AN OUTLINE OF ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE
AN OUTLINE OF ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE
Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and Mesopotamia
From the Book: No Religion has radiated across the world with such rapidity as Islam; and no culture has so completely cast its past aside and adventured into the unknown as that of the Arabs.
Between the coming of a new dispensation among the Arab tribes and the passing of Muhammad (PBUH) and his Companions, such deep-seated transformations took place in human nature and society that they seem scarcely credible.
The transmuting alchemy of Islam not only united its believers in purpose and faith, but swept away all biases of race, nation and origin, and enabled the sharing of explicit truths on a high level of spirituality.
Coming thus upon the verities of a faith for which they had subconsciously yearned, these were elated beings eager to grasp one another in fraternal ties.
Concertedly they were prepared to face the high destiny that awaited them, and before they were even fully aware the centrifugal force of Islam sent them whirling off on a world-rejuvenating errand.
The Arab who was but lately reformed was ready to reform the world on the basis of the policies of God decreed in His final Communique. It was in other words a kind of frenzied philanthropy.
The frenzy was checked at all points by the severe regimen of an ethic which prevented the power released in the being from going off on senseless rampage. Thus, the vast spate of energy was steered into constructive channels.
Conquest was not the end but the means of making possible a higher level of existence. The Arab should be judged by what he made of those means.
Muhammad <PBUH> was aware that the desert bedouins of Central Arabia were a chronically stagnant race, and he knew too that unless they ventured into the outside world there would be no hope of their cultural advancement. His advice to them to ‘go even unto China to acquire knowledge’
…….From time immemorial they had lived unmindful of the brilliant civilizations that lay beyond their northern frontiers. Now they turned all they saw of value in these lands to good account. Once they had admitted they had much to learn from their erstwhile enemies, they made them their associates.
So in the end there was a kind of double-edged victory in which both the victor and the vanquished gained by war when the peace was won. In this sense at least war was reduced to less of an evil than it has ever been; for a civilization grew on the base of the old destruction that more than made amends.
Arabia was the birthplace of Islam, but it was the faith and not the land that gave the first impetus and final colouring to the architecture of Islam.
Arabia was a parched peninsula which gave no natural stimulus to civilizing endeavours.
There were two exceptions to this. In the North the Nabateans carved monumental tombs on the rock face apparently under Greco-Roman inspiration with fa ades imitating temple fronts and having pediments, friezes, metopes, triglyphs, and pilasters.
They also built temples with rather more inventiveness.
In the South the kingdoms achieved a certain prosperity due to artificial irrigation, and to commerce carried on by their merchants and sailors in spices, incense, and gems. This is what the Greek and Roman writers meant when they described these southern regions as Felix,
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