The Taj Mahal and the Art Add Beauty
Behind Its Story

By Sharon Samra

Some people claim it is an Indian piece of art while others claim it is an Islamic piece of art. It all depends on how you look at it. When I went to look at it, it seemed like an Islamic piece of art. My father pointed out parts on the Taj Mahal on which there were verses from the Quran engraved into it. It is obvious that Muslims were the ones who designed this wonderful piece of art. The versus of the Quran are all over. Not just in one spot. Physically, it is very beautiful. I had always seen it in pictures and thought "Oh, it looks nice." I just did not know how nice. When I first step through the gates and looked at it, I was like "OH MY GOSH! IT IS BEAUTIFUL!" It was overwhelming. It is made of marble and the basic elements of it are Persian. There is calligraphy on large pishtaq. When you enter the Taj Mahal Gate, a verse from the Quran is engraved right in and it says "O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you."

On the inside, Shah Jahan's tomb rests alongside his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Both of them were put in their tomb facing right so they could face Mecca. Mecca is the Islamic holy Mosque. At certain times of the day, Muslims are expected to face the direction of Mecca and pray.

The marble dome on the top of the Taj Mahal is made of marble and has a moon on the top. The moon is a symbol of Islam and also is similar to the symbol of the Hindu God, Lord Shiva. There are several levels of the Taj Mahal. There is also a Garden planted there. It is called the Mughal Garden and it is three hundred meters squared. It reflects the image of the Taj Mahal.

The aspects of culture the Taj Mahal references are Artistic and memorial. The reason why it is artistic is because the beauty and glory of it are simply artistic. The design and the story behind it is simply breath taking. It really is something different to actually see it before your eyes compared to just looking at a picture. The Quran verses engraved in there, the detail, the flowers engraved so wonderfully all show me that this is art. The reason why I say it is memorial as well is because it was made in the memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Legend has it that as she was dying (while giving birth to her thirteenth child) she had told Shah Jahan to build her something more beautiful than the world has ever seen before on the basis of their love. Because of her wish, he built it out of her memory.

The Taj Mahal reflects the culture it comes from by having verses of the Quran engraved into it. I know the Muslim culture is very reliant on the Quran for all their directions and guidance in life. Even when I went to visit the Taj Mahal a year ago, there was an Imam (Like a Muslim Priest) praying in there over the tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. From what I heard, there is an Imam there every single day praying. Their culture relies very heavily on their religion. The use of the Taj Mahal was to simply show the Emperors love for his wife. It is important because it shows unity between several cultures. As mentioned above, there are traces of Muslim, Hinduism, and Persian designs and symbols on it. There has been a lot of tension between Indians and Muslims over the last few years. There is still some tension because of the Taj Mahal Hotel attacks as well but everyone can stand in front of the Taj Mahal and say it is beautiful. That holds them together.

There are several reasons why this holds significance historically. One of them is that it showed both Shah Jahan's loving side and brutal side. His loving side was of course about his wife. He made it for her. But the brutal side also includes how he asked every worker who helped make the Taj Mahal to come to his Palace. Thinking that they were going to get some sort of compensation for their work, they went. Instead Shah Jahan ordered all of their hands to be cut off so none of them could make anything equally as beautiful or more equal. He wanted the most beautiful object for his wife. For historians, this helped better understand the personality of this Muslim Empire. The uniqueness of the Taj Mahal is that there is no other building like it. There was just so much love and thought put into the creation of this. It is a special and unique story about a man who grieves for his wife and out of his grief; he made such a lovely sight. It is a shame his wife did not get a chance to see it.