Representative arts

Other Names:
Pictorial arts
Depiction of human figures
Graven images

It is through the fine arts that man portrays in material and concrete shapes his total personality. For the lovers of pictorial arts, pictures are no less meaningful than divine texts. The artist interprets the physical into the spiritual, aspiring to catch beauty and put soul into mute lines, elevating himself to contemplation of his creative efforts and enabling others to share with him the pleasing, restful feeling. The inherent danger of this very hypnotic and obsessive quality of artistic beauty is that it may not always be healthy either for the artist himself or for humanity in general. It may be fractional, partial or even perverted, as instanced by the classic focus on the naked human body. While Islam uses representative arts for utilitarian purposes (identity photographs, surgical diagrams), the sense of beauty and artistry is entirely channelled into prayer, especially congregational worship, rather than risking its dissipation in distracting imagery and the further risk of perpetuating its failures and inadequacies in material record. Human portraits in the form of sculpture, painting or photography demean the dignity of the human personality by isolating its carnal features, separated from the human faith and beliefs that are its true meaning. It is thus a prostitution of human thoughts, emotions and activities to waste them for any other function than honest, sincere and actual achievement of the serious purposes of life.


Of all the living religions, only Islam bans the representative arts. However certain puritanical Christian sects have strong reservations about the use of what amount to graven images.

Narrower Problems:
Unnatural performing arts
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST