chapter  4
8 Pages

The Lawfulness of Painting in Early Islam *

WithK.A.C. Creswell

The paintings of KuṤair ‘amra raise, in an imperative fashion, the question of the lawfulness or otherwise of painting in Islam. Even at the present day the belief is very widely held that all forms of painting are forbidden by explicit passages in the Koran, but this is a popular error for no such passages exist, as orientalists have frequently pointed out. As Becker has pointed out, John knew the doctrines of Islam well, his quotations from the Koran in Greek are sometimes almost literal translations of the original, and he even gives the actual names of the suras cited. The Jewish influence was doubtless due to the internal effect of Jews who had been converted to Islam, like the famous Yemenite Jew Ka‘b al-Ahbar, who was called Rabbi Ka‘b on account of his wealth of theological and especially Biblical knowledge. Ka‘b entered Jerusalem with Omar, was converted to Islam in 638 a.d., and died in 652 or 654.