The fifth biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art, God Is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth: Light in Islamic Art and Culture, was held November 9-11, 2013 in Palermo, Italy, where thirteen speakers addressed the role of light in Islamic art from a range of perspectives, from the imagery of light in the Qur’an and in the literatures of the Islamic lands to light’s role in buildings, paintings and other works of art.

The keynote speaker was acclaimed contemporary artist Shirin Neshat, and other speakers included:

Ali Behdad, Barbara Brend, Anna Contadini, William Graham, Robert Hillenbrand, Renata Holod, Abdallah Kahil, Hakan Karateke, Elaheh Kheirandish, Susan Stronge, Wheeler Thackston and Oliver Watson.

The sixth biennial Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art, By the Pen and What They Write: Writing in Islamic Art and Culture, will be held November 7-9, 2015 in Doha, Qatar. To receive periodic e-updates about this symposium, please click here.


The Hamad Bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art is organized by Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom who have shared the Hamad Bin Khalifa Endowed Chair of Islamic Art at Virginia Commonwealth University since its establishment in 2006. Symposium sponsors include Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar), Qatar Foundation, Hamad bin Khalifa University in Doha and Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. Since 2007, the papers delivered at each Symposium have been published by Yale University Press, including Rivers of Paradise: Water in Islamic Art and Culture (2009), And Diverse Are Their Hues: Color in Islamic Art and Culture (2011), God Is Beautiful and Loves Beauty: The Object in Islamic Art and Culture (2013). God Is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth: Light in Islamic Art and Culture will be published in 2015.