The Minneapolis Institute of ArtsWorld Religions in Art
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Door Panel

Door Panel
Artist Unknown
14th century
Wood and ivory

Possibly one of the most complex and misunderstood Islamic concepts is that of jihad, or Holy War, which requires Muslims to defend Islam whenever it is threatened. Jihad is most commonly used to explain violent episodes: Muslims believe that if they are threatened with death they should sacrifice themselves for the sake of Islam, for to do so is a path to heaven. However, jihad, which also means “struggle,” does not necessarily refer to physical violence; it can refer to one’s inner struggle or the spiritual efforts to further the spread of Islam.

Influence of Islam
All things point to God. This Muslim belief underlies the search for knowledge, or ‘ilm, and the understanding of God’s creation. Science and reason therefore come from wisdom through God, who is given credit for all knowledge.

Islamic culture has shaped the world as we know it today with developments in astronomy, art, chemistry, geography, medicine, mathematics, philosophy, physics, and poetry. The Islamic area became the major commercial and intellectual conduit between East and West. Chinese paper, silk, porcelain, pasta, gunpowder, Indian medicine and spices, Arabic mathematics, and Turkish textiles all made their way west, frequently through trade with Italian city-states. This international trade contributed to the wealth and advanced knowledge of Islamic dynasties.

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