The Origins and Functions of Islamic Domestic Courtyards

islamic domestic courtyards

The Origins and Functions of Islamic Domestic Courtyards


Author: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Publishing Date:  2008
Pages: 332
Publisher: Research Center, International Islamic University Malaysia
ISBN: 978-983-3855-20-9

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About the book:


This book discusses the phenomenon of the courtyard in Islamic domestic architecture, focusing on the issues of its origins and diverse functions. The book treats the phenomenon of Islamic domestic courtyards as a cultural, environmental, structural and, above all, religious one, because it is the message of Islam that presided, by and large, over the inception and proliferation of what later became known as the Islamic domestic courtyard. Indeed, there were many other factors at play, however, Islam with the hierarchy of its standards and morals was the most important force that furnished the Islamic domestic courtyard with both its essence and identity, rendering the many indigenous geographical, climatic, cultural and other inherited factors and features rather ancillary, albeit without intending to diminish or downplay the latter’s position and importance.

The book is divided into seven chapters. Since the domestic courtyard is fundamental to the remarkable societal stature of the house, it was but appropriate to start the book with a chapter containing some general substance on the relationship between spirituality and the house in Islam. Next, two chapters on the origins of the phenomenon of the domestic courtyard, in general, and the Islamic domestic courtyard, in particular, follow, namely “Domestic Courtyards before Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)” and “The Advent of Islam and Domestic Courtyards”. This is followed by four chapters concerning the idea of the functions of Islamic domestic courtyards. The themes discussed therein are related to the climate, environment, privacy and recreation factors. The four chapters attempt to illustrate the extent of the impact which those factors have on the functions of Islamic domestic courtyards while operating within the ideological frameworks of the Islamic worldview and its systems of living.

On the whole, the subject of Islamic domestic courtyards is an extremely important one. This is so because the role and functions of the courtyard are central to the role and functions of the house phenomenon, which, in turn, serves as a framework for the actualization of the family institution without which the fulfillment of the divine purpose on earth becomes impossible. Obviously, this is not a book written from a sheer perspective of architecture. It follows that discussing the plans and structural designs of Islamic domestic courtyards is not the primary focus in the book. 

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