I agree with Grabar’s argument because the Islamic empire assimilated different aspects of conquered cultures that “appeared most significant” to benefit their own empire (43). Islamic dynasties used art to illustrate their dominance and universal rule over other cultures. The Muslim empire visually represented their power over newly conquered peoples by adopting many, many different art styles . This method practiced tolerance, but still kept Islamic beliefs as the central focus.
The aim of artistic representation in early Islamic culture was make newly appropriated cultures accept Muslim traditional rulers. If the Muslims were tolerant enough to keep a defeated culture and people alive, in turn the conquered peoples had to accept their new caliphs. Thus the definition of Islamic style morphed and grew over the years. Yet because Islamic art and architecture came from so many different lands and peoples, the origins of specific designs could often be read as contradictory. There have been centuries of scholarly disagreement over incomplete textual and visual evidence, especially in sites such as the Dome of the Rock (49). The Dome of the Rock is an example of building a muslim structure on a contested holy site, thus “Islamizing a Jewish holy place” (54). Dome of the Rock inscriptions are a mix of Islamic, Judaism, and Christianity references, but because it was built under a Muslim ruler the multiple implications are reinterpreted as Muslim alone. A secular example of Islamic appropriation is the city of Baghdad, which was “an attempt to relate the Muslim world to the rich past of the Near East” (67). In order to preserve a sense of their empire’s original cultural heritage, the Muslim empire took the art and architecture of it’s conquered people and repurposed it into Islamic culture. As mentioned in Islam for Beginners, Muslim people lived amongst the ruins of past nations. Thus, in order to stake a cultural claim, they had to create a definable cultural look for themselves, even if it meant reinterpreting preexisting holy sites to the Muslim faith. The Qusayr Amrah Fresca, Dome of the Rock, and the city of Baghdad are all examples of Islamizing forms of ideas of old. Architecture was especially beneficial because it lasted longer, thus preserving the name of the Muslim Empire. It is a political, almost propaganda-like act to take over the sacred land of a different faith or faiths. Part of the purpose of culture, or repurposing culture, is to advance past the art and civilizations that proceeded them. Even nations today are not averse to erecting their own monuments as symbols of victory of conquered land.