“The point is important in defining an essential aspect of early Islamic culture, the conscious attempt to relate meaningfully to the conquered world, by Islamizing forms and ideals of old,” (68-69). I agree with Grabar’s argument which I think he strongly illustrates with his closing statement being that “one aspect of early Islamic art – perhaps of any art – is that which identifies itself as unique and different and, while the forms and the meanings of these uniquenesses vary, the structural fact remains,” (71). Through his discussion of three historically significant perspectives at varying scales – the Qusayr Amrah’s fresco, the Dome of the Rock, and Baghdad – Grabar examines the ways in which meaning is made in both historical and artistic context of the rise of Islamic culture. I find these to be compelling examples of the way in which the Muslim world related to the “conquered world” and how the shifts in power and hierarchy necessitate this need to become defined, while being layered with centuries of art and culture from previous as well as contemporary civilizations.
Within this idea of appropriation which Grabar discusses, he mentions for all three examples “that they went beyond “presence” into a sort of affirmation of possession or rather of appropriation,” (68). This use of bits and pieces of earlier cultures that existed before them is an important point to understand the development of Islamic art through Islamizing by taking on elements of other cultures and incorporating them into their own. This meaningful type of relation which draws from a variety of preceding cultures and styles – references to Greek and Christian inscriptions, Sassanian and Byzantine architectural and artistic allusions – all visually explain Islam’s relation to the past.