year 3, Issue 2 (Fall & Winter 2018)                   CIAUJ 2018, 3(2): 17-31 | Back to browse issues page

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Nari Ghomi M. Theory of Islamic Architecture vs. Islamic Theory of Architecture: A Critical Appraisal of the Contemporary Theoretical and Practical Approaches from the Islamic Perspective. CIAUJ. 2018; 3 (2) :17-31
Technical and Vocational University of Qom ,
Abstract:   (1116 Views)
This paper is to search for the cause of vagueness in distinguishing Islamic from non-Islamic among archi­tectural artifacts of the time in Islamic countries. It is not restricted to non-religious buildings but the main problem emerges when designers or theorists make Islamic claims on a work of architecture. Here, to pur­sue the causes of this fact, two main subjects are ex­plored: theoretical positions as well as practical ap­proaches. For the first subject, two main directions in current theories, i.e. theosophical attitude and Islamic juridical approach, are put in critical debate. However, a third approach is also discussed, which concerns the “principle-oriented” trend. The theosophical ap­proach is based on the hypothesis of essentiality of spiritual wisdom and its superiority over objective world of things. This leads to a hermeneutics of form of historic precedents of architectural artifacts which has also been applied for contemporary works of ar­chitecture. This approach bears a body of criticisms from Islamic point of view. The main question is: is it approvable by Islamic principles to claim spiritual val­ues for special forms or is it acceptable that any form could be Islamic as claimed by theosophical interpre­tation? Here some negative witnesses from original Islamic contexts are shown. For the juridical approach there is far less literature as it is attached to deep religious behavior and is globally viewed as funda­mentalist. However in this route Islam is put in the place of regulatory both in terms of urban code (or architectural one) and a kind of resource to produce vast tacit knowledge about built environment. The main criticism in this field has been introduced by its actionist as they see this field of not enough content to be developed for current issues. Here their claim of weakness of Islamic content from their point of view is to some extent measured. The third area of de­bate—“principle oriented” trend—belongs to those studies of Islam and built environment which see the role of Islam as founder of concept that has nothing to do with detailed and objective matters of built en­vironment. In their view the timeless value of Islam is not included in its objective content such as behaviors or regulation but is put in its basic concept that should be interpreted differently from time to time. Here this approach especially in architecture is seen as a reduc­tive one. It ignores internal structure of Islam and resists towards Islamic main claim of its global and fatal value. For the architecture this view is very weak to interpretation of artifacts as well as making sense of what should be done in future. For the second one the mosque designs of pre-Modern era to present days are briefly reviewed from an Islamic critical point of view. After a challenging discussion the main prob­lem is formulated in the form of one essential ques­tion: “What does Islam want from architecture?”  This makes the framework of conclusion of the paper.
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