Contemporary Islam

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 409–411 | Cite as

Review of Ingvild Flaskerud, Visualizing Belief and Piety in Iranian Shiism

London and New York: Continuum, 2010, xiii + 299pp. ISBN 978-1-4411-4907-7
  • William O. BeemanEmail author

In this extensive study Ingvild Flaskerud addresses a fundamental, but not often discussed question in Islamic theology and practice: the legitimacy and role of imagery in religious activities. Most readers with a basic knowledge of Islam likely realize that images of humans and often of animals—beings that might be said to have ‘souls’—are forbidden or at least suspect in conservative Islamic circles. In particular the Prophet Mohammad is considered to be sacrosanct to the point that political and social controversy have been unleashed when depictions of his face have been drawn or painted.

These restrictions on imagery seem to have their own curious social history. We have excellent examples of medieval Arabic texts that contain drawings of the Prophet and other religious figures that would be objectionable in later periods. Moreover, there are many areas of the Islamic world where imagery, especially religious imagery, not only has long currency, but is an important component of...


Shiism Religious images Religion Iran 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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