"As we bring the gospel home to our family, we dare not do so as a self-righteous older brother. Even if our family members are out squandering their inheritance with prostitutes or wallowing in the mud with pigs, if we’re pointing to our record of good behavior while condemning their wicked ways, it will be some message other than the gospel that they hear. They would be wise to reject such a message." (Randy Newman - Bringing the Gospel Home)
Seeking to understand Islam, not just on a theological level, but on multiple levels, I have developed an interest in exploring the art and aesthetics of Islam as well, considering what Christians could learn from Muslims and what Muslims could learn from Christians. Nada Shabout makes the following observations in "Understanding Islamic Aesthetics":
What is important in Islamic painting is not that the subject be represented as it appears in nature, but rather that the autonomous cosmos created by the artist, with its own structure, language, and laws, be clear to the viewer. It was forbidden to represent a particular individual via portraiture. Animate beings and life were identified with individuality, not with form, rendering them an idea or concept rather than a concrete representation. For the Islamic artist, God creates life by giving form an individuality without which it cannot be alive. The artist can only reproduce the most characteristic general traits of a person without bestowing on the figure any individuality, and thus has no fear of competing with God's creative act.
Both figures and animals were painted as flat and two-dimensional, mere abstractions of the ideas they embodied. Everything is brought up to the immediate foreground. The absence of a third dimension symbolizes the reality of the surface and emphasizes the fantasy world of the painting. Instead of the linear perspective used later in the West to organize space, Muslim artists utilized what might be termed a spiritual perspective. This perspective follows spiritual rules governed by the understanding of the relationship between God's eternal existence and the transient existence of the world at large. Accordingly, Muslim artists can show the inside and outside of a building at once, and do not need to conform to any natural laws in their use of light and shadow. Islamic art is an intuitive art which aims at comprehending the eternal essence, by giving evidence that both Beauty, and God, exist. It is the art of contemplating God's glories.
A choise comment from "Amusing Ourselves To Death" by Neil Postman.
“The spectacle we find in true religions has as its purpose enchantment, not entertainment ... Enchantment is the means through which we may gain access to sacredness. Entertainment is the means through which we distance ourselves from it."