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Title: A structuralist approach to the study of the mosque : with reference to Cairo, Egypt
Author: El-Feki, Sameh Mahmoud Talaat
Awarding Body: Heriot-Watt University
Current Institution: Heriot-Watt University
Date of Award: 2003
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The mosque plays an important role in nurturing the spiritual, intellectual and social aspects of the Muslim societies. It embraces these aspects not only as a building, but also as an institution considered by this study as a holistic system, which comprises subjective values and objective components. The mosque's responses to the ever evolving pressures facing Muslims have always been expressed through its ability to support the transformation of the social and cultural forces. The main contribution of this research is to introduce a new method of understanding the mosque and its role. The research adopted an approach which extended the General Systems Theory to the Theory of Structuralism, being a holistic epistemology that recognises the element of time in responding to the dynamic nature of the mosque. To implement this approach, a number of structuralism concepts are utilised, e.g. transformation, synchronic/diachronic views, surface structure/deep structure and the laws of composition underlying the concept of genotype/phenotype. Both methods of deduction and induction are used with the aim of building such understanding. The first part sets the theoretical model in two chapters. The first chapter learns from theories of Holism, General Systems Theory and Structuralism while the second introduces Islam as religion and addresses its principles and cultural values. Both chapters build the theoretical approach that is implemented to guide the research towards achieving its aims and objectives. The second part studies the mosque in the light of the theoretical model of part one, with particular reference to Cairo, the case study of the research. This is taking place into two chapters. The first explores into the origins of the mosque, studying its subjective and objective aspects at architectural and urban levels. The second chapter traces the transformation of these aspects within the Cairene Muslim society, through different historical eras. The third part of this research is inductive, and is dedicated to the empirical examination. The main objective of this part is to test people's perception of the role of the Cairene mosque, in the light of the studied theories. A qualitative open -ended questionnaire is designed, distributed, collected and analysed to accomplish this goal. The findings of the research emerge from both its theoretical and empirical aspects. Theoretically the findings are based on the philosophical discourse and Islamic principles. Empirically, the findings come from the open -ended survey. Therefore, the conclusion responded to the aim of the research in finding method of understanding the mosque and its role as an institution in nurturing all aspects of Muslim society; following its social transformation and maintaining its rules of composition. The genotype provides a set of rules controlling the reproduction of the mosque as an institution. The rules that form the genotype of the mosque relate to a hierarchy of three levels of forces underlying its designs. These are the eternal unchangeable principles, symbolic meanings and contextual transformations. These forces contribute to the genotype of the mosque to different degrees. The formulated structuralist model could be applied to other mosques elsewhere.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available