The First Responses
Shortly after the book's publication, a number of scholars criticized Yassser Tabbaa for his selective use of sources and limited scope of enquiry. In Madhuri Desai's review, she criticizes Tabbaa for crediting changes and the exchange of ideas solely to a politically motivated policy of Sunni religious expansion. Desai also describes the symbolic connections Tabbaa proposes between theological tenets and transformations as "not always convincing" due to a lack of adequate textual material to support such interpretations. Finbarr Barry Flood also highlights several points of contention. Flood suggests that their use in the Zangid monuments of the Jazira in the twelfth century may actually be evidence of regional continuity. As Flood explains, polylobed arches existed in Sassanian Iraq and appear in Abbasid monuments such as the palace at Ukhaydir. Despite their criticisms, both Desai and Flood are highly complementary of Tabbaa's research and ambition in writing The Transformation of Islamic Art.