In the Qur'an, Allah commands people to examine every thing, ponder over it, and see the divine purposes behind all events. Recognizing the subtleties, taking pleasure in them, and presenting them to others in a form that causes delight underlies the essence of the arts. These features owe their existence to the Qur'an's values.
One of the verses by which Allah summons people to ponder is as follows:
Have they not looked at the sky above them: how We structured it and made it beautiful and how there are no fissures in it? And the land: how We stretched it out and cast firmly embedded mountains onto it and caused luxuriant plants of every kind to grow in it, an instruction and a reminder for every devotee turning to Allah. And We sent down blessed water from the sky and made gardens grow by it and grain for harvesting and soaring date-palms with layered spathes. (Surah Qaf: 6-10)
Everything stated in this verse is encountered frequently by people in their daily lives. However, only the believers who strive to see the divine purposes in these things can see the beauty in them. A strawberry's color, a rose's odor, a banana's flawless packaging, the heavens adorned with stars—all of these mean a lot to the faithful. Art is one way to express these beauties and then interpret and incorporate them effectively into our daily lives. Various branches of art, such as painting, music, or decoration, convey the joy inspired by such beauties to the human soul.
In a society where people abide by the moral values of the Qur’an, every living thing and each incident stirs great joy in people's hearts and, accordingly, manifests itself in artworks, city planning, construction, landscaping, and so on. Artists who see the world through the outlook endowed by the Qur'an's teachings amaze the world with their masterpieces. Their innovative works happens to be unique and invigorate people's lives.
The Example of The Prophet Solomon (pbuh)
The Qur'an provides a detailed account about aesthetics. The Prophet Solomon (pbuh), who had a superior understanding of art, is a good example of the Muslims' aesthetic understanding. From the Qur'anic accounts, we understand that art, aesthetics, and beauty pervaded the Prophet Solomon’s (pbuh) palace. Its floor, which was the first thing to catch people's attention, gave the impression of water, for it was made of glass. The sight of such a transparent floor appeals to the human soul and gives relief. It is also exciting, since it is unique. Indeed, the impact of the palace's splendor on the Queen of Sheba is related in the Qur'an as follows:
But what she worshipped besides Allah impeded her. She was from an unbelieving people. She was told: "Enter the courtyard." But when she saw it, she supposed it to be a pool and bared her legs. He said: "It is a courtyard paved with glass." She said: "My Lord, I have wronged myself, but I have submitted with Solomon to the Lord of all the worlds." (Surat an-Naml: 43-44)
The Qur'an provides further details about the Prophet Solomon (pbuh)'s life. One verse calls our attention to why he enjoyed wealth, power, and magnificence, which are blessings from Allah:
And he said: "Truly do I love the love of good, with a view to the glory of my Lord." (Surah Sad: 32)
Another verse informs us that he made his people produce various works of art:
They made for him anything that he wished: high arches and statues, huge dishes like cisterns, great built-in cooking vats. "Work, family of David, in thankfulness!" But very few of My servants are thankful. (Surah Saba: 13)
These works of art convey his elegant understanding of art. Today, only one wall of this temple known as Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem remains, but as the Qur'an and historical documents and accounts reveal, it was once a magnificent palace. In the Qur'an, Allah commands Muslims to take lessons from the Prophets' lives and moral excellence. In this sense, what the Qur'an tells us about the Prophet Solomon (pbuh) is very precious, for it exemplifies the kind of innovations Muslims can make in art and aesthetics, and how they can embellish earth with superb works of art. In the End Times, there will be people who adhere to the Qur'an and, in compliance with Allah's commands, take lessons from its accounts of the Prophets' lives. In this sense also, the End Times will have parallels with the Prophet Solomon’s (pbuh) period.