The Qur’an and Sunnah as a Conceptual Foundation of Islamic Architecture (Part One)

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
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The Sher-Dor Madrasah in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

The Sher-Dor Madrasah in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

 

Abstract

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.

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Suggestions for Designing and Building Muslim Houses

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
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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:

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The House: Dar, Bayt, Manzil and Maskan

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
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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. 

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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: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

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]

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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: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

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.

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