Saturday, April 27, 2013

Islamic Public Spaces..

In a response to a discussion on Religion (Islam) in Urban Public Spaces; launched on Linked-in by Nadia Qureshi; Architect, Urban Planner and Urban Designer, Pakistan

I would like your comments on the said topic. You can look at it from any point of view. To guide the discussion, i have raised a few questions.
Do religious beliefs and practices change the way that public spaces are designed and used in Muslim countries?
How is the meaning of a public space interpreted in Religious countries?
Can public spaces remain inclusive (i.e. include people from other reliogions, male female, etc) and lively?
Does urbanization effect the construction of (sacred) places or religious practices in a city within a religious country?
How can urbanization and the design of good public spaces be used as a tool to fight extremism in religious countries?



The public do not draw public spaces, but get inspired by.. This is a role; which often goes reversed.. The global noise on democracy and rights of expression had confused many urban planner and city managers; who perform in response to public trends and likeliness.. Yes, people should have a say in issues that materialize their life, but when it comes to spiritual and inspiration, people inevitably look around for leaders of thought, and leaders of actions.. Public spaces in all cities were not a demand of the public, but ideas had the strength and resilience of their inventors; whom often are politicians and public servants.. Even today, the massiveness of Kazakh or Chechen capitals were decisions made by leaders not by any public visionaries..

Therefore, religions, as correctly commented earlier are personal packages, not a public one.. Therefore, their implications on drawing the public spaces is supposedly limited.. If the community is driven by totality or suppressive ruling powers, which would happen to be religious; then we have an issue to define.. Nevertheless, urban outcomes from such authorities will be in parallel to the local taste of religion rather than the overall mythical or theological concepts..

Practically speaking; the Malls in Western Christian cities are political rather than religious, except in some old cities, where were part of public media and influences.. The Courts in Islamic cities are mostly deserteous, without soft landscape, except in equatorial cities and Spain.. In both examples, funds, acquisitions and authorities were not short.. In both examples, the phenomenon has little to do with public orientation, as was mostly inspired, planned and maintained by managers.. Yet, the implications of public characteristics of discipline, aesthetics and coherence are notable and dominating..

This will eventually takes us back to the most critical elements of the urban business: Training and Governance..

How far both Urban Planners and Designers are well-trained to deliver the intended service.. Is it only a degree with some graphic skills, or true competences to define, innovate and deliver a better built environment for living..

How the Civic Bodies are functioning and truly in-command.. Are they sincere obedient to politicians in-powers who would instruct “stupid” changes to meet their personal favorites, interests and benefits.. or they have their independent and “public” powers to support the righteousness..

A great dilemmas; which are not Islamic, nor un-Islamic.. it is life..
Thanks for the inspiring discussion..

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