Islamic Art vs Cartoons A Short Look At The Psychology

Bismillahi rahmani raheem, assalamu alaikum,

Cartoons, islamicllay speaking are flawed and contrary to the wisdom and Knowledge Islam is trying to pass on.

Insha allah i can explain what Imam al Ghazali (as) understood about the subject of teaching knowledge, drawing people and idols, in a short reply. Imam al Ghazali said the Quran is like the sun for man’s mind, just like sunlight makes this world visible to the eye the Quran directs man’s perception, his inner self to the invisible things Allah created, like Jannah, hell, the Angels and Jinn, everything mentioned by Allah.

The Quran is an illuminating light for a persons consciousness so they can direct themselves to Allah, this is tawhid, to turn your heart and conscious awareness to Allah in every moment you live. But there are things that hinder this process in creation one of them is Idol worship, in modern times the same psychological mechanisms for idol worship are used by hollywood to increase the “idol” of their movie stars, in the prophets time their was no hollywood but the prophet (saws) identified the closest thing to this and that is drawing people and making statues.

He (saws) warned against it saying it leads to idol worship hence the same psychological mechanisms exist for appreciating a painting or drawing as that of idol worshiping. Islam eliminated idol worshiping but the prophet (saws) said he still feared hidden shirk even more than the Dajjaal, which is being attracted, inthralled or infatuated by similar things because they distort a persons view of the world and enough of it destroys a person from the inside out without their notice.

When you use drawings or Cartoons to teach wisdom, which is the case with Islamic cartoons, it hinders the light of that knowledge from taking the proper shape in a person self so they get a distorted image of the wisdom, it does the opposite of what you want, when you characterise humans in a semi comedic tone that further distorts the wisdom almost negating it because at the time a person is considering the wisdom behind the words he can’t be considering humour as well they work contrary to each other, the prophet (saws) said laughter deadens the heart while you want people to open their hearts to consider knowledge and wisdom.

These are the psychological mechanism of what is wrong with this effort, clearly artist are talented people so i am not saying saying abandon this format but their are better images that can be used to pass on a message. Look at arabesque art in Islamic architecture for example they used abstract images to focus the mind because abstract art removes much of the distraction and gives clarity allowing the feeling of peace to shine in the atmosphere of the room. Had they gone for realism this would not have been the case and worked against their aims. If we are to use this format to teach children then we should be using abstract images that are more stylised and closer to nature in their imagery.

My book “Art and Islamic Architecture” explains in some ways the method behind classical islamic art, which artists may like to consider using, islamic art is beautiful and most people would appreciate it, it may be surprising to learn but in fantasy movies Elves and their culture are modelled after classical islamic society seen most clearly in the architecture envisioned for their cities, their long ears symbolise that they are high listeners meaning they pay attention to wisdom and arabesque is the hall mark of the society J.RR Tolkien envisioned for them, my other book “Art Islam and Wisdom” shows some good example of Islamic weaponry which their weapons are similarly modelled after.

Khair insha allah wa assalamu alaikum.