Islamic Architecture
Deconstruction in an Islamic perspective
How does deconstructivism fits with Islamic prospect and guidelines? Can it be link in anyway to Islam?
Elin Zul
Deconstruction in an Islamic perspective
Elin, trying to link deconstructivism to Islam is pointless. It is a theoretical tool that can be used by anyone who understands it or pretends to understand it. To use ones intellect, now there is an Islamic proposition. Whether I want to take a Feminist, Marxist, Green, or any other framework for looking at the world and making sense of it, is fine. As long as I am looking and asking questions. In other words, Muslims these days are too concerned with silly matters such as the hijab, length of a man's beard, or if music is permissible. Islam cannot be circumscribed by such narrow definitions and outward symbols. There was once a message of hope, justice, and beauty. Seek for that in your architecture if you want to seek for the essence of what can be termed "Islamic" anything.
Shiraz Allibhai
Deconstruction in an Islamic perspective
yes, I think in many ways. The compact Islamic typical cities layout could be brocken down into smaller entities. That is a form of deconstruction. If you take each sigle house or even a monument in its traditional physical fabric it is a deconstructive building, althiugh it was not meant to be. The assymetrical, irregular, random features of the Islamic city are all basic ingredients of deconstructivism. In poetry this is also the case.
Hani Alqahtani
Deconstruction in an Islamic perspective
Thank you for your responses, I appreciate your critism but still I disagree because I think deconstructivsm doesn't only exist through intention but also in the existing features like what has been mentioned by Hani. Just as reference, is there any Islamic point of view that mentions or critizes deconstructivism?

If anybody has ever come across it please inform me. Thanks,
Elin Zul
Deconstruction in an Islamic perspective
I still find the the entire premise superficial. Firstly, Deconstruction is primarily a vehicle for literary criticism and philosophy. According to Merriam Webster deconstruction is "a method of literary criticism that assumes language refers only to itself rather than to an extratextual reality, that asserts multiple conflicting interpretations of a text, and that bases such interpretations on the philosophical, political, or social implications of the use of language in the text rather than on the author's intention."

Deconstruction or deconstructivism is "part of a research into the dissolving limits of architecture," according to Bernard Tschumi words at the 1988 Frist international symposium on deconstruction in London. It is looking for "the between" According to Peter Eisenman at the same symposium, architects who fracture are merly illustrative; they are not challenging an preconceptions. While the theory the "new way of seeing" for architects and academics may be viewed as a decadence it more importantly offered an alternative incluence to the increasing banality of postmodern formality.

The resulting buildings actually seem to fit the word - dismantled, fractured dissasmblages, with no visual logic, no attempt at haramoniuos composition of facades no pragmatic reason. In a critique of Eisenmans Aronoff center at UoC Frank gehry said " The best thing about peters buildings is the insane spaces he ends up with. All that other stuff, the philosophy and all, is just bullshit as far as I'm concerned."

Deconstructivism in architecture [as taken directly from] basically means that something is disassembled, or taken apart instead of put together, and so the postmodernists did with the old values and ideals of modernity that were no longer acceptable. They started to undo those values, like the belief in authority, science, Christianity, and especially the structures of thinking that stood behind these things. For instance, the protagonists of modernity had been proclaiming the death of God, but the "mode" of dominion in the society of modernity remained fairly unchanged.

This necessarily went hand in hand with an analysis of all these structures, leading the postmodern movement to some pertinent definitions of what modernity is or was. The consequence was a radical denial, a scepticism of modernity as such, together with the emotional expression of feeling misled by the cultural paradigms of modernity.

The case was (and is) then being made against all the features of modernity - which had been handed down to us, namely from the founders of the "Modern Age", traditional scientists, philosophers and economists -and they were exposed to a disassembly/dismantling, which could also be called deconstruction. This means that all the values and habits and former models of thinking, all those "-isms", are simply being abolished in the first place. This is a very radical starting point, for whoever tries to get rid of his thinking habits consequently will probably find him- or herself ending up either in nonsense (lack of logic, being no longer necessary) or at the least in absolute nihilism (lack of values, having no justification any more). Especially this nihilistic idea is apparently one of the significant features of the postmodern movement, since the endeavour can always be found to replace the characteristics of modernity with their negation, leading not seldom into a total rejection of all values together with a rather anarchistic, however not aggressive, worldview. []

This to me is all mumbo-jumbo. It seemed like in its heydey in the 1980's, you had a bunch of architects doing interesting work who may or may not have been influenced by each other and may or may not have even heard of Jacques Derrida. Because of the need for critics to place a label on everything, this group of architects which included Gehry, Hadid, and Libeskind were classified as Deconstructivist.

If you are looking for Islamic references, go for it. Just realise that the references are tenous at best and really do not hold any meaning beyond those you attribute to them. Just my opinion.
Shiraz Allibhai
Deconstruction in an Islamic perspective
Dear Elin,

Your main question was about deconstruction in the Islamic context(s)and not in the architectural context.

If you meant to say the relationship between deconstruction and architecture in the Islamic context, then I would support Shiraz, by decrying the value of deconstruction as an architectural style and its need to be brought into Islamic context(s). I think we have better things to do!

But if you meant deconstruction in the Islamic context(s), as you wrote, then not just myself but Prof. Arkoun would agree too.

Let me mention one relationship. Arkoun and Derrida are both originally from Algeria. Both are of the same age group, (almost, except Derrida's demise). They both studied and taught in France. And the person who knows Prof. Arkoun, in person, would be able to tell the similarities in Arkoun's and Derrida's approaches. He personally took keen interest in Deridda and deconstruction.
I would suggest to read his book "The Unthought in Contemporary Islamic thought". One can see the similarities in his approach and what generally is being known as Deconstruction. However, you won't find that nihilistic urge in Arkoun's approaches. His is very historical. I think somebody can do ph.D on Arkoun's approach and its similarity with Deconstruction.

To talk about deconstruction, if you want to, in the architectural context is also not a bad idea, but has to be beyond any stylistic preference, or post-designed justification.

Deconstruction stepping in architecture in the Islamic context, I guess, will start with two different models that the semantic difference in the words architecture and ma'mariyya would suggest. In other words, it will take the dialogue beyond the hegemony of the English language.

These models can take several angles. One of which one time I suggested as a topic of discussion, but received no attempts. I guess, it is not an easy topic, or not many people are interested.

What I suggested was the relationship between, Al-Hamra and the first Caliph Muhammad who built it. The Kuniyyat of the caliph was 'Abu al-ahmar' and his laqab was 'ghalib bi-allah', in reference to the statement everywhere there, "wa la ghalib illa allah", and the name of the palace, 'Alhmara'.

The relationship that I suggested was beyond cause and effect. This may take architecture beyond the general perception as an object into the domain of architecture that also exists as a subject (like a person) as part of the experiencee's "imago".

Deconstruction is a tool, although has many problems, like its relationship to nihilism, etc. however, it still is very beneficial to take apart the biases, one may has:

1. As an architect
2. Architect of the modern era.
3. The product of modernity (as religion)
4. As a believer of what has been handed down to us, as Muslims.
Irfan Sonawala
Deconstruction in an Islamic perspective
Here a link to an article by Léon Krier with a very intriguing insight on deconstruction as a critical technique, rather than as an architectural theory.

Lucien Steil
Deconstruction in an Islamic perspective
Hello elin,

I am myself not a follower of Islam, So i may not be of guidance to you in that realm of thought as Mr. irfan Sonawala has been.

Personally though i feel you have the opportunity to study the deconstruction of geometries. To me Islamic Architecture has always meant a representation of the mastery of the geometrics. The study of Islamic architecture as the deconstructivist visions of a mathematical nature may allow you an approach that would reveal a lot more of the mysteries hidden those structures to the rest of us who remain unawares.

It is time that culturally/ religiously significant architecture be re-represented to the rest of the world in terms understood universally in a cause and effect manner of study,

Rather than sending out a whole lot extremely historic, and native tongued expressions which, in todays context, most people of the same faith/nativity or ethnicity, themselves do not fully comprehend,or have forgotten, It would be wise to analyze it with the perspective of contextual need and achievement of a certain vision with relation to that.

This is something like solving a problem backwards. U know the solution, but you need to find the question. In these circumstances, its like a murder investigation, the analysis of evidence may reveal facts that one may not have even hoped to find.

It is that which i would suggest you attempt to do, with regards to the Idea of using geometric evaluation and finding connotations associated with it.

Also today u have parallels with investigation into the thoughts of the Christian "realm" in Dan Brown's books.

Obviously, your evalution and study will differ extremely from what he has intended to do in that book. I am only drawing a relationship with regards to the approach to it being from the plane of an ignorant/ non-biased point of view, so ur conclusions will generate a system of thought for a given solution - the actual building.

Hope this helps. I would like to read ur reaction to this also, since i am trying to start research into a similar topic with regards to Urban design and town plannig.

Nirup Jayanth


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