SOAS University of London

London Middle East Institute

The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World

The Image Debate
Christiane Gruber, Editor of The Image Debate

Date: 21 June 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 21 June 2019Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: Alumni Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Book Launch

The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World is a collection of thirteen essays examining the controversy surrounding the use of images in Islamic and other religious cultures and seeking to redress some of the misunderstandings that have arisen. Written by leading academics from the UK, Australia, Turkey, Israel and USA, the book opens with an introduction by the editor Christiane Gruber, who sets the subject in context with a detailed examination of the debates over idols and the production of figural images in Islamic traditions. Twelve further articles are divided into three sections: the first deals with pre-modern Islamic practices and anxieties with image-making; the second addresses similar issues in Judaism, in Christianity during the Byzantine period, in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia, and in Hindu and Buddhist contexts in South Asia; and the third brings the reader back to Islamic lands with five articles examining traditions of figural representation in the modern and contemporary periods.
Professor Christiane Gruber, Editor of The Image Debate, will give a lecture on a number of paintings of the Prophet Muhammad produced in Persian and Turkish lands from about 1300 to 1600 CE. These images represent Muhammad’s individual traits, primordial luminosity, and veiled essence. Their pictorial motifs reveal that pre-modern artists working in eastern Islamic lands engaged in abstract thought and turned to symbolic motifs in order to imagine Muhammad’s origins and prophetic standing. Within a variety of Islamic expressive cultures, manuscript paintings thus functioned as a powerful means for devotional engagement with Muhammad, the ‘praiseworthy’ Prophet of Islam.

Followed by a drinks reception. Books will be available for sale at the launch.

Admission free though pre-registration is required, to register a place e-mail:

Organiser: Gingko in association with the London Middle East Institute

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