Second only to the collection at the Museum für Islamische Kunst in Berlin, the Islamic collection of the MKG is the most important of its kind. This unique Islamic collection was at first acquired between 1880 and 1915 by the founder and first Director of the museum Justus Brinckmann (1843-1915).
Some of the objects Brinckmann purchased are among the most precious in the collection. Such as two internationally preeminent manuscripts: A volume of poetry by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1494/95/95-1566) is one of three of volumes that survive to this day; the other, an extremely rare exhibit, a coloured leather book binding, painted in lacquer, gold and silver. Both works date from the 16th century. Other precious items include a mosaic of Ottoman tiles from the Turkish city of Iznik (16th century), as well as parts of a tile mosaic that previously covered the mausoleum of Bayan Qulï Khan in Bukhara, in what is today Uzbekistan, dating from 1358. Furthermore, the collection of 15th and 16th century tiles from Moorish Spain are also worth noting, as are the Mamluk metal wares and vessels from the 15th century.
After the Second World War, most of the Islamic glass and priceless carpets were added to the collection. Highlights of the Islamic collection include an extremely fine-knotted carpet from the Mogul Empire era made in India and fragments of a royal carpet from 16th century Iran. It is a miracle that the missing half of this rare masterpiece of early carpet knotting could be secured for the museum in 2010, as it had been considered lost previously.