Topic for Debate
Islamic approach to design
Asslamualikum brothers and sisters..hello evryone
I'm new to this forum, i do not know if the topic that i intend to discuss ha already been discussed or not.
I'm a student of architecture, doing final year from India

1. I was wondering...arnt there some principals as per the quran and the Sunnah that a Muslim architect should follow so as to do justice to his religion and his profession?

2. If that is the case then maybe..i repeat 'maybe'....minimalism is Islamic in the sense that it does not do with any excess ...but just what is needed.

3. What architecture can be defined as truly 'Islamic' architecture?Are there true examples of islamic architeture?
Mubeena Abdul Majeed
Islamic approach to design
dear Architect when i went for Umrah i visited Madina & as an Architect i found that, The holy city Madina & holy Masjid-e-nabawi is true examples of islamic architecture.
Saif Ahmed Sayyad
Islamic approach to design
Yes Mr. Saif, architecture of Masjid -an -nabwi(Madinah) and Masjid- haram (Makkah)are truly spectacular!...but what is it that makes it 'Islamic'?
I am planning to take up this topic 'Islamic approach to design' for my dissertation Can anyone help me with refrences?
Thanx in advance...
Mubeena Abdul Majeed
Islamic approach to design
the discussion of islamic art and design in terms of islamic studies is different then discussing islamic approaches to design. i've been working on this topic for over 15 years in my study of architecture.

An interesting point to be made about the term "islamic"...

After September 11th a group of activists got together in a retreat in Texas to discuss issues related to muslim identity in america.

one of the themes discussed was the "indigionization" of islam in america. the speakers mentioned that in terms of fiqh, there is no such thing as "islamic." it is much to simplistic a concept that is inconsistent with the dymanic and sophisticated nature of Allah's Shariah.

Instead of simply islamic and unislamic our classical scholars outlined 5 basic categories of a things allowability (the arabic terms vary), an action or a thing can be mandatory, encouraged, allowed, disliked, or forbidden.

I have not read the Quran looking for what Allah orders specifically for our built environment, so i cannot say what might or might not be fard/mandatory or haram/forbidden.

but i can imagine what might be considered mandub/recommended or makruh/disliked.

i don't know about minimalism in general, but extravegant architecture for rulers may be disliked considering the various hadith we have on record of Abu Dharr al Ghaffari telling Amir Muawiyya as he lived in the luxary of a palace in Damascus.

government or public buildings may be encouraged to be open, democratic spaces with multiple entry and exit points based on the buildings built under Caliph Umar's orders after the conquest of Iraq in Kufa and Basra.

sustainable architecture may also be recommended because an argument can be made that its practices are in line humanity's Quranic role as Allah's khalifas or stewards of creation.

but lets not forget what architectural design is. i define it as a creative act that involves a built structure that will be used by humans in some way. thus, i guess it can be considered haram for us to do anything that puts people in danger through our choices in materials and methods.
Asad Siddiqui
Islamic approach to design
Jazakallah Mr. Asad...your points are helping me think
Do u know any structure that has applied or atleast tried to some extend to apply the Islamic principles?
It would be of great help...
Mubeena Abdul Majeed
Islamic approach to design
Mubeena, Perhaps the book "The Sense of Unity" on Sufiism by Ardalan and Bakhtiar (UCP) can be considered to be a text for Islamic Architecture?
Frank John Snelling
Islamic approach to design
i am impressed by mr.asad siddiqui's explenation as well general design means intended purpose...the way islamic thoughts influence the intenions of designs becomes ISLAMIC DESIGN in architecture/interior/landscape/fashion[clothing]/jwellery etc........sufi thoughts are minimalist and simple but islam do allow extravegance as the rulers always pramoted rich and sturdy material for islamic activities with abundance of space around....i have enjoyed great mughal architecture in india and alse where....yes it is simple and minimalist but very reach in space planning.
Dushyant Nathwani
Islamic approach to design
Islam is a religion that is very diverse. You will find Mosques all over the world and though they will have some features that are similar...they will be very different in there own way because of the region or the place in the world it is located. You can probably do some research and see that mosques and other Islamic architecture has changed as time has passed...that does not mean Islam has forgotten its original architecture...but simply means it's opening up to new ideas. I would still say that...traditionally, Islamic architecture involves domes and minarettes and few other things that I cannot name of the top of my head.
Toheed Khawaja
Islamic approach to design
Abdulmajeed. Islam has immutable principles that will not change with time. However, the details of interpretation and application depend on region, culture etc, etc. That is why 'Islamic' Architecture or approach to design will look very different for the casual observer when comparing region to region or era to era. This is because the principles which are universal when overlaid to the regional specificities produce something specific to the region. This is not to say the 'islamic' is different. The Quran for example lays so many principles that would influence the way you approach design. eg. it tells one to eschew arrogant and vainglorious behaviour. that means arrogant and show off is discouraged. It tells one to be good to neighbours. so you have to respect your context. It equates other creations as nations like yourselves. meaning in design to be respectful to the invironment, especially when it adds that as human beings we are viceroys (caliphs) on earth. a caliph is somebody responsible who will only act suatainably in interaction with nature and the surrounding. it says that everything is created in a balance, so you must also excerise that balance in design. it tells you to seek permission before entering houses that are not yours, also to interact with ajnaby womenfolk behind a veil so gradation of and degrees of privacy.
What am saying is that you may not find in it design instructions the way you would get them in an architectural textbook but its injuctions, when you ponder as a designer, you will find therein lie great principles for your approach to design.
let me come back with some recommendations on books.
Mohamed Mwacharo
Islamic approach to design
Mr Dushyant, i agree what you said about how Islamic thought must influence all types of designs, because man is the only being who has been blessed with the power of thought and intellect.But your view about"Islam do allow extravegance as the rulers always pramoted rich and sturdy material for islamic activities"...i do not totally agree. I personally feel that Islamic Architecture has to be 'unlinked from the popular image of king's palaces and old castles and overflowing gardens and ornamental monuments.'(Islam Mahbub-ul-haq).
Mubeena Abdul Majeed
Islamic approach to design
Mr. Toheed, i agree that Islam teaches diversity and respects regionalism, but do not feel that Islamic architecture has to compulsorily have to follow the dome and minaret.because imitating styles dilutes diversity and regionalism. I could be wrong though.

Mr,Mwacharo, i very well understand that Quran may not state architectural principles, but that we have to take points from the Islamic doctrine which can be translated into Architecture like the examples that u mentioned.And mr. Towheed, that is what I am willing to take up for my dissertation . I want to find out which are those principles of th quran and the Sunnah that can be translated into Architecture.
The article 'Discovering concepts of faith' by Khalil K. Pirani has been helping me in this study.But i'll be happy if anyone can suggest more references.
Thanx in advance.
Mubeena Abdul Majeed
Islamic approach to design
The term Minimalism was coined, above all, as a means of describing in laudatory terms, or in a reductive and strongly critical manner.

In the field of architecture, the term Minimalism was used, at times with caution and at others with determination, to connote the works of architects from profoundly different origins and cultural backgrounds, who had based their own work on a reduction in expressive media, a rediscovery of the value of empty space and a radical elimination of everything that does not coincide with a programme, also with minimalistic design overtones, of extreme simplicity and formal cleanliness.

Minimalist Architecture Principle: Sort out what your highest priority architectural requirements are, and then do the least you possibly can to achieve them.

The last decades witnessed the resurgence of a historicist movement in architecture in the Islamic world that was influenced by contemporary architectural thinking in the West and fervent searches for cultural identities in the recently formed nation-states.

Sherefudin's White Mosque, Visoko, Bosnia (1980), designed by the architect Zlatko Ulgjen; it masterfully assimilates modern influences, especially Le Corbusier's Ronchamp Cathedral, and traditional Ottman forms and elements.

The above attached photo:
View of the Mosque's roof and minaret.
Salem Yousif Al Qudwa
Islamic approach to design
Interior view towards the mihrab showing the use of skylights to articulate the space.

Sherefudin's White Mosque, Visoko, Bosnia = minimalist architecture!
Salem Yousif Al Qudwa
Islamic approach to design
Detail of the minaret top showing the use of tubular form to suggest Arabic calligraphy is a simple approach to design the minaret!
Salem Yousif Al Qudwa
Islamic approach to design
As salam walaikum.
dear friends
I would like to ask this question that what is Islamic architecture?
is it an architure for muslims or architecture on muslim land.
there can not be any architecture for any religion. it is the style of design which keeps on changing according to the material, skills available and so on. and surely it also depends upon the culture.and since Islam has a very straight forward and reasonable way of doing things muslims all over the world follow similar habits. thus the Islamic approach in designing a building is common.And so i would name it as Islamic style and not Islamic architecture.
Sana Joad
Islamic approach to design
peace upon u,

mr.majeed, if ur talkings is right, u should also admit that the byzantine archiecture is also byzantine style not architecture, for the designation islamic architecture or byzantine one means "the predominant style of architecture in tha lands under the sovereignty of the central administration" so it is so often that the style of the main metropolis spread over the other branches, viz, the followed cities.

in the case of islamic architecture the "spirituality" possibly is the major reason for this profusion of the main elements which characterize it, so u could see those elements in India, Persia, Egypt, ..etc.

So, islamic style is not right designation, islamic architecture is not fit designation, for the both are enforcing themselves to be belonged to the "Islam" as a religion, and then, the right designation im contented to permit, is " the architecture in the islamic lands", for the islam is the fundamental common bond which connect all the arab-ajam, or non-arabs.
Waleed Akef
Islamic approach to design
Islamic approach to design , may be of various methods .
according to me it might be :-
1. use of materials which is provided by nature itself in a sustainable way .
2. green technology must be emphasized . use of low cost technology where ever necessary .
3. using energy efficient techniques to attain a perfect comfort zone without the help of AC and other things. In other words regulating the HVAC performance of the building .
4. if u r doing a housing project between 2 or 3 house clusters u can create a common cluster space so that everyone can have a better bonding relationship with each other in the neighborhood because Islam always advises unity of the people .
4. elegant solutions for waste management.
5. importance must be given to water management .
so as a conclusion the planning of any project in an Islamic approach in this way will let the client pay a very meaningful and appropriate cost, this will ensure a peaceful and healthy life , this planning will encourage for the unity of the neighborhood ( in the case of housing ) , waste management and water and electricity management will also ensure a kind of economic balance .

and as architects if we think and plan like this INSHALLAH ALAH WILL give us the reward for achieving a good, healthy and meaningful life for the clients .
Muhammed Abbas Nishar
Islamic approach to design
so impressive and so acceptable nishar, but " over each knowledgeable, there is a better one ", so what is A.C and HVAC.

Waleed Akef
Islamic approach to design
Assalamu 'Alaykum!
Kindly visit this link "Towards an Understanding of Islamic Architecture". I hope it may be useful.
Spahic Omer
Islamic approach to design
assalamualikum by the way mr . waleed .
thanks a lot for the compliments .

a.c means air conditioning and HVAC performance means regulation of heat ventilation and air conditioning performance of any building
Muhammed Abbas Nishar
Islamic approach to design
thanx Mr.Nishar for ur interest and this valuable informations.
and u r right, all the islamic buildings need no A.C at all, and i think it couldn't be achieved by coincidence, say, if it occured in an individual building, but not the all; they were quite knowledgeable about the absorption of the heat, the perfect systems of ventilation, probably by making use of the courtyards, or in electing the appropriate material.
Waleed Akef
Islamic approach to design
yes exactly mr . waleed i hope what i wrote will be helpful to you and others .
Muhammed Abbas Nishar
Islamic approach to design
Salam, dear Mubeena
My opinion about 1:
In this case Quran offers that you use your mind.

My opinion about 2:
Islam also approves of Minimalism because it answers the need of some people, but not all of them.
Quran says eat & drink enough but do not go beyond your limits this sentence doesn't mean minimalism.

My opinion about 3:
Any Architecutre that answers the need of humanity.
Symbols used in middle east architecture is islamic but they are designed according to the needs of middle east people.
Mohammad Goodarzi
Islamic approach to design
Assalam O Alaekum to All
I want to highlight the Original three questions by Mubeena.

1.There isn't any literal design principal in Quraan & hadith. If we believe that architecture is form by the ritual, then yes we have to study each and every ritual or ehkaam from Quraan & Hadith and create the architecture through that.
eg. The Masjid defined by the users and its ritual, not by the Minar, Mehraab, ablution space, point arches, dome etc.

2.�What we needed� , we can create any building by the focusing on subject of the space with Islamic perspective. Mean the original Ritual & Ehkaam fefine by Mohammad ur Rasoolullah (S.A) through Quraan & Hadith. With this concept you answer yourself that �What we needed� & �What we don�t needed�. As I explained above example for Masjid.

3.First of all we have to clarify the answers of following four questions, that how can we define Islamic architecture?
i-Is that Islamic architecture which built by Islamic ruler or any Islamic community?( examples > Taj Mahal, Suleiman i mosque turkey, etc )
ii-Is that Islamic architecture which follows the patronized Islamic symbols? (examples > Bong Mosque, Cordoba mosque, etc)
iii-Is that Islamic architecture which defines by the Muslim users? ( examples > Jamaraat complex Mina, Hajj terminal, etc)
iv-Is that only Islamic architecture which follows the ehkaam from Quraan and Sunnah.(true example> Khana-e-Kaaba )
Furqan Khatri
Islamic approach to design
You should read more about the architecture of Tadao Ando (Ando is the best known contemporary Japanese architect) and his creative architecture of minimalism.
Ando is an architect who doesn�t trample the profound sensitivity for nature and seasonal change that informed the traditional Japanese way of life. Rather than clear nature out of the way for his buildings, his buildings make way for nature. His approach in architecture is to design with passion and commitment, humbleness and sensitivity to the context of society and environment.

You could see Islamic Architectural principles in his architecture, without arches and domes as well!
Salem Yousif Al Qudwa
Islamic approach to design
i belive transparency is the most imporatant feature in islamic architecture Transparency is generally linked with the use of glass in modern buildings. But this transparency is literal. In my view, the entire essence of Islamic architecture lies in its beauty of truthfulness, openness, striking a perfect balance between the subtleties of good design and architecture so that both are eventually speaking the same language � a language of honesty and integrity.
plz comment on my opinion
Sana Charania
Islamic approach to design

An additional reading ...

Nor Ainah Ali
Islamic approach to design
hallo,sana,true and vertufull islamic architecture should hold as per your oppinion of architecture/climate of gluf does not go in hand and glow....the dress code reflects the need for climate to cover body against heat and dust hence parda as well burkhas and arab dress for male fully covered....all the wealth of gulf needs to review architectural strategy for next generation to understand the future of islamic traditions and architecture.
Dushyant Nathwani
Islamic approach to design
Hello everyone and thanx an lot for your valuable suggestions and comments...

Sana, i can accept that 'Truthfullness' is part of the 'Islamic' in 'Islamic Architecture' ...but i do not think it can be achieved by the means of 'transparency'...if considering a residence, isnt the privacy of a home the most important, especially for the ladies? Can that be achieved by being transparent?
Maybe i have not understood the true meaning of what you meant. Please comment.
Mubeena Abdul Majeed


This site is adjusted only for landscape mode. Please rotate your device for properly using
We are sorry, we are still working on adjusting for Metro IE. Please use another browser for the best experience with our site.