The mosque of the Prophet (pbuh) played the role of the seat of the first Islamic government. In the mosque, the Prophet (pbuh) used to spend long hours on a daily basis discussing, deciding and executing many affairs related to administering the state. Jihad (striving in the way of Allah) and state defense strategies were also initiated and concluded in the realm of the mosque. When returning from a journey, the Prophet (pbuh) used to go to his mosque first. There he would perform a short prayer of two units (rak’ah). Then, he would sit in the mosque and attend to the people and their needs.
Because of the remarkable developments in the Abbasid state in the first half of the 3rd AH century (the first half of the 9th AC century) when the city of Baghdad was in its prime and when the city of Samarra, a new temporary Abbasid capital, was founded, theorizing about the principles and methods of urban planning and general development in Islam was gaining its momentum. At any rate, the Islamic idea of planning, development and urbanization is as old as the Muslim community. Its fundamental principles have been comprehensively laid in the Holy Qur’an, as well as in the sayings and practices of the Prophet (pbuh). Certainly, the best example of the earliest Islamic planning, development and urbanization is the establishment of the Muslim community in Madinah in the wake of the migration (Hijrah) from Makkah. Henceforth, the matter was evolving steadily, corresponding with both the rapid spread of Islam throughout the world and the incredible growth of the civilization and cultures inspired by the Islamic worldview and its value system. However, it was not till towards the middle of the 3rd AH / 9th AC century that urbanism, urban development and city life commenced to be a considerable concern of some Muslim scholars’ speculative and philosophical thought. The reasons for this were related to the changes and developments of Islamic eclectic society, at the center of which stood the mosque institution as the society’s engine of growth, as well as to the expansion and diversification of Islamic socio-economic thought that resulted from the former.
Apart from rapid urbanization in Islamic cities, the creation and full institutionalization of independent madrasahs (schools or colleges) in the 5th AH / 11th AC century expedited greatly the physical decentralization of the mosque institution and other social institutions. This is so because the world of scientific and empirical knowledge, in which the Muslims by then were assuming a global dominant role, was becoming more and more sophisticated, specialized and demanding. This called not only for the creation of independent and specialized madrasahs, but also for the creation of several other often autonomous educational institutions, both private and public, such as observatories, libraries, laboratories, “houses of wisdom”, bookshops, etc, so that the scientific tasks and challenges could be duly met. There were other less relevant, and rather supporting, institutions, too.
One may wonder what roles and functions the mosque assumed subsequent to the institutional decentralization in the Islamic society, which, after all, was unavoidable. The truth is that the mosque continued to play the role of a community center, but some of its roles and functions had to be modified, adjusted and even scaled down, some roles and functions being more affected by this modus operandi and others less. Nonetheless, all this was deemed natural and ordinary, as well as intrinsic to the dynamic evolution of Islamic culture and civilization, in general, and the mosque phenomenon as a nerve center of the former, in particular. Nobody is known to have objected to this inevitable process which was unfolding merely according to the encoded laws and norms of the development of human society, to which the Muslim society was not an exception. People knew very well that they first, and then the mosque institution (the epitome of Islam and its struggle), stood at the heart of the process, influencing it and also being influenced by it. People knew, furthermore, that the whole course of the evolution of Islamic society and its institutions was about them and their own holistic transformations and progression. The institutions were there just to accommodate, facilitate and further stimulate the growth and fruition of people and their cultural and civilizational agendas and undertakings. In other words, the Islamic institutions, as both concepts and sensory realities, signified the means, while the total wellbeing of Muslims and the realization of their life mission signified the ultimate goal towards which every Muslim initiative and endeavor, both individual and collective, was directed. The only critical issue that was preoccupying the Muslim mind, firstly during the process of the institutionalization of the mosque’s diverse roles and functions, and then during the process of the partial institutional decentralization, was how best to oversee and regulate the ongoing social processes and how best to harmonize between the “mother” mosque institution and the other outgoing social, educational and religious institutions which originated from the former. This was so because the inevitable ongoing processes were intended to be dealt with sensitively and to be put in people’s good stead. They were meant to be cultivated into a great societal advantage and an asset, rather than their prospects and challenges to be taken lightly, or to be mismanaged, and to thus evolve into a societal hazard and liability. And finally, they were meant to be a source of Muslims’ strengths and not a source of their weaknesses.
This paper presents scenic beauty assessment of highland environment, in which the study area was Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. There were two methods used in the assessment; photographic questionnaire survey and semi structured interview. Both methods were designed to assess public scenic preferences and the impacts of Highland Management Practices (HMPs) on scenic preferences. Coloured photograph was the survey instrument used to assess the scenic preferences.