Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Beyond the minaret : a space for the spirit, a place for the people : toward an integral design for a contemporary mosque via an embodied decorum or ethos
Author: Adams, Richard Yusuf
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 6873
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2017
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This work is intended primarily as an original contribution to knowledge in the field of architecture and subsequently as a useful text for architects and designers and grass roots Muslim community builders. Though written to serve in particular the Muslim communities who seek to establish socially dynamic places of work, and worship, the present study is intended to be of interest to those looking at approaches to build collectively and create a beneficial spaces and places of great architectural merit. Although the particular lived way or praxis that is served is Islam, which asserts unseen and seen realms and a life beyond this life, the present study is written from the human phenomenological perspective of being and dwelling in this world here and now, and addresses the cultural role of architecture today. Islam is equally concerned with the eternal now of the present moment. This open book exploration is enframed by a) the foil of a specific proposed mosque project and b) grounded in the history and living tradition of Islam, and c) the phenomenologically understood life patterns of those who would dwell in the mosque complex daily. Research is guided by a key thesis that the simplest and humblest edifice, the most basic mosque, is adorned by and serves an ethos, by human rhythms and behaviour that are contained by its walls, and walls that are the very ornamentation of that ethos. This ethos shall be known throughout the work as an embodied adab, or embodied ‘gathering of all good.’ This ethos describes both the best or desired intentions and actions of people and the architectural manifestation that appropriately responds to an architectural program to serve,shelter and sustain this intent. The methodology to explore the notion of an embodied adab is interpretive, and accepts the prejudices of the author as the only valid starting point, when asserting that architectural theory and practice is dialogical in nature, gathering to itself many inter-subjective and inter-objective realms in a hermeneutic cycle, which results in a reiterative design process. Personal intentionality and embodied experience therefore meet an interpretive reading of the Islamic Tradition to grasp the historicity of the mosque complex or imaret. Therefore it is important to state that research of the present work is grounded in over fifteen years of being a student of Islam and the integral practice of Sufism, studying and practising with a lineage that travels back from Spain through Morocco across North Africa to the source for Muslims that is the resting place and abode of the Prophet Muhammad in Madina al munawarra in modern Saudi Arabia. This immersive period has lead to an embodied understanding of Islam and Sufism and a deepening understanding of Islamic Architecture, and the need for the ethical role of architecture to be reappraised when contemplating mosque architecture, as either a historic subject or a live project. Prior to an independent and intensive study of Islam as an adult, was a gently Buddhist upbringing which philosophically prioritised not being contained by dogma or controlled by religious communities or spiritual leaders. Study of Pre-Islamic religious texts such the Upanishads and Buddhist sutras as well as various forms of Shamanism including the Bon Tradition of Tibet and the core lojong and tonglen practices of Buddhism have been investigated affirming the universal core message of most ethical ways of living, that of compassion and loving kindness. This is celebrated in the Islamic tradition by Muslims trusting that the Prophet Muhammad was quite literally sent by the Divine as rahma, a ‘mercy’ to existence. The author has studied Islamic belief, practice and spiritual excellence, or iman, islam, and ihsan, directly from traditional scholars from around the world, who together transcend any single ethnic or social identity. Some are direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, Peace and blessings be upon him and his family, and some are not of Arab descent. The priority of adab has come from a personal reflection on the value of life as a balance of vita activa et vita contemplativa, and is supported as a specific Islamic ethos by instruction from living masters and the great texts of Muslim scholars and mystics, commonly known as Sufis. All religious and philosophical studies have contributed to the notion of an ‘Ionian Enlightenment’ or the unity of knowledge, not as some simplistic single answer but as the value of interpretation and seeing realms of knowledge holistically and in relation to one another. This understanding mirrors the Muslim perspective that the Real, Allah, is One. Such a sentence is mystical poetics to some and reality to others. The subject of this PhD must negotiate both kinds of people, just as the proposed mosque complex must face the street on which anyone may walk. Poetically and ecologically our phenomenal earthly existence too is one, as observed by holistic and systems theories, living as we do as part of a single ecosphere. Despite being in danger of sounding rather lofty due to the nature of the subject itself, this declaration is a statement of intent and a personal acknowledgement, in the tradition of any phenomenologically hermeneutic methodology. The author’s interpretation is framed by the intent to see unity in multiplicity, the architectural paradox that is drawing order out of chaos, as much as to see each whole building as an interrelated sum of parts. Part of that intent is to convey to Muslim client builders, in more accessible works that will come from present research, the priority of a devotional ethos in the design of the dwelling that is a mosque complex; an ethos that may serve the community as a whole, in the context of any urban environment. For the Muslim this can be appreciated as both a spiritual and pragmatic imperative. This study and design process is a hermeneutic process of unfolding and interpretation by which the prayer becomes the means to reconfigure existing spaces, and a place for the practice of ethical halal business transactions can provide a successful urban node in the townscape. With clear justification, considering the current geo-political climate, the present work is polemical. Beyond the Minaret is an open exploration that gathers knowledges, in order to revive an understanding of adab as an embodied characteristic of a specifically Islamic ethos, and affirm the ethical role of architecture in general. The present work is concerned with how the Muslim worldview and the perspective of an embodied adab can inform our understanding of the mosque complex in the C21st. Despite the Arabic origin of the word itself, adab as the ethos that is the ‘gathering of all good’ transcends and includes any culture or language, if we but value the art of interpretation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available