Musings on the impact of aniconism and the practice of art therapy within a Muslim community

Talid Khan


This article puts forward an understanding of aniconism within Islam and the implications for art therapy practice within a Muslim community. As a non- practising Muslim, the author describes his experience of aniconsim. ”˜Aniconism’, is considered to be a custom or belief of avoiding graphic representation of any godly beings or religious figures. This belief system also extends to the graphic representation of all human beings and living animals. Representations of god, divine beings and religious figures are all subject matters that could potentially arise in an art therapy context. However, the aspect of aniconism of most relevance and concern to this article is the representation of any ”˜living beings’ i. e. human beings and animals. (Oxford English Dictionary (1992).

Direct links are made to literature on aniconism as well as relevant art therapy literature and finally all findings are discussed, evaluated and concluded. A case study is included in order to share the author’s clinical experience of working with a Muslim patient.

Keywords: Aniconism, Islam, Muslim, Art Therapy, Art Psychotherapy, Image making.

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