All posts by Spahic Omer

Dr. Spahic Omer, a Bosnian currently residing in Malaysia, is an Associate Professor at the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia. He studied in Bosnia, Egypt and Malaysia. His research interests cover Islamic history and civilization, as well as the history and theory of the Islamic built environment. He can be reached at: spahico@yahoo.com.

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.

 

Continue reading Prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il and the Ka’bah

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.

Continue reading Appreciating the Ka’bah

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

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

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.

 

Continue reading Sustainability and Islamic Architecture

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.

 

Continue reading Towards an Islamization of Housing

Suggestions for Designing and Building Muslim Houses

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

image001 courtyard Egypt

A traditional courtyard house in Cairo, Egypt.

 

The following are some practical suggestions which should feature in nearly all Muslim houses. A number of the proposed Muslim housing features can be incorporated into Muslim houses and their renovations at little or minimal cost. Some features, indeed, cost nothing. They are about more effective and more creative use of features and spaces that may already exist and are common in most houses.

The proposed suggestions are as follows:

Continue reading Suggestions for Designing and Building Muslim Houses

The House: Dar, Bayt, Manzil and Maskan

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

A courtyard house in Fez, Morocco

A courtyard house in Fez, Morocco.

 

Islamic housing is a symbiosis of heavenly and terrestrial dimensions. Both sides are extremely important, playing their respective roles. They finely complement and add to each other’s strength and operation. Neglecting either of the two poles in Islamic housing inevitably leads to a serious damage in the latter’s fundamental nature, either at a conceptual or a practical plane.

The significance of a house in Islam can easily be discerned from the Arabic words used for it that are dar, bayt, manzil and maskan. 

Continue reading The House: Dar, Bayt, Manzil and Maskan

The Social Significance of Mr Nazeer Khan’s Architecture (Part Two)

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

Nazeer at work

Mr Nazeer Khan at work.

 

Mr Nazeer Khan’s Architecture and Kerala’s Interfaith Harmony

Islam entered India almost in the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Generally, it is thought that it came into India by way of invasion by Muhammad b. Qasim, a young general sent by Yusuf b. Hajjaj, the governor of Iraq during the Umayyad period in the later part of the 7th century CE. But this is not true. Islam entered India initially through Kerala on the west coast through the Arab traders in a peaceful manner.[1] “The region called Malabar in Kerala is Indianised form of ma`bar which in Arabic means passage. Since the Arab traders passed through that region often it came to be known by that name. The Arabs, in fact, had been trading since pre-Islamic days and then embraced Islam after the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) began preaching. They married the local women in Kerala and their offspring spread in different parts of that region. Also, later they were accompanied by Sufi sheikhs who converted many local people, mainly from lower classes, to Islam. Thus, this was the real entry point of Islam into India.”[2]

Continue reading The Social Significance of Mr Nazeer Khan’s Architecture (Part Two)

Modern Mosques [Repost]

The construction of Mosques (and especially the Minaret) in Europe (and, until recently, to a lesser extent in the United States) often attracts fierce opposition by locals. Far-right elements play up suspicions that Muslims intend to take over Europe and America and impose Islamic law (Shariah).

And Mosques are supposedly the forts of the impending Muslim reign – such was the rhetoric employed by fascist Swiss fanatics in their successful bid to ban the construction of Minarets. The Minaret is seen as the most worrying of Islamic symbols – since it stands high, is easily visible and competes with Church bell-towers.

The hype over Minarets is, of course, unfounded Islamophobia. Minarets are not higher than many Church towers and the call to prayer is not broadcast – as is traditional – given Western noise ordinances.

But Western restrictions on Mosques have not lead to Muslim demoralization but to Muslim adaptation. European Muslims are changing the idea of a Minaret – why does the call to prayer have to be a voice, which cannot be broadcast in Europe, why not lighting the call?

That’s the concept behind this Marseilles, France mosque. The light would normally be Islamic green, but green is reserved for ship signals in this port city and red is also out of the question due to the exclusive use by firefighters. Instead the mosque will blink the call to prayer in purple. Noureddine Cheikh, president of the Marseille Mosque Association, says “It’s a good symbol of assimilation.”

Modern Minaret Design

Continue reading Modern Mosques [Repost]

The Social Significance of Mr Nazeer Khan’s Architecture (Part One)

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

image001

Mr Nazeer Khan in a furniture factory in Indonesia supervising the manufacturing of the furniture he designed for his buildings. The factory is one of two in Indonesia which cater primarily to his architectural and interior design needs.

 

Introduction

In this paper, the social significance of Mr Nazeer Khan’s architecture will be discussed. The discussion will revolve around the relationship between Mr Nazeer Khan’s architecture and Kerala[1] Muslims’ economic transformation, as well as Kerala state’s interfaith harmony. The study is not about delivering judgments concerning Mr Nazeer Khan and his architectural exploits from a sheer perspective of architecture as a synthesis of art, science and technology, for such could significantly narrow at once our purpose and focus, and could divert our attention from some vital thrusts of the subject at hand. Rather, the study is about Mr Nazeer Khan’s architecture and Kerala’s religious and socio-economic molds, and how they correlate with each other, the latter clearly dictating and shaping the former. It is only against this expansive and complex backdrop that Mr Nazeer Khan’s architecture could be properly observed and appreciated. A restricted and one-sided approach – regardless of what it might be — would in all likelihood lead to some incomplete, patchy and even unfair opinions and inferences.

Continue reading The Social Significance of Mr Nazeer Khan’s Architecture (Part One)