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Devotional Art

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

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    Devotional Art

    Fine or folk art created or utilized specifically for protection, intercession, or votive offering. Must be evaluated within the context of its function in the daily activities of believers, not for its aesthetic or economic merits. Provides documentation of everyday religious practices and rituals of the average believer even within what is otherwise characterized as the aniconic religious culture of Islam. For example, amulets and talismans such as a hand-crafted “hand of Fatimah” divert the evil eye, protect women and children, and reverse infertility, while geometrically orchestrated designs of the name of Allah protect believers under any circumstance. May be identified by association, for example, pious objects from pilgrimage such as drawings, engravings, photographs, or hangings illustrating relics or buildings while pilgrimage sites locate devotionalism. Includes the careful and elegant transcription of the Quran, particularly the bismillah and scriptural passages about protective imagery such as surah 2:256 ; the resulting calligraphy is highly esteemed by believers. Examples such as modern Islamic iconography—for example, portraits of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran—attest to its inherent links with religion and politics, and to the ubiquitous presence of religion in everyday life.

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