Book Talk Series: ‘The Qur’an on Art Architecture, and Built Environment’

By Dinda Aisyah

GOMBAK, 25 August 2023: In the Book Talk Series 4/2023, an academic at the Department of History and Civilization, AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences of the IIUM, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer, unravelled his thoughts and perspectives from his book entitled “The Qur’an on Art Architecture and Built Environment.

The book was presented with the Book Publication Award at the recent Takrim Day 2023. He shared interesting and inspiring insights on how art and architecture are very much related with the Qur’an during his talk.

“The Quran gives us an architectural and artistic built environment worldview, it teaches us invisible dimensions that have made architecture, architecture, and that have made art, art,” he said.

“It teaches us how to operate the realm of Allah’s creation,” said Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic during the book talk.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer initiated the discussion by diving into the book’s introduction, which serves as a preview of its content. Structured across six distinct chapters, the book discusses various environmental aspects that are derived from the Qur’anic perspective, drawing upon relevant Surahs and verses. The chapters of the book are as follows:

Chapter 1 – The mosque of mischief vs the mosque of piety: the Islamic worldview for architecture
Chapter 2 – Lessons and decorations from Surah Az-Zukhruf (Gold adornments)
Chapter 3 – Lessons in art and architecture from Surah Asy-Syuara (the poets)
Chapter 4 – Lessons in architecture and sustainable development from Surah An-Nahl (the bees)
Chapter 5 – Lessons in peaceful coexistence with the environment from Surah An-Naml (the ants)
Chapter 6 – Lessons in housing from Surah An-Nur (the light)
Chapter 7 – Significance of the Qur’an for art and architecture

In the talk, he mentioned that the correlation between the Qur’an and art or architecture might sound peculiar to a lot of people, “…to many people, the Qur’an is being recited in the masjid or maybe in the privacy of people’s homes or maybe to yourself.” In fact, he said that the built environment and art architecture is a worldly realm and close to Islamic civilization and cannot be separated from the Qur’an. “Islam gives us good architecture because of its good architect, an enlightened architect, a guided architect who stands on a strong and solid foundation,” he explained.

He restated a phrase said by Koca Mimar Sinan, one of the greatest architects that had ever lived who solved the greatest masterpieces in places where the Ottoman empire was found, “He said that architecture is very difficult, complicated, and demanding, because of its multilevel operations.” Then he said, “…he who wants to practise it correctly must be above all bias, must have taqwa.” The word ‘taqwa’ was highlighted a lot by him as the key to architecture. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic also mentioned that the masjid that was built during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a building that was established based on the foundation of taqwa and seeking Allah’s pleasure.

Furthermore, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic recalled stories about the great Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). These days, people fail to remember that the Prophet created, developed, and planned a city. The Prophet built the Ka’bah, mosques, and houses. He was a builder, and an engineer. The brain and architect behind the Kuba masjid while developing and urbanising Madinah was Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic expressed how the Qur’an also brought up the psychological factors of architecture. “The Qur’an not just mentioned spiritual dimensions, people’s dimensions, people’s destiny, but the Qur’an also brings into the picture the psychological dimensions of buildings generated and their impact on people.”

The Book Talk Series 4/2023 took place on Friday, 25 August 2023 at the Dar al-Hikmah Library IIUM Gombak and was organised by the Knowledge Resources Development Section (KRDS) of Dar al-Hikmah Library IIUM in collaboration with IIUM Press.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic is one of our dedicated writers in IIUMToday. He has contributed numerous compelling feature articles that cover various topics on Islam, history, philosophy, culture, amongst them. IIUMToday would like to congratulate Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic for his award.***