Category Archives: Architecture


Dr Ahmad Sanusi Hassan
School of Housing, Building and Planning
Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia
 Tel: 60-4-653-2835; E-mail:


Health is one of the most important factors in Islam. Based on a translation from Surah Al-Baqarah (verse 222) (Note 1) “Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves”. From a Hadith (translation) narrated by At-Tarmizi, Rasulullah said that nothing is more preferred by Allah subhanahuwataala other than health. Concern on healthcare by the local authority is emphasised since the glory of Islamic civilisation. According to Syrakoy and Athena (2007, 184), cities in the pre-modern Islamic world had equipped with hospitals. Hospital is known as ‘maristan’, (Note 2) which means places of administering the sick. The building was divided into different sections for men and women and housed a variety of medical specialities including surgery, ophthalmology, gynaecology and a pharmacy. This shows as evidence that health becomes an important factor in Islam, and the Muslims should acquire healthy body when fulfilling the religious orders (ibadah).


Minimalism and Islamic Spirit

Minimalism in Architecture might be summed up in  the statement of Mies Van Derrohe: Less is More. It consists of a continuous quest to strip away the unwanted details and decoration. According to the pioneers of this thought, design is defining the true essence of any object. It is a continuous effort towards simplicity, through honesty of materials and structure.

To what extent Minimalism meets the ascetic  spirit of Islam in terms of simplicity, truth and mysticism known as Zuhud, haqeeqa and  Taammul. If so, could minimalism be adopted by Muslim architects to revive the simple and humble architecture that was met in  most houses and buildings of old towns and villages?Beyond the over simplicity that is movement often promotes, some architects especially the Japanese adopted it and adapted it to their need for a level of abstraction as an aesthetic based on clarity  of logic, and transparency of concept. Modernism then turned into a refined version of modernist language that combats  denial of context. Architecture became a means that promotes contemplation and transcendental thought such as the comparison  of difference between inside and outside.

However, doesn’t  this same concept of over-simplicity disturb the human tendency  for privacy and intimacy through the exposure of the building to outside and the adoption of naked buildings? Doesn’t  this same spirit of minimalism go in opposite way with the natural desires of human beings for small touches and personalizing details of homes and place-making?

Medinanet opens a debate on the movement of minimalism through this short introduction.


Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
Jalan Gombak, 53100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Pragmatism and Islamic architecture (Continued)

There is no such thing as a standardized Islamic architecture which can be reproduced anytime and anywhere. If truth be told, there is nothing as such in the whole body of the Islamic built environment. Therefore, Muslim architects and designers should not hesitate to unleash their burning Islamic spirit, desire, imagination and creativity in order to conceive and create such an architectural tradition that will be compatible with the requirements of both the religious message and modernity. Undoubtedly, the given solutions will have to vary from one region to another, somewhere more and somewhere less. But the essence of all the possible designs, including those adopted as the best solutions in history, will remain one, because of the same worldview and the same religious spirit and foundation that underpin the presence of Muslims and bind all the Muslim peoples regardless of their different geographical locations, cultures and historical appearances. Whatever conception and form are eventually given to such an architecture, the same is absolutely qualified to be branded as “Islamic”. On account of its location, sheer exterior, or association with a historical moment, no building can be more Islamic than others. What matters, imperatively, is the total function and utility, that a building is imbued with the soul and purity of Islam, and that it stands for an embodiment of the Islamic values and principles insofar as the fulfilling of a building’s functions and roles is concerned.



Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
Jalan Gombak, 53100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Islamic architecture as a means, not an end (Continued)

Islamic architecture means a process that starts from making an intention, continues with the planning, designing and building stages and ends with achieving the net results and how people make use of and benefit from them. Islamic architecture is a fine blend of all these stages which are interlaced with the tread of the same Islamic worldview and Islamic value system. It is almost impossible to single out a tier in the process and regard it more important than the rest. It is because of this conspicuous spiritual character of Islamic architecture, coupled with its both educational and societal roles, that the scholars of Islam never shied away from keenly addressing a number of issues pertaining to various dimensions of residential, mosque and communal architecture within the scope of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh islami). The relevant issues are discussed under different headings such as: legal rulings in connection with neighbours and neighbourhoods (ahkam al-jiwar), reconciliation (al-sulh) between immediate neighbours and all the people in a neighbourhood, people’s individual and collective rights, prohibition of inflicting harm (darar), legal rulings pertaining to building (ahkam al-bina’), and public services and facilities (al-marafiq). All these issues undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping the identity of Islamic architecture. They are either directly or indirectly related to conceiving, designing, forming and using Islamic architecture. Since architecture is people’s art greatly influencing their moods and the day-to-day life engagements, the same issues concerning architecture are studied as part of exhaustive encyclopaedic works on Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh islami).



Dr. Spahic Omer


In this paper, I will discuss the meaning of Islamic architecture and some of its functions and salient characteristics. The discussion will be divided into the following sections: (1) The meaning of Islamic architecture (2) Islamic architecture as a means, not an end (3) Two examples: the Islamic house and the mosque (4) Pragmatism and Islamic architecture (5) Towards the revival of Islamic architecture. The nature of the paper is conceptual or philosophical, rather than empirical. The paper seeks to enhance the awareness, both of the professionals and general readership, as to the importance of correctly conceptualizing and practicing Islamic architecture. Obviously, this is not a paper written from a pure perspective of architecture. The paper deals with the subject of Islamic architecture as a religious, cultural and civilizational phenomenon deeply rooted in history and its existence and survival closely tied-up with the existence and survival of Islamic society.



Dealing positively with constraints and limitations

Yulia Eka PUTRIE
Lecturer – Department of Architecture
Faculty of Science and Technology
State Islamic University (UIN) Maulana Malik Ibrahim Malang


From ancient cultures to modern civilizations across the world, we can clearly see traces of creativity in every human-made object. Creativity has taken an important place in the process of creating new objects, or producing new ideas. Creativity also has affected a large part of our daily lives through innovations and inventions in technology, art, science, etc. Therefore, creativity can be considered as a key to the development of our civilization.


Some Lessons From Prophet Muhammad In Architecture

The Case Of His Mosque In Madinah

 Dr. Spahic Omer


This paper discusses some lessons in architecture that can be gleaned using the Prophet’s Mosque in Madīnah as a case study. The paper deals with the following main themes: the meaning and significance of Islamic architecture; function–form relationship; respect for the environment; cleanliness; comprehensive excellence; promoting just social interactions; safety; and the relationship between the indigenous and foreign influences in the spheres of Islamic architecture. Every theme discussed signifies a permanent feature of Islamic architecture which derives its strength and merit from the Prophet’s experiences. Hence, a close analogy is always drawn in the paper between those architectural features and the Prophet. 

 Keywords: Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)[1], Madinah, the Prophet’s mosque, Islamic Architectur


Continue reading Some Lessons From Prophet Muhammad In Architecture

Architectural Design as a Place-Making Process

Mustapha Ben-Hamouche

Teaching Architecture; CAAD and the lasting Modernism!

Despite the fall of modernism and the rise of many post modern movements that praise cultural context such as vernacularism, neo-traditionalism and regionalism architectural education is still maintaining a lot of the modern traditions especially in architectural education (Ozkan S. 2005, Frampton K.1986, Steel J. 1997).

One major deficiency of modern architecture is its failure to respond to local considerations and context, and the belief of its predecessors in the universal location-less solutions. Factors such as climate, geographic conditions, and culture and tradition ways of living were often neglected.

In the Arab Gulf countries the abundance of financial resources and the booming but imported IT made of  the countries large laboratories of unusual forms and bizarre projects that praise “creativity” and disregard the local circumstances[i].



Projects were mostly iconic and were developed at an abstract world that is in the minds of architect and in the design workshop. They are then parachuted on site with a few modifications. Often sites are rather modified or remodeled to accommodate the idea of the architect.

Projects are often made to please the ego of the designers, glorify their names or that of the political leaders. CAAD in this perspective seems to be the most efficient graphical as well as design tool in supporting the wave of iconic projects trend, and sorting out the desired miraculous projects. Strangeness is thus become a sign of creativity and success.


Continue reading Architectural Design as a Place-Making Process