ness of Allah. Muslims believe that
a human or animal form drawn in a
sacred place such as a mosque—
considered by Muslims to be the House
of Allah—is tantamount to usurping
Allah’s role as a Creator.
Secular Art Forms in Islam
Apart from calligraphy, there are
other art forms that are secular in
nature. The art of Islam is rich in its
architecture and the decorative arts.
A slide presentation of the mosques
(masjid) can be juxtaposed with
images of places of worship in other
cultures. The most worthwhile
follow-up to this lesson would be
a field trip to a mosque where stu-
dents could make a comparative
study of the architectural features of
a mosque with that of a church or a
Hindu temple or a synagogue.
The unit I describe is made up
of two weeks of lesson outlines
designed for art teachers who wish
to take a multicultural interdisciplinary path. Its purpose is to provide a guideline on how to teach
about a culture that is unfamiliar to
students and perhaps to the teacher.
It can be made as detailed or complex as an instructor pleases.
By combining the known—
students’ own culture—with the
unknown—Islam in this case—it
becomes less threatening and is a
pedagogically sound practice. An
outline of this unit of instruction
for two weeks of a semester is found
on the SchoolArts Web site at www.
Themina Kader is an assistant professor
at State University, New Paltz, New York.
Students reflect on how artworks
differ visually, spatially, temporally,
and functionally, and describe how
these are related to history and culture.
Visit schoolartsonline.com for
lesson plans related to this article.
Author’s Note: The two images included
in this article are my own works (not student art) because I was unsuccessful in
my efforts to locate a school, and an art
teacher who was willing and interested
enough to allow me to work with students
on a subject that is considered very controversial for them and which they fear
might violate the injunction against the
separation of church and state. My article
is in no way promoting or proselytizing
one religious belief over another.