Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
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There are two types of decoration: decoration as an instrument of deception, and decoration which enhances the real and original qualities of a thing.

There are many Qur’anic verses and hadiths of the Prophet (sa) that refer to the subject of decoration as an instrument of deception. Such decoration can be found in all aspects of life, including the built environment, outward human appearance, human interactions, and even religious ceremonies. Accordingly, this type of decoration, decorative themes and media stand between an entity and a beholder, revealing to the latter not what the entity actually is, but rather what it is not.

Read more: Decoration as an Instrument of Deception
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.
   

There are two types of decoration: decoration as an instrument of deception, and decoration which enhances the real and original qualities of a thing. About the latter the Qur’an says:

{ Indeed, We have adorned the nearest heaven with an adornment of stars.} (Qur’an 37: 6)

{And We have placed within the heaven great stars and have beautified it for the observers.} (Qur’an 15: 16)

{Have they not looked at the heaven above them - how We structured it and adorned it and [how] it has no rifts?} (Qur’an 50: 6)

{And know that among you is the Messenger of Allah. If he were to obey you in much of the matter, you would be in difficulty, but Allah has endeared to you the faith and has made it pleasing in your hearts and has made hateful to you disbelief, defiance and disobedience. Those are the [rightly] guided.} (Qur’an 49: 7)

{The example of [this] worldly life is but like rain which We have sent down from the sky that the plants of the earth absorb - [those] from which humans and livestock eat - until, when the earth has taken on its adornment and is beautified and its people suppose that they have capability over it, there comes to it Our command by night or by day, and We make it as a harvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday. Thus do We explain in detail the signs for a people who give thought.} (Qur’an 10: 24) Read more: Decoration as an Instrument for Enhancing the Real Qualities of a Thing

{jcomments on}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.

  

Since decoration must not interfere with people’s concentration in prayers, the decoration carved inside and immediately next to the mihrab (imam’s or prayer leader’s niche) section, in particular, and on the qiblah wall, in general, normally stands above the eye-level. Certainly, this is not a wide-spread custom by chance. The Muslims are strongly advised to fix their sight in prayers on the place of prostration to ensure full concentration. This decree was issued by the Prophet (pbuh) when mosque decoration had a long way to go and when nobody was giving it serious consideration. Thus, in most mosques on the lower section of the qiblah wall, decoration is either completely non-existent or greatly minimized so that its potentially negative impact during prayers is thwarted. The upper section of the qiblah wall is reserved for rich decoration with a rich Islamic artistic vocabulary.

Read more: Decorating the Mihrab and the Qiblah Wall in Mosques
{jcomments on}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.

 

Decoration as an instrument of enhancing the real qualities of a thing

The other type of decoration or beautification brought to light in both the Holy Qur’an and the statements (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the one that plays the role of an instrument that enhances the real and original qualities of a thing. The Qur’an says, for example:

            “We have indeed decked the lower heaven with beauty (in) the stars” (Al-Saffat 6).

            “It is We Who have set out constellations in the heavens and made them fair-seeming to (all) beholders” (Al-Hijr 16).

            “Do they not look at the sky above them? How We have made it and adorned it, and there are no flaws in it” (Qaf 6).

            “…But Allah has endeared the Faith to you, and has made it beautiful in your hearts, and He has made hateful to you unbelief, wrongdoing, and rebellion…” (Al-Hujurat 7).

Read more: The Concept of Decoration in the Qur’an and Sunnah (Part Two)

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