The Spiritual Significance of Islamic Art – The Vision of Titus Ibrahim Burckhardt

Burckhardt was a Sufi and esoterist who had marched practically the whole of his adult life on the spiritual path which leads to the encounter with the One. He was also a great expositor of the perennial philosophy, a connoisseur of the sacred art of the great traditions of East and West, a profound critic from the spiritual point of view of modern art and himself an artist who possessed a rare visual intelligence.

–Seyyed Hossein Nasr

The Spiritual Significance of Islamic Art - The Vision of Titus Ibrahim BurckhardtBurckhardt not only spoke and wrote about Islamic art and architecture but also demonstrated why Islamic art is in fact Islamic. He expounded the traditional metaphysics of art according to which a work of art is composed of a “form” and a “matter”, the “form” issuing from the revelation which dominates over the civilization in question and the “matter” being the inherited methods, techniques, materials, imagery, etc, which the civilization in question inherits from what came before it, but upon which it imposes the “form” that has descended from Heaven. That is why each type of traditional art, at the heart of which lies sacred art, has its own spiritual character and genius while it also presents a certain material continuity with what preceded it historically. Burckhardt showed clearly and in an unprecedented manner that in the case of Islamic art this “form” flows from the Qu’ranic revelation, and that furthermore it is in reality to the inner dimension of the Noble Quran, or its haqiqah, that one must turn in order to arrive at the source and principles of this art.

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Titus Burckhardt was a master jury member of Aga Khan Award for Architecture 1978-1980 Cycle.

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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