Islamic Architecture
Islamic Architecture and Geometry
Is Islamic architecture religious for you? For me it is climate and religion, as how me move in the city is the same as how we move in a house,in spirals
like the Derviches move around themselves, as the movement around the Khaba.
Linnea Palme
Islamic Architecture and Geometry

This is the core issue for all questions of Islamic art: How much is religion, or religious belief part of the cultural, even national identity?
Western secular academic tradition has always tried to dissect culture, artistic and architectural themes preferring to downplay the role of religion in humanities. Seems pretty pointless to me.

Clearly, if we identify archictecture according to purely regional areas (i.e. Middle East, North African, etcetera) we will always run into a stumbling block in that global movements, or religions (especially as is the case for both Islam and forms general Christianity) that philosophies are no great respecters of borders, geographic or not.

Where I see architecture 'friendly' to Christian practices then perhaps I might say that is 'Christian' architecture. Similarly, when I see community design or architecture 'friendly' to Islamic practice, I may say that is 'Islamic' architecture. So, perhaps it is the utilisation of architecture which lends itself to religious belief. With the expansion of Islam, many former Christian churches and I suspect Hindhu, Buddhist and other congregational buildings were 'converted' to Islamic use. Many esthetic characteristics of such buildings became incorporated into 'Islamic' architecture. The motifs may have been imported, but it would be inaccurate to say the 'philosophies' were.

Therefore, I don't think we can argue that their is any intrinsic 'religious' characterisation to human constructs. Preferred uses perhaps, traditional uses for certain, dedicated uses for sure... architecture friendly to belief and faith, and to the communities that live according to their values.

Personally, Islamic architecture always moves me in a mystical, spiritual way in keeping with Islam - but that is a feeling, subjective perhaps from within which harmonizes. These designs are not merely present in religious architecture. Graceful arches, domes, traditional motifs and embellishments all serve to reconnect ourselves with our world.

Where, in my minds ear I can hear a muezzin call, that becomes Islamic architecture to me. The comfort of Islam.

Food for thought.
ma salemah!
Anthony Stewart
Islamic Architecture and Geometry
I have to read your answer through once more....

For me the religion is the culture, more than religion itself, and the architecture is the culture from religion.
And I think this is very important to understand, that you can't separate the religion from culture in many Muslim countries. That the religion is a way of being instead of practising.
It feels like the more you study the architecture of the Islamic world,
it is easy to say different things like it comes from the Byzantine and bla bla,
which is true in some ways like Cordoba or the Umayyad in Damascus, with the horseshoe and the mammlukke stripes
but it is so much more to it.
But when you are actually there in the city or the building you feel the movement.
It is like the more you learn, the more confused you get. And I think that is why many people want to keep the religious part out. That it becomes personal experience and not basic facts;
but I think very much that basic ideas come from the cosmos; and mathematics, and the line, and the Koran from the Paradise gardens, and the Gothic cathedrals also had offsprings in religion, as Ruskin presented very well in his drawings.

I am really sorry for my bad English...what I wonder is, what is really typical Jewish architecture, except Liberskind's theoretical thoughts that work very well.
Are there some really good examples in the old world?

Linnea Palme
Islamic Architecture and Geometry
Maybe it is indeed the geometry in Islamic architecture that makes it Islamic. The repetition of the same units (naves or arches) in the building, the repetition of domes and minarets. In the scale of ornaments in Islamic buildings we see the same endless repetition in geometric designs like interlocking star patterns for instance. One can combine this with the atomism in Islam. According to this thought, everything is created out of the same units. It is a divine miracle that the same composition is repeated over and over again.

(See Oleg Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art, New Haven en London 1973, p. 192)

One can see this repetition of the same unit as an abstract way of showing God's creation.

Ilse Sturkenboom
Islamic Architecture and Geometry
Yes that one is good, but another one where you can find answers is in the book The Sense of Unity: The Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture, by Nader Ardalan and Laleh Bakhtiar.
Linnea Palme
Islamic Architecture and Geometry
Wow! interesting discussion, well architecture is a first culture to me, and yes, religion is what we get from our parents, we do not have a choice in our religion as we do not have a choice in birth.

Now, Moslems do not pray to any form but do pray to air, an element very naturally present in the mihrab, a focus place in the mosque.

As it has happened in the development of iconic presentations in various cultures, Islamic clerics and Sufis abstacted various forms, it's an overlap and developed complicated geometry. At times they used it for plans in buildings and in hot climates developed very intricate lattice work in stone to cool interiors [your sketch of the Taj, 2005].

So the cultural part got reflected in architecture, and the users happen to be Muslims, Islamic...cheers.
Dushyant Nathwani


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