year 4, Issue 1 (Spring & Summer 2018)                   CIAUJ 2018, 4(1): 41-52 | Back to browse issues page

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Mohaddesi J, Nadimi H. Global Thinking, Dialogues and Concepts: Islamic Architecture and Definitions of Architecture. CIAUJ. 2018; 4 (1) :41-52
1- Shahid Beheshti University
2- Shahid Beheshti University ,
Abstract:   (189 Views)
Although globalization refers to the global scale, as in contrast to the local/cultural dimension, it is subject to cross-cultural interaction. Hence, globalization re­quires global thinking based on universal concepts which allow for cross-cultural dialogue and under­standing. The interaction between regional thoughts is a sine qua non of global thinking and it requires the extension of thinking from the local to the global scale. At this larger scale, there is no way of avoiding encounters and dialogues with others. Although dia­logue is made possible via language and translation, agreement would be impossible without shared con­cepts and mentalities. Thinking and speaking about Islamic architecture is not an exception either. Speaking of Islamic art and architecture at the global scale is associated with certain challenges. One im­portant challenge is the misunderstandings sur­rounding the meanings of these terms. The greater portion of these misunderstandings is rooted in Ori­ental studies. On the one hand, the debates on such terms inside the Islamic world are subject to implied assumptions that may not be acceptable to the out­siders. On the other hand, both architecture and Is­lam are complex and controversial concepts, giving rise to disagreements among experts. In addition, the cultural aspects of these concepts, as rooted in their nature, pose the challenge of cultural relativity, which is an obstacle to mutual understanding at the global scale. It is no surprise, then, that the concept of Is­lamic architecture is misunderstood in global dia­logues. Considering all this, if these terms are to be discussed and thought globally, such barriers must be overcome. To have a global dialogue about Islamic ar­chitecture, it is necessary to rethink its constituent el­ements, i.e., Islam and architecture, in a more pro­found and rational way. One way to rethink a concept is to consider its dictionary definition(s) so as to better understand the meanings that it conveys. On the one hand, language is a cultural phenomenon which serves as the main medium of intra- and inter-cultural communication; so, a comparative, cross-cultural, lin­guistic study can help us better understand a concept. On the other hand, definitions prepare the ground for collective agreement on a concept among the experts in a field of study and, thus, help us overcome the limits of cultural relativity. Therefore, exploring the definitions provided for religion and architecture would facilitate the feasibility of studying the relation­ship between these two concepts and, as a result, dis­cussing Islamic architecture. Relaying on a rational definition of religion according to Islamic wisdom, the present study addresses the literal/lexical definitions of architecture. Religion is defined as a coherent sys­tem of beliefs, morals and practical principles that shape an individual’s lifestyle. Based on this defini­tion, we explore and compare the literal definitions of “architect” and “architecture” in both English and Persian lexicons: An “architect” lives a life of serving other people’s lives and “architecture” is a theoreti­cal-practical process whose product is livable struc­tures for human beings. These two are not only con­nected to religion but they are also religious in nature.
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