Sameer Rahim is arts and books editor of Prospect

Soul mates – the story of Yusuf and Zuleikha

Sameer Rahim is impressed by a 16th-century Iranian manuscript illustrating a Sufi poem of seduction and spiritualism

3 Oct 2023
Layli and Qays at school from the Khamsa of Nezami Ganjavi (f. 196b from Or. 6180)

Fine romances – the art of illustration in 15th-century Herat

As two of the British Library’s most beautiful manuscripts show, the art of illustration hit new and extraordinary heights in 15th-century Herat

30 Aug 2022
Courtyard facade of the Umayyad Mosque, Damascus (1862), Francis Bedford.

Damascene conversion – the knotty religious history of the Umayyad Mosque

Built to rival the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the great mosque in Damascus has always been claimed by rival faiths

15 Oct 2021
Qajar #19 (1998), Shadi Ghadirian.

Cultural evolution – ‘Epic Iran’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum, reviewed

A whirlwind journey through 5,000 years of Iranian civilisation charts change and continuity in a culture that has absorbed all manner of influences

8 Jul 2021
The reconstructed ‘rose window’ at the archaeological site of Khirbat al-Mafjar (Hisham’s Palace), near Jericho (photo: 2017). Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images

Model buildings – when European architects looked to the Middle East

Diana Darke’s new book makes the case for the widespread influence of Islamic architecture on European buildings. But how convincing are her claims?

17 Nov 2020
‘The Prophet Muhammad encounters the angel of half-fire and half-snow’, miniature from a copy of al-Sarai’s Nahj al-Faradis (c. 1465), Herat.

Eye of the beholder – how the Prophet Muhammad has been depicted through the centuries

Museums have avoided displaying images of the Prophet in recent years – but might this not do a disservice to the heritage of Islam?

18 Dec 2019
Map of the world from 'The Book of Curiosities' (MS Arab c. 90), copy from c. 1200, Egypt, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

What the world looked like to a mapmaker in medieval Cairo

The discovery of an important manuscript reshapes our understanding of early Islamic culture

10 Jul 2019
The mosque of Ahmad ibn Tulun, Cairo, built in the 9th century.

This majestic mosque stands out in the city of a thousand minarets

The ancient mosque of Ahmad ibn Tulun deserves to be much better known

19 Feb 2019

A great 16th-century Qur’an gets the attention it deserves

A meticulous study of the Chester Beatty Ruzbihan Qur’an does justice to the ingenuity of its calligrapher

19 Jul 2018

Pilgrims and parrots in Jordan’s city of mosaics

Madaba preserves traces of the ancient Greek-Christian culture of the Middle East

19 Mar 2018
Detail of a scroll drawing showing the ten avatars of Vishnu, c. 1771–79, Andhra Pradesh, India. © Victoria and Albert Museum

A comparative approach to religious art

An ambitious, if limited, exhibition compares the early traditions of five faiths

19 Jan 2018

Puppet master: an interview with Wael Shawky

The Egyptian artist Wael Shawky talks to Apollo about his animated versions of the Crusades

14 Jan 2017

Letter from Jerusalem

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is not a mosque, but a shrine. But a shrine to what?

28 Sep 2015