latter, however, is more visible in ornamental details or in smaller buildings, especially the numerous fountains built in Istanbul in the 18th century. The sources of the Turkish Baroque are probably to be sought in the Baroque architecture of Vienna and the bordering Austro-Hungarian states. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, a consistent Europeanization of a local tradition occurs in the Ottoman empire.

      While mosques and külliyes are the most characteristic monuments of Ottoman architecture, important secular buildings were also built: baths, caravansaries, and especially the huge palace complex of Topkapı Saray (Topkapı Palace Museum) at Istanbul, in which 300 years of royal architecture are preserved in its elaborate pavilions, halls, and fountains.

Other arts
  Architectural decoration was generally subordinated to the structural forms or architectonic features of the building. A wide variety of themes and techniques originating from many different sources were used. One decorative device, the Ottoman version of colour- tile decoration, deserves particular mention, for it succeeds in transforming smaller buildings such as the mosque of Rüstem Paşa in Istanbul into a visual spectacle of brilliant colours. The history and development of this type of ceramic decoration is intimately tied to the complex and much controverted problem of the growth of several distinctive Ottoman schools of pottery: İznik (İznik ware), Rhodian, and Damascus ware. Both in technique and in design, Ottoman ceramics are the only major examples of pottery produced in the late Islāmic period.

      Ottoman miniature painting does not compare in quality with Persian painting, which originally influenced the Turkish school. Yet Ottoman miniatures do have a character of their own, either in the almost folk art effect of religious images or in the precise depictions of such daily events as military expeditions or great festivals. Among the finest examples of the latter is the manuscript Surname-i Vehbi (Topkapı Saray Museum, Istanbul) painted by Levnî (Levnî, Abdülcelil) in the early 18th century.

      The production of metalwork, wood inlaid with ivory, Uşak carpets, and textiles flourished under the Ottomans, both in Istanbul workshops sponsored by the sultan and in numerous provincial centres. The influence of these ornamental objects on European decorative arts from the 16th through the 19th century was considerable.

Ṣafavid art
      The Ṣafavid Dynasty was founded by Esmāʿīl I (1501–24). The art of this dynasty reached its zenith during the reigns of Ṭahmāsp (1524–76) and of Abbās Iʿ (1588–1629). This phase of the Ṣafavid period also marked the last significant development of Islāmic art in Iran, for after the middle of the 17th century original creativity disappeared in all mediums. Rugs and objects in silver, gold, and enamel continued to be made and exhibited a considerable technical virtuosity, even when they were lacking in inventiveness.

      The Ṣafavids abandoned Central Asia and northeastern Iran to a new Uzbek dynasty that maintained the Timurid style in many buildings (especially at Bukhara) and briefly sponsored a minor and derivative school of painting. Only the great sanctuary of Meshed was being kept up and built-up, but, like many of the other religious sanctuaries of the time—Qom, al-Najaf, Karbalāʾ, it is still far too little known to lend itself to coherent analysis. For this is the time when Shīʿism became a state religion and for the first time in Islām there appeared an organized ecclesiastical system rather than the more or less loose spiritual and practical leadership of old. The main centres of the Ṣafavid empire were Tabriz and Ardabīl in the northwest, with Kazvin in the central region, and, especially, Eṣfahān in the west. The Ṣafavid period, like the Ottoman era, was an imperial age, and therefore there is hardly a part of Iran where either Ṣafavid buildings or major Ṣafavid restorations cannot be found. The dynasty spent much money and effort on the building of bridges, roads, and caravansaries to encourage trade.

      The best known Ṣafavid monuments are located at Eṣfahān where ʿAbbās I built a whole new city. According to one description, it contained 162 mosques, 48 madrasahs, 1,802 commercial buildings, and 283 baths. Most of these buildings no longer survive, but what has remained constitutes some of the finest monuments of Islāmic architecture.

 At the centre of Eṣfahān is the Meydān-e Shāh, a large open space, about 1,670 by 520 feet (510 by 158 metres), originally surrounded by trees. Used for polo games and parades, it could be illuminated with 50,000 lamps. Each side of the meydān was provided with the monumental facade of a building. On one of the smaller sides was the entrance to a large mosque, the celebrated Masjed-e Shāh. On the other side was the entrance into the bazaar or marketplace. On the longer sides were the small funerary mosque of Sheykh Loṭfollāh and, facing it, the ʿAlī Qāpū, the “high gate,” the first unit of a succession of palaces and gardens that extended beyond the meydān, most of which have now disappeared except for the Chehel Sotūn, the palace of the “Forty Columns.” The ʿAlī Qāpū was, in its lower floors, a semipublic place to which petitions could be brought, while its upper floors are a world of pure fantasy—a succession of rooms, halls, and balconies overlooking the city, which were purely for the prince's pleasure.

      The Meydān-e Shāh unites in a single composition all the concerns of medieval Islāmic architecture: prayer, commemoration, princely pleasure, trade, and spatial effect. None of the hundreds of other remaining Ṣafavid monuments can match its historical importance, and in it also are found the major traits of Ṣafavid construction and decoration. The forms are traditional, for the most part, and even in vaulting techniques and the use of coloured tiles it is to Timurid art that the Ṣafavids looked for their models. The Persian architects of the early 17th century sought to achieve a monumentality in exterior spatial composition (an interesting parallel to the interior spaciousness created at the same time by the Ottomans); a logical precision in vaulting that was successful in the Masjed-e Shāh but rapidly led to cheap effects or to stucco imitations; and a coloristic brilliance that has made the domes and portals of Eṣfahān justly famous.

      In the 16th and 17th centuries, possibly for the first time in Islāmic art, painters were conscious of historical styles—even self-conscious. Miniatures from the past were collected, copied, and imitated. Patronage, however, was fickle. A royal whim would gather painters together or exile them. Many names of painters have been preserved, and there is little doubt that the whim of patrons was being countered by the artists' will to be socially and economically independent as well as individually recognized for their artistic talents. Too many different impulses, therefore, existed in Ṣafavid Iran for painting to follow any clear line of development.

      Three major painting styles, or schools (excluding a number of interesting provincial schools), existed in the Ṣafavid period. One school of miniature painting is exemplified by such masterpieces as the Houghton Shāh-nāmeh (completed in 1537), the Jāmī Haft owrang (1556–1665; Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), or the illustrations (illuminated manuscript) to stories from Ḥāfeẓ which have not been identified in detail (Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass., and in a private collection). However different they are from each other, these large, colourful miniatures all were executed in a grand manner. Their compositions are complex, individual faces appear in crowded masses, there is much diversification in landscape, and, despite a few ferocious details of monsters or of strongly caricaturized poses and expressions, these book illustrations are concerned with an idealized vision of life. The sources of this school lie with the Timurid academy. Behzād, Sulṭān Muḥammad, Sheykhzādeh, Mīr Sayyid ʿAlī (Mīr Sayyid ʿAli), Āqā Mīrak, and Maḥmūd Muṣavvīr continued and modified, each in his own way, the ideal of a balance between an overall composition and precise rendering of details.

 The miniatures of the second tradition (Eṣfahān school) of Ṣafavid painting seem at first to be like a detail out of the work of the previously discussed school. The same purity of colour, elegance of poses, interest in details, and assertion of the individual figure is found. Āqā Reẓā (Rezā) and Reẓā ʿAbbāsī (both active around 1600) excelled in these extraordinary portrayals of poets, musicians, courtiers, and aristocratic life in general.

      In both traditions of painting, the beautiful personages depicted frequently are satirized; this note of satirical criticism is even more pronounced in portraiture of the time. But it is in pen or brush drawings, mostly dating from the 17th century, that the third aspect of Ṣafavid painting appeared: an interest in genre, or the depiction of minor events of daily life (e.g., a washerwoman at work, a tailor sewing, an animal). With stunning precision Ṣafavid artists showed a whole society falling apart with a cruel sympathy totally absent from the literary documents of the time.

      While architecture and painting were the main artistic vehicles of the Ṣafavids, the making of textiles and carpets was also of great importance. It is in the 16th century that a hitherto primarily nomadic and folk medium of the decorative arts was transformed into an expression of royal and urban tasks by the creation of court workshops. The predominantly geometric themes of earlier Iranian carpets were not abandoned entirely but tended to be replaced by vegetal, animal, and even occasional human motifs. Great schools of carpetmaking developed particularly at Tabriz (Tabrīz carpet), Kāsha (Kāshān carpet), and Kermān. (Kermān carpet)

      Since the culture of the Mughals was intimately connected to the indigenous Hindu traditions of the Indian subcontinent, their art will be treated only synoptically in this article. (For a more detailed account, the reader should see the sections on Mughal art in the visual arts of the Indian subcontinent portion of the article South Asian arts, notably Islāmic architecture in India: Mughal style (South Asian arts) and Painting (South Asian arts)).

      The art of the Mughals was similar to that of the Ottomans in that it was a late imperial art of Muslim princes. Both styles were rooted in several centuries (at least from the 13th century onward) of adaptation of Islāmic functions to indigenous forms. It was in the 14th-century architecture of South Asian sites such as Tughluqābād, Gaur, and Ahmadābād that a uniquely Indian type of Islāmic hypostyle (hypostyle hall) mosque was created, with a triple axial nave, corner towers, axial minarets, and cupolas. It was also during these centuries that the first mausoleums set in scenically spectacular locations were built. By then the conquering Muslims had fully learned how to utilize local methods of construction, and they adapted South Asian decorative techniques and motifs.

      Mughal art was in continuous contact with Iran or, rather, with the Timurid world of the second half of the 15th century. The models and the memories were in Herāt or Samarkand, but the artists were raided from Ṣafavid Iran, and the continuous flow of painters from Iran to the Mughal empire is a key factor in understanding Mughal painting.

      The mausoleum of Humāyūn in Delhi (1565–69), the city of Fateḥpūr Sīkri (Fatehpur Sikri) (from 1569 onward), and the Tāj Mahal (Taj Mahal) at Āgra (1631–53) summarize the development of Mughal architecture. In all three examples it can be seen that what Mughal architecture brought to the Islāmic tradition (other than traditional Indian themes, especially in decoration) was technical perfection in the use of red sandstone or marble as building and decorative materials.

      In Mughal painting the kind of subject that tended to be illustrated was remarkably close to those used in Ṣafavid history books—legendary stories, local events, portraits, genre scenes. What evolved quickly was a new manner of execution, and this style can be seen as early as about 1567, when the celebrated manuscript Dāstān-e Amīr Ḥamzeh (“Stories of Amīr Ḥamzeh”) was painted (some 200 miniatures (miniature painting) remain and are found in most major collections of Indian miniatures, especially at the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Traditional Iranian themes—battles, receptions, feasts—acquired monumentality, not only because of the inordinate size of the images but also because almost all of the objects and figures depicted were seen in terms of mass rather than line. Something of the colourfulness of Iranian painting was lost, but instead images acquired a greater expressive power. Mughal portraiture gave more of a sense of the individual than did the portraits of the Ṣafavids. As in a celebrated representation of a dying courtier in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Mughal drawings could be poignantly naturalistic. Mood was important to the Mughal artist—in many paintings of animals there is a playful mood; a sensuous mood is evident in the first Muslim images to glorify the female body and the erotic.

      In summary it can be said that the Mughals produced an art of extraordinary stylistic contrasts that reflected the complexities of its origins and of its aristocratic patronage.

Islāmic art under European influence and contemporary trends
      It is extremely difficult to decide when, how, and to what extent European art began to affect the art of the traditional Muslim world. Ottoman architecture was from the beginning affected by Western influences. In Mughal India, European landscapes and Western spatial concerns influenced painting in the 18th century; and Persian painting has exhibited constant Western influence since the 17th century. Thus, Islāmic art began to be affected by European traditions before Europe began (in the 18th and 19th centuries) its conquests of most of the Muslim world. Since the Ottomans ruled North Africa (except Morocco), Egypt, Syria, Palestine, as well as the Balkans, much of the Muslim world was first introduced to “modern” European art through its adaptation in Istanbul or in other major Ottoman cities like Smyrna or Alexandria.

      European influence tended to have been mostly limited to architecture. Nineteenth-century European engineers and architects, for example, adapted modern structural technology and decorative styles to local Islāmic needs or idioms: the Sūq al-Ḥamīdīyah bazaar in Damascus was built with steel roofing; the Hejaz railway station at Damascus was decorated in a sort of Oriental Art Nouveau style.

      During actual European occupation of Muslim territory, there was a conscious revival of traditional decorative arts (decorative art), but new techniques were often employed. This especially occurred in India and Morocco, where the retail success of an art object depended less on the local tradition than on the taste of the Europeans. What was romantic to a European, therefore, was no longer part of the world of the newly enriched and Europeanized Muslim. Much of the Europeanized architecture was drab and pretentious. The only real artistic accomplishment of this period was in the preservation and encouragement of the traditional techniques and designs of the decorative arts. The latter often had to be maintained artificially through government subsidies, for the local market, except in Morocco or India, was more easily seduced by second-rate European objects.

      During the period of occupation it was questioned whether alien techniques necessarily brought with them new forms. This mood was clearly expressed in literature but less so in the visual arts, since the quality of Muslim art had deteriorated so much in the decades preceding European arrival that there was no longer a lively creative force to maintain. As various schools based on the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris were formed, however, the faculties and the students suffered from constant uncertainty as to whether they should preserve an art that was mostly artisanal or revolutionize it altogether.

      It is much more difficult to define in broad terms the characteristics of art in Muslim countries after the formation of independent countries in the 1940s and '50s. Extensive planning programs and building projects have been undertaken in even the poorest countries; and the wealthy Arab states, as well as pre-revolutionary Iran, transformed their traditional cities and countryside with spectacular modern complexes ranging from housing projects to universities. Many of these buildings were planned and constructed by Western firms and architects, and some are mere copies of European and American models, ill-adapted to the physical conditions and visual traditions of the Muslim world. Others are interesting and even sensitive projects: spectacular and technically innovative, such as the Intercontinental Hotel in Mecca (Frei and Otto) and the Haj Terminal of the King Abdul Aziz International Airport at Jidda, Saudi Arabia (the U.S. firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill); or intelligent and imaginative, such as the government buildings of Dhākā (Dhaka), Bangladesh (designed by the late Louis Kahn of the United States), or in the numerous buildings designed by the Frenchman André Ravereau in Mali or Algeria. Furthermore, within the Muslim world emerged several schools of architects that adopted modes of an international language to suit local conditions. The oldest of these schools are in Turkey, where architects such as Eldhem and Cansever, among many others, built highly successful works of art. Other major Muslim contributors to a contemporary Islāmic architecture are the Iranians Nader Ardalan and Kemzan Diba, the Iraqis Rifat Chaderji and Muhammad Makkiya, the Jordanian Rassem Badran, or the Bangladeshi Mazhar ul-Islam. Finally, a unique message was being transmitted by the visionary Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, who, in eloquent and prophetic terms, urged that the traditional forms and techniques of vernacular architecture be studied and adapted to contemporary needs. Directly or indirectly, his work has inspired many young architects in the Muslim world and has led to a host of fascinating private houses, mosques, and educational facilities. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was instituted to encourage genuine and contemporary architectural innovation in Muslim lands.

      The results of dozens of new art schools and of a more enlightened patronage than during the 19th century are perhaps less spectacular in the other arts, and especially in painting. In spite of several interesting attempts to deal with calligraphy, with geometric designs, or with local folk arts, successes so far have not been clearly identified. But Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Pakistan, and Indonesia all have produced talented artists.

      In order to evaluate and to understand a millenary artistic tradition spread over an area extending from Spain to India, the emphasis of this article has had to be on those features that relate the monuments to each other rather than on the myriad of characteristics that differentiate them. A few words about the latter are essential, however, for very soon after the formation of Islāmic culture (certainly by 1000), it seems clear that the nature of aesthetic impulses and of visual expectations began to vary. The question is one of determining what may be called the break-off points: the areas, moments, or forces that led to differentiations. One such point is the early 14th century, for almost everywhere in Islām artistic functions, forms, and techniques were renewed. And it is quite easy to separate the arts that followed the turn of the century from those that preceded it.

      Next to this chronological break-off, there are cultural ones, one might almost say ethnic ones, even though their ethnic association is often debatable. The clearest instance is that of Iran, whose artists and craftsmen, almost from the time of the first groups of Nīshāpūr ceramics, used distinctive techniques, styles, and especially subjects, many of which can be traced to pre-Islāmic times. The existence of a forceful Iranian personality in Islāmic art is self-evident, and its impact is found in almost all other subdivisions of the culture. Although it was not a single or even (until the 16th century) a politically or socially unified personality, it found uniqueness, possibly because it soon became (as early as in the 9th century) strongly conscious of its ancient past. The fact of that consciousness seems more important than the individual and on the whole scarce motifs it picked up from the past. A more curious example is that of the Ottomans and of the Arabs. For their ethnic past, in Central Asia and Arabia, respectively, played only a minor part in the formation of their art and was often intellectually rejected. At the same time and with notable exceptions, neither entity consistently sought models and ideas in the pre-Islāmic art of the region they had occupied. If they succeeded in creating an original artistic expression, it is in large part because of their success in creating a viable social order: the Ottoman imperial system of the 15th century, the urban order supported by military feudalism of Egypt, Syria, and North Africa. In these areas it is less a land than a society that provided the visual arts with their own distinctiveness, and it is only in recent years that Ottoman art began to be seen as Turkish and Mamlūk art as Arab. The case of India lies somewhere between the Iranian and Ottoman instances. Created by an imperial overlay on a powerful alien culture, it never entirely escaped the forms of the latter.

      Thus, one can distinguish the following large cultural entities within Islāmic art: Ottoman, western Islāmic, Egypt and Fertile Crescent, Iran, India. They were all distinctive by the early 14th century. Detailed studies, of course, manage to find many additional subdivisions in time and space, and much mid-20th-century scholarship tended to work in those directions.

      Among the features that appear to unite these various traditions and especially to separate them collectively from other large artistic and cultural units is the unity of functions. There was created, in other words, an Islāmic religious and social function that is unique to Muslim lands. It was a diversified function, and its monuments are not alike in their forms. But they are alike in the human activity for which they were built. Limited in symbolic forms (miḥrāb, minaret, calligraphy as decoration), the Muslim function could be adapted to any architectural or ornamental tradition; and it was, not only in the cultures examined above, but in China, Indonesia, Africa—wherever Islām spread. The key concept here is that of a community of attitudes and of the uses of forms rather than of the making of forms.

      There is a corollary to this conclusion that leads to the second level of an attempt to identify Islāmic visual arts as a whole; namely, that, as Islām limited its system of religious visual symbols, it developed a set of secular values. From the very beginning there occurred a major art of trade and of the city, as well as an art of the palace. More than any other culture and certainly earlier than any other, the Muslim world created a number of secular tastes and sponsored techniques of secular beautification. The result lies, on the one hand, in a striking succession of palaces from Khirbat al-Mafjar to the Alhambra or to Fatehpur Sīkri. It lies also in the impetus given to techniques of ceramics, textiles, and metalwork. These all tended to be the techniques of the artisan, and their importance lies not so much in the manufacture of an occasional object of art as in the raising of the level of quality of all industrial or decorative arts. This particular feature of the Islāmic tradition survived all political misfortunes. Remarkably beautiful objects were made as late as the early 19th century, and the techniques and traditions have often been revived in the 20th century with considerable success. Historically, Islāmic art became a sort of secular consciousness of artistic traditions elsewhere. Renaissance madonnas, for instance, were provided sometimes with halos containing Arabic inscriptions; bodies of saints were buried in Muslim cloth; Christian princes collected objects of Islāmic art; and turquerie, or Turkish themes, lay behind one of the styles of European decorative arts in the Baroque (Baroque period) period of the 17th and 18th centuries. All this was possible also because the themes of Islāmic art almost never possessed the specificity of meaning that would make them unsuitable for use by others. Ambiguous in their abstraction of subjects and of styles, works of Islāmic art tended at times to the facile multiplication of known formulas. Yet again at this level, it was the user who determined the value of the form used.

      All this is not to say that Islāmic art did not develop an internal visual vocabulary with a depth of its own. From the mosaics of the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus to the Alhambra or to certain Persian ceramics, one can determine the existence of concrete symbolic systems, royal and religious. It is even possible to see in the abstract arabesque or in certain uses of calligraphy attempts to express an early Muslim vision of the divine, while the glorious colour of Iranian mosques (mosque) may reflect the more complex mystical thought of Shīʿism. There is no doubt that further research will provide many more examples of a meaningful visual symbolic system in the Muslim world. But in most instances that have already been studied—in particular Umayyad and Seljuq art—the remarkable point has been that such symbols did not last and that they were soon misunderstood or ignored. This refusal to be committed to visual symbols is reflected in the little that is known about Islāmic writing on art. It is only very incidentally that references are made to the value or meaning of visual expression; there are no theories on art, and even the religious injunctions against representations are a minute and almost incidental aspect of religious literature. Much more is known about individuals—ceramicists and metalworkers in early times, painters and architects in later times. The emphasis has always been on their technical skill, on their ability to do visual tricks, or on the speed and efficiency with which they created. The artist was regarded not as a prophet or a genius but as a technically equipped individual who succeeds in beautifying the surroundings of all men. It is in this manner that one can perhaps best define the Muslim artistic tradition: it avoided the conscious search for a unique masterpiece, and it did not build monuments for the eternal glory of God. It sought instead to please man and to make every moment of his life as attractive and enjoyable as possible. There is a hedonistic element in Islāmic art, therefore, but this hedonism is intellectually and emotionally mitigated by the conscious knowledge of the perishable character of all things human. In this fashion, Islāmic art seen as a whole is a curious paradox, for as it softened and embellished life's activities, it was created with destructible materials, thereby reiterating Islām's conviction that only God remains.

Oleg Grabar

Additional Reading

James Kritzeck (comp.), Modern Islamic Literature: From 1800 to the Present (1970), is a useful anthology of poetry and prose from different parts of the Muslim world. (Arabic literature): Carl Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, 2nd ed. (1943–49, and suppl., 1937–42), is the standard reference work containing information about almost every Arabic writer from pre-Islāmic to modern times. This work has been enlarged by Fuat Sezgīn, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums (1967– ) , who has included many hitherto unknown books and manuscripts. R.A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs, 2nd ed. (1930, reprinted 1969), emphasizes poetry in the classical age; his Studies in Islamic Poetry (1921, reprinted 1963) contains the best analysis of al-Maʿarri's poetry. H.A.R. Gibb, Arabic Literature, 2nd rev. ed. (1963), is concise and informative; the German translation, Arabische Literaturgeschichte (1968), of Gibb's book has been enlarged by a section on modern Arabic literature by Jacob M. Landau and has an extensive bibliography on works of Islāmic literature translated into western European languages. Gotthold Weil, Grundriss und System der altarabischen Metren (1958), is an introduction to Arabic prosody. Johann Füeck, Arabiya: Untersuchungen zur arabischen Sprach- und Stilgeschichte (1950), is an indispensable study of the development of a High Arabic style. Gustave E. Von Grunebaum, Kritik und Dichtkunst: Studien zur arabischen Literaturgeschichte (1955), contains essays on Arabic literature especially of the ʿAbbāsid period. Von Grunebaum's “Spirit of Islam as Shown in Its Literature,” in his Islam: Essays on the Nature and Growth of a Cultural Tradition, 2nd ed. (1961, reprinted 1981), is an important essay mainly concerned with Ḥarīrī's Maqāmāt, and his “Acculturation as a Theme in Contemporary Arab Literature,” in Diogenes, 39: 84–118 (1962), is a study on the problem of westernization in modern Arabic literature. ʿAbdalqāhir al-Jurjānī, Die Geheimnisse der Wortkunst (Asrār al-balāġa) . . . (1959), is a German translation by Hellmut Ritter of this classic on Arabic rhetoric. It is available also in the English translation, The Mysteries of Eloquence, ed. by Hellmut Ritter (1954). Adolf F. von Schack, Poesie und Kunst der Araber in Spanien und Sicilien, 2nd ed., 2 vol. (1877), though often superseded by modern research, remains a charming introduction to the culture and art of Moorish Spain. U.M. Daudpota, The Influence of Arabic Poetry on the Development of Persian Poetry (1934), attempts to show the formal influences of Arabic on early Persian poetry. Roger Allen, The Arabic Novel: An Historical and Critical Introduction (1982), covers 1938–80. Wolfhart Heinrichs, Arabische Dichtung und griechische Poetik (1969), is an important introduction to the literary criticism of classical Arabic literature.(Persian literature): Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature (1968; originally published in Czech, 1956), the standard work on Persian literature from its origins to the 20th century, includes folk literature and Tajik and Indo-Persian literature. See also Charles A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-Bibliographical Survey, 2 vol. in 4 (1970–72). Edward G. Browne, A Literary History of Persia, 4 vol. (1902–24, reprinted 1969–78), is an informative classic. A.J. Arberry, Classical Persian Literature (1958, reprinted 1967), is a classic work by one of the most prolific translators of Arabic and Persian poetry into English. Antonino Pagliaro and Alessandro Bausani, Storia della letteratura Persiana (1960), contains many interesting and unusual viewpoints. Hermann Ethé, “Neupersische Literatur,” and Theodor Nöldeke, “Das iranische Nationalepos,” in Wilhelm Geiger and Ernst Kuhn (eds.), Grundriss der iranischen Philologie, vol. 2 (1896–1904, reprinted 1974), provides a masterly survey of classical Persian literature, including Indo-Persian. Fritz M. Meier (ed. and trans.), Die schöne Mahsatī, vol. 1 (1963), an immensely learned work centring around the poet Mahsatī, deals with the development of the rubāʾī and other forms of Persian poetry. Hellmut Ritter, Über die Bildersprache Nizāmīs (1927), is the classic work on the imagery in Neẓāmī's poetry. Annemarie Schimmel, Stern und Blume (1984), deals with imagery in Persian poetry. Charles-H. de Fouchécour, La Description de la nature dans la poésie lyrique persane du XIe siècle (1969), is a study of nature imagery in particular in early Persian poetry. Friedrich Ruckert, Grammatik, Poetik und Rhetorik der Perser, ed. by Wilhelm Pertsch (1874, reprinted 1966), a translation and commentary of a late Indo-Persian manual of rhetoric, is noted for its acute observations and amusing details. Finn Thiesen, A Manual of Classical Persian Prosody (1982), is an introduction to problems of Persian, as well as Turkish and Urdu, prosody.(Turkish literature): E.J.W. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry, 6 vol. (1900–09, reprinted 1958–67), the classical study of the historical developments of Turkish literature from its beginnings to 1900, includes many translations of poems. Otto Spies, Die Türkische Prosa-literatur der Gegenwart (1943), deals with Turkish prose after the revolution.

“Bibliography of Asiatic Musics,” in the Music Library Association, Notes, 2nd series, vol. 5–6 (1947–49), an extensive bibliography compiled by five scholars, includes an important section on Islāmic music, with 592 references divided into categories dealing with music among Muslims in general, Arabic-speaking peoples, Turkic peoples, and Iranians and others. Henry George Farmer, A History of Arabian Music to the XIIIth Century (1929, reprinted 1967), is still regarded as a key historical study. His “Music of Islam,” in The New Oxford History of Music, vol. 1, pp. 421–77 (1957, reprinted 1966), is a good concise survey, as is Peter Crossley-Holland, “The Arabic World,” in the Pelican History of Music, vol. 1, pp. 118–36 (1960, reprinted 1978). Rodolphe von Erlanger (ed. and trans.), La Musique Arabe, 6 vol. (1930–59), includes French translations of the Arabic treatises by al-Fārābī, Avicenna, Ṣafī od-Dīn, and others (vol. 1–4) and devotes the last two volumes to an analytical study of contemporary Arabian music. Curt Sachs, The Rise of Music in the Ancient World, East and West (1943), has a large section on Arabic music in the context of an intercultural study. Mehdi Barkechli (ed.), La Musique traditionnelle de l'Iran (1963), gives a comprehensive musical transcription of the Radīf (modal systems of the Iranian traditional music). Adnan Saygun, “La Musique Turque,” in the Encyclopédie de la Pléiade, vol. 9, pp. 573–617 (1960); and Alexis Chottin, Tableau de la musique marocaine (1939), discuss regional and local particularities and have useful bibliographies. Amnon Shiloah, Caractéristiques de l'art vocal arabe au moyen-âge (1963), is an important essay on medieval Islāmic vocal music, and his Theory of Music in Arabic Writings (c. 900–1900) (1979), is an extensive analytical catalog of manuscripts and published sources on Arabic music. See also O. Wright, The Model System of Arab and Persian Music, A.D. 1250–1300 (1978), an analytical presentation of the system based on Persian and Arabic medieval treatises; Kurt Reinhard and Ursula Reinhard, Turquie (1969), a comprehensive presentation of Turkish music in its diverse aspects; and Ella Zonis, Classical Persian Music (1973), a comprehensive historical study.

Dance and theatre
The classic work on the shadow play in the Middle East is still Georg Jacob, Geschichte des Schattentheaters im Morgan- und Abendland, 2nd ed. (1925, reprinted 1972). Metin And, A History of Theatre and Popular Entertainment in Turkey (1963–64), is a perceptive, scholarly account of the Turkish theatre in all its manifestations, and his Pictorial History of Turkish Dancing (1976) is an excellent study on the subject. Christa Ursula Spuler, Das türkische Drama der Gegenwart (1968), treats in more detail 20th-century Turkish playwrights and theatrical literature. Nicholas N. Martinovich, The Turkish Theatre (1933, reprinted 1968); and Hellmut Ritter, Karagös, 3 vol. (1924–53), comprise translations of Turkish shadow plays into English and German, respectively. Ignacz Kunos, Das türkische Volksschauspiel Orta ojnu (1908), is an introduction to the ortaoyunu popular shows, with samples translated into German.As for the Persian theatre and dance (mainly the latter), the most up-to-date book is Medjid Rezvani, Le Théâtre et la danse en Iran (1962). Peter J. Chelkowski (ed.), Taʾziyeh: Ritual and Drama in Iran (1979), is a collection of scholarly writings on the subject. Charles Virolleaud, Le Théâtre persan, ou le drama de Kerbéla (1950), is a good sampling of taʿziyahs in French translation. The Arab theatre and dance (chiefly the former) are discussed in Jacob M. Landau, Studies in the Arab Theater and Cinema (1958), which also includes a detailed list of Arabic plays.

Visual arts
Among the numerous works dealing with Islāmic art as a whole, only one can be recommended as having a text of considerable merit—Katharina Otto-Dorn, Kunst des Islam (1964). An important, though partial, interpretation is found in Titus Burckhardt, Art of Islam: Language and Meaning (1976). Alexandre Papadopoulo, Islam and Muslim Art (1979, originally published in French, 1976), presents excellent photographic surveys. See also Milo Cleveland Beach, The Imperial Image: Paintings from the Mughal Court (1981). K.A.C. Creswell, A Bibliography of the Architecture, Arts and Crafts of Islam (1961), with a supplement covering 1960–72 (1973), is a good bibliographical source; current literature on Islāmic art in all languages is surveyed in the Abstracta Islamica, published as an annual supplement to the Revue des Études Islamiques in Paris. Textual information about the arts has never been properly gathered. For a typical text on painters, see Qādī Aḥmad, Calligraphers and Painters, trans. from the Persian by Vladimir Minorsky (1959). The only lists of artists have been collected by Leo A. Mayer in several books, of which the most important are Islamic Metalworkers and Their Works (1959) and Islamic Architects and Their Works (1956). The vast majority of material on Islāmic art is to be found in periodicals rather than in books. The three publications that have dealt or deal systematically with all aspects of Islāmic art are Ars Islamica (irregular, 1934–51; reprinted in 16 vol., 1968), Ars Orientalis (irregular from 1954), and Kunst des Orients (annual from 1950). Articles are published in English, French, and German.

Area surveys
(Spain): Manuel Gómez-Moreno, El arte árabe español hasta los almohades y arte mozárabe (1951); and Leopoldo Torres Balbás, Arte almohade; arte nazarí; arte mudéjar (1949). (North Africa): There is no recent general work dealing with all the arts; for architecture the indispensable manual is that of Georges Marçais, L'Architecture musulmane d'Occident (1955), which deals also with Spain. (Egypt): Dietrich Brandenburg, Islamische Baukunst in Ägypten (1966), is a convenient summary but does not supersede the exhaustive work of K.A.C. Creswell, Muslim Architecture of Egypt, 2 vol. (1952–59, reprinted 1979), going only up to the middle of the 14th century; and Louis Hautecoeur and Gaston Wiet, Les Mosquées du Caire, 2 vol. (1932). A useful periodical is the Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. (Palestine, Syria): There are no coherent works dealing with the whole area; Jean Sauvaget, Alep (1941), is a model (in French) of what can be done with a single city over the centuries; key journals are Syria (quarterly), Levant (annual), and Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine (until 1950, when it was superseded in part by the annual publication of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan), and Annales Archéologiques de Syrie (annual). (Iraq and upper Mesopotamia): The main archaeological source is still Friedrich Sarre and Ernst Herzfeld, Archäologische Reise im Euphrat- und Tigris-Gebiet, 4 vol. (1911–20); a model of archaeological history is Robert M. Adams, Land Behind Baghdad (1965). The main journals are Sumer (annual) and Iraq (semiannual). (Anatolia): Esin Atil (ed.), Turkish Art (1980), covers all fields evenly and has a good bibliography; see also Yanni Petsopoulos (ed.), Tulips, Arabesques and Turbans: Decorative Arts from the Ottoman Empire (1982). Ekrem Akurgal (ed.), The Art and Architecture of Turkey (1980), is a historical treatment of major and minor arts. The principal journals are Anatolica (annual) and Anatolian Studies (annual). (Iran): Nothing has superseded Arthur Upham Pope and Phyllis Ackerman (eds.), A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present, 3rd ed. (1977– ). One may also consult André Godard, The Art of Iran (1965, originally published in French, 1962); and the chapters by Oleg Grabar in The Cambridge History of Iran, “The Visual Arts,” vol. 4, pp. 329–63 (1975), and “The Visual Arts, 1050–1350,” vol. 5, pp. 626–58 (1968). Important information is to be found in Hans E. Wulff, The Traditional Crafts of Persia (1966); and in several works by Arthur Upham Pope, such as Persian Architecture (1965). Periodicals of importance are the defunct Athār-é Īrān (1936–49), the Bulletin of the American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology, and Iran (annual), the active journal of the British School. (India): Among several architectural surveys, Percy Brown, Indian Architecture, vol. 2, The Islamic Period, 6th ed. (1971), is the best. See also R. Nath, History of Sultanate Architecture (1978), and History of Mughal Architecture (1982); Wayne E. Begley, “Myth of the Taj Mahal and a New Theory of Its Symbolic Meaning,” The Art Bulletin, 61:7–37 (March 1979); and Elizabeth B. Moynihan, Paradise as a Garden (1979).

(Architecture): John D. Hoag, Islamic Architecture (1976); George Michell (ed.), Architecture of the Islamic World: Its History and Social Meaning (1978); and Nader Ardalan and Laleh Bakhtiar, The Sense of Unity: The Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture (1973, reprinted 1979). (Painting): Richard Ettinghausen, Arab Painting (1962); Basil Gray, Persian Painting from Miniatures of the XIII–XVI Centuries (1947); and Douglas E. Barrett and Basil Gray, Painting of India (1963, reissued 1978 as Indian Painting). See also Oleg Grabar, The Illustrations of the Maqamat (1984). (Metalwork): Eva Baer, Metalwork in Medieval Islamic Art (1983); Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani, Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, 8–18th Centuries (1982); and James W. Allan, Islamic Metalwork: The Nuhad Es-Said Collection (1982). The field owes much to the work of the late D.S. Rice: “Studies in Islamic Metalwork,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 14–16 (1952–57); “Inlaid Brasses from the Workshop of Aḥmad al-Dhakī al-Mawṣilī,” Ars Orientalis, 2:283–326 (1957); The Wade Cup in the Cleveland Museum of Art (1955); and Le Baptistère de Saint Louis (1951). See also Richard Ettinghausen, “The Wade Cup . . . ,” Ars Orientalis, 2:327–366 (1957). (Ceramics): The key studies are Arthur Lane, Early Islamic Pottery (1947, reprinted 1965), and Later Islamic Pottery, 2nd ed. (1971). (Carpets): Among scholarly studies on carpets are those of Kurt Erdmann, especially Oriental Carpets (1960, reissued 1976; originally published in German, 2nd ed., 1960), and Seven Hundred Years of Oriental Carpets (1970; originally published in German, 1966). (Ivories): John Beckwith, Caskets from Cordoba (1960), is a scholarly study of Moorish ivory work. In addition, see Ernst Kühnel, Die islamischen Elfenbeinskulpturen, VIII.–XIII. Jahrhundert (1971).

Historical works
(Early period): Most of the problems are summarized in Oleg Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art (1973). For architecture the main books are K.A.C. Creswell, Early Muslim Architecture (vol. 1, 2nd ed., 1969; vol. 2, 1941; reissued 1979, 2 vol. in 3); R.W. Hamilton, Khirbat al-Mafjar (1959); and Jean Sauvaget, La Mosquée omeyyade de Médine (1947). (Middle period): On the Faṭimids, see Richard Ettinghausen, “Painting in the Fatimid Period,” Ars Islamica, 9:112–124 (1942). On the Seljuqs, for Iran, in addition to vol. 4 of The Cambridge History of Iran, see Richard Ettinghausen, “Some Comments on Medieval Iranian Art,” Artibus Asiae, 31:276–300 (1969); for Syria and Egypt, one should consult Ernst Herzfeld, “Damascus,” Ars Islamica, vol. 9–12 (1942–51); and Jean Sauvaget et al., Les Monuments Ayyoubides de Damas, 4 vol. (1938–50); and for Anatolia, Kurt Erdmann, Das anatolische Karavansaray des 13 Jahrhunderts, 3 vol. (1961–76). Major monuments are discussed by Richard Ettinghausen in “The Bobrinski Kettle,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 24:193–208 (1943); “The Iconography of a Kāshān Luster Plate,” Ars Orientalis, 4:25–64 (1961); “The Flowering of Seljuq Art,” Metropolitan Museum Journal, 3:113–131 (1970); and Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani (ed.), Le Roman de “Varge et Golšâh” (1970). Newer interpretations of the Alhambra are based on Frederick P. Bargebuhr, The Alhambra (1968; originally published in Spanish, 1966); see also Oleg Grabar, The Alhambra (1978). Esin Atil, Renaissance of Islam (1981), is a comprehensive study of Mamlūk art; see also Saleh L. Mostafa, Kloster und Mausoleum des Farağ ibn Barq[utilde]q in Kairo (1968). For Mongol architecture, see Donald N. Wilber, The Architecture of Islamic Iran: The Il Khānid Period (1955, reprinted 1969); Lisa Golombek, The Timurid Shrine at Gazur Gah (1969); and various accounts in the annual Iran. For painting, see Ernst J. Grube, The Classical Style in Islamic Painting (1968), but especially the rich volume of Ivan Stchoukine, Les Peintures des manuscrits tîmûrides (1954); and M.S. Ipsiroglu, Painting and Culture of the Mongols (1966; originally published in German, 1965). See also Oleg Grabar and Sheila Blair, Epic Images and Contemporary History: The Illustrations of the Great Mongol Shahnama (1980). (Late period): For Ottoman architecture, Godfrey Goodwin, A History of Ottoman Architecture (1971); and Aptullah Kuran, The Mosque in Early Ottoman Architecture (1968), supersede all previous work. Painting is covered in Nurhan Atasoy and Filiz Çaǧman, Turkish Miniature Painting (1974). For ceramics, see Arthur Lane, “The Ottoman Pottery of Isnik,” Ars Orientalis, 2:247–282 (1957). For Ṣafavid architecture, see Donald N. Wilber, Persian Gardens and Garden Pavilions, 2nd ed. (1979); Renata Holod (ed.), Studies on Isfahan (1974); Eugenio Galdieri, Eṣfahān, ʿAli Qāpū: An Architectural Survey (1979); Martin Bernard Dickson and Stuart C. Welch (eds.), The Houghton Shahnameh (1981); and Anthony Welch, Artists for the Shah: Late Sixteenth-Century Painting at the Imperial Court of Iran (1976). The most important publications on painting are both by Ivan Stchoukine, Les Peintures des manuscrits Safavīs de 1502 à 1587 (1959), and Les Peintures des manuscrits de Shāh ʿAbbās Ier à la fin des Safavīs (1964). The principal work on India is Stuart C. Welch, The Art of Mughal India (1963, reprinted 1976). For contemporary architecture see Renata Holod (ed.), Architecture and Community (1983), and the quarterly journal Mimar, published in Singapore.Annemarie Schimmel Amnon Shiloah Jacob M. Landau Oleg Grabar

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