The Sher-Dor Madrasah in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
This paper discusses the theme of the Qur’an and Sunnah as a conceptual foundation of Islamic architecture. It concludes that Islamic architecture is the type of architecture that is inspired and guided primarily by the teachings and belief system of Islam. Islamic architecture in its capacity as a physical locus of life, which to Muslims signifies a form of worship (‘ibadah), is a framework for the implementation of Islam as a complete code of human existence. The Qur’an and Sunnah, as the divine and eternal sources of Islam and Islamic civilization, it follows, ought to play a foremost role in shaping the conceptual disposition of Islamic architecture. Such roles in this paper are summed up as follows: the Qur’an and Sunnah and adequate perception of the world of architecture, the Qur’an and Sunnah as the sources of architectural inspiration and catalysts for creativity, averting the vices often associated with architecture, and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the creation of the city of Madinah. In order to give an extra emphasis to the importance of the subject in question, the topics of the meaning and significance of true Islamic architecture, and the state of Islamic architecture literature, are firstly elucidated. Against that backdrop, the core and main thrust of the paper is then approached and discussed. The nature of the paper, along with its content, methodology and conclusions, is conceptual and philosophical, rather than empirical.Read more: The Qur’an and Sunnah as a Conceptual Foundation of Islamic Architecture (Part One)
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.Read more: The House: Dar, Bayt, Manzil and Maskan
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. “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.”Read more: The Social Significance of Mr Nazeer Khan’s Architecture (Part Two)
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.”
Read more: Modern Mosques [Repost]