Explore Science, History and Art at the Museum of Islamic Civilization in Sharjah

Museum of Islamic Civilization building, Sharjah

Post first published on June 11 2021, last updated on 6 January 2024

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization has a wealth of information and artefacts tracing the contributions Muslim scholars have made over the centuries and I learn something new each time I visit. Plus, the building itself is worthy of a visit alone for its beautiful Islamic architecture and minute details.

Sharjah museum of Islamic civilisation exterior

History of the Museum of Islamic Civilization in Sharjah

The museum as we know it now opened in 2008 in what was formerly Souq Al Majarrah. The souq, designed by Halcrow International, opened in 1987 and was very similar to Central Souq with shops along either side, mostly selling traditional items, textiles, etc. It also had several cafes. I remember going there a few times and picking up some bargains.

A decade later, the Sharjah Islamic Museum opened in 1996 in the area now known as the Heart of Sharjah. The decision later to move the museum allowed for plenty expansion and many more artefacts to be exhibited.

And so, twenty years on, the beautifully designed Souq Al Marajjah took on a new and impressive role as a museum.

The Galleries

Six galleries consist of permanent displays including Islamic art, calligraphy, weaponry, manuscripts, artefacts from early scientific innovation and Islamic history. Altogether over 5000 artefacts are on display.

The Abu Bakr Gallery of Islamic Faith Gallery

The first gallery gives visitors an introduction to Islam, including the five pillars of faith, prayer, fasting, zakat and hajj. You can also see sections of previous cloths that covered the Kaaba. (You can learn more about this cloth, or Kiswa, and see antique pieces at the Holy Quran Museum.)

Here you can also see old copies of the Quran and learn about the parts of a mosque and elements of Islamic architecture.

The Ibn Al-Haytham Gallery of Science and Technology

In this section, you can learn about the many contributions Muslim scholars have made in fields, such as astronomy, mathematics, engineering, architecture, chemistry and medicine.

Islamic Art Galleries

The next four sections all showcase Islamic art in various forms and from different periods stretching from the 7th to the 20th century CE/AD. Exhibits include pottery, wood carvings, textiles, manuscripts and weapons

Atrium and Temporary Exhibitions

In the central area of the arcade, a collection of early Islamic coins is on display along with a narration of their history

A seventh gallery hosts temporary exhibitions from overseas twice a year. At the time of updating, the ‘Ziena Splendor of the Indian Courts’ exhibition was being hosted from 25 October 2023 to 14 April 2024.

Night Sky Mosaic at History of the Museum of Islamic Civilization

Be sure to go up to the top floor to see the mosaic of the night sky, constellations and zodiac on the inside of the dome. Created by hand by Craig Bragdy Design in Wales, the art work is made up of tiny ceramic pieces, some with 24-carat gold.

Can you recognise any of the constellations?

sky mosaic at sharjah museum of islamic civilization

An astrology piece may seem out of place in an Islamic museum but bear in mind that this was part of the original design of the souq.

This upper floor area is also available for rent for events, with basic catering facilities already in place. The armchairs are wonderfully comfortable and it makes a great venue for a small cultural or private event.

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization Architecture

Take time to enjoy the building itself with its arches, intricate Islamic designs, stained glass windows and marble floor. It is as beautiful inside as out.

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization Accessibility

Both sign language and tactile tours are available with advance booking. Call on +971 6 5566002 or email Sharjah Museum Authority at info@sma.gov.ae to arrange a time. Sign language tours can also be arranged at other museums. For more on Sharjah and Accessibility, see Sharjah – Accessible Destination.

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Like all museums in Sharjah, it is fully wheelchair accessible with POD parking. Wheelchairs and folding stools are available free of charge. If you have a hearing impairment, an audio loop is available while touring the exhibition.

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization Facilities, Timings and Prices

The Sharjah Islamic Museum has a library, a cafe and a shop where you can buy gifts, souvenirs, books, etc. A comfortable mother and baby room is available. Paid parking is available at the rear as well as opposite the museum on the corniche.

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization Timings: Sat-Thurs 8-8 except Friday 4-8.

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization Ticket Price: Adults AED 10; children under 13 AED 5; resident senior citizens, POD and one carer free. Free entry during Ramadan and certain public holidays, check Sharjah Museums Authority website and social media for Ramadan and Eid timings.

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