The Holistic Sacredness of Space in Islam

Document Type : Research Paper


Ph.D Student in Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran


to study sacredness in various religions usually means that the researcher is dealt with a special place in comparison with ordinary (profane) ones. Under the influence of works of Eliade, researches in Islamic field are directed towards exploring analogy between Body, Cosmos and Architecture. This paper is to pursuing the matter through original religious texts of Islam and in this way, it is divorced from the method of Eliade. A main reason for selecting this alternative way has been the matter of general vs. special sacredness of places. While it has been mostly argued that in religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism sacredness of the whole nature, does matter, in Islamic debate, it is conceived that there is a vast body of profane places through which there is some restricted points as sacred. It is arguable that few works which tried to establish an Islamic basis for sacredness of nature as a whole are impressed with far eastern concepts and in some ways, adapted them for Islamic principles and vice versa. To find out what is the inner Islamic context basics of such a holistic mode of sacredness, this paper begins with a brief discussion about the process of psychological aspect of cognition the sacred in the space and then after definition of two main orientations in Islamic Ethics (one focuses on sacred knowledge and other on religious behavior), concentrates on the second approach and constructs the discussion mentioned above in this mode of thinking in Islamic context. This study shows a different basis for this kind of sacredness which comprises of two main poles: Mosque & Home. The debate is mainly based on a citation from Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) which indicates that Allah has taken overall the earth as Mosque for Muslims. So it is an initial characteristic of all spaces of the earth to be sacred and it is the “Profane” that must be objectively distinguished. Then through those holy words, it is proved that in Islamic view, “Home” (or more concisely private room or Bayt) is the objective instrument which makes non-sacred space detached from that overall sacred space. But it does not mean that Home is conceived as anti- sacred in Islamic view. But it implies that there is two kind of general sacredness: Initial and Additional (apart from specific mode of sacredness of space which is due to spiritual significance of a place in Islamic debate called “Fadilat al-Makan”). Initial mode is for that all world mosque while additional one is sacredness which is obtained by work of people attached to a place (bounded space) that makes that place of spiritual significance for Allah and this – in turn- makes the place of more and more spiritual prize for all people who deal with it. In such a system of sacredness, the role of architecture is initially to distinguish between spaces which are of different mode of sacredness. So understanding of sacredness is mostly depended on previous knowledge of user not physical properties of the place and in this sense understanding of sacredness of place, is a matter of space itself, not its materiality and it is via a cognitive process


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