Impact and Influence Today
Yasser Tabbaa's The Transformation of Islamic Art During the Sunni Revival has been described as a timely and important contribution to the field of Islamic art and architecture. Some of his main conclusions are controversial. Scholars such as Sheila Blair, Madhuri Desai, Finbarr Barry Flood, Alain George, and Bernard O'Kane have expressed a range of opinions regarding Tabbaa's essential thesis. He also criticizes Orientalists and art historians of an earlier generation who saw the main features of Islamic art as timeless reflections of an Oriental or Islamic spirit. Tabbaa is highly critical of a school he collectively refers to as "a group of aestheticians and Muslim fundamentalists". According to him, this group, including Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr, adopt an essentialist perspective that sees Islamic art as a reflection of timeless Islamic religious and cultural values, and thus overlook the possibility that the meaning of Islamic art changed over time.