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  Journal of Islamic Architecture Volume 1 Issue 1 June 2010 |  1   THE DESIGN OF MOSQUES AS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CENTERS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE SUNNA AND WRIGHT’S ORGANIC ARCHITECTURE Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi Department of Architecture, Faculty of Built Environment, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor Bahru, Malaysia e-mail: Nangkula Utaberta   Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Abstract The main purpose of this paper is to present an alternative approach to mosque design with particular reference to the context of Malaysia and the Malay World or the Nusantara. The paper contains four main parts. The first part examines the problem of mosque architectural interpretation from the perspective of Western architectural historiography. The main problems highlighted are those which pertain to the idea of ‘architecture’, ‘religious architecture’, relevance of the body of knowledge known as the ‘Hadith’ and lastly the specific historical-political agenda of some traditional mosques. The second part of the paper expounds briefly a reinterpretation of the hadith in arguing that the mosque approaches more as a community development complex than that as a mere house of ritua ls. The third part of the paper examines Wright’s Organic Architecture with specific reference to the design of the Unity Church and a few other buildings as containing some important lessons of mosque designs from the perspective of the Sunnah. The final part of the paper uses the principles discussed to criticize the Putra Mosque and the Masjid Negara. Keywords : Sunna, Organic Architecture, mosque design, Frank Lloyd Wright Abstrak Kajian ini berupaya untuk menghadirkan pendekatan alternatif terhadap perancangan masjid dengan referensi kontekstual dari Malaysia atau Nusantara. Bagian pertama dari kajian ini memaparkan mengenai permasalahan-permasalahan interpretasi arsitektural masjid dari perspektif historiografi arsitektural Barat. Permasalahan utama yang dititikberatkan pada kajian ini melingkupi ide mengenai ‘arsitektur’, ‘arsitektur religius’, relevansi Hadits sebagai salah satu referensi batang tubuh pengetahuan arsitektur Islam, dan agenda-agenda historis-politis dari beberapa masjid tradisional. Lebih jauh, kajian ini juga memaparkan mengenai reinterpretasi hadits mengenai fungsi masjid sebagai pusat pengembangan masyarakat, di luar fungsinya yang selama ini hanya dikenal sebatas sebagai tempat menjalankan ibadah shalat berjamaah. Selanjutnya, kajian ini ditujukan pula untuk menjadikan ide Arsitektur Organik Wright dalam desain Unity Church dan beberapa bangunan lainnya sebagai beberapa contoh penting bagi perancangan masjid dari perspektif Sunnah. Pada bagian akhir, kajian ini akan ditutup dengan paparan mengenai penggunaan beberapa prinsip Arsitektur Organik tersebut untuk mengkritisi desain arsitektural Masjid Putra dan Masjid Negara. Kata kunci : Sunnah, perancangan masjid, Frank Lloyd Wright, Arsitektur Organik Introduction: The Idea of the Mosque from the Hadith Al-Hadith contains many references to the use and functions of the mosque during the Prophet's time. The Prophet had also mentioned a few admonishment concerning the building of mosques. Concerning the functions of mosques, the hadiths contain many accounts of the uses of Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and the Prophet ’ s own mosque in Medina. There are many references about the social conditions of the area surrounding the Ka ’ ba. The mosque was used as a gathering place for all the nobles of the Arab society. The traditions record political pronouncements and diplomatic exchanges taking place at close proximity to the Ka ’ ba. The Prophet had engaged in many debates, discussions and preaching at the Holy Mosque. All of these seem to indicate that the idea of sanctity in religious structures is not one in which only a particular ritual is intended. Of course, some historians might argue that the Arabs were not civilized enough to know the difference between a town hall and a religious building. The historian might even go as far as suggesting the Arabs were too poor to have separate edifices for the secular and religious functions. This manner of argument has the flaw of stereotyping every society into neat little packages of entities  2 |   Journal of Islamic Architecture Volume 1 Issue 1 June 2010 that must follow a universal religious and political law. The Prophet's Mosque in Medina was also used in the same manner as a social, political and religious center. There are hadiths which includes the functions of a shelter, an educational institution, a health care facility and a prison. Celebrations and recreational activities were also held near the mosque. The mosque was also a grim stage to pass judicial decisions and the implementation of punishment in the form of stoning. Finally, the Prophet had also admonished the Muslims in being wasteful about constructing monumental mosques and buildings as in the following hadiths: “I was not commanded to build high mosques.” 1   “ One  of the portents of the Day of Judgment is that you will vie with one another in building mosques.” 2   The reference to the term 'high' mosque need not necessarily be interpreted literally since it obviously connotes a sense of wastage in construction. The Prophet's life is an example of moderation. Thus, from the hadith we can understand that the idea of the mosque does not approach that of a monumental building meant for a single ritual worship act. The mosque it seems was a place where the Muslims gather to interact and discharge many responsibilities for the benefit of Islam. We will show that all their activities, most of it considered secular by the historians, fall into the category of 'worship' or ibadat . Thus, the mosque as a house of worship has a different connotation in Islam than in other religions. The Meaning of Worship and the Eternal Idea of the Mosque The idea of worship in the normal usage of the English language usually connote an act specifically set in the religious and ritualistic context. In Islam the word worship is the only closest word which is used to translate the concept of ibadat . Abul A'la Maudidi and Abu Urwah explains that since the word 'ibadat' is a derivative of the term abd   or 'slave' the true Muslim is a compliant slave to Allah The Most High. The true Muslim would do Allah's every bidding and in doing so pleases Him: It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East or the West, but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy,  for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and  practice regular charity, to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain or suffering and adversity and throughout all periods of  panic; such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.   3   Aside from prayers, the Muslim has many social obligations to fulfill. Fulfilling these social responsibilities will help create a conducive religious environment to be at peace with oneself and in the constant remembrance of God. The true Muslim is not one that secludes oneself from the society as in the following hadith: “Narrated Ab‚ Sa'id Al -Khudri: Somebody asked, O  Allah's Apostle! Who is the best among the people?  Allah's Apostle replied, A believer who strives his utmost in Allah's Cause with his life and property. They asked, Who is next? He replied, A believer who stays in one of the mountain paths worshipping Allah and leaving the people secure from his mischief.   4   Thus, if we understand this definition of worship, can we not see a different picture of the Prophet's mosque's role and functions during his life time? We must agree that the idea of the mosque approach not as a building for a single set of ritual worship but more of a kind of social center. A Brief Overview of Mosque Architecture in Malaysia Since the day Islam set onto Malaysia’s soil over seven centuries ago, there have been many kinds of architectural language used in mosque designs. The earliest typology of mosques in this country is believed to be those built purely of timber with the characteristic pyramidal roof of two or three tiers and also those of the long gable house-type. The Kampung Laut (around 300 years old) and Kampung Tuan Mosques are two typical examples of the earliest type of three tiered pyramidal room form with raised floor and an obvious absence of minaret. Figure 1. The Kampung Laut (above) and Kampung Tuan Mosque (below) These mosques (Figure 1) are characteristically square in plan and seemed to be proportioned after the dimensions of a cube. The Masjid Langgar shows the common house-type long gable roof form. When  Journal of Islamic Architecture Volume 1 Issue 1 June 2010 |  3   masonry construction was introduced, there was a proliferation of a second generation pyramidal three tiered roof form but this time with solid masonry walls and floors on grade. The Tengkera Mosque (Figure 2) represent this typology with its characteristic pagoda-like tiered roofs and curved roof ridges. Up to this time the scale of the mosque would fit a community of about five hundred Muslims in villages. The mosques from both generation can claim a totally regionalistic approach of response to climate in its tiered roof for ventilations, raised floors and also the presence of the serambi . The minaret began to make itself felt in the masonry mosque period. Figure 2. The Langgar (above) and Tengkera Mosque (below) The British who colonised Malaysia for about two centuries brought in the exotic languages of Moghul and Moorish mosque architectural vocabulary. The Jamek Mosque in Kuala Lumpur represents an eclectic approach of both languages with onion domes, multiple towers and finials complete with horseshoe arches reminiscent of the Muslim-Cordoban architecture. The British also introduced the Western Classical syntax as in the Abu Bakar Mosque in Johor (Figure 3). The era of the grand, monumental and isolated mosque actually began with the British. Before this, the mosques have always been surrounded by village huts and directly accessible to the worshippers. With the increased in density of settlements, a simplistic solution of bigger mosques-more worshippers formula seem to be the order of the day. There was no questioning the role and main purpose of the mosque as a community development center but merely as the symbol of the glory of Islam. The modern international wave swept over Malaysia and brought with it the structuralist and machine aesthetic of mosque designs as can be seen in the Negeri Sembilan State Mosque (Figure 4) and also that of Penang. Post Modern architecture then opened a Pandora box of Egyptian, Iranian and Turkish eclectic revivalism. The Wilayah Mosque, the Putra Mosque are recent epitomes of the grand monumental and over priced structures which the government uses to suggest their symbolic commitment to Islam. More Middle Eastern and Turkish mosques are expected to be making their debut in the short future. Figure 3. The Jamek and Abu Bakar Mosque Figure 4. Negeri Sembilan State Mosque Wright’s Principle of Organic Architecture: A Lesson for Mosque Architecture Wright would have liked to be known as a ‘ S tudent of Nature’ . The way he glorifies Nature in the sense of learning from it, humbling his architecture to it and constantly reminding people of Nature’s presence in his use of natural materials and his planning organization of buildings, one would be forced to think that Nature was Wright’s true religion. Though he was a Christian but his preference for the Unitarian principles comes close to Islam’s tauhidic  approach towards the creation. In this section, we will examine four of his works in order to draw some strong ideas towards rethinking  4 |   Journal of Islamic Architecture Volume 1 Issue 1 June 2010 the priorities of mosque architecture per se and to Islamic Architecture as a whole. We will first of all examine Wright’s Unitarian Church. There are many important design principles inherent in this work that can offer lessons to mosque architecture. First of all let us consider the scale of the building. In an era where huge mosques that can house hundreds of thousands at one time, it is humbling to find a church with a small community scale. Mohd. Tajuddin in his two books have been arguing for smaller mosques that would encourage the qari’ah  to strengthen their Islamic brotherhood. 5  Monumental architectural works that are so prevalent in today’s mosque also has the characteristics of arrogance in its huge size and expansive setback distances. The Unitarian Church is lower than the trees that surrounds it making a clear statement as to which is more important; man’s creation or God’s? Mosque designers should try to break up the scale of their works and ensure the dominance of trees over the main building (except the minaret) be obvious so as to encourage con templation of God’s creation. In Surah Ar’ Rad Allah the Most High commands man to contemplate His Creations: “And it is He Who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and rivers and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two. He draweth the night as a veil over the day. Behold, verily in these things there are Signs for those who consider.  And in the earth are tracts neighbouring, and gardens of vines and fields sown with corn, and palm trees,  growing out of single roots or otherwise: watered with the same water, yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat. Behold, verily in these things there are Signs for those who understand!” 6   We will next look at the use of materials. For mosques designs in the present day, highly polished marble and tiles seem to be the order of the day. Wright prefer to use natural materials such as stone and timber. Wright would never think of applying a coat of plaster or even of painting the timber components as he wishes their texture to be discern by all. We find that this aspect of organic principle to be one of the most important lessons in mosque design. The use of natural materials has the power to remind man of its primeval srcins. Stone and timber were here long before man set foot in this world. This connection to the primitive past helps to bring man down from the high pedestal which he has created for himself in the modern world. With all his modern gadgetry and humbling of nature man has forgotten that he is a mere ‘keeper of    the world’ for Allah until a particular time. The use of natural materials can also help man discharge his duty as the vicegerent of Allah as they are sustainable materials. The materials do not need any maintenance and projects an eternal quality that brings great maturity to its aging process. If man were surrounded by plastered concrete walls and metal curtain partitions he would be surrounding his own ‘greatness’ and not the greatness of the Creator. The most characteristic of Wright’s architectural works is his preference for the strong horizontal expression of his buildings. In many writings, Wright has referred this horizontality to the horizon line of the open prairie 7 . This horizon line is again another primeval reminder and it also acts as ‘weight’ to tie the building down to the ground thus creating a secure sense of shelter. Many mosques are design standing vertically upright without a tawadhu sense of humility. The church in question as well as most of Wright’s buildings, has a quality of humil ity that we do not find in many so called ‘islamic’ works. The non-existence of the idea of humility in Islam is an irony to the meaning of its word as ‘submission to the will of Allah’. Wright was never an advocate of revivalism nor was he ever known to condone eclecticism in any form whatsoever 8 . From his Prairie School period to his ‘Cubist’ era and finally to his structuralist preference, Wright had always believed in the idea of ‘spirit of the times’. The idea of spirit of the times simply postulates that each building truthfully produced in an era reflects the technological prowess and the economic condition of that particular period. Revivalism seek to lie about true conditions and simplistic nostalgic references can never be seriously taken as an important rationale to produce works of socio-political importance. Figure 5. Unitarian Church Thus Wright rejected the use of typological church models in his designs of both the Unity Temple and the Unitarian Church (Figure 5). He believes that religion is a progressive and not a dogmatic practice. With his rejection of the established typological reference of religious architecture, Wright has liberated the idea of religious practice as a true independent relationship between the individual worshipper and God without any intermediary whatsoever. This is an important lesson for the design of mosques nowadays seem to relish the notion of a sacred vocabulary and syntax in its reference to middle eastern, African and
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