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Islamic Architecture
 
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
How has Islamic teaching directly or indirectly affected architecture?
D.K. Rahman
Responses
 
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Considering the profound penetration of Christian theology and symbolism in Romanesque and Gothic cathedral architecture, it would be surprising indeed if Islam and the Shari'ah did not critically influence Islamic architecture.

I look forward to the responses of the scholars of Islamic architecture.
Daniel Owen
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Oleg Grabar has previously published an article entitled "Art and Architecture and the the Qur'an" in Encyclopedia of the Qur'an, vol. 1 (Leiden, 2001) pp.161-75. I recommend this essay to anyone interested in this topic. Grabar states in his introduction:
"It must be stated at the outset that, with the partial exception of Q27:44, ...the Qur'an does not contain any statement which may be construed as a description of manufactured things or as a doctrinal guide for making or evaluating visually perceptible forms." (Grabar)

As far as I am aware there is nothing in Shariah law that deals with architecture.

There is a text in the ArchNet Digital Library that cites jurisprudence that effected building codes and requirements in early Arab cities. The publication, entitled "Continuity in a Changing Tradition" is by Saleh Hathloul. Please click here to see the publication

Shiraz Allibhai
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Rahman, Shiraz,

I think there has been a massive impact by Islamic teaching upon architecture within the Islamic world.

The basic Islamic principle of "no graven images or idols" created the need for an aesthetic of abstract imagery in place of physical realism.

This emphasis upon the abstract image paralleled the use of holy geometry in both Islamic and Christian cultures. Here, I am thinking of "A Sense of Unity" by Ardalan and Bahkhtiar (their work on the holy geometry of Sufism).

A point worth remembering is that as most of the "Old World" Christian populations were illiterate; so there arose a need to decorate churches with lifelike pictures and sculptures with which to educate the common people in the lives of saints, etc.

Whereas in Islam because it was not possible to show lifelike images, this probably created a need for literacy and thus the need for universities.

What may have short-circuited or bypassed the need for even greater literacy in Islam is the way in which people were and are taught to learn the Koran by heart as it is possible to learn by listening rather than reading.
Frank John Snelling
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Assalamualaikum,

Shiraz, the article that you mentioned earlier by Oleg Grabar - "Art and Architecture and the the Qur'an":

I've been trying to look for the Encyclopedia but couldn't seem to find any around my area, is it possible if you could scan the pages that you mention, 161-75, and put it on the digital library for my reference as soon as you can.

I'm desperate for that one reference.

Would really appreciate it.

Thanks for those who replied. Will reply back soon, got million things to do at this very moment.. :)

Please keep posting your opinions..

Thank you.
D.K. Rahman
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
I forgot to mention, does anyone have a copy of the "Islamic Legislation in Land Use and Planning and its effect on Architecture Style," Volume 22 No.2 by Hammad R.N. I need pages no. 54-60 only.

Would really appreciate it if you could post it up in the digital library for further reference.

Thank you,
D.K. Rahman
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
D.K.,

The article in question has a copyright and thus ArchNet does not have the permission to place it in the Digital Library. In 2007, ArchNet will have the right to publish all of the articles in Dr. Grabar's anthology.
Shiraz Allibhai
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
D.K.,

Which journal is "Islamic Legislation in Land Use and Planning and its effect on Architecture Style" in?
Ozgur Basak Alkan
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Shiraz,

Although this does not have anything architectural as we know it, the Quran does have many descriptions or guides to what the world and science have discovered.

I don't know everything, but an example is the description of the source of light, the bulb, as we know it. I am sure if we study it further, we'll find more description of manufactured items.
Zainab Nakshabandi
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
I agree with you Zainab.
This statement struck me and make think
about the question,

"Line up in straight rows, the way angels line up in front of their God. Be gentle to your fellowmen and leave no gaps for the devil. He who continues a row, god will bestow upon him, and he who cuts a row will be cut off God's mercy" (Ibrahim and Mustafa 1992: p.489).

Is this the reason why the mosque plan is preferred to be in rectangular shape? Its longer side facing the qibla, in order to provide the chance for the greatest number of prayers to stand in the first rows, which could not be provided by circular, hexagon or even square plans ?
D.K. Rahman
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Ozgur, I'm not sure from which journal.
D.K. Rahman
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
I am all for finding inspiration from the Book, but I remain weary of looking for specific guidance on matters related to form, size, and function when it comes to building.

If we look for answers to everything and do not take responsibility, we get to where we are today; debating the the length of a man's beard, how much a women has to be covered, or if music is permissible. I find this sad.

Islam has indeed inspired builders, architects, and artists. But it has done so not by telling them how to create, but rather by challenging them to use their intellect in order to understand the signs of Creation and realise mans place in the universe.

I hope that the mention of Light in the Qur'an is speaking of something more fantastic and eternal than a mundane bulb. Just my two cents.
Shiraz Allibhai
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Shiraz, of course there is more than that meaning in the Quran. The Arabic language is a very rich language, not just a mere translation of the word.

But do not forget that "scientists and those who know are most fearful of god," not to say that the Quran is the limit of man's mind. In fact it inspires and challenges it, and there are many scientific facts that already existed before we even thought of it.

Regards,
Zainab Nakshabandi
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Hi!

I think we ought to consider that Islam has two concepts and meanings, which can be either separated or integrated :

First: Islam as "a" religion was introduced in 610 A.D by the prophet Mohammad. He brought the holy Qur'an as the most reliable source for extracting rules and laws for all aspects of life.
The Hadith, Sunnah, etc., are the other credited sources of laws. So to define, confine or refine the red lines and right ways.

Second: Islam as "the" religion was introduced since responsible creatures (Adam, Jin and Angel) were created.(or it is even primordial.)

As a word it means "be given to the hands of (Rightness or Haqq)". In this view, other prophets from Adam to Jesus were Muslims too, and their books are also holy.
Prayer and worship are not only limited to rituals but to all truth-seeking activities and branches, from mathematics to philosophy to experimental science to...So there are other sources for Islamic laws.

Thinking extremistly, the first translation believes (or denotes) that Islam was a revolutionary (modernist) movement for that time which is to save humanity, and everything should go through its filters.
While the latter has a reformistic and evolutionistic view to the continuity for the religion which could cause great changes to beliefs and paradigms.

For the architecture, it is dependent upon the architect and other architectural society members to define their view of Islamic legislation and the integration level of these concepts.
Peiman Amini
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
a good reference for this would be a book called traditional islamic principle of the built environment by hisham mortada
Hamad Khoory
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
The main purpose of the Shari`ah is to realise and secure the general good or the interests (masaalih) of people by promoting their welfare as individuals and as a collective body and keeping harm and injury away from them. This it seeks to do, in order of priority, by:

guaranteeing their �vital needs� (duruuriyaat)
catering for their �requirements� (haajiyaat)
allowing for �betterment�, enhancement or improvements (tahsiiniyaat) in the quality of their life.
An example of a vital need is housing, to protect people from heat or cold and provide for sleep and rest.

An example of a requirement is windows in the house to allow for light and privacy.

An example of an improvement or enhancement is furniture or beds to make life easy and comfortable.




an important underlying concept in islamic law/ sharia and its principles, which is very closely related to architecture in the islmic world (can be seen/ understood by examining the urban fabric of old islamic cities eg. isfahan, fez etc.) is the concept of the Ummah or social solidarity. This concept of togetherness can clearly be seen in the design and organization of spaces or form which together with other principle such as privacy, function, segregation, private and public, circulation etc. all adhere to allowing the beliver to totally fulfil his religious obligations at an individual and community level.
Hamad Khoory
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
I am advised that Shari'ah principles apply to design and development of hotels and resorts which are established to cater for a special market..any comments, advice or guidance would be gratefully received..

Thank you,

William Kent
TKUDA ARCHITECTS
Melbourne, Australia.
email: willikent@aol.com

(Archnet member, member Australia-Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry.)
William Kent
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Salaam,

I think it is interesting to note the parallels between thoughts on architecture in general and Shari'ah in particular:

If one accepts, as Sheik Ali Gomaa suggests, that Shari'ah in fact is an "antidote to extremism" one ought surmise a beneficial import of shari'ah on architecture.

I believe it is so: If one accepts that a great contribution of Islam is in the application of right intent, such intent will also accrue to design philosophy and constuction.

Yes, we can accept a "perceived" western maxim - there is no meeting ground between secular use and clerical thought and find our selves in a Devil's playground of contradictions which cannot be resolved within the current semantics of architecture.

It is seemingly true (and if not, please educate me) that there are no explicit principles in the Quran, Hadith or Sunnah regarding the design of buildings. I would say, if that is true - than it is okay to presume that when society is in order, architecture ought to follow.

Is that form following function, or the other way around?

We are asked how Shari'ah has affected architecture: Perhaps we should be asking is "how much" ought Islamic thought and practice continue to affect architecture? There is no doubt that it will.

Western colleges, eastern colleges all grapple with the concept of "Islamic" art? Why should that be so difficult?

ma salemah!
Anthony Stewart
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Q. �'than it is okay to presume that when society is in order, architecture ought to follow; is that form following function, or the other way around?'

A. That is form and function follow people follow Shari'ah.
Ziad Aazam
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Salam Alaykum, Ziad -

I like your answer very much. People are more than form, more than function - the people are more than form and function together, when the people follow Shari'ah form and function, they should be harmonious.

The sum remains greater than each of it's parts, a truism. So, how does this apply to the images you cited, that I see at designboom? These are all okay in terms of practice and Shari'ah?

ma salemah!
Anthony Stewart
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Salam Anthony,

Shari'ah is a set of values for human conduct sourced from: (1) God's revelation, (2) prophet's teaching, and (3) religious scholars interpretation. This is true for all monotheistic religions.

Shari'ah as a relation to architectural form and function is of two-fold: (1) less prescriptive with respect to material formation, i.e. no instruction on how to shape an opening in a wall; and (2) more prescriptive with respect to human conduct with regard to material formation' i.e. the rule of 'no harm upon others' informs the location of the opening in the wall.

As you have rightly noted that 'the sum remains greater than each of it's parts', meaning that a society cannot be reduced to its means such as technology and 'building height' and for that matter, money, power and media but is a whole 'striving' for harmony and balance of material culture and social values within nature through these means, even though it may never achieve its objectives. Similarly, an identity of a society cannot be reduced to architectural elements that adorn its buildings.

If we take Shari'ah as a relation to architectural form and function, then the images appear here: http://www.designboom.com/contemporary/dubai1.html seem to be 'all okay in terms of practice and Shari'ah'. But when we question intentions of human conduct with regard to material formation, the question that we need to ask ourselves here is: are they okay for the society as a whole? Give me a convincing reason for leaving the empty land and head for the sky.

Salam
Ziad Aazam
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
Salaam Ziad -

Your argument has absolutely convinced me. The approach is valid, logical within the premises stated.

Your perspective does not arbitrarily disallow "modern" forms which remain true to the practices of Shari'ah.

Shukr'n!
Anthony Stewart
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
A'ffwan Anthony,

I am glad. Thank you for the discussion.

Salam (Peace)

Peace cannot be kept by force.
It can only be achieved through understanding.
-Albert Einstein
Ziad Aazam
Importance of Shari'ah law to architecture
June 25, 2008 -- Updated 1425 GMT (2225 HKT)
Dubai 'shape-shifting skyscraper' unveiled
(CNN) -- Ambitious plans to build a revolutionary 420-meter shape-shifting skyscraper in Dubai have been unveiled by architects.

Each floor of the tower would rotate independently, architects claim, creating an ever-shifting shape.
The 80-story Dynamic Tower, described as the "world's first building in motion," will also be the first skyscraper constructed from prefabricated units, according to a press statement released by New York-based architect David Fisher's Dynamic Group.
Each floor would be capable of rotating independently, powered by wind turbines fitted between each floor.
"You can adjust the shape the way you like every given moment," Fisher said. "It's not a piece of architecture somebody designed today and that's it. It remains forever. It's designed by life, shaped by time."

Pasted from: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/06/25/duibai.tower/index.html?eref=edition_meast
Ziad Aazam
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