View of the Mosque of Ahmad b. Tulun in Cairo, Egypt, through a screen on the roof of a nearby house.
The Qur’an and Sunnah and Perceiving Architecture
Concerning the realm of architecture, the role of the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah is to provide Muslims with an inspired outlook on life, in general, and on those issues that are pertinent to architecture, in particular, and with some broad rules of morality and guidelines of proper conduct which may or may not be directly related to architecture. Upon such a divine point of view and general principles and guidelines Muslims are invited to establish architectural theories, systems and styles that are consistent with both their religious preferences and the requirements of their diverse eras, geographic regions, cultures and other practical needs and conditions. Islamic architecture is a symbiosis between permanence, which is represented by the constant innate inclinations of essential human nature and the heavenly guiding principles and regulations meant for it, and impermanence which is necessitated and controlled by the time and space factors. It is the latter that changes, while the former is abiding and remains unchanged.Read more: The Qur’an and Sunnah as a Conceptual Foundation of Islamic Architecture (Part Two)
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 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:Read more: Suggestions for Designing and Building Muslim Houses
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