Faces of God: Images of Devotion in Indo-Muslim Painting, 1500–1800


Islamic art is often misrepresented as an iconophobic tradition. As a result of this assumption, the polyvalence of figural artworks made for South Asian Muslim audiences has remained hidden in plain view.
This book situates manuscript illustrations and album paintings within cultures of devotion and ritual shaped by Islamic intellectual and religious histories. Central to this story are the Mughal siblings, Jahanara Begum and Dara Shikoh, and their Sufi guide Mulla Shah.
Through detailed art historical analysis supported by new translations, this study contextualizes artworks made for Indo-Muslim patrons by putting them into direct dialogue with written testimonies.
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Murad Khan Mumtaz, Ph.D. (2018), University of Virginia, is Assistant Professor at Williams College. He has published numerous articles on South Asian painting. Mumtaz is also a practicing artist trained in traditional Hindustani painting techniques.
From the readers' reports:
"This is a well-researched and well-written book that is a pleasure to read. It has the potential to reshape the field of South Asian art by exploring the central, affective role of images in devotional practices in the early modern era, and Islamic art, as well as speak to audiences interested in South Asian and Islamic literature and culture more broadly."
Holly Shaffer, Assistant Professor of History of Art & Architecture, Brown University

"The virtue of the book lies not just in the originality of its approach, but in the persuasiveness of its arguments and the solidity of its evidence as well. It is a major piece of scholarship that marshals an impressive range of material."
Kavita Singh, formerly Professor of Art History, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Acknowledgements IX
List of Illustrations XIII
Note on Translation and Transliteration XXVI

Introduction: The Need for an Ontology of Art
 1 What Is Islamic Ontology?
 2 Can “Indian Painting” Be Islamic Painting?
 3 Ṣūrat and Maʿnī: Islam and Islam
 4 Presence
 5 Organization of the Book

1 Viewing the Face of a God’s Friend: Conceptual and Literary Premises
 1 Sufism
 2 Taẕkira Literature
 3 Looking at the Face of ʿAli Is Worship

2 Sufi in the Garb of a Yogi: Visual and Literary Articulations of Sanctity
 1 The Yogi in Medieval Sufi Romances
 2 Yogis in Princely Albums

3 Allegories, Symbols, and the “Marvelous Magic” of Imperial Mughal Painting
 1 Akbar: The Saint-King
 2 Jahangir: The King of Universal Manifestation
 3 Shah Jahan and the Army of Prayer

4 “I Saw My Lord in the Form of a Beardless Youth”
 1 In the Company of Dervishes
 2 The Princely Youth, Alone
 3 Interpreting the Dara Shikoh Album
 4 Persianate Antecedents for the Dara Shikoh Album

5 The Face of Shah … the Face of God
 1 Jahanara Begum: Sufi Patron and Practitioner

6 Sacred Viewing: Miraculous Gatherings and Iconic Portraits
 1 The Majlis Paintings
 2 An Iconography of Devotion

All those interested in Islamic and South Asian studies, Art history, Religious Studies, History and Comparative Literature.
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