Depiction of the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina

This illustration is taken from the Dala'il al-khayrat (Guide to Goodness), a popular prayer book for pilgrims.  Attributed to Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli, this prayer book contains two miniature paintings of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Representational images

Ideas about the use of decoration often differ from one religion to another. Within the Christian tradition, for example, it is possible to find both literal and allegorical illustrations, calligraphy and illumination. On the other hand, all figurative imagery is prohibited from the religious books of Islam and adorning the Torah is only permitted if it is written in a codex (a book), not if it is written as a scroll. There are examples, however, of representational decoration, though not necessarily figurative designs, to be found in the religious books of each of the three faiths.

Mecca and Medina

The holy cities of Mecca and Medina are both associated with the Prophet Muhammad. All able-bodied Muslims must perform the hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca - at some point during their lives. The holy site of the Masjid al-Haram (Sacred Mosque) here was declared a site of pilgrimage by the Prophet in AD 630. Medina, as the location of the Prophet Muhammad's tomb, is considered the second holiest site in Islam.


Taken from: Dala'il al-khayrat (Guide to Goodness)
Author / Creator: Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli
Date: Nineteenth century
Copyright: By permission of the British Library
Shelfmark: BL Or. MS 16211, ff. 14v - 15