A Safavid Painting of the Prophet Muhammad’s Miʿraj

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A Safavid Painting of the Prophet Muhammad’s Miʿraj

Christiane Gruber


This presentation explores a 16th-century Persian manuscript painting that depicts the Prophet Muhammad’s celestial ascension (mi’raj). It focuses in particular on the Prophet’s facial veil and his flaming aureole as well as their relationship to metaphorical expressions as found in Persian Sufi poetry. It also explores the Shi’i symbolism of his headgear, which is known as “Haydar’s Crown” (taj-i Haydari).


Gruber, Christiane. The Praiseworthy One: The Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Texts and Images (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019).

Gruber, Christiane. “Between Logos (Kalima) and Light (Nur): Representations of the Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Painting,” Muqarnas 26 (2009), 1–34.

Gruber, Christiane. “When Nubuvvat Encounters Valayat: Safavid Paintings of the Prophet Muhammad’s Mi‘raj, ca. 1500–1550,” in The Art and Material Culture of Iranian Shi‘ism: Iconography and Religious Devotion in Shi‘i Islam, ed. Pedram Khosronejad (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011), 46–73.

Gruber, Christiane. “Meraj ii. Illustrations,” in Encyclopedia Iranica, ed. Ehsan Yarshater (New York: Columbia University, 2008).

For a high-resolution image of the painting, go to the British Library MS, Or 2265 f. 195r


A worksheet for this video is available here.

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Christiane Gruber, “A Safavid Painting of the Prophet Muhammad’s Mi‘raj,” Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online, published 28 August 2020.

Christiane Gruber is Professor of Islamic Art and Former Chair in the History of Art Department at the University of Michigan as well as Founding Director of Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online. Her scholarly work (available here) explores medieval to contemporary Islamic art, including figural representation, depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, manuscripts and book arts, architecture, and modern visual and material cultures. Her two most recent publications include The Praiseworthy One: The Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Texts and Images and The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World, and her public-facing essays have appeared in NewsweekThe ConversationNew LinesJadaliyya, and Prospect Magazine, among others. Her current research projects include eco-Islamic art and architecture as well as the visual culture of the Nation of Islam.