Islamic housing and the universality of the Islamic message
So therefore, a significant step toward a contemporary Islamic housing will be a synthesis of true knowledge and education as well as authority, enforcement and implementation. Furthermore, it will also be important to realize that the current problems with regard to housing in the Muslim world are purely Muslim ones. Thus, the solutions must be Muslim ones too, closely linked with Islam. Some foreign factors and influences could somewhat be welcomed, but their roles should always be auxiliary ones, the roles of Islam being the main ones, and the scope of their authority should always be second to an Islamic one.
Indeed, perceiving and creating an Islamic housing is a very serious task. It is about giving people some of their fundamental rights, about executing a religious obligation, and about contributing to an appropriate, or an otherwise, implementation of the message of Islam. The immediate corollary of this noble initiative is that Muslim architects, and all the other professionals in the field of housing at large, must enhance considerably their knowledge of Islam: its Sharia’h (laws) and worldview. This may appear as a daunting task to many, however, needless to say that it is incumbent upon every Muslim, male and female, to learn and to know the rulings of Islam pertaining to the obligations and teachings they have to adhere to in their daily lives. Not surprisingly, the same teachings which Muslim housing professionals must be acquainted with so that they can practice them as part of their association with Islam, constitute the very core of Islam. As such, those teachings are closely correlated with, and are never far-flung from, the subject of Islamic housing, in that the latter embodies the essence of both Islam and human existence on earth.
It goes without saying that Islam is life and life is Islam, and housing is a physical locus of the broadest, most crucial and most vibrant life activities. Islamic housing, both as a notion and a corporeal marvel, and Muslim housing professionals, as the former’s main protagonists, thus play a very important role in combining and integrating the phenomena of Islam and human life into a successful and powerful mix. Islamic housing, in addition, functions as a ground for such a mix to operate and express itself. Islamic housing, therefore, cannot exist without Islam. Nor can it be conceived, created and sustained without individuals: policy makers, housing professionals and users, who typify Islam in their thoughts, words and deeds.
Islam is a total religion that consists of faith, knowledge and practice. Islam cannot be fragmented and then reduced to any, or to a couple, of its three salient constituents. Therefore, every Muslim is duty-bound to conceive and plan his personal, family and professional life in accordance with this philosophy as much as possible, subjecting his/her personal wishes and interests to Islam and not subjecting Islam to his/her self. This code applies to Muslim housing professionals as well. And for one to practice and live the Islamic message, one must possess a reasonable amount of knowledge about it, in particular about those Islamic matters and issues with which one comes into contact on a regular basis. It is a paradox that a person claims to be a devout and practicing Muslim but is ignorant about the basic things of Islam concerning its beliefs, rites, values and morals. It is even a greater paradox that a person claims to be a completely secular Muslim, in the sense that he somewhat believes in the Islamic message but reckons that he has nothing to do with its foremost religious rites, values and morals. These beliefs are dangerously misleading and can seriously jeopardize one’s spiritual standing and reputation both in this world and in the Hereafter. Hence, Islam strongly rebukes ignorance, egotism and indifference. It regards them as among the greatest impediments to man’s realization of his spiritual purpose on earth. It is thus rightly said about the intents and goals of Islam that it was given to man so as to take him away from the darkness of sin and indulgence to the light of virtue and high morals, and from the ignorance rooted in faithlessness, bias and narrow-mindedness to the knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment rooted in faith, trust and man’s total and accountable outlook on life, and from the worship of phony idols and shallow personal interests, desires and goals to the worship of the real Creator, Lord and Master of the whole universe.
Allah reiterates time and again that for Muslims there could be no civilizational ventures and activities which will not be steeped in the consciousness and spirituality of Islam. If, however, there are such endeavors, they are bound to eventually fall short without tasting the real success and victory. For example, in the course of advising and warning his materialistic and overly ambitious people, ‘Ad, Prophet Hud is said to have told them, as testified by the Qur’an: “O my people! Ask forgiveness of your Lord, then turn to Him (in repentance); He will send on you clouds pouring down abundance of rain and add strength to your strength, and do not turn back guilty.” (Hud, 52)
“So keep your duty to Allah, and obey me. Keep your duty toward Him Who has aided you with (the good things) that you know; has aided you with cattle and sons, and gardens and water-springs. Lo! I fear for you the retribution of an awful day.” (al-Shu’ara’, 131-135)
Prophet Nuh also told his disobedient and corrupt people: “Ask forgiveness of your Lord, surely He is the most Forgiving. He will send down upon you the cloud, pouring down abundance of rain. And help you with wealth and sons, and make for you gardens, and make for you rivers. What is the matter with you that you fear not the greatness of Allah?” (Nuh, 10-13)
Truly, as far as Islam and Muslims are concerned, one’s, or a nation’s, triumph is conditioned by the power of a fine synthesis of faith, unceasingly turning and keeping duty to Allah, knowledge that illuminates hearts and minds, and an all-embracing culture of excellence, hard work and willpower.