Traditional Islamic Principles of Built Environment

Traditional Islamic Principles of Built Environment

Traditional Islamic Principles of Built Environment

Traditional Islamic Principles of Built Environment

Synopsis

Written with the non-Muslim reader in mind, this book analyses the principles and values established by Islamic tradition to govern the social and physical environments of Muslims. The picture of Islam that emerges from this work is of a way of life with social ideals. Relying on the Qur'an and Sunna , the basic sources of Islamic law, and using examples of the built environment of early Muslims in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia, the author explains how following these ideals can create an urban environment that responds to social and environmental variables.Islamic views on the controversial issue of modernisation are also examined. This book will be of interest to people in the fields of urban planning, architecture, sociology, anthropology, housing and built environment, as well as Islamic studies.

Excerpt

The tradition of Islam embodies many principles of social organisation and behaviour. These principles have been established by this tradition to make the life of believers correspond to its objectives and message. Following these principles, as early Muslim societies did, creates harmonious social and physical environments, but to ignore them would violate the tradition itself and adversely affect the social and physical conditions of Muslim life. This seems to be the case in the contemporary Muslim environment, where non-traditional values and regulations are introduced and followed under the banner of ‘modernity’.

Accordingly, this book aims to explore some of the essential principles which the tradition of Islam has set up for Muslim society and its living environment. Unlike many previous studies, the study will help towards understanding Islam as a tradition of values and not one of rules. Many studies have failed to make clear the social dimensions of this tradition as they tended to list only the traditional regulations. They do not explain, for example, why and how Islam has required social interaction or privacy. Readers of some of these researches would come to the conclusion that Islam is no more than a legislative body imposing regulations upon people and their built environment. As far as this study is concerned, Islam is a way of life with social ideals. The pursuit of these ideals will be reflected in the formation of the built environment. And if there are ordinances, they are established only to support these ideals. This book, therefore, goes beyond the rules that Islam has set up by exploring and explaining the reasons behind them.

Socio-cultural and behavioural aspects in planning and design in general have been of great interest to the author since his early study of architecture. However, he does not claim that he has an intimate knowledge of shar‘ah, the legal system of Islam, sufficient to cover all the issues relevant to the topic of this research. In fact, Islam has warned those who are not completely conversant with shar‘ah against producing a fatw or religious opinion. In this book, the author has not attempted to make any ijtihd (scholarly religious interpretation resulting in shar‘ah directions) . . .

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