Islamic Arts : Islamic Stained Glass

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Islamic Arts : Islamic Stained Glass   

Understanding Islam

The earliest reported Islamic use of stained glass for the beautification of buildings was in the 7th century in Egypt. Further, modern archaeological discoveries have linked the trade of stained glass from Egypt to Vietnam in the 9th century. 

By contrast, in Europe the art of stained glass reached its height between 1150 and 1500, when magnificent windows were created for great cathedrals.

Some of the influences of the stained glass design centred around geometric shape, calligraphy and the Islamic floral theme as found richly in the Ottoman area. Any artist aspires to the classical principles of harmony, unity and beauty by shaping and modifying the glass surface, painting with light to reveal multiple depths of pattern and decoration.

Examples of this can be seen in the large and the small, from the beautification of grand mosques such as those created by the Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, in different parts of the Muslim world, to the street lamps that illuminated the Muslim towns many hundreds of years ago.

Some of the influences of the stained glass design centred around geometric shape…


Arabesque is generally an elaborative application of repeating geometric shapes that often echoes the form of plants and animals.

Arabesques are an element of Islamic art usually found decorating the windows and entrances of mosques, homes, souqs and inns. The choice of geometric forms which are to be used and how they are to be formatted, is based upon the Muslim artist’s creativity and view of the world. Arabesque art is occasionally accompanied by calligraphy.

Arabesque Art often uses repeating geometric forms which have many hidden meanings behind them. One such example is that of the simple square, with its four equilateral sides, where the artist is trying to symbolise the equally important elements of nature; earth, air, fire and water. Circular shapes however, illustrate the never-ending oneness of the Creator.

Author : Abdullah Bin Zaid Al-Mahmoud Islamic Cultural Center, Qatar

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