Islamic or Muslim Architecture

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences
International Islamic University Malaysia
E-mail: spahico@yahoo.com
 

Taj Mahal image

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, is regarded as one of the best gifts of Islamic art and architecture

to the world. However, the building is just a mausoleum and memorial extravagantly built.

As such, it stands at odds with some fundamental teachings and values of Islam.

Many people wonder what authentic Islamic architecture and its scope are, and whether it is appropriate to qualify such a wonder as Islamic, Muslim or something else, architecture. Much has been written and said about the subject, yet scholars and researchers vastly differ over it. It is an endless, but at the same time enthralling, debate.

Islamic architecture is an architecture that exemplifies Islamic teachings and values in an architectural process rather than in an architectural product. An architectural process starts with having a proper understanding and vision which leads to making a right intention. It continues with the planning, designing and building stages, and ends with attaining the net results and how people make use of and benefit from them. Islamic architecture is a fine blend of all these phases and elements which are interwoven with the threads of the belief system, tenets, teachings and values of Islam. What makes an architecture Islamic is its metaphysical, spiritual and ethical dimensions, rather than its sheer physical and observable aspects, in relation to all the parties involved in the process: patrons, architects, engineers and ordinary users, and the implications of their diverse conceptual and practical relationships with architecture.

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Origins and evolution of minarets

By Kerim Altuğ, World Bulletin

Minaret at Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

source: gallery.moeding.net

 

I. The origins and evolution of minaret

Minarets are tower-like structures usually associated with mosques or other religious buildings. They contain platforms, reached through stairs built inside the minaret, on which the ‘muezzin’ stands to call Muslims to prayer.

In trying to understand how the tower got its special meaning in Islamic societies, scholars have attempted—with mixed success—to trace minarets back to various traditions of tower building in the pre-Islamic cultures of Eurasia. Over a century ago, for example, A. J. Butler, the British historian of Roman Egypt, speculated that the multistoried form of the typical Cairene minaret of the Mamluk period might have been derived from the Pharos (lighthouse) of Alexandria, one of the wonders of the ancient world, which—although long destroyed—is known from descriptions by ancient writers to have been square in the lower part of its shaft, octagonal in the middle and cylindrical at the top. Butler’s contemporary, the German architectural historian Hermann Thiersch, elaborated this theory by publishing a detailed study of the history of the Pharos. He showed that the ancient tower had stood well into Islamic times and could have inspired Mamluk builders in Egypt.

 

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Medinanet celebrating its fifth anniversary

2010-2015

By April 16, 2015 medina-net, has completed its fifth year. On this occasion we would like to congratulate all colleagues and friends who contributed in building its platform and to students who enlarged its popularity and made it a source of knowledge on Islamic Architecture and Cities.

For sure that the site cannot be sustained without their help and contributions. And perhaps the pressing need now is to activate the Arab section and the establishment of the French section in addition to the existing English section.

Greetings Site Management.

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Sustainability and Piety

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
E-mail: spahico@yahoo.com
 

Kalenderhane mosque Image

Kalenderhane Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. The mosque was formerly a church.

 

Sustainability in architecture is possible only when there is sustainability in values and philosophies that underpin the former, giving it its identity, vigor and direction. Moreover, sustainability in architecture is possible only when there is sustainability in people’s intellectual, spiritual and moral predilections whereby the philosophies and values of a sustainable architecture are one and the same as those personified by people: the conceivers, patrons, creators and users of architecture. It is for this reason that Koca Mimar Sinan, the chief architect of the Ottoman golden age, said that architecture is at once an estimable and the most difficult calling, and he who would practice it correctly and justly must, above all things, be pious.

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Prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il and the Ka’bah

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
E-mail: spahico@yahoo.com
 

An artist’s imaginary rendition of the valley of Makkah before Prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il built the Ka’bah Image

An artist’s imaginary rendition of the valley of Makkah before Prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il built the Ka’bah. Courtesy of the Dar al-Madinah Museum, Madinah, Saudi Arabia.

 

 

There is little disagreement about Prophet Ibrahim’s relationship with the Ka’bah and al-Masjid al-Haram: about building it and actualizing its projected status and function. This is so because the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah are at once explicit and eloquent as regards the subject matter, unlike the eras that preceded Prophet Ibrahim and the relationship between their own prophets and the Ka’bah — if we assume that the Ka’bah was built before Ibrahim. While the Qur’an discloses that Ibrahim was shown the site of the Ka’bah (al-Hajj, 26), that he and his son Isma’il raised its foundations (al-Baqarah, 127), and that they were directed to purify or sanctify it for those who compass it round, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves therein in prayer (al-Baqarah, 125), there are scores of authentic traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) which describe even certain details of their building it.

 

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Appreciating the Ka’bah

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
E-mail: spahico@yahoo.com
 

kaaba Image

 

Prior to the epoch of Prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il, there existed only Makkah sanctuary (haram) and the location as well as foundations of the Ka’bah (al-Masjid al-Haram), which had been instituted or appointed for humankind as early as when God created the heavens and the earth. The Qur’an reveals: “Indeed, the first House (of worship) established for mankind was that at Makkah — blessed and a guidance for the worlds.” (Alu ‘Imran, 96) The Prophet (pbuh) also confirmed: “Allah made this town (Makkah) sacred on the day He created the earth and the heavens; so it is sacred by the sacredness conferred on it by Allah until the Day of Resurrection…” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 3139) As a result, the prophets before Ibrahim and Isma’il and their followers — just like those who came after them — were to face the place (the site of the Ka’bah, its foundations and the haram) in their prayers. When needed or commanded, a form of the pilgrimage (Hajj) to the place, too, was undertaken.

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Sustainable development and the ethical issue of human morality; an overview

I.U. Hussaini1,S.I. Muhammad2, A.H. Chiroma3, C.N. Onunze4 and S.K. Ibrahim5
1.  Department of Architecture, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi – Nigeria; email: hudalib@yahoo.co.uk
2.  Department of Architecture, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi – Nigeria; email: sandyilyas@gmail.com
3.  Department of Architecture, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi – Nigeria; email: aminachiroma@yahoo.com
4.  Department of Architecture, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi – Nigeria; email: cnonunze@gmail.com
5.  Department of Architecture, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi – Nigeria; email: soulymann@yahoo.com

 

Abstract

Theories and discussions have expounded on the three dimensions of Sustainable Development; – social, economic and environmental. Although, the social dimension tends to address the issues of public health and safety, the quality of life, the impact of development on the local community, etc.; little or no very significant explanation has institutionally been rendered on ethical issues relating to sustainability. However, sustainability and ethical principles are intertwined because sustainability concepts cannot be applied without strong ethical principles. This study is therefore directed at exploring the gap with the objective of determining the possible influence of ethical values to attaining sustainable development. As such, attempt is being made at reviewing the concept of Sustainable Development on the basis of human morality. Thus, a return towards ethicality as the main drive and as background to expounding on the various dimensions of sustainability is proffered.

Keywords: Sustainable Development, Ethical Issue, Human Morality, Dimensions, Overview

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Sustainability and Islamic Architecture

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
E-mail: spahico@yahoo.com
 

modern old building

(Architectural conflicts, or incompatibilities, between yesterday and today are evident virtually everywhere in the Muslim world. Such conflicts signify one of the root causes of the lack of sustainable architecture in the Muslim world. An apartment building with several “traditional” elements and features reflected on the glass façade of a nearby “modern” commercial building in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.)

 

Abstract

This paper discusses a conceptual framework for sustainability in Islamic architecture. Some major segments of such framework are elucidated along the theoretical, or philosophical, rather than empirical, lines. Firstly, the need for sustainable architecture is outlined. That is followed by discussing the concepts of man and the natural environment in Islam and how central those concepts are to the Islamic message and Islamic civilization, the latter serving as a physical manifestation and evidence of the former. Then, some main conceptual implications of the two concepts for sustainability in Islamic architecture are explained. The significance of the notion of the universality of the Islamic message for sustainability is also highlighted. The paper concludes that sustainable architecture needs to address not only environmental and economic, but also social, educational and spiritual concerns of people. This is especially applicable to Islamic architecture because of the role of its multi-tiered orb as facilities and, at the same time, a physical locus of the actualization of Islam as a comprehensive way of life. It also represents the identity, as well as a microcosm, of Islamic culture and civilization. The ideas of sustainability and architecture in Islam are inseparable on account of the significance of the Islamic principles of man, nature, life, comprehensive excellence and the universality of the Islamic cause, which constitute a conceptual framework for such a synthesis.

 

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Towards an Islamization of Housing

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
E-mail: spahico@yahoo.com
 

islamic university malaysia

(Islamization of knowledge is an official doctrine of the International Islamic University Malaysia)

 

Abstract

This paper discusses the prospect of Islamizing the housing phenomenon in the context of the Muslim architectural reality. The paper concludes that such a task is an extremely serious, demanding and multifaceted one. It requires major contributions and high-spirited concerted efforts of many parties from across the wide spectrum of society: government, educators, practitioners, professional bodies, NGOs, members of the business community, students and the general public. In this paper, the focus is made on the role of education and educators and, to some extent, practitioners. In the process, the remarkable spiritual dimension of housing in Islam, and the importance of its proper handling, both at the conceptual and practical planes for the success of the project of Islamization, are emphasized. Islam distinguishes between the house, as a physical component, and home, as an aura, environment and ambiance generated by the former. In Islam, the house is an institution. It is a family development centre. Muslim architects, planners, structural engineers and final users alike, should perceive the house phenomenon as a sheer means, an instrument, a carrier of the spiritual, not a goal itself. The paper seeks to enhance people’s awareness as to the significance of correctly conceptualizing Islamic housing and how some of the fundamental aspects of its potential revival could be related to the notion of Islamization of knowledge.

 

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