Unit Overview

Created in Partnership with:

This Ontario Ministry of Education resource was prepared by teachers, for teachers in partnership with the Aga Khan Museum. Curriculum resources were inspired by the Museum’s Permanent Collection. Object information and images courtesy of the Aga Khan Museum.


Islamic art is comprised of art and architecture built in countries where Islam was the dominant religion but is not limited to art created by the followers of Islam. Islamic art encompasses art created by artists of other faiths residing in countries within the Islamic world. Therefore, the term Islamic art includes works created by Jews, Christians, Hindus etc. living in the Islamic world. Thus, one must understand the plurality of Islamic art and at the same time the congruency of art in neighbouring countries and empires at similar time periods in history.

Source:  Kana'an, Ruba, and Patricia Bentley. Learning at the Aga Khan Museum: A Curriculum Resource Guide for Teachers, Grades One to Eight. Toronto, Ontario: Aga Khan Museum, 2015. Print.

Islamic art and architecture varies across time and culture in addition to the regional availability of materials and what was stylistically in fashion. The play of light is also a key element incorporated into architectural designs. Geometric forms and patterns such as stars and polygon mosaics are also recognizable traits in Islamic architecture. The objects selected reflect the diversity of the Muslim empires as well as the interaction between various peoples around the world.

Connections to Inquiry-based learning

In this unit, students will:

  • Research various artifacts housed at the Aga Khan Museum to gain a deeper understanding of the forms and patterns that embody Islamic art and architecture
  • Experiment with dance forms and elements to uncover and explore meaning in Islamic art and architecture
  • Explore the use of light in Islamic art and architecture and discover ways in which light can be used in movement to create meaning

Note: Teacher may use BLM #1 - Engaging Students in Inquiry-Based Learning to guide students in their inquiry