Ancient Hand-Drawn Illustrations Celebrating Prophet Muhammad’s Life

Handwritten books penned by Muslim authors throughout history bear witness to their attachment to the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH).

Prophet Muhammad is one of the figures much under the spotlight in the Iranian art and literature. The prophet’s participation in past wars, his contribution to victories by Muslims, his birth and his Ascension are among the concepts which have received much attention and illustrated in different ways.

Nevertheless, it is not only Iranian Muslims that have drawn different images related to the prophet. Muslims in other countries, too, have, for centuries, illustrated stories associated with Prophet Muhammad in different books and created illustrative religious works marked by specific features of their countries.

A tableau depicting the birth of Prophet Muhammad from the book Siyar-i Nabî, which is a Turkish epic about the prophet’s life. The creation of the book began at the time of the rule of Murad III, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1574 until his death in 1595, and ended when his successor came to power. The book was supposed to be the most complete depiction of Prophet Muhammad’s life. The book comes in several volumes, which are kept at the Topkapi Palace Museum in the Turkish city of Istanbul, the Museum of the City of New York and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul.

An image depicting the conversation between Prophet Muhammad, Moses and Gabriel is kept at the Islamic Arts Section of the Pergamon Museum in the German city of Berlin. This work of art dates back to the late 16th. The illustration was probably made during the rule of Murad III. The image was made using ink, gouache and goldwork. The sheet is part of a handwritten manuscript depicting prophets Muhammad and Moses and Gabriel talking together in Paradise.

The tableau shows Prophet Muhammad preaching. It is part of an illustrated, handwritten book dating back to the late 16th century. It is attributed to Turkey or Iraq. This work was made using ink, matte watercolor and gold on paper. The image shows the prophet preaching, with Imam Ali, Imam Hassan and Imam Hussein sitting on his left side. This work of art is kept at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Prophet Muhammad is meeting prophets Ishmael, Isaac and Lot in Paradise. It belongs to a book written in Afghanistan’s Herat in 1436 and kept at a museum in Paris.

The tableau depicts the Ascension of Prophet Muhammad riding on the Burāq. The image was seen on one of the pages of a version of Iranian poet Saadi’s Boostan book dating back to 1514.

The image depicts the first divine statements revealed to Prophet Muhammad and God Almighty’s calling him to be appointed as Prophet. The illustration belongs to a book called The Collection of Histories dating back to around 1425. It is attributed to Herat in Afghanistan. The work of art is drawn with watercolour, silver and gold on matte paper. The tableau depicts Gabriel telling Prophet Muhammad the first divine revelations which later turned into Muslims’ holy book, the Quran.




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