Sharjah Islamic Museum
The roots of the Sharjah Islamic Museum go back to an old 2000 year block to its owner, Mr. Sa'eed Mohammed Al-Shamsi.
Through the great efforts of the government of Sharjah, "The Media and Education" worked on rebuilding the house and refising it to stand as a perfect complete museum to expose some of the magnificent Islamic Antiques which are said to be unique of a kind and extremely rare.
The Islamic Museum is an edifice to civilization, a witness to the deep Sharjah roots in the Arab and Islamic culture and an emphasis to the legacy of the title Sharjah has recently earned as the "Capital of Arab Culture '98". His highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah, opened the Museum on Friday 25 Jumada the second 1417 (Hijri Calendar), 6th November, 1996.
The Museum exhibits a range of important Islamic artifacts and manuscripts expressing the supremacy of the distinct Islamic heritage. This range contains a number of scientific and literary religious manuscripts and several various collections of the Islamic civilization arts and crafts and clay, pottery and glass manufacturies as well as metallic handicrafts inlayed with silver, gold and brass. The museum also exhibits silver and textile handicrafts as well as ornamentation tools, jewelry and various Islamic mints, dating to both Abbaside and Omayyad eras. These mints include collections of silver dinars and dirhams. Moreover, there are a number of scientific systems, especially astronomical ones. Other exhibits include archaeological findings dating the Islamic era, found in varied excavation sites in the Emirate of Sharjah. They include as well arms and varied samples representing styles of the Moslem civilized life for more than 1400 years.
The Museum welcomes its visitors during the following timings:
Daily from 9am to 1pm and 5pm to 8pm
Friday: from 4.30pm to 8.30pm Only
Public Holidays: from 9am to 1pm and 4.30pm to 8.30pm
The Museum is closed on Mondays
Admission to Sharjah Islamic Museum is free of charge.
You may contact the museum office at:
Sharjah Islamic Museum
P.O. Box 5119
United Arab Emirates
Tel: (971-6) 353334
Fax: (971-6) 353746
ExhibitsThe Shamsi house
The 'Shamsi House', the museum, dates back to about 200 years. It is one of a set of heritage houses in Al Mraiji, an old district of Sharjah city, within the city old surrounding wall, and on the southern side of it.
The Shamsi House, the museum, is a two-storey; each has its own entrance, stairs and courtyard. The house is made up of numerous rooms, 16 of them are in the ground floor. The upstairs is made up of 3 rooms. In normal situations, all ground floor and upstair rooms were used for residence. In time of danger, war or invasion, the upstair rooms were emptied of civilians and transformed into places of defence. Defenders used to arm up and take defending positions in the upstairs, near the surrounding wall and in the Sharjah Fort.
First: Ground floor
Ground floor rooms are distinguished by their windows overlooking the interior court of the house, and by the absence of others overlooking the exterior of the house; as the walls of the rooms resembled an external wall, not exposing the inside of the house. Netted rectangular openings are there in the doors and windows to help ventilate and light the rooms and to bar-out birds from entering the house. Walls had certain cavities used to store handy things; they are often high up on the walls to be out of reach of children.
The upstairs rooms are usually three in number: two of them overlooking the land side to confront the customary invasions against the surrounding wall of the old Sharjah Souk, and one overlooking the sea to confront attacks expected from there. Compared to land ones, sea invasions were relatively few as sea used to be more secure.
The house has two entrances, one on the northern side and the other on southern one. The northern entrance was used to welcome guests and visitors, especially merchants; the other entrance, the southern one, was of more privacy and used in handling the daily affairs and needs of the house, and often as ladies entrance.
The northern entrance was characterized by being bent in a certain way so as not to lead straight to the courtyard of the house, so as not to expose what is inside. This is a common feature of Islamic house entrances, Pan Arab in general and Gulf Arabian in particular. This is on the social level; but on the military level, having the entrance not confronting the courtyard straight forward hinders the attacking enemy and limits his freedom. The stairs of the houses are of spiral circular shape and of Islamic style, leading straight forward to the roof.THE HOLY KA'ABA HALL
It is the first place a visitor encounters. It features a large broad screen exhibiting a documentary film about the stages of development of the Prophet's Mosque and the rites of Hajj and Omra. The Museum also keeps other documentary films which are often changed from time to time.
The museum also exhibits a piece of the curtain of the Kaaba, from the inside of Kaaba. It is made of black natural satin silk with tough white cotton lining and green satin. Verses from the Qur'an in the Thulth calligraphy are painted on it, while other verses are embroidered with gold plated silver wires.ISLAMIC MINTS HALL
The Islamic Museum owns a valuable collection of silvery dinars and dirhams as well as copper and bronze coins to a total of 2500 pieces, covering most Islamic eras from the Rashidine Khalifs to the Ottoman era.
The Hall now exhibits dinars and dirhams from both Omayyad and Abbaside eras, extending from the year 78 to 645 Hijri (Islamic calendar). The Hall exhibits as well definition boards about coin mintage and money industry, with a short list of the Damascus Omayyad and the Abbaside dynasties.CHINA AND POTTERY HALL
Touring the Islamic Museum, a visitor comes to know the different kinds of ordinary pottery and enamel coated ones' as well as china with metallic luster. The visitor also notices the advanced level of pottery and china industry in the Islamic eras, influenced by the Islamic expeditions to countries of ancient past in arts such as Iran, Iraq, Syria and Egypt.
The visitor will also notice how Muslim manufacturers were not satisfied with just preserving the old styles of industry: they instead managed to develop it and innovate new styles, whether in the field of industry or decoration. They also benefited in improving their art of china which was abundantly imported to the Islamic world.
The museum also exhibits samples of water and cooking clay pots, varying in shape, size and colour, and decorated in human, animal, plant and geometrical forms and Islamic writings. These samples are from countries such as Persia, Afghanistan, Samarqand, Nishabour, Khorasan andChina as well as Turkey and historical Syria. These pottery items belong to different periods extending from the fourth to the thirteen Hijri (Islamic Calendar) centuries. ARABESQUE HALL
This Hall holds a collection of wooden Islamic furniture in which some Qur'anic verses and epigrams, were engraved and decorated with plant sculpture style, in perfect, sharp and beautiful geometrical forms known as Arabesque, which means all kinds of Islamic decoration which reduces the plant decoration lines consisting of diversified blossoms and leaves of perpetual mingling and intercommunication.
Writing enters this world of decoration where letters rest on the branches or unite with them to form different shapes and interminglings.
The many kinds of Arabesque are classified under two broad titles:
-Tasteer: an engineering style depending on straight lines and angles.
-Tawreeq: also called 'branching' and 'blooming'. It concentrates on wound lines, circles and spirals and plant abstraction.MANUSCRIPTS HALL
The Museum owns a collection of important Islamic and Arabian manuscripts, about one hundred in all, of varied sciences such as the manuscript of the Holy Qur'an interpretation "Dhahabul Ibreez interpreting the Qur'an", and the "Discussion of the Maliki Philology", legislation as well as other manuscripts in literature, philology and medicine. Some of these manuscripts are on display while others are preserved.
This collection features the various types of manuscripts, decorated with beautiful Islamic decorations. Imported from different countries in the world such as Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Mauritania and Chad, these manuscripts are dated back to different eras starting from the sixth Hijri (Islamic Calendar) century to the present time. There are also a number of pictures for manuscripts from the Holy Qur'an dating back to the fourth Hijri century and some sheets written in the old Kofi undotted script, dating back to the early Hijri centuries.SCIENCE HALL
This Hall is most featured with the map of the globe, the first ever in the world, by Al Shareef Al Idrisi, born in the Moroccan city ofSebta in AD 1099. Compared to the present map of the globe, this map was called the 'Upsidedown Map'.
The visitor to the Museum can see some astronomic instruments used in locating the path of stars and their dimensions, as well as Hijri months and prayers timing, the astrolabe, and others used in astronomic observation and detecting the signs of the zodiac and star location, the sky ball. Brass sheets are also exhibited in the Museum to demonstrate the operation and the use of the astrolabe and other astronomical instruments.
In this Hall the visitor can also see the most prominent achievements of the Islamic civilization in almost all sciences such as astronomy, mathematics, geometry, chemistry and medicine.METALLIC HANDICRAFTS HALL
Muslim manufacturers and craftsmen copied the styles of metallic handicrafts from the civilizations of the countries opened by the Islamic expeditions and developed their manufactory till they had their own special and distinct type.
Metallic handicrafts manufactory is divided into several arts, each having its own tradition and style most prominent of which are:
Such as swords, helmets, armors, shields, daggers and others.Jewellery Industry:
Such as bracelets, ear rings, necklaces, anklets, rings, crowns and others.Astronomic Instruments Industry:
Such as sky balls and astrolabes.Coin Minting Industry:
Such as dirhams, dinars and fils from gold, silver, bronze and copper.Other Metallic Tools and Pots:
Of these items, the Museum exhibits brass and bronze jugs as well as vases, clay water jars, candle holders, cans; ornament tools such as jewelry, necklaces, bracelets and other silver handicrafts.