According to Islam, human works of art are inherently flawed compared to the work of God; thus, it is believed by many that attempting to realistically depict the form of an animal or person is insolence to God.
This tendency affected the narrowing field of artistic possibility to such forms of art as Arabesque, mosaic, Islamic calligraphy, and Islamic architecture, as well as any form of abstraction that can claim the status of non-representational art.
Limited possibilities have been explored by artists as an outlet to artistic expression, and has been cultivated to become a positive style and tradition, emphasizing the decorative function of art, or its religious functions via non-representational forms such as Geometric patterns, floral patterns, and arabesques.
Human or animal depiction is generally forbidden. Muslims believe these depictions lead to sculptural pieces, which then leads to worship of that sculpture or “idol”. Human portrayals can be found in early Islamic cultures with varying degrees of acceptance by religious authorities. Human representation for the purpose of worship is uniformly considered idolatry as forbidden in Sharia law.
Islamic art does not pertain to religion only. The term “Islamic” refers not only to the religion, but to any form of art created in an Islamic culture or in an Islamic context. Not all Muslims are in agreement on the use of art in religious observance, the proper place of art in society, or the relation between secular art and the demands placed on the secular world to conform to religious precepts. Islamic art frequently adopts secular elements and elements that are frowned upon, if not forbidden, by some Islamic theologians.
The calligraphic arts grew out of an effort to devote oneself to the study of the Quran. By patiently transcribing each word of the text, the writer was made to contemplate the meaning of it. As time passed, these calligraphic works began to be prized as works of art, growing increasingly elaborate in the illumination and stylizing of the text. These illuminations were applied to other works besides the Quran, and it became a respected art form in and of itself.