UNDERSTANDING THE IMAGE OF THE ISLAMIC URBAN LANDSCAPE
Abdulkader Abdulrhman Al-Gilani
B. S. King Abdulaziz University, 1994
M. L. A. University of Pennsylvania, 1999
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Design and Planning
2005 by Abdulkader A. Al-Gilani
All rights reserved.
This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
Abdulkader Abdulrhman Al-Gilani
has been approved
Al-Gilani, Abdulkader Abdulrhman (Ph. D., Design and Planning)
Understanding the Image of the Islamic Urban Landscape
Thesis directed by Professor Fahriye H. Sancar
Lack of public participation in historic preservation planning has resulted in
alienating inhabitants from their living environments. This has been the case
in Muslim societies where colonization and modernization have dramatically
altered living spaces. Preservation efforts in these contexts are driven by
experts, mostly, utilizing western scholars, stereotypical images of the
Islamic City." New approaches that emphasize cultural preservation
recognize the need for local public participation to ensure continuity of social
and physical components of traditional urban fabric.
This thesis has three objectives. The first objective is to develop and apply a
participatory method for individuals to identify significant aspects of an
urban environment, in this case the Islamic City, that contribute to its unique
character. The second objective is to investigate whether native Muslims
from various regions share a common image and if so, to delineate its
elements. The third objective is to explore historic preservation policies in
the west and in Saudi Arabia and make recommendations for
improvements, specifically in terms of incorporating geographic information
technologies (GIS) and citizen participation.
To meet these objectives, a group interview technique that facilitated
participants to discuss memorable events across time and place scales was
implemented. Participants were expatriates from three Muslim countries,
Morocco, Pakistan and Sudan, currently living in Denver, U.S.A. Interviews
analysis yielded "place categories and "themes. The results illustrate
particular effects of Islam on the social fabric of Muslim communities, and
consequently on the Muslim urban landscape. This effect was found to be
strong in private and semi-private sectors, but is fading as one move away
from the home and immediate neighborhood,scales and begins to observe
the influences of contemporary colonialism. These results were used to
develop a morphological model of the contemporary image of the Islamic
In conclusion, reintroduction of active public participation processes in
urban settings (as was the case in early Islamic societies) was found vital
for the preservation of the Muslim culture. It is also argued that heretofore
adverse effects of globalization can be mitigated by the use of digital
technologies such as GIS (themselves made accessible by globalization), in
participatory planning contexts.
This abstract accurately represents the contents of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Fahriye H. Sancar
To my Mother,
To my Father,
and to all my brothers and sisters
Utmost thanks and gratitude are due to the chair of my committee:
Professor Fahriye H. Sancar. I cant thank you enough for your genuine
devotion and support, in, and out of academia.
Thanks are also due to all members of my committee which included:
Associate Professor Michael Holleran, Assistant Professor Brian Muller,
Professor Raymond Studer and Professor James Jr. Wescoat. Thanks are
also due to the late Professor Joan Draper for her academic support and
valuable guidance on teaching and research techniques and support. Her
contribution to this dissertation was of utmost value.
I have to acknowledge that this was supported by an accumulation of
knowledge and support from previous academic experiences. From the
University of Pennsylvania, Professor Bernard Lassus, for reshaping my
design sense and technique, Professor C. Dana Tomlin for introducing me
to GIS and for being a great mentor and communicator, Professor Tarek
Fadaak, for being a great mentor during my early years in college and later
for being a great friend.
Thanks are due also to my brothers and sisters for their support and help.
All appreciation and gratitude is extended to Wajdi Wazzan for being the
best friend some one may ever have, to Kim, Verle, Joey, and Nicel for their
support and friendship.
And finally, Ahmad;thank you for your help.
1. Introduction.................................................... 1
2. Part One: Is There a Muslim City Image?...................... 11
2.1 Historiography of Muslim City Morphology..................... 11
2.1.1 Scholarly Debate on the Image of the Muslim City........... 11
2.1.2 Governance and Administration............................... 25
2.2 The Image of an Urban Environment............................ 32
2.2.1 Image of Place............................................... 33
2.2.2 Meaning of Place............................................. 35
2.2.3 Theoretical Construct to Capture Experience in a Place:
The Missing link Between EnvironmentalA/isual Attributes and
Affective Responses........................................... 40
2.2.4 Narratives as Expression of Urban Morphologies
2.3 Research Method........................................... 46
2.3.1 Method.................................................... 46
2.4 Findings.................................................. 56
2.4.1 Demography of the Sample.................................. 57
2.4.2 Place Categories.......................................... 60
2.4.3 Themes................................................... 147
2.4.4 Conclusion.............................................. 175
3. Part Two: Preserving Place Identity in Muslim Cities...... 177
3.1 Historic Preservation of Urban Landscapes:
With Emphasis on the Arab World............................ 177
3.1.1 Historic Preservation in the USA......................... 180
3.1.2 Historic Preservation in France.......................... 195
3.1.3 Historic Conservation in Britain......................... 200
3.1.4 Preservation in The Arab-lslamic World:
With Emphasis on Saudi Arabia.............................. 207
3.2 The Use of Geographic Information System (GIS) to
Facilitate Public Participation in Historic Preservation... 230
3.2.1 Background on Digital Technology Use in Public Participation
(As a Possible Solution)...................................... 236
3.2.2 Public Participation GIS (PPGIS).............................. 240
3.2.3 Critical Technical Requirements for Historic Preservation
3.2.4 The Potential of Using GIS to Support Public Participation in
Historic Preservation and Issues Concerning Each Use....... 248
4. Conclusion....................................................... 252
4.1 Primary Findings................................................. 253
4.1.1 The Method.................................................... 253
4.1.2 Morphological Description..................................... 255
4.2 Research Contribution to the Theoretical Discussion on
The Islamic City".............................................. 267
4.3 The Effect of Colonization on the Islamic City.................. 269
4.4 Assessment of the Research Method........................... 272
4.5 The Implications on Urban Policies.......................... 276
4.5.1 The Prospect of Participatory Planning..................... 276
4.5.2 The Prospects for Historic Preservation................... 277
4.5.3 The Prospects for PPGIS in Historic Preservation............. 281
4.6 Implications of the Research Findings on Adaptive
Assimilation Practices......................................... 281
A. Questionnaire................................................. 285
B. Place Categories Pictures..................................... 287
2.4.1 Social and Physical Interrelation in a Muslim Urban Fabric... 166
3.2.1 How GIS is Utilized in Public Participation
in Historic Preservation......,. i............................. 250
2.2.1 Stories That Take Place in Your Typical Traditional Environment 44
2.4.1 Sample Demographic Data .. =.............................. 59
2.4.2 Number of Place Category Occurrences Per Subgroup......... 61
2.4.3 Percentage of Place Mentioning Per Group and Gender....... 145
3.1.1 Legislative Periods in US Conservation 1966-82 ........... 184
3.2.1 DTs Utilized in CRM. (Myers, J., 2001)....................234
As powerful nations attempt to impose their own vision of what the whole
world should look like, and as economic and political superiority enables
them to broadcast a global image of a single flavored world, traditional
locales are striving for their basic right of preserving their inherited identities;
the right to be selective of what to adopt from other cultures, and the ability
to implement their own decisions in their own living environments.
This study focuses on the Islamic culture as it faces these forces. It attempts
to discover how members of the Islamic nation (Ummah) define the
image(s) of (an) Islamic urban landscape.
The premise of this study is that local communities should have the ability to
shape their own living environment in a manner that serves them best. They
can achieve this if they can develop a shared understanding of a desired
living environment and have the tools to participate in the decision making
and planning process. This study is aimed at discovering the traditional
identity of Islamic environments. The main hypothesis is that because
Islamic teachings have shaped Islamic built environments and societies,
people should have common perceptions of the character, appearance,
functions, and feel of Islamic communities. As Bianca puts it:
Perhaps the most significant social implication of Islam
was the fact that the strength of its ritualized living patterns
dispensed with the need for many formal institutions. A
large number of administrative structures which are
normally identified with cities-at least in Europe- did not
develop simply because the society had internalized its
structuring constraints, which minimized the need for
external controls...the Muslim res publica was not the
result of civil rights wrested from oppressive authorities but
the outcome of the shared desire to follow certain
religiously prescribed patterns of life which would hopefully
provide man with peace and welfare in this world and
salvation in the next world. (Bianca, 2000, p. 30)
If so, these perceptions should be useful as a tool for cultural preservation
across the spectrum of Muslim inspired cities, towns, and villages in
combination with other cultural heritages that contribute to making each
place special and unique. Scholars have been defining Muslim urbanism for
some time now. For example, according to Akbar (1988), there are four
major elements.that create the characteristics of the traditional Muslim built
environment (Akbar, 1988, p. 107). These are: the fina, dead-end streets,
hima and public spaces such as streets and squares (Akbar, 1988, p. 107).
Bianca on the other hand divides the living environment of a traditional
Muslim city into: the residential unit, the mosque and related welfare
buildings and trade and production structures. Both descriptions of Akbar,
the Marcais brothers, Sauvaget, LeTourneau, Weber and Von Grunebaum
are of the physical environment of the Muslim built environment as
perceived by these scholars. But, as illustrated in Chapter 2.1 of this study,
there is more into the character of the Muslim built environment than its
physical characteristics; something that Stefano Bianca and Ismail
Serageldin showed knowledge and awareness of in their writings. There are
the intangibles, mentioned by Bianca (the religion influenced culture), which
require from researchers a full understanding of the physical and cultural
Although there are slight variations in the way Islam is conducted and
practiced across the world, fundamentally, Islam is one. Since Islamic
teachings are those that defined and shaped Islamic built environments by
shaping the societies living within them, and since Islamic law is unified, all
over the Islamic regions and wherever Islam is present, one would expect
that all Muslims raised in an Islamic urban environment hold similar, though
not identical, views of how a Muslim urban environment looks, functions and
feels. This is not to deny the diversity of cities and communities that exist in
the Islamic world. Creative diversity in culture and in the built environment
can be seen as a result of the development of a range of strong and specific
local identities, grown over centuries of contentious interaction between
mans inner vision and his evolving natural and cultural environment
(Bianca, 2000, p. 326). Gregorian, V., lists a number of Islamic cities,
Asfahan, Kufa, Cordoba...., each with its individual image but all have clear
commonalities too. (2003)
Not only scholars, but every Muslim person has an individual image of how
Muslim urban environments feel. Based on his or her personal experience,
each image has a set of characteristics that composes a personal image of
an urban Islamic Landscape. Each has physical and social components to
that particular feeling of a Muslim urban environment.
But what are the commonalities that define the characteristic image of the
Muslim urban environment?
The Islamic religion along with local social customs became instrumental in
shaping and preserving the social identity within the whole Muslim
Ummah." (Bianca, 2000) Islamic urban fabric is shaped by the Islamic
culture, which is fashioned by members of the Islamic Ummah. As many
scholars stated: It is Islamic society's character that defines Muslim city
morphology. (Abo-Lghoud, 1993, Bianca, 2000) That common denominator
has unified the characteristics of Islamic cities. The sources of Islam are: the
Quran, Prophets sayings hadith, on one hand, and individual search ijtihad
and analogy qiyas. The last two are based on the first two sources. All had a
great influence on the Ummah. Islamic law has directly influenced the
environment and way of life. Bianca compares Islamic law with European
Due to the character of its sources and its objectives, Islamic
law differs considerably from Roman law, which continued to
serve as a basis for most European legal systems. Firstly,
Islamic law constituted a religiously based, not a secular
compendium of prescriptions. Secondly, it did not originate
from abstract principles but from the live experience of an
exemplary society. And finally, its main concern was not to
settle economic and social disputes, nor to define a rigid
penal code, but to promote an exemplary pattern of
individual and collective human conduct. It was therefore
not limited to "negative", i.e. restrictive regulations, but
implied a complete "positive" system of human behavior
(including a codex of good manners), which was highly
ritualized. (Bianca, 2000, p. 27)
The Muslim Ummah", is identified, on the macro level, by Siijeeni (1995),
as a community with the following characteristics:
1. Unity of belief in a single God Tawhid and unity of faith Iman.
The stress here is on uniting all individuals into a single Muslim
community regardless of background; i.e. race, tribe or class.
2. Brotherhood. The concept of brotherhood is the keystone in Islam to
establishing an ideal society of one spiritual bond. This concept was
first introduced by the Prophet (pbuh) in Al-Medina among Al-Ansar
and Al-Muhajirun by declaring his cousin Ali to be his brother and
stating that every Muslim is a brother to other Muslims.
Subsequently everyone in the society, irrespective of tribal
distinctions, race, nationality, or economic status, was integrated by
Islam as brothers in the Muslim Ummah for the sake of God.
3. Mutual love, peace and unity. These are the central themes in Islam
and are expressed implicitly through spiritual love and the sense of
unity and explicitly by material exchange in communal life.
4. Justice and equality. These are embedded in every aspect of Muslim
life, whether practiced in worship and social interactions, or penalties
5. Consultation Shura. The concept of consultation in Islam refers to the
need for consensus Ijma, whether in the family, among scholars, or in
government. The application of consultation is connected to justice,
equality, freedom, involvement, and responsibility for every Muslim.
For any consultation to become law it must be based on the Quran,
the Prophets (pbuh) teaching, and the consensus of knowledgeable
individuals Ahl al-Ray
6. A written constitution. This requirement is based on the teaching of
the Quran and the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) was the first
spiritual and political leader who instituted a constitution for the
7. The concept of struggle Qihad). The purpose of the Muslim struggle is
for every Muslim to defend the Ummah against the aggression of
nonbelievers; to strive against temptation, evil, and the enemies of
the faith; and to introduce Islam to other nations.
On the micro scale, Islam teaches the individual of the Muslim Ummah to be
true believers. To be defined as so, they are required to acknowledge and
confirm to the five pillars of Islam Arkan ad-din. These pillars are:
proclamation of the unity of the divine Shahadah, prayer Salat, fasting
Siyam, alms Zakat and pilgrimage Hajj. The obligation of all Muslims,
regardless of color, race, wealth and social status, to this set of pillars is
what forms the unity of the Islamic Ummah. (Sijeeni, 1995) For this unity to
form, it is required by the individuals of the Ummah to commit to these
pillars. This commitment is the basis of the Ummahs spirituality.
The special characteristics and practice of the Islamic religion order could
not but influence the corresponding social structure and living habits. These
were in turn clearly reflected in certain special preferences, basic urban
layout and artistic concept, which shaped the physical appearance of the
Islamic built environment. But do individuals coming from various Islamic
communities share a common image? What are the characteristics
composing the image of the Islamic city in the Muslim mind?
This study attempts to identify common denominators or recurring images
across interviewed groups in search of an answer for two questions. The
main research question is whether such a shared image exists among
Muslims. The secondary question is whether this image corresponds to
what has been described in the literature on the form of Islamic Cities or to
The participating subjects were members of a Muslim community in
Metropolitan Denver, Colorado, of the United States of America, who
described images from their native lands. This distance from their
indigenous habitat, crystallizes images of personal native culture and
community. In addition, it gives a wider viewpoint toward issues and
characteristics that wouldnt otherwise be noticed because of close
The decision of utilizing residents of the USA was made for the large
number and diversity of Muslims in the USA, fulfillment of distance from the
original habitat required by the study and the researchers current presence
in the USA. Although participants currently live in the same urban
environment, i. e. Metropolitan Denver, CO., normalize possible
variation/biases caused by dissimilarity in urban conditions, it would be
interesting to see if images communicated by the participants changes with
the variation of urban living conditions.
The method used to reach this goal is a participatory method. Three groups
of participants from Morocco, Pakistan and Sudan were interviewed for data
collection. Each group was interviewed in two sessions of opposite genders.
Although Public Participation Geographic Information System (PPGIS) was
investigated as a tool of high potentials, capable of supporting the
participatory approach of this study, as events unfolded, the participants
chose not to use digital technologies to communicate their data, and
preferred face-to-face contact and low tech tools. In the questionnaire (see
Appendix A) distributed among potential participants, 0% chose to use
digital technology as a means of communication and illustration. Chapter
3.2 of this study will illustrate potential reasons for such attitude toward
The method, described in the Chapter 2.3, is a departure from the
conventional methods used by many scholars of the 19th and 20th century to
sketch the Islamic urban landscape image. These scholars relied heavily
on their own ability to draw the image of the Islamic City, and neglected
local public expertise on the matter; they also had a tendency to generalize
their finding of a locale to all Islamic regions, which this study did not
attempt to do. Though one had to admit that finding commonalities across
samples was expected, differences were also, rightfully, anticipated.
Grounded Theory, used for data analysis, was selected for its ability to
maintain parallel threads of commonalities and differences across the
different layers of analysis of the primary data processed. This will
guarantee celebration of both overlaps and differences across samples.
This study is arranged in two parts. The first one is entitled: Is There a
Muslim City Image?, while the second part is entitled Preserving Place
Identity in Muslim Cities.
Part one of this study, which is composed of four chapters, is geared
towards the definition of the urban image.
The task of drawing an image of the Islamic urban environment has been a
mission that many have endeavored to conquer. Different schools of
thought have evolved for that cause, each with its own strengths and
weaknesses. These schools are discussed in the chapter 2.1; entitled:
Historiography of Muslim City Morphology.
This is followed by Chapter 2.2 entitled The Image of an Urban
Environment. There, different modern and contemporary perspectives of
viewing and shaping urban environments images are discussed.
The next two chapters are dedicated to the experiment. Chapter 2.3
illustrates the research method used to acquire images of Muslim urban
landscapes from three batteries of participants. Participants from three
Islamic nation-states, namely: Morocco, Pakistan and Sudan, were given
the opportunity to express images of their own native living environments in
group settings. This is in an attempt to test a method aimed at sketching the
image of a local Islamic environment.
The next chapter, 2.4, is dedicated to the study findings. The results were
distilled down to place categories. Each category had social and physical
aspects that were researched for recurring themes within and across
Part two of this study, composed of three chapters, is geared towards
exploring digital technologies supportive of participatory efforts in historic
preservation of urban heritages. In a time where the majority of the world is
marching toward digital technologies, Geographic Information System (GIS)
is gaining recognition in the field of planning research as a tool of great
potential. Along with the recognition of public participation, planners,
sociologists and computer scientists have developed what came to be
known as network-based GIS and online Public Participation Programs
(PPP) such as: PPGIS and GIS/2. These systems have merged the assets
of both GIS and public participation for the sake of better planning.
These systems, just like any other tools, have their share of potentials and
problems. Chapter 3.2 of this study is geared at discussing these potentials
and problems in the field of historic preservation. Chapter 3.2 is entitled:
The Use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to facilitate Public
Participation in Historic Preservation. There, Public Participation GIS
(PPGIS) is explored as a tool for preservation of places of historic and
sentimental value in urban landscapes. An assessment of using
contemporary digital tools, GIS and GIS subsidiary programs, are
To set the stage for that discussion, this research highlights the dominant
schools of historic preservation of the world. The first chapter of this part,
Chapter 3.1, identifies different schools of historic preservation. It outlines
the characteristics defining historic preservation schools of, the United
States of America, Britain, France, and a number of Arab countries.
This last chapter of this part and study is the conclusion chapter, Chapter
It is important to state here, before the reader steps into this study, that this
endeavor is geared at testing an alternative method to depict the image of
the Islamic City, has been as, if not more, important a goal as defining that
2. Part One: Is There a Muslim City Image?
2.1 Historiography of Muslim City Morphology
The description of the Muslim city has been modified through time. This
change was influenced by the dominant schools of thought in the scholarly
area, the historical period, and the geographic context. In this chapter, I will
lay out the different schools of Muslim City Studies. Each is followed by a
description of the city as they thought it to be.
2.1.1 Scholarly Debate on the Image
of the Muslim City
From my research, I found that the debate concerning the image of the
Muslim city is categorized into three main categories of scholars: early
orientalists, late orientalists and modern scholars.
In the following I will examine views of each category.
184.108.40.206 Early Orientalists
In the 1920s, discussions of the Muslim city character was dominated by
the impressions of western orientalists whose descriptions were mainly
based on their understanding of the morphological aspects of its urban
fabric. The pioneers of this line of thought were the Marcais brothers,
Sauvaget, LeTourneau, Weber and Von Grunebaum (Hakim, 1986, Abu-
Lughod, 1993.) The findings of this group can be summarized in the writings
of Von Grunebaum who based his arguments on the findings of those who
Many of these scholars described the Muslim city as an
inward oriented city with a Friday mosque and a
market bazaar at its center. Its circulation network
consisted of narrow irregular streets leading to
> segregated residential quarters, and somewhere on
the outskirts there was a citadel (Alsayyad, 1991, p.
Some added a communal bath to the main distinct elements of the Muslim
city. This concept was first introduced in the colonial period of the early 20th
To William Marcais, Islam is an urban religion, which has produced a
civilization whose essence was its cities. (Alsayyad, 2000) He based his
argument on the fact that Muslims need a Friday mosque, which is an urban
unit. He ignored the fact that Muslims dont need to perform Friday prayers if
they are not in an urban setting that has at least 40 male worshippers to
perform the Friday prayer. Thus, Islam is not an urban religion, but rather a
religion that answers to urban and nomadic societies. Le Tourneau
supported the same argument suggested by W. Marcais after his studies of
Fez, Morocco. According to Alsayyad (2000), he Over emphasized the
centrality of the Friday mosque and the market and the importance of public
baths (p. 92). Later on, George Marcais described the unique morphology
of the Islamic City as a distinct differentiation between residential and non
residential quarters. (Abu-Lughod, 1993) He defined it as a city with an
ethnically segregated residential quarters and hierarchically ordered
bazaars." (Alsayyad, 2000, p. 92) That is true, especially when it comes to
districts with an ethnic majority that shares a common national origin, but
that is not always the case. There are urban clusters that are defined by
geographic locations or by industries that were practiced within that urban
cluster. In such areas ethnicity is not the common denominator among the
In Syria, Sauvaget, J. (1949) concluded that Muslim cities have emerged
from pre Islamic Greco-Roman origin upon which new and disorganized
form was superimposed. That thought, in addition to the European vs.
Islamic city comparative work of Le Tourneau has led to the belief that the
Islamic City is characterized by what many Orientalists called disorder in
comparison to the clear order of the Greco-Roman cities. An example of
that is clearly shown in De Planhol writings of 1959. (De Planhol, 1959)
220.127.116.11 Late Orientalists
In 1955, Von Grunebaum introduced the most influential description of the
Muslim citys structure. His orientalist assumptions were adopted even by
thinkers of the Muslim heritage. To Von Grunebaum, the character of the
Muslim city is as one with introverted houses, walled quarters within the
city, narrow winding streets, and lack of open squares (Sijeeni, 1995, p.
20). To him, the Muslim city is an irregular city with a concentric hierarchy
around a Friday mosque. It is a city that lacks municipal controlling
authorities, which is compensated by the authorities of the heads of the
quarters segmenting the city.
In his article of 1955, Von Grunebaum writes describing the Market
hierarchy of the Moslem city:
Near the Mosques a religious center we will find the
suppliers of the sanctuaries, the suq of the candle
merchants, the dealers in incense and other perfumes.
Near the mosque as the intellectual center we will also find
the suq of booksellers, the suq of bookbinders, and as its
neighbor, the suq of the leather merchants and the makers
of slippers... .Adjoining the group of Markets we inter the
hall of the dealers in textiles, the qaisariyya, the only
section of the suq which is regularly routed and which can
be locked and where, therefore, precious materials other
than fabrics will also be stored and exchanged. Next to the
textile trade the carpenters, locksmiths, and the producers
of copper utensils will be located; and somewhat farther
from the center, the smiths. Approaching to the gates one
will find...the makers of saddles...Then the vendors of
victuals...on the peripheries of the town will be situated
such industries as...the dyers, the tanners, and almost
outside the city limits, the potters. (Von Grunebaum, 1955,
If we remove the bath as an urban element, the description above fits all
other medieval cities, Muslim or otherwise. Von Grunebaums work showed
all of the negative, reductionist tendencies of Orientalists scholarship
(Alssayad, 2000, p. 92). Von Grunebaum thoughts overlapped with
Webbers in that Muslim cities lacked the characteristic that would define
them as urban. That was influenced by their comparative method between
Muslim and Greco-Roman cities. (Alssayad, 2000), (Sijeeni, 1995) The
comparison between Muslim and Greco-Roman cities stems from the
thought that there are traces or inherited influences on Muslim cities from
their Greco-Roman predecessor. That was the view of the more
sympathetic scholars of that school to the Muslim city. However, the
majority thought that Muslims destroyed all traces of municipal order which
had existed in the Greco-Roman cities that came under Muslim rule.
18.104.22.168.1 Urban-Rural Debate
Lapidus, I. M. (1969), contradicted the previous thought. He clearly states
that Arab capture of Greco-Roman cities did not cause their destruction, but
rather changes during late antiquities. (Lapidus, 1969) Following the
previous school he attempted to understand, the Mamluk Era (1250-1517)
Muslim city through analyzing the social and political factors that contributed
to its morphology. (Alsayyad, 2000, p. 93)
Lapidus and followers of his line of thoughts have focused on understanding
the political structure, economic activity, religious groups, and social
interaction within the Muslim community (Sijeeni, 1995, P. 25).
In contradiction to the scholars of the previous school, Lapidus denies the
presence of an urban center in the Muslim city, and found it similar in
character to its rural surroundings. He concluded that the difference
between a Muslim city and its surroundings is the larger population of the
urban city. Sijeeni (1995) suggests that Lapidus findings were affected by
the style of research conducted by Muslim scholars who always included
the rural surroundings of a city in their urban research. The difference is that
the Muslim scholars treated the urban part of a city and its surroundings as
two different entities. Lapidus on the other hand treated both parts as a
single united entity.
22.214.171.124 Modem Scholars
In the 1970s, Albert Hourani and S. M. Stern introduced a new line of
thinking. Hourani has proven that there is distinction between the Muslim
city and its rural surroundings. That distinction is based on economical and
socio-political distinctions. (Hourani, 1970)
Speaking very roughly, we may say that we should expect
to find such features as the following. First, there would be
a citadel, very often placed on some natural defense work,
and serving indeed to explain why there is a city at that
place.... Secondly, there might be royal city or quarter"
which would have grown up in either of two ways.... It might
be a royal enclave implanted in an already existing urban
conglomeration, or it might be a new foundation on urban
soil and around which a conglomeration later grew,
attracted by power, wealth and prestige of a court.
However it began, it tends to be more than a palace: it
would be rather a compound, grouping royal residence,
administrative offices, places for the bodyguard or personal
troops....Thirdly, there would be a central urban complex,
which would include the great mosque and religious
schools, and the central market with their khans and
qaysariyyas, and with special places assigned for the main
groups of craftsmen or traders. Fourthly, there would be a
core of residential quarters, marked by at least two
special characteristics: the combination of local with ethnic
religious differentiation, and the relative separateness and
autonomy of each quarter or group of quarters....Fifthly,
and finally, there would be the "suburbs and outer quarters
where recent and unstable immigrants would live and
certain occupations be carried on: in particular the
caravan quarters spread out along the main roads.
(Hourani, 1970, pp. 9-24)
Unlike the previous scholars, who limited their studies to certain geographic
locations and generalized their findings to all Muslim cities (Abu-Lughod,
1993), Albert Hourani (1970) has initiated a Muslim citys discussion with
distinctions that were based on-time, place and function (Alsayyad, 2000,
This brings to mind urban developments of the colonial period in the Arab
and Islamic world. Are they Arabic? Islamic? or European imposed on the
foreign geographic location? It is evident from the article by Heba Farouk
Ahmed and B. Kamel (1996) that in that period, developments of both
European contemporary Cairo (1863-1952) and of Islamic Medieval Cairo
(969-1863) existed side by side. The Islamic character of Medieval Cairo
was to a degree preserved, for one reason or another, while Contemporary
Cairo had a newly foreign, introduced urban layout.
Evidently, all three factors listed by Hourani are variables that contribute to
the definition of the Islamic City. They help in understanding Islamic cities in
a clearer way.
A post Orientalism period followed. It was triggered by several factors
resulting from a look inward toward the national identity of Muslim-Arab
culture. This movement was a reaction to the fear of losing local uniqueness
for the rush for modernity, which was and still is mostly affected by foreign
thoughts and characteristics. The publication of Edward Saids Orientalism
(1978) contributed to the nationalist movement at different levels and in an
array of ways. At the urban planning level, the nationalist movement has
caused governments to re-examine the character of the Muslim city, mostly
for developmental reasons. Out of this evolved three schools that became
distinct in the 1980s-90s: politically motivated group who are typically
nationalists, philosophically inspired group that are mostly followers of
Muslim mysticism (i.e. Sufis) and socially informed groups by scholars such
as Akbar. (Alsayyad, 2000, p. 94)
126.96.36.199.1 The Politically Inspired View
According to AlSayyad (2000), literature and conferences of the 1980s-90s
on Muslim urbanism were sponsored dominantly by international institutions
and local governments. He asserts they reflected a rise in nationalistic
tendencies (AlSayyad, 2000, p. 95). A list of publications and conferences
that were offered by renowned entities were illustrated as mediums of
nationalistic rhetoric. These included, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture,
The Organization of Arab Towns, the Saudi Government, the UNISCO,
Professors World Peace Academy etc. It was puzzling though how
intellectual production of such diverse entities classifies as nationalistic?
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online, nationalism is Loyalty and
devotion to one's nation or country, especially as above loyalty to other
groups or to individual interests" (Nationalism, web link, 7/18/05). In a time
where the Muslim World is divided into nation states, within the context
discussed above, Islamic nationalism, might be what AlSayyad intended in
his article. Although that is no more than speculation, it still does not explain
why the UNISCO would be interested in crystallizing the idea of Islamic
188.8.131.52.2 Philosophically Inspired
The literature is focusing on the Sufi branch of Islam and its views on
spirituality and design, although this group did not produce noticeable work.
One should note that, although philosophy shaped the thinking of emblems
of Sufism, such as Ibn Al-Arabi, and the early years of Al-Ghazili, it also
affect other branches of Islam such as Ismaili Shiats. Beside that, there are
differences between Sufism and philosophy; as a matter of facts some Sufis
rejected philosophy and worked to purify Sufism from its affects. This
distinction was evident in the later work of Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (1 OSS-
IES), who is a symbol of Sufism. He used his strong background in
philosophy to critic philosophers in his book Tuhafut al-Falasifa (The
Incoherence of the Philosophers).
...he cleansed the approach of Sufism of its excesses and
reestablished the authority of the ortho-dox religion. Yet, he
stressed the importance of genuine Sufism, which he
maintained was the path to attain the absolute truth.
(Marvie, 2000, para. 5)
If this classification is motivated by the Sufi influence on Islamic urbanism,
then it may be more appropriate to use the term mystically inspired than
philosophically inspired to describe this school.
Alsayyad thought that they have made interesting connections and
constructed a deeper complexity in Islamic urbanism research. (Alsayyad,
1996, p. 91) They combined Muslim philosophy, Muslim architecture and
urban form(AISayyad, 1996, p. 91). Both AlSayyad and Elaraby mention
the Iranian born Ardlan N. and Bakhtiar, L. as distinctive scholars of this
research group. In their writings, they opposed the orientalists notion of
centrality in Islamic urbanism as a manifestation of centralized authority.
Ardlan and Bakhtiar thought that it is a manifestation of the spiritual belief of
oneness in Islam. They also derived from Islams view of the human being
as of a noble status, and derived to the conclusion that all structures and
forms are to be conditioned to his needs. The successful realization of this
principle involves the derivation of forms, symbols, styles and guidelines
from belief, thereby combining material life with spirituality (Elaraby, 1996,
This group has relied on verses from the Quran and the Sunnah (Prophets
traditions) to create and interpret the Muslim environments.
184.108.40.206.3 Socially Informed
Akbar, on the other hand, has concentrated his work on the social aspects
of the built environment, which he argues have formed the morphology of
the Muslim city. He is concerned with understanding the process that
formed the traditional built environment rather than its physical form. To him,
urban form follows contemporary social principles of the society that
configured it. As a result urban morphologies are direct reflection of social
needs and processes. But societies change, so do their demands, quality of
life as well as technologies but attention to the process that generated
those forms will bring us one step closer to a better environment (Akbar,
1988, p. 200).
Akbar has identified four major physical elements of the traditionally built
environment of Muslim cities. These are: the Fina; the space on the streets
abutting a property, used exclusively by the residents of that abutting
property (Akbar, 1988, p. 107), dead-end streets, hima the protection of a
piece of land from being revived, owned exclusively by individuals so that it
can be owned and used by a specific group of people or Muslims
collectively (Akbar, 1988, p. 124), and public space such as streets and
He states that "the claims of ownership, control and use for these four
elements and the relationship between them and the private properties
adjacent to them clarify to a great extent the mechanisms which gave shape
to the traditional environment" (Akbar, 1988, p. 107). One can notice here a
strong link between the urban morphology, the social and functional aspects
of the Muslim city.
Another scholar who can be listed under the socially informed category is
Hakim. In his book, Arabic-lslamic Cities (1986), he generalized the concept
and layout of Tunisian cities, making them a representation of all Arabic
Islamic Cities, as did the majority of the western scholars. This is evident in
the incompatibility between the contents and the title of his book.
Although Hakim has been accused by Alsayyad to be affected by the
stereotype advanced by the orientalists, which is evident by looking at his
references, he took a leap ahead of other scholars by dedicating the bulk of
his book to understanding the integral effect of the social, cultural and
religious factors that shaped the Muslim cities. "The roots of the structure
and the unity prevalent in the numerous cities within the vast Islamic world
are primarily attributable to the relationship of parts and the resultant
structuring system which is generated and sustained by a set of building
principles and guidelines. These are the products of the Fiqh: the
mechanism of interpreting and applying the value system of the Sharia
(Islamic divine law) within the process of building and urban development
(Hakim, 1986, p. 137).
Hakim finds that fiqh and its primary sources, the Quran and the Sunna,
are crucial for the transfer of the value system to design and urban form
(Hakim, 1986, p. 138). He states that the reason for the diversity in the
implemented building regulations at the micro scale in the Muslim city is
caused by the different interpretations of the Quran and Surinah by scholars
following different religious schools of law and the inconsistencies among
the local traditions Urf.
The Maliki School of Law Hakim introduced through his research on
Tunisian urbanism has twelve principles and behavioral guidelines. These
Haram, interdependence, privacy, rights of original (or
earlier) usage, right of building higher within ones air
space, even if it excludes air and sun from others (not
followed by other schools), Respect for the property of
others, Pre-emption, seven cubits as a minimum width of
public thoroughfares, any public thoroughfare should not
be obstructed (by temporary or permanent obstructions),
excess of water should not be barred from others, the right
for usage of the exterior fina belongs to the owner of the
house or building which abuts it and sources of unpleasant
smell, and uses that generate noise should not be located
adjacent to or near mosques. (Hakim, 1986, p. 20)
These regulations are judged by a Judge Kadi, and are regulated at a micro
scale. Interventions by central rule on the other hand, are typically at the
macro scale. They would typically be concerned with executing a civil
project such as a mosque, a school, a new main road etc.
To widen the scope of principles summed-up above by Hakim, which were
of the Maliki School of Law, I am introducing the thoughts of Stefano
Bianca. According to Bianca (2000):
There are a number of factors that shaped Islamic
Architecture: social, spiritual, natural, technological and
most importantly, the realm of pre-formal archetypes
(derived from ritualized patterns of human behavior) and
notin ephemeral stylistic features. (Bianca, 2000, p. 10)
To him, manifestation of architecture is not based on explicit formal
prescriptions, but rather based on related customs, patterns of use and
One can notice that both factors and manifestations listed vary from one
location to another. As a result, the produced built environments under such
attributes are expected to be as unique as the factors that contributed to
their shape at a specific locale.
Bianca describes the Islamic city as a place where
Public space lacks the rigid layout which is imposed by
highly formalized institutions, allowing for a high degree of
interaction between various social activities, including
religious functions. The mosque, as a main public core, is
usually embraced by markets, and together they form
coherent architectural complex. As the prayer space has to
meet special requirements of cleanliness, it is always
neatly defined and marked by gates and thresholds where
visitors take off their shoes. The transition from the secular
to sacred spheres, both contained within the same public
section of the urban fabric, is accomplished by a few steps,
which allow for easy interaction between the mosque and
Meanwhile, the residential districts are shielded off
from the main stream of public life. The houses, often
closely knit together or built wall to wall in the case of
courtyard structures, from inward-oriented autonomous
units which are protected against visual intrusion from the
street or from neighboring buildings. The access from the
public areas to residential quarters is usually tortuous and
broken into successive hierarchical sections, which herald
increasing degrees of privacy. Dense residential quarters
tend to swallow the street space and to convert it into
private access corridors. Thus, the sanctuary of the house
is not directly exposed to alien influence.... Dead-end
alleyways and a progressive sequence of gates and
thresholds are the preferred tools for achieving this
protection, which preserves the aura (privacy) of the
family sphere and prevent frictions with the public realm.
(Bianca, 2000, p. 38)
It is very noticeable that the author is aware of the religious and cultural
aspects of the Muslim city life, and as a result was able to interpret the
urban form in a more clearly fashion than other Islamic Urbanism scholars.
So far, the scholarly account of the Muslim city concentrates on the
morphology, and how it supports the social structure and the way of life. It is
also important to investigate the institutional mechanisms that maintain the
synomorphy between the form and the life it affords. The next section
describes governance and administration.
2.1.2 Governance and Administration
There are two main levels of Governance: The Emir or the governor of the
city who is more concerned with civic projects and developments at the
macro scale, and the local neighborhood regulators who are elected officials
to consult at the time of dispute. These official experts are of three kinds:
religious scholars Mufties, judges Kadies and someone with the expertise of
the Kadi who can make and execute judgments with regard to urban
regulations Muhtasibs (Hakim, 1986, Akbar, 1988)
The duty of the Mufti is to interpret the two main sources of Islamic
judgment: Quran and Sunnah in regard to dealing with issues of the day.
The Kadi, who should be aware of the interpretations made by the Mufti,
apply these to disputes and conflicts that arise. The Muhtasib is required to
have a certain minimal level of qualifications as are those required from the
Kadi, but unlike the Kadi, the Muhtasib is required to monitor the streets and
check for compliance with principal of behavioral guidelines.
The Muhtasibs duty is to explain and execute various regulations of legal
ethics that apply to urban and market life. Ibn Khaldon describes this as
The office of market supervisor is a religious position... He
investigates abuse and applies appropriate punishment
and corrective measures. He sees that the people act in
accord with public interest in the town. For instance, he
prohibits the obstruction of roads.... He orders the owners
of buildings threatening to collapse to tear them down and
thus remove the possibility of danger to the passerby. He
has authority over everything relating to fraud and
deception in connection with food, weight and measures.
(Ibn Khaldon, 1339, p. 29)
In other words, the Muhtasibs jurisdictions include supervising scales, trade
regulations, building regulations, resolving disputes in relation to business,
trade, ownership or liability.
Fiqh (the process of interpreting and applying the value system of the
Islamic divine law Shari'a) and local traditions Urf have both tailored the
urban fabric of Islamic cities to fit the needs of their diverse inhabitants. On
the other hand, individual rulers such as caliphs and emirs have also
contributed to the rise or disintegration of the urban fabric. In the fifteenth
century and under the Mamluk period,
Aside from ownership, general control over property rights
was derived from the responsibility of the regime to protect
the public spaces from encroachments by private owners.
In the flimsily built Muslim city of medieval days, shops and
houses quickly grew over all available public spaces-
squares, streets, mosques and school facades, walls, and
bridges. Governors sporadically exercised a right of
eminent domain, seizing properties, which encroached on
public spaces, removing nuisances and dangers, and
widening the streets. People could be forcibly moved from ,
their homes and shops. No compensation was paid to
private owners, although actual demolitions and
improvements were made at the governors expense. Such
measures, despite the presumed ultimate rights of the
community as a whole, were unjust from the point of view
of property owners who may not themselves have built on
common way, but purchased property long ago erected in
this fashion. (Lapidus, 1984, p. 17)
A governors right to modify or demolish existing private structures is based
on the notion that the community interest is ultimate, which in turn is a
religious concept. Unfortunately it was sometimes abused by unjust rulers to
fulfill their personal desires. Such abuse existed during periods of decline
where central power was weak.
Starting with the mid 7th century, Muslim scholars were studying the
urbanization development process in the Muslim lands. They studied a
wide range of settlement patterns, from small neighborhoods to complex
urban structures (Sijeeni, 1995, p. 13).
One of these scholars is Ibn Al-Arabi, who was commissioned by the
Abbasid caliph to study urban patterns in 842 AD. He concluded his study
with recommendations with regard to site selection, environmental issues,
land subdivision, spatial patterns to accommodate cultural issues, social
unity and equality, urban social policy, settlement fortification, public access
to public amenities and socioeconomic issues. Clearly it is noticeable that
this study was concerned with plenty of other issues beside settlements
morphology. Another scholar is Ibn Al-Azraq who revised the urban policies
established by Ibn Al-Arabi. This study was influenced by Ibn Khalduns
interest in philosophy. (Uthman, 1988) His study came out with two major
urban policies: The citys location should prevent harm and injury and that
the city should facilitate and generate sufficient resources for work and
development. (Sijeeni, 1995) Ibn Al-Azraqs study was concerned with
urban and natural environmental issues in addition to urban and regional
In conclusion, many of the turn of the 20th century scholars have agreed on
the presence of identical physical components in the Muslim city, but each
had his unique interpretations of the citys layout and configuration.
(Alsayyad, 1991) Not many of them have considered the social and cultural
factors that shaped the Muslim city. Hakim said that the results of these
scholars were somewhat distorted, largely because of their emphasis and
methodology. They generally followed descriptive approach to the physical
manifestation of the city without equal emphasis and analysis of the process
of building and urbanization (Hakim, 1986, p. 137).
The Muslim city has had many factors affecting its morphology among
which are: Past, pre Islamic influences, Islamic religious regulations Sharia,
cultural norms Urf, time, place, and function. All these factors have given the
Islamic city its commonly shared characteristics throughout the Islamic
world. But since each of the factors mentioned above is a variable that may
change, these factors have also given each city its unique characteristics.
To Bianca The respective regional style of Islamic architecture are not
necessarily linked by formal resemblance, but they show inner affection
which are clearly based on related customs, patterns of use and
corresponding structuring principles (Bianca, 2000, p. 10). That is why
many later scholars of Muslim Urbanism have identified a common
denominator that gathers all Islamic urbanism. It is the common shared
process through which the Islamic city evolved.
The character of the Muslim cities morphology changes according to the
diversity of the factors that shape it. These are: social, spiritual, natural and
technological factors, in addition to the realm of pre-formal archetypes.
Bianca singles out a social factor as the most influential among those he
listed. This factor is: the realm of pre-formal archetypes (derived from
ritualized patterns of human behavior) and not in ephemeral stylistic
features (Bianca, 2000, p. 10). Physical structures are not realized on the
basis of formal prescriptions; the way Greco-Roman architecture was
shaped, but rather based on related customs, patterns of use and
corresponding structures. So it is a process that influenced the shaping of
the Muslim urban environment.
The process that gave rise to the Muslim city was mobilized by three
elements: a distinction between the members of the Ummah (community of
believers) and outsiders,.., the segregation of the sexes,..., and a legal
system (Abou-Lghoud, 1993, p. 31).
Local behavioral norms Urf have been, in part, regulated by religious rules
fiqh. According to Hakim (1986), fiqh has also regulated building guidelines.
That is a major unifying factor of Muslim cities, but also, is a cause of
diversity at the micro scale. Since a Muslim citys morphology is divided
according to ethnic, cultural, national and religious factors, and since each
ethnic group typically follows a certain religious school of thought, it would
be easier and more convenient for people of similar thoughts and ethics to
be living in the vicinity of each other.
The morphology of early Muslim cities was first influenced by local, pre-
existing urban styles, where they existed. (Ex. Greco-Roman, Persian...) As
the Muslim culture matured and settled in these cities, these past influences
either disappeared or were adopted in their original or altered forms. Muslim
cities have always adopted foreign concepts into their morphology as long
as they fit the cultural ethics and life style of the Muslim culture. One can
observe this process in pre-lslamic cities as well as in cities that were
founded by the Muslims.
According to AlSayyad, the visual irregularity of form in Arab Muslim cities
are, generally, a response to social and legal codes, and a representation
of the Islamic cultural system (1991, p. 154). He acknowledges, though,
that planned Arab Muslim towns were geometric in pattern, but he does not
mention the factors that caused the loss of this geometry.
In conclusion, although the Orientalists have developed their descriptions of
Muslim cities by studying very few cases of limited Muslim- Arab regions,
they generalized their findings to all Muslim cities. One can safely state that
the stereotype of Muslim cities having a central palace, mosque, residential
quarters, bazaars and baths has some legitimacy. One can find that in the
writings of Hourani and Alsayyad. Such descriptions fit other non Muslim-
Arab cities of the Middle Age Era, and as such, the morphological
description of the Muslim city is not what makes it unique, but rather the
process, formed by the social factors, is what gave it its form(s).
Nevertheless, one can not escape but notice commonalities, such as: the
use of locally available materials, awareness of local climate and other local
natural factors, the response, in form, to local social and behavioral
traditions, that spaces are tailored to the needs of the current users with
emphasis on the concept of no harm to others is to be exerted.
Administrations of Muslim-Arab cities have the common feature of being
decentralized. In general, urban decisions are made at the city level, rather
than state level. Exceptions occur where the city has capital status or if it is
of a regional, national, or religious importance.
The head of a neighborhood, or the head of a trade, will be the first to refer
to when disputes occur. The kadi is next in level if the disputes were not
settled. A kadi is topped by the head of Kadies who is topped by the Caliph.
Most disputes are solved at the neighborhood level, if not then at the Kadis.
The advantage of that is the close proximity of the judging figure to the area
and conditions under which the dispute occurred. The involvement of the
government in shaping the urban fabric, though minimal, occurs depending
on the rural and the kind of rule exerted at the time.
So, a traditional Islamic city is in fact a representation of the era at which a
snapshot was taken. This image will vary once any of the variables is
changed. But what contribute to shaping such an image? The following
chapter is discussing factors constructing the image of a place.
2.2 The Image of an Urban Environment
Every place in the world has its unique ambiance. This ambiance stems
from two types of factors. The first is social and cultural. The other is the
physical character of the place. (Nasar, 1997) The physical characteristics
of the place are affected, though, by social and cultural factors. Social and
cultural experiences, and memories of these experiences, reflect on our
judgment and evaluation of a place. They are, on the other hand,
contextualized in place.
Many individuals' most powerful memories revolve around place (Marcus,
1992, p. 87). These memories are subject to the type of experiences they
provoke." We remember landscapes where good things happened to us"
(Riley, 1992, p. 19). Though this is true, we also remember places where
bad experiences happened. Powerful memories of these places are
associated with shared pleasant experiences, as well as experiences that
are private and unpleasant. Positive experience results in attachments and
bonds to places (Brown and Perkins, 1992), negative experiences, on the
other hand, may result in disattachments. So, depicting human memories of
places is subject to memories of communal and personal events, on one
hand, and the physical context in which they took place, i.e. the surrounding
landscape. (Massey and Jess, 1995)
A great amount of research was conducted regarding the image of a place,
the meaning of a place, and the effect of social, cultural, and physical
factors on human perception of their surrounding environments. In the
following section, I will summarize highlights of this research.
2.2.1 Image of Place
Visual images and perception of city landscapes were of great concern to
planners and architects. This concern is based on the idea that city
landscapes may have value, as a source of delight, to the inhabitants.
(Nasar, 1997) Kevin Lynch has focused on this in three of his books: What
Time is This Place?, A Theory of Good City Form and The Image of the
In What Time is This Place?, Lynch focuses on the importance of the
temporal legibility of a place. He argues, legitimately, that every place
should have a link to its past, and a hint of its future. This assessment
critiques environments that are changing so fast that there is little evidence
left of its past as well as those that either freeze historic places in time or
limit historic form in new developments such as New-Urbanisms Snapshot
style of development. It answers to any developments need to evolve,
smoothly, through time, while preserving its inherited characteristics.
In his second book, A Theory of Good City Form, Lynch introduces five
dimensions of performance in a development. These are: vitality, sense, fit,
access, and control. Even though these dimensions may not be easy to
measure and they may be in conflict one with another (Ford, 1999, p. 255),
they make intuitive sense for city planners.
Lynch defines these terms as follows:
Vitality: the degree to which the form of the settlement
supports the vital functions, the biological requirements
and capabilities of human beings-above all, how it protects
the survival of the species...
Sense: the degree to which the settlement can be
clearly perceived and mentally differentiated and structured
in time and space by its residents and the degree to which
that mental structure connects with their values and
Fit: the degree to which the form and capacity of space,
channels and equipment in a settlement match the pattern
and quantity of action that people customarily engage in, or
want to engage in...
Access: the ability to reach other persons, activities
resources services information, or places, including the
quantity and diversity of the elements which can be
Control: the degree to which the use and access to space
and activities, and their creation, repair, modification and
management are controlled by those who use, work, or
reside in them. (Lynch, K., 1981, p. 118.)
Lynch adds two more meta-criteria dimensions. These are:
Efficiency: the cost in terms of other valued things, of
creating and maintaining the settlement, for any given level
of attainment of the environmental dimensions listed
Justice: the way in which environmental benefits
and costs are distributed among persons, according to
some particular principle... (Lynch, K., 1981, p. 118.)
In The Image of the City, Lynch argues that a key variable in determining
environmental quality is legibility (imageability). He defines a legible
environment by three characteristics: identity, structure, and meaning. The
first two are easily accomplishable, (they are the ones Lynch focused on
(Nasar, 1997)), but the third is harder to materialize. (Ford, L, 1999) Lynch
thought that meaning is very eccentric, and thus very difficult to get a
consensus from the public. Neither Lynch, not his followers paid much
attention to meaning. Saleh states The evaluation and debate of city
imagery are usually extended in the aspect of aesthetics, which, more or
less, falls unfortunately into the realm of individual bias and arbitrariness
(2001, 319). Although it is true that meaning is personal and thus subjective,
post Lynch research has identified consistent consensus in peoples visual
preferences in the environment (Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989; Nasar, 1989;
Nasar, 1994; Ulrich, 1983; Wohlwill, 1976) (Nasar, 1997, p. 10). In this line
of research the connection between visual preferences and meanings that
people attach to places is not as clear. Therefore, one cannot assume that
when people agree on the visual aspects they also attach shared meanings.
The frameworks put forth by Lynch and his followers (some have proposed
variations to his original concepts), are themselves social constructs and
they reflect the prevailing issues and attitudes of their times. Societies
evolve through time, as do their perception of identity, structure, meaning,
temporal layers, and sense toward performance dimensions.
2.2.2 Meaning of Place
The meaning people assign to a place heightens imageability, and
imageability intensifies meanings. (Nasar, 1997) Rapoport dissects meaning
into three levels.
Meaning has three levels: A lower-level meaning,
denotative meaning, coincides with object recognition; a
middle-level meaning, connotative meaning, refers to the
emotional values associated with the object; and a higher-
level meaning, abstract meaning, refers less to the object
than to broader values. (Rapoport cited in Nasar, 1997, pp.
Rapoports distinction among these levels implies that whereas connotative
meanings may be unique to individuals, abstract meanings are shared by
the collective community, thus reflecting broader societal values.
Definitions of the word abstract from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary further
clarify the distinction. They read:
Disassociated from any specific instance, ... expressing a
quality apart from an object,... dealing with a subject in its
abstract aspects,...and having only intrinsic form with little
or no attempt at pictorial representation or narrative
content. (Web link, 2004)
So, the higher-level the meaning, the more disassociated from any specific
instance it is (Web link, 2004), and the more likely it is for people to reach a
Meaning is strongly associated with feelings, opinions and emotions.
Abstract meaning is forged by the multidimensional character of community
sentiment and its complex sources in both subjective perceived and
objective aspects of the local environment. Meaning is transformable too.
There are three stages in the transformation of the meaning of places.
These are: rootedness (self-unconscious act), sense of place (self-
conscious act) and the shift from conscious to manufactured. (M. Arefis,
The first, rootedness, occurs when a sense of meaning is developed
through establishment of long term relationships within a place. This sense
of meaning is the result of a non self-conscious act of creating meaning.
The second, which is a self-conscious act, takes place once planning gets
involved in retaining an existing, or maybe fading sense of meaning.
Examples of that are historic preservation efforts. The third stage occurs
when meaning is manufactured through planning. Examples would include
Disneyfication and branding.
Any or a combination of all of these stages can exist at any particular place.
Each has its supporters and defenders. It is dependent on peoples
sentiments towards their environments.
In reference to Schumaker & Tylor, (1983), Hummon states that at the most
general level, research on community sentiment can be divided into three
broad approaches: those focusing on community satisfaction, on community
attachment, and on identity and community life (1992, p. 254). Hummon
finds that these three approaches, though they overlap, differ considerably
in conceptualizing community sentiment, their disciplinary roots, and
preference of methodological strategies.
Community satisfaction approach is rooted in psychological studies
(Campbell, Converse, & Rodgers, 1976, Marans & Rodgers 1975), along
with studies that are focused on community, environment and sentiment.
(Guest & Lee, 1983, Shumaker & Tyler 1983) It uses social survey
techniques where researchers evaluate popular subjective assessment of
the community and then analyze issues that improve or diminish individual
satisfaction in both local and larger metropolitan context. Ecological,
environmental, social, and perceptual factors influence popular sentiments
at local scales. The size and type of community, the quality and ownership
of housing, and the quality of physical neighborhood are particularly
important objective factors. Satisfaction with local areas is also effected by
residents communal positions and their opinion of their community.
The second, community attachment approach, is rooted in community and
urban sociology. (Hummon, 1992) It uses survey research techniques to
study the nature and basis of deeper emotional bonds to local places, rather
than satisfaction. This literature has approached local sentiments as the
study of emotional investments in place (Hummon, 1992, p. 256).
This approach was dominated by the declined community thesis,
introduced by classical social theorists such as Toennies, Marx, Wber,
Durkheim and Wirth. They argued that the urban conversion to a capitalist
order meant a decline in the quality of local community life. They thought
that an increase in size, density and heterogeneity of urban life weakens
the primary ties of urbanites to neighbor and kin (Hummon, 1992, p. 256).
This theory weakened as it was proven by ethnographic studies that
neighborhood life and sentiment remain strong among local neighborhood
groups in modern times. (Rivlin, 1982)
The third approach is the identity, place and community sentiment
approach. Although researchers focusing on this approach come from a
wide and very diverse array of disciplines, they tend to base their research
on participants observations or in-depth interviews. Followers of this
approach focus on exploring ways by which locales are permeated with
personal and social meanings. They also incorporate ways in which
representative locales provide a central symbol or locus of the self. (Lavin
&Agatstein, 1984, Proshansky et al., 1983, Rapoport, 1982)
According to Hummon (1992), the three complex approaches to identity,
place and community sentiment provide four central insights into the
phenomenology of community meaning and sentiment. First, this research
documents how biographical experience with a locale can transform the
local landscape into a symbolic extension of the self by imbuing it with the
personal meanings of life experiences (Hummon, 1992, p.
258)....Secondly, it clarifies how neighborhoods and communities are
imbued with public meanings and, as such, serve as symbolic locales with
distinct cultural identities (Hummon, 1990) in Hummon, 1992, p. 259)....
Thirdly, research on community and identity illuminates the way various
social identities can become embedded in and communicated through the
local environment, reinforcing the sentimental bonds for people and places
(Hummon, 1992, p. 259).... And finally, these studies document the
complex relation between community sentiment and community mobility
(Hummon, 1992, p. 259).
Although each of the three research approaches discussed above, has its
own methods of conceptualization, study implementation methods, and wide
range of disciplinary roots, different scopes of community sentiment are
embedded in configurations of psychological, social and environmental
factors. In addition, all three approaches to community sentiment research
agree that community sentiment is subject to a peoples perception of their
local community, their social status in both the local community and the
larger society, and the objective qualities of the community, both as a built
and a social environment. Community attachment, community satisfaction
and community identification are best conceptualized as different facets of
The meaning of a place is influenced by the social characteristics present in
and around the place. The image of a place, on the other hand, is shaped
and molded by its physical characteristics, along with surrounding physical
characteristics affecting the place. Researchers on place identity show that
space is socially constructed and can be imagined as formed out of
stretched-out social relations (Massey and Jess, p. 220).
Physical (objective) and social (subjective) variables are considered
adequate in both behavior setting and story telling of events in place. Both
will be discussed in the following sections.
2.2.3 Theoretical Construct to Capture Experience
in a Place: The Missing link Between
Environmental/Visual Attributes and
Because societies are dynamic and evolve through time, so do spaces and
their identities. Therefore, it is people who make and use spaces and endow
them with meaning through their activities in place. Study of these activities
in place can help understand the way meaning is attached to place. A
theoretical construct that allows study of both activities and physical
characteristics is the behavior setting. As defined by Barker and Wright,
(1955), Barker, (1968), behavior setting is a standing pattern of behavior
and a part of the milieu which are synomorphic and in which the milieu is
circumjacent to the behavior (Bechtel, 1977, p. 22). In other words, a
behavior setting is a repeated pattern of behavior occurring again and again
in the same urban context at a certain time. Though it is a separate entity, a
behavior setting is a part of the flow of behavior of the community. (Bechtel,
1977) Furthermore, as Barker and Wright found out, individuals were not
the primary units of behavior because whenever they behaved, whenever
they did anything, it was as part of a behavior setting (Bechtel, R., 1997, p.
Peoples interaction and awareness of their behavior settings differ, thus
ecological psychologists found that behavior settings are the best
predictors of human behavior and also make up the fabric of daily life
(Bechtel, R., 1997, p. 244). In a study conducted in 1971, Wright found that
peoples knowledge of their physical and social context differ according to
their interaction habits with their behavior settings. In his study, he
compared small-city children knowledge of their town with large-city
children. He found that the small city children were more aware of their
urban context due to fewer behavior settings that resulted in a repetition in
life style, which resulted in more awareness and knowledge of the urban
context and the people in their cities. The large city children have listed a
larger quantity of behavior settings but with minimum detail and knowledge
In short, a behavior setting does not only stand for places that humans grew
attached to, through active or passive contact, but more importantly a place
with personal and collective meanings, as in Wrights study.
In a behavior settings analysis of the city of Janesville, Sancar (1993) found
eight image dimensions and attributes in the study participants descriptions
of specific behavior settings. These are:
(1) Economic potential: unconstructed space with growth
potential, industrial and/or commercial viability, locally
owned businesses, speculative real estate. (2) Diversity of
compatible land-uses: a successful mix of industrial,
commercial, residential, recreational, and public service
type land use. (3) Historic significance: historic landmarks
historic fronts, memorable historic events associated with
places; (4) Fond memories: personal or family events that
make a place special; (5) Appearances of environment:
building types and styles; age of buildings (older or newer),
strong urban form... (6) Significant land feature and land
form... (7) Location factors... (8) Importance as an activity
place. (Sancar, 1993, p. 79).
Sancar found that the economics and activities ranked as the most
significant of all image dimensions in all tested settings. Location and
appearance of the living environment ranked second. The researcher has
also found that certain dimensions rank top with regards to certain settings;
History and natural features ranked as a major dimensions affecting the
image of Rock River sub-area (Sancar, 1993, p. 79), which reflects that
historical presence in an area reflects highly on its image and meaning.
The physical extent of a setting varies and its spatial dimensions are defined
by cultural orientations and social organizations. (Fries, 2000) As people
related more to a special setting, they tended to expand the area they
sensed belonging. This area is bond to psychological components. These
are: special memories, special imagery, the special framework of current
activity, and the implicit special component of ideals (Fries, 2000, p. 197).
In other words, continuity of pattern of behavior settings in a community is
responsible for the formation of shared meaning and place attachment. One
expression of such meaning are stories people associate with most salient
behavior settings or contexts for experiences in a particular place.
2.2.4 Narratives as Expression of Urban Morphologies
Large-scale social groups, especially those prearranged as scattered urban
communities (Webber 1963), need to normatively express themselves if
they are to materialize as distinct social entities. In Andersons (1991) terms,
they need to imagine themselves as communities. These stories are of
meanings and stem from memories and locations of common values to the
communities. These stories will express the way these communities
envision themselves, and their perceptions of their immediate surrounding
environment. In their effort to invoke meanings of high cultural values, such
perceptions use memories, social dynamics and descriptions of urban
contexts to which the illustrating culture attached itself, all of which are
interdependent. All memories are parts of social dynamics, and both take
place in an urban context whether it is a room, a house, a
street...Memories are a significant part of who we were, the foundation of
who we are (Day, 2002, p. 113). The social context is also dependent on
the social aspects and the memories of its inhabitants. Revisiting and
touching places and objects from childhood bring to mind long forgotten
memories. That brings a deeper layer of meaning to that particular place.
Such places and objects can have similar meaning; though they will vary in
depth, even if altered. According to Cox, (Arefi), the meaning and memory
of place endure long after the place itself may have been physically altered
(1999, p 184).
It is important to have a memory in the first place for meaning to endure. To
have a memory, there is a need to sense a place. Sensing is an action that
requires stimulation. A dull place will not evoke sensing and thus will fade
out of memory (Day, 2002); while an interesting place will always be
remembered through its interesting physical characteristics or exciting
events that took place within its boundaries, or most likely by both since
each would have had the tendency to support memories of the other.
The method used by Proctor, Sancar and Alanen (1990) is suitable for
translating narrative feed-back into environmental knowledge. The matrix
used (see Table 2.2.1) is aimed at drawing out behavior settings and their
meanings. It allows the narrators (the participants) to choose the scale of a
memorable event and the time frequency in which it occurs. It illustrates the
narratives in combination with time-space factors. This method has the
potential to generate insiders knowledge when used with local residents of
a studied area, which is needed in collaborative planning.
In conclusion, the image of a place is a vital part of built environments.
Architects and planners were drawn to this notion and integrated it in
constructing built environments.
Table 2.2.1: Stories That Take Place in Your Typical Traditional
Daily Weekly Annual Once in a Life Time
In his book The Image of the City, Lynch stresses the importance of
legibility (imageability) in any cityscape. His frameworks and the majority of
his followers were social constructs.
Since societies change, perception of identity, structure, meaning, temporal
layers, and sense toward performance dimensions also changes as a
byproduct of the societal changes. As a result, the image of a city is
constructed of snapshots of the societal perception of the factors mentioned
above. So, meaning changes as societies change.
That is not the only level of change in meaning. Meaning also changes
within the same society. Rapoport broke down meaning in that sense to:
denotative, connotative, and abstract meanings, where denotative meanings
are common to individuals and abstract meanings are mostly shared by the
collective. In addition, meaning changes consciously, unconsciously, or
through a combination of both. These changes are tied to public sentiment,
which is an aspect of social life that has been researched by psychological,
social and environmental sciences.
It is fitting, therefore, to construct the character of an environmental unit (a
place) using behavior setting analysis, and narratives. Narratives have
strong social meanings and are mostly contextualized in local places.
These places are found at an array of scales ranging from macro to micro
levels. They also are always set in a time-space. Thus narratives have a
high range of detail contextualizing their social and physical environment
(their behavior settings). These narrative constructs are of great
importance. They are shaped by the local culture which constructed the
environmental settings and later-on was affected by their own construct.
The characteristics of a place preserved in a narrative are a part of the
cultural identity. Because they had strong meanings they were preserved in
the memories of society collectively or the individuals.
Narratives in conjunction with time-space parameters would be the method
to integrate meaning, social and physical attributes via description of
behavior settings would be an appropriate way to research image.
The following chapter presents an illustration of the research method used
in the experiment center to this research. The method used explores for
meanings that are derived from narratives shared by participating subjects
of behavior settings they are familiar within their home land. The shared
narratives are framed by time-space parameters to help participants focus
on selecting meaningful narratives that carries rich memories capable of
enriching the database needed for the experiment
2.3 Research Method
As discussed in the introductory chapter, the goal of this is to discover how
members of the Islamic Ummah define the image and the qualities of a
Muslim City. This sets the parameters for participants characteristics,
selection and gathering methods, organizing the data gathering settings,
interview protocol and recording method.
These are the topics that will be discussed in the following sections.
Primary data was collected using interviews with member groups of the
Islamic community Ummah to depict the image of the traditional physical
Islamic urban fabric. The method used was a co-operative inquiry research
method, where members of a Muslim community acted as co-researchers.
They gave their impressions of their traditional native living environments
after being freed from the distress of early conditioning and restrictive
social customs or their native environments (Reason, 1988, p. 264). Such
freedom is required for proper Co-Operative Inquiry. (Heron, 1977; Maslow,
1968; Rogers, 1961; Rowan, 1976) Humanistic psychologists, who
originated the Co-Operative Inquiry method, thought that the best technique
for this method to achieve its goals is to mobilize it in groups with norms of
authentic communication" (Peter Reason, 1988, p. 264). Each participant is
a unique individual and has self-determining ideas and reality that may or
may not have similarities to other members of his or her group. This
uniqueness should be celebrated, as opposed to what orthodox social
science inquiry methods do, where subjects of inquiries are alienated from
the inquiry process and its knowledge outcome. (Reason, 1988) As a matter
of fact, advocates of this method think that an appropriate research on
people is one that
Addresses them as self-determining, which means that
what they do and what they experience as part of the
research must be to some significant degree determined
by them. (Reason, 1998, p. 264)
Similarities or differences may or may not exist across the different
participating groups, but the concept of self-determination will allow for the
widest range of variation in feed-back from the participants and thus a wider
chance to detect similarities or their absence in the collective response.
Each produced a reality of his or her own; each is a product of each
participating individual and collective mind and what is there (Skolimowski,
1992), the amorphous primordial givenness of the universe (Reason,
1998, p. 262).
Urban physical units were investigated through asking participants
questions about daily, weekly, annual, and once in life-time social
experiences. Physical characteristics of urban units were explored by linking
them to social events. These events will have to be of a particular
importance to the participants, thus vividly memorable and participants will
have noteworthy amounts of details. By comparing these images across
groups, the researcher is aiming at finding a common thread, if any, to
traditional urban fabrics of the different regions from which the sample
220.127.116.11 Character of the Respondents
As Reason puts it, a key question about research is Who owns that
knowledge, and thus who can define reality? (Reason, 1998, P. 263). It has
always been important for decision-makers to be in touch with the public
regarding their built environments. It is important for decision-makers to
acquire knowledge about issues of concern to the public. This knowledge is
vital to shaping any living environment to fit the publics requirements and life
style. This issue has gained more emphasis in these times of pluralism. In
Islam there is the concept of Ahlul Hal Wal Aqd. These are in essence, the
members of the communitys decision-making council, to whom the
community refers to resolve problematic issues. These are: the ulema, kadis
and muftis, the sheikhs of the various professional guilds, heads of major
families and clans and ethnic groups. Such councils are called-for by Islam.
They are called for in the Quran (f$j* j) (who (conduct) their
affairs by mutual consultation Shura) (The Holy Quran, sura xlii:38.)These
councils are present in one form or another in every Muslim community.
Although members of councils are selected from the public, they do not
necessary reflect a typical persons life style and sense of judgment, and as
a result will not reflect the same conception of urban images as a typical
member of that culture. Therefore, it would be worth while to go to the
source to portray this image. These are the regular members of the Muslim
The respondents of this study are members of the Muslim population in
Metro Denver area in Colorado. They are from three countries of origin:
Pakistan, Sudan and Morocco. Each of these is a sub-culture of the Muslim
Ummah, and each has its distinctive character and variations from the
others. These variations include, but are not limited to the following:
religious sects, cultural, political, history, exposure to foreign cultures...etc.
Variations and local aspects of each will allow me to encompass more local
details into this study, which will translate into a more accurate image of the
physical form of the Muslim City. Ideally the more sub cultures included, the
higher the resolution of the sketched image, but for convenience and
similarities of the current living environment of all participants, I will limit the
number and location to the three mentioned above.
Each group consisted of two sub-groups of Men and Women.
There were seven participants in each sub-group. Participants were
selected based on a set of criteria:
1. Members of the Muslim Ummah
2. Being far from his/her original environment for a minimum of two
3. Has no immediate plans yet to return to their native environment
4. Has lived in his/her native environment for a number of years past
5. Adults of 25 years or older
6. Currently living in the Metro-Denver area
Ideally, ties to such an Ummah are stronger than ties to nationalities or
ethnicities. In addition, the Ummah includes Muslims from outside the
Muslim region (for example, Chinese, Indian, and US Muslim citizens.) If it is
the ideal image of the Muslim city that is searched for in this study, then
both arguments mentioned above favor including persons who look at
themselves as members of the Ummah rather than members of individual
nations. Nevertheless, the Muslim community has always been diverse.
There were always individuals and groups with sentiments that were more
connected to tribes, cities, ethnicity or states. (An exception for that was the
early period of Islam where the Ummah came before all other ties.) So,
incorporating opinions of all Muslims, weather they perceive themselves as
a part of the Ummah or otherwise, is more representative of past and
current public sentiments. After all, even those who view themselves more
tied to geographic nations both contribute to, and gain from, the cultural
attributes to which they were subjected. In this case, it is the culture of the
Muslim Ummah. During the interviews the participants will be asked if they
find themselves more connected to the Muslim Ummah Vs. other entities
(ex. nation states, local sub-cultures, tribes....).
18.104.22.168 Selection of Respondents
Diversity in nationality is a controlling factor that can be used to evenly
distribute the sample along a wide cross-section of the geographic spread of
Muslim faith members. It will incorporate sub cultural diversity into the
Three groups of Muslim communities from the United States of America
(USA) were subjected to this study. They were selected from:
1. Denver, CO., which has a population from Morocco.
2. Denver, CO., which has a significant population from Pakistan.
3. Denver, CO., which has a significant population from Sudan.
The selection of the three groups countries was dictated by the availability
of a sufficient number of subjects that are willing to participate in this study
and the researcher's access to the groups.
These three groups share: living in the same living context in the USA, living
in close communities, a common religion, and permanent residency in the
USA. On the other hand, they differ in culture and geographic location.
The expected respondent had the following characteristics: Muslims who
lived a part of their adult life in their native regions, greater than two years in
the USA, 50% male 50% female, council & non-council members, adult
population and permanently in the USA.
It is important to gather and record respondents views of traditional urban
heritage shared by Muslim Communities. The aim of this is to define
common patterns, if any, of physical urban units and behaviors (as Barker
calls it behavior patterns.)
22.214.171.124 Organizing the Data Gathering Settings
Each participant was checked for the criteria of eligibility. A search for the
minimum of 14 participants for each group was conducted. The first seven
that fulfill the studys criteria were invited to participate. E-mails, phone calls,
face to face meetings, and third party contacts were used to spread the
word about the study and the participants selection criteria, while face to
face and phone calls were used to issue the invitations to participate.
The participants were interviewed in two sessions per group. Men and
women from similar original nations were attempted to be interviewed in one
day, separately, but in a sequence. That would have allowed the interviewer
to focus on the similarities and differences across both groups of similar
backgrounds. It would also have given better convenience for families
participating in the study. That was not successful in most of the cases for
reasons that will be discussed in the conclusion chapter.
126.96.36.199 Tools for Recording Responses
Every session was recorded on tape, and the interviewer recorded any
other observations on a pad in writing. In addition, a board was used to
record participants responses and a writing pad with a sheet showing Table
2.2.1 will distributed among participants.
188.8.131.52 The Interview Protocol
The first minutes, after inviting the participants to snacks and refreshments,
were used to break the ice. Emphasis was placed on the importance of the
participants feedback for this particular study. During that period, emphasis
was placed on the expected feedback is from the participants personal life
experiences and habits. (So, all feedback is to be from the participants own
As the session started, the consent forms needed to conduct this research
was introduced. The research project was introduced and an explanation of
the structure of the session was made using the events matrix (see Table
2.2.1). A copy of the matrix was given to each participant for the duration of
the interview. On the matrix sheet, every participant was asked to write four
events that are of significance to him/her. These events are daily, weekly,
monthly, annual or a once in a lifetime event. They will be at different
scales. The participants were allowed to choose the context scales,
because they vary from one personal experience to another because of
context variation. The participants were probed to explore a larger or
smaller context if they focused on one and neglected the other. The group
setting increased the probability of convergence of images within groups,
which elevated the level of details in shared images. Each participant
pronounced his/her events to the rest of the group in a round-robin fashion;
first the daily then the weekly, the monthly, the annual and later the once in
a life time events. They were given the chance to write extra events if
desired, or change the ones they already wrote after the turns. (Members of
the group may inspire others with events)
The discussion was all in English.
Each was asked to describe these events briefly, and was then asked to
describe the context in which they took place. Other members of the group
were allowed to state variations to similar context that are derived from their
For closure, and after the matrix exercise, the participants were asked the
following questions in an attempt to find a possible consensus among the
1. What makes a city Islamic?
What are the attributes that are necessary for identifying a city
Which of these attributes were present in our previous
2. As you know, change is part of life and societies. As Islamic societies
are modernizing, do you think that the image you described should
be retained? How?
3. Do Muslims that you know care about their urban heritage?
The feedback from the participants on the events and scales exposed to
discussion were turned into transcripts that were analyzed for similarities
across the different groups of participants in search for a common thread
that unify the character of Islamic cities.
184.108.40.206 Analysis Method and Tools
Grounded Theory was used to analyze interview transcripts. It is a
robust and systematic method of designing conducting,
analyzing and evaluating research, which at the same time
facilitates and integrates the scientific and creative of
research. (Bailey et al., 1999, p. 170)
Grounded Theory has also the advantage of being open to and facilitating
the reflexive management of qualitative research process (Bailey et al.,
1999, p. 170). A much needed quality to evaluating open-ended questions
During the analytical process, the participants responses, has been distilled
down to place categories. The advantage of that arrangement is that it
ultimately yields descriptions of places, which is more relevant to urban
planning. Although repetition of places and elements may confine
participants input, the pay-back is substantial increase of image refinement.
After all, with the relative small number of participants, one would expect
some place categories, present in participants native land, to be passed by,
and the convergence adds focus to the places mentioned. It is worthy to
mention that some participants changed their places after they knew other
people are using them. Their intention was to enrich the data with diversity.
After the first run over the transcripts, each interviewed subgroup had its
own place category list. Each place category had its own detailed
description of social and physical characteristics mentioned by the
interviewees. Each description has been tied to the original interview
transcripts by references to respondents feedbacks. The place categories
were communicated back to the members of the subgroups for feedback.
The next stage of analysis was the creation of theme categories. Each
subgroup has had its own list of themes derived from, and tied to, its own
place categories. The themes were cross-referenced to Islamic themes from
the Quran and Prophet Mohammads traditions, Islamic texts, as well as the
Prophets companions. The aim of this step is to find themes that are
common across groups, and to test the derivative themes to see if they
complementary or negating to Islamic doctorial.
The next chapter illustrates the results of the experiment.
The results of this experiment are divided into three parts: demography of
the sample, place categories and themes derived from the social and
physical aspects of the place categories. The first part, demography of the
sample, illustrates the background and character of the sample as derived
from the pre-interview survey. The second part, the place categories, has
two subdivisions illustrating its characteristics: social and physical
characteristics. These are directly eluted from the subjects. The third part,
the themes, on the other hand, is a set of derivatives of the place
categories. It is composed of merged social and physical characteristics that
are based on information shared by the participants. The place categories
and themes are laid out using direct and paraphrased quotations, from the
interview transcripts. In addition, there are researcher interoperations of
data shared in the interviews. The place categories and themes were sent
to subjects who participated in the interviews for affirmation, and all
modifications were incorporated into these two sections. In the following is
the demographic character of the participating sample.
2.4.1 Demography of the Sample
The absence data of the Moroccan female group, as seen in (see Table
2.4.1) was caused of by their lack presence in the area. All females were
recruited through female recruiters who are acquainted to the researcher; of
which none was Moroccan. The majority of the male Moroccan participants
showed lack of interest in introducing female subjects to the study, and the
few attempts were determined unsuccessful. Thus the female subgroup
was excluded from this study.
From the recruiting questionnaire, it was evident that the groups have a lot
of commonalities (see Table 2.4.1). The vast majority of the participants in
this study, 74.2 %, were of the 25 44 age group. That has a direct
correlation with the fact that this is the age group of college students and
professionals available in the Denver Metro area. Education-wise, 96.8%
had undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degrees. The majority of
the participants lived the majority of their lives in their native countries and
left them directly for the USA. As for connection to groups, 93.5% of the
population viewed themselves as Muslims first before ethnic or national
The commonalities across the groups have yielded commonalities in events
and places. Nevertheless, that did not prevent diversity, because each
individual has his/her background and experience package. In the following
I will illustrate the character of the places shared by the participants.
The participants to this study were all from urban environments; with
ancestry ties to rural environments. That showed in the description of their
events, which were mostly in urban context, unless they are visiting
grandparents of aunts and uncles who are living in rural settings.
Table 2.4.1 Sample Demographic Data
Preferred Method of data collection
Islamic Nation (Ummah)
Average Years in Native Country
Average Age when left the Native
Country to the USA
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2.4.2 Place Categories
The place categories below are divided into three groups: Moroccan,
Pakistani, and Sudanese. Each is divided into two subgroups, except the
Moroccan, which contains only one subgroup, the male subgroup.
Each set of place categories comprises of several places described by the
subgroup participants. Even though city, neighborhood, and home were used
in the Table 2.2.1, presented to the participants in the workshop, the data
lend city, neighborhood and country categories better. That place category
was used for composing Table 2.4.2.
As illustrated in Table 2.4.2, place categories and the frequency at which they
were mentioned varied within and across the groups. The total number of
places mentioned across the three groups was 117 places, spanning a variety
of places types.
In the following I will demonstrate the place categories shared during the
interviews. They will be listed in three groups that correspond to the three
nationalities involved in this study. Interview quotations refer to a code where
the first letter is the countrys initial ((M) for Morocco, (P) for Pakistan and (S)
for Sudan); the second letter refers to the gender of the participant ((M) for
male and (F) for female, and lastly, a number that refers to the particular
participant. That code is followed by the transcript page number from which
the quotation is extracted.
Pictures, representing the place categories mentioned in the following section
are illustrated in Appendix B.
Table 2.4.2: Number of Place Category Occurrences Per Subgroup
City Commercial Educational Recreational Mosque Work Places
Morocco male 4 2 1 7 0 0
male 0 3 3 6 5 0
Pakistan female 0 3 5 2 1 0
male 2 2 3 1 0 0
Sudan female 3 1 2 2 0 1
Total 9 11 14 18 7 1
Table 2.4.2 (cont.)
Neighborhood Urban Parks Streets Home ,. Gardens, Mosques . M orchards
Morocco male 0 0 2 6 1 0
male 0 1 3 5 3 1
female 1 0 0 8 0 1
male 3 0 7 3 2 1
female 2 0 3 4 0 0
Total 6 1 15 26 6 3
Of the Moroccan females within the Metropolitan Denver area, none was
found that was willing to contribute to this study. Therefore, the data of the
Moroccan group is limited to the male subgroup.
220.127.116.11.1 Male Subgroup
Seven place categories were mentioned in the interview. They varied
between city and neighborhood scales. Public recreation areas topped the
list with seven places. The home came second, being mentioned six times.
Streets, commercial places and cities came third. Educational institutions
and mosques came fourth.
18.104.22.168.1.1 City Scale
There are four place categories under the city scale. These are: cities,
commercial, educational and recreational. In the following are the
categories as characterized by the participants.
Four cities were mentioned in the interview. These are Alarash,
Casablanca, Marrakech, and Fez. The first and the second were mentioned
for their character as a place, while the other two were the context of places
within their urban fabric, respectively. In this part of the place category I will
be discussing Alarash and Casablanca.
The Spanish colonial city, Alarash, is located in the north of Morocco. The
city is located on the cross roads of major importance. That, along with its
distinct character, makes it a favorable destination for tourists.
It is mostly visited by Spanish tourists, but Moroccan tourists also frequent
the city. In this illustration, the participant visited the city as a member of a
group of four male friends. They rented a furnished colonial house for the
duration of the summer.
The city has a colonial character core, surrounded by modern extensions.
Its a city...with buildings that were built during the Spanish occupation with
old Spanish style ornamentations. We used to go to the sea using canal
boats....we would walk to the river and then take public transportation, a
river boat, to the sea front (MM2, personal communication, p. 112).
Using river boats for transportation is preferred in the city. As the
participant puts it: There were busses, cars, and not many taxies. Taking a
river boat saves you time (MM2, personal communication, p. 112).
Casablanca is also a colonial city, with a French colonial style. It was
developed at the time of the French (MM4, personal communication, p. 25).
The urban fabric of the downtown is a mixture of old colonial large villas,
and modern high rise buildings. There is a multi use downtown in
Casablanca. Banks, government buildings, etc. ... there are buildings over
twelve stories high mingled with villas. The villas were replaced by large
buildings during the last twenty to thirty years. The whole city is not old
(MM4, personal communication, p. 119).
One can notice the mixture of old and new urbanism interconnecting the
socio-economic activities in both cities. The morphology of Casablanca is
unique in that old, low density, and new, high density, buildings are set side
by side in the citys core. It is reflective of the citys economic well-being and
of the last twenty to thirty years. The magnitude of economic growth is
understood by a participants statement reflecting the economic power of
the city; 80% of the (countrys) commerce is there (in Casablanca). (MM4,
personal communication, p. 119).
22.214.171.124.1.1.2 Commercial Places
Two places were named. Both are of historic and cultural significance. The
first is a traditional Moroccan goods whole sale market. It is located in the
center of the historic city Fez. The second is the world cultural heritage site,
Jami Elfina, outside Marrakechs old city gate.
I will illustrate the image of the old Fez market first. Its a place where
traditional products of neighboring cities and villages are auctioned and sold
to individual shoppers. These products include: leather jackets, shoes and
many things that have a lot of connection with tourism, Shoes for men and
women, we call balghah" (MM5, personal communication, p. 109). The
auctioning is limited to two days a week. Usually Saturday and Sunday
mornings and evening, there are auctions (MM5, personal communication,
p. 109). The shops are small and have some of their goods displayed
outside. Although the main goods sold are traditional products, food and
groceries are offered in some shops. The shops are single story, and are
lined all along streets, It is huge. It is three hundred to four hundred small
shops. You cant just call it a building; it is a small city in itself. It is special
for business. It is a commercial district, but only for clothes and shoes, or
leather. No one lives there, it is just shops (MM5, personal communication,
The shops have distinctive fagades. They are wood, carved wood, and the
grounds are old tiles zalleej. There are signs on the shops of Koofi writing in
blue or golden colors (MM5, personal communication, p. 110).
The other commercial place mentioned in the interviews is the Jami Elfina,
in Marrakech. Its a world renowned cultural landmark. The square is an
open place with shops at its boundaries. It is dedicated to entertainers
(Mainly) (MM4, personal communication, p. 107). That is why a full
description is placed in the Public Recreational Places category.
126.96.36.199.1.1.3 Educational Institutions
A single public university was mentioned in the interview. It is a relatively
large university, with about eight thousand students. It is a fenced and gated
compound. Only students are allowed in, because of security reasons.
When you are around the university there is a military presence at all times,
due to riots between students and the university. The military guards are not
allowed to go inside the university. (MM5, personal communication, p.
The campus was developed over time into a modern campus. The
entrances to the buildings are where grades are posted at the end of the
semester. Its always up (high) so that nobody can touch it (MM5, personal
communication, p. 115).
There are book vendors squatting outside the gates. On the inside, there
are vendors selling fruits to the students. The university offers discounted
food on campus. These are offered only to students. Needy or homeless
non students will shake their key chain while amongst student groups, to
signal needing food coupons, and typically get it from them.
188.8.131.52.1.1.4 Recreation Area
There were six public recreational places mentioned, which varied between
passive and active recreational areas. These are: coffee shops, a cultifral
square, a neighborhoods local streets, a youth recreational center, a youth
summer camp, and a stadium.
The coffee shops mentioned are in two different contexts. The first is a
modern sea front coffee shop, while the other is a traditional old city coffee
Both are places of socialization at which people gather daily to talk about
various issues. A typical gathering time is every evening, around 5 or 6
p.m.... sometimes (for) two to three hours" (MM2, p. 99). Both are
frequented by locals, in contrast to tourists, and can serve hundreds at a
time whether indoors or outdoors. During the summer, outdoors, and if it
was cloudy then indoors. It depends on the weather (MM2, personal
communication, p. 98).
The old town coffee shop can serve up to two hundred persons. Inside,
traditional elements are present, some in modern manifestations. It had
modern blue and yellow zalleej on the floors, with yellow and multiple other
colors on the lower half of the walls. The upper half of the wall was cream,
with the ceiling being carved gypsum (MM2, personal communication, p.
99). The furniture though is juxtaposed with the traditional theme. The
furniture used is plastic tables and chairs. (MM2, personal communication,
One can notice that the more private an element, the more traditional it is.
The modern coffee shop, on the other hand, is one of many in a row on the
sea front at the edge of the city. It consists of three sections: one outdoor
and two indoors. Each section has a different seating arrangement, but no
physical separations. The innermost indoor section has traditional wooden
seats arranged around high tables. The middle (indoor) section and the
outdoor section are furnished with forged iron furniture. The style in general
is eclectic. It is a modern one (MM2, personal communication, p. 99). The
walls are pink, and have large square windows along with modern oil
The whole coffee shop is open toward the sea front, with nothing but a road
separating it from the sea. At night the road that is a motor road flips into a
pedestrian only area, with no cars allowed (MM2, personal communication,
p. 100). So the connection to the sea is both visually and physically stronger
at night than it is during the day.
The second subcategory is the world renowned cultural square of Jami
Elfina. It is located outside the gates of the historic core of Marrakech.
Nearby is the minaret of the main historic mosque of the city. The square
has an image of being at a fair, though its surroundings are more
commercial. The place is well visited by the locals, who are more in
presence than tourists (MM4, personal communication, p. 104).
Its dedicated to entertainers. It can be singers, story
tellers, snake charmers, or food. There are various types of
restaurants. You can also have a place dedicated only to
orange juice. That is, of course, the square itself. But
around the square, you have all sorts of things. You have
shops, banks, pharmacies, you know, and all sorts of
commercial places. (MM4, personal communication, p.
Although it looks chaotic, you would know where to go, and there is a sort
of order in the disorder (MM4, personal communication, p.108). The ground
is asphalt and there is traffic running along the side of the square. "You also
have traffic, you know, cars bicycles, motorcycles, horses, and even
carriages with horses things like that. So, you have all means of commuting
and transportation... There is no sign to tell you that this is where the traffic
should be, but somehow people know (MM4, personal communication, pp.
The third public recreational sub category is neighborhoods streets. Streets
are considered an extension of the house space. They are a semi- public
space, especially if they are a dead-end or a minor street in a residential
area. That is why streets are used for recreational purposes such as weekly
card playing or daily football. Streets are discussed in a place category by
The fourth public recreational sub category is a youth recreational center. It
is located on a major road, on the sea front, in the middle of the city (MM3,
personal communication, p. 106). The building has two stories and is beside
major administrative municipal buildings. Its facilities offer a variety of
sports, cultural, and educational activities.
There is a computer room and other rooms for other
activities; a big hall for weekly activities that has a stage, a
curtain and chairs...It is mainly geared toward youth
functions. It hosts cultural activities, basketball, table
tennis; all are indoor activities, except the volley ball and
the basketball courts. (MM3, personal communication, p.
All these facilities are provided to the public for a small, symbolic, fee. The
fee covers training three times a week and a major game with a visiting
team on Sundays.
The close proximity of the center to major administrative bodies of the city is
reflective of the centrality of youth to the administration.
The fifth subcategory is youth summer camps. These camps are monitored
and supervised educational assemblies, but also hold sports activities. The
main activities are crafts, cultural, general knowledge competitions,
sometimes sports (MM3, personal communication, p. 113). They are
mainly for youth to explore environments different from their own. The
Ministry of Youth and Sports picks coastal campgrounds for people from
mountainous areas and mountain camping grounds for coastal youth. It is
usually (assembled) in the summer, during school vacations (MM3,
personal communication, p. 112). The number of youth is about one
hundred fifty per camp with fifteen to twenty supervisors.
The setting is simple. And very symbolic.
There were only tents, except for the dining hall and the
toilets, which were buildings. We would sleep and have our
meetings in the tents... There would be a leveled cement
ground on which the tents are placed...with about 1m
between the tents. Their lay out is circular with a field in the
center. There will be a flag pole in the center. The court is
where activities took place. (MM3, personal
communication, p. 112)
The sixth, and final, subcategory is that of stadiums. A stadium was
mentioned in connection to the final Mediterranean championship football
game in Casablanca. It was Mohammad V stadium. The complex is
surrounded by large gardens with large trees set within a fence. (MM2,
personal communication, p. 116) The stadiums location is peculiar for the
It is located in the center of modern city of Casablanca...it
is located in a very nice area. It was built in the
1970s...was renovated for these games. (MM1, personal
communication, p. 116)
Its a complex that facilitates many functions including soccer, track and
field...swimming, basketball, volleyball...concerts...sometime even the king
will have something...the Pope spoke there (MM2, personal
communication, p. 116).
In short, it is a large, multi-purpose center, but mainly a sports complex.
184.108.40.206.1.2 Neighborhood Scale
There are three place categories under the neighborhood scale. These are:
streets, homes and mosques. In the following are the categories as
characterized by the participants.
Streets double as semi private places where residents play and socialize.
During the interview, there were descriptions of an old and a modern street.
In an old traditional neighborhood, male members of the community play
cards weekly in the dead-end alley zanqah in front of their house. This place
is considered subconsciously as an extension of the house. This was
evident in the wording of the participant. The house, or in front of the
house, on chairs, with friends; the place changes, sometimes it is in front of
my house, other times in front of friends houses (MM2, personal
communication, p. 105).
The street is 3 meters wide, and about 30 meters long. It has a numerous
houses on both sides. Houses (are) attached to each other, with no buffer
between the street and the actual houses. Some of the houses are high,
others are low. They vary in area and height. The highest is three floors
high and the lowest is one floor high" (MM2, personal communication, p.
105). The windows have distinct character. Windows were cantilever and
flat. They were made of wood and metal. Some children will sit in the
windows overlooking the street...some will have planters in them (MM2,
personal communication, p. 105). Plants are not present in the streets, but
can peek out of houses. One of the houses had a big grape vine. And only
one of the houses had some big trees (MM2, personal communication, p.
The modern street has a different character. The street described is
separated from the houses by setbacks. These buffers are the houses
backyards. Metal fences with vines provide the privacy desired by the local
culture. (MM1, personal communication, p. 95)
The street is 4 meters wide. It is paved asphalt without sidewalks, but rather
ditches with grass. Young boys and men play football daily on the street.
The houses are a unified one story high. They differ in colors, but are all
light. Usually the color is light grey, which is the most common, the normal
color of bricks, beige, and sometimes light yellow (MM1, personal
communication, p. 96). So all the houses give their backs to the main street,
and face a dead end road. This gives more privacy to the neighborhood and
its residents through orientation of houses and the streets hierarchy.
Six homes were described. Four were houses, and two were apartments in
multi story buildings. The houses were traditional houses, while the
apartments were modern. Three of the houses are in old city quarters, while
the fourth is a traditional style villa in a modern quarter.
In the houses, there were openings to the streets, but rooms mainly open to
centered courtyards. There was a court with the room around it. Rooms,
the kitchen, bathroom and things like that (MM4, personal communication,
p. 101). The courtyard was treasured. One was described as one with
An open roof. I like that because everybody had their own
piece of sky... I like the fact that there is this open space,
because if there is sunshine you know from home. If it is
raining you definitely see it and you feel it, things like that.
You are really in touch with the outside even if you are
inside your home. You see what I mean? You are in direct
contact with what goes on outside at least weather-wise.
While in the apartment it is all enclosed, encapsulated, and
you know, you have to look out through the window. (MM4,
personal communication, p. 101,114)
Functionally, courtyards are incorporated as a significant part of daily life.
Many things happened in that court besides playing
football...in the summer it gets very hot in Marrakech. So in
the afternoon, we used to clean it with water, to reduce,
basically, the heat. Then we put some kind of furniture in
the court, and we would have some kind of coffee, tea or
something like that. And when we would have visitors, we
would sit there. And not only in the afternoon, even in the
evenings we had dinner there. And that is where the sheep
are slaughtered for Eid uI Adha. (MM4, personal
communication, p. 102)
Large gatherings of friends and neighbors take place in courtyards. In one
case, male members of the neighborhood packed a courtyard to watch a
regional football game. "He had a color TV, and we would sit on the ground.
In the open court inside the house (MM2, personal communication, p. 116).
There is symmetry in the room locations around the courtyard, and in the
openings on the courtyard, ...for the two rooms facing each other, there
were two windows each" (MM4, personal communication, p. 101).
The courtyards described had richly patterned tiles on the ground, and on
the lower half of the walls. They have geometric patterns. The upper parts
of the walls are painted in light cream or white.
Plants are minimal and most of the time do not exist in the courtyards
described. Only one house mentioned vines on the walls (MM2, personal
communication, p. 117). Plants, on the other hand, are used to decorate
windows. Windows over looking the street... Some will have planters in
them (MM2, personal communication, p. 105).
One courtyard had a well by its side. It provides water to the house and the
The living room doubles for a dining room, or a reception area. In Ramadan,
the whole extended family gathers for breakfast Iftar. One room was
described as a typical Moroccan one (MM1, personal communication, p.
The room has a high cushioned, sectional-type seating all
around the living room, with pillows and tables. Basically
two large tables. The tables were higher than the seat level
of the seating (used for dining). The entrance had no door,
just an arched opening. The seats had patterned
upholstery. The floor was mosaic, and there was a rug, a
traditional Moroccan rug. Sometimes the rug was there
covering the entire floor, other times, it was just the
mosaic. The walls are white with no tiling (zaleej). The
normal is white. The ceiling was a very simple plain ceiling.
There are some lights and chandeliers. We had two
windows...One opens on a wind shaft that is open to the
sky ellemrah. There were curtains. We had a TV, and we
always ate at the tables. Sometimes we needed to bring
extra chairs. (MM1, personal communication, p. 111)
From the description, one notices a room that is sporadically heavily used
by a large number of people for multiple functions.
Another living room was described in the interview. It was very large in that
it hosted a large wedding ceremony congregation. The wedding party is
relatives who were allowed to use that place because of family and social
cooperation and support. This support is diminishing in these contemporary
Traditionally...everything happened in the house where the
wedding is taking place. You might hire someone to cook...
to do all the cooking for the invitees. People of the bridal
and groom party and their families will take care of serving
the food...may be months before that that the family and
family friends will gather to prepare for things like sweets
and so on, so they will make them... if you have a friend or
someone close with a bigger place like that, you may ask
that person to accommodate the wedding. It depends on
the relationship between people. (MM4, personal
communication, pp 118)
This is not the case now.
Now, you can prepare things outside, it costs a lot of
money, and it is less sociable, you know what I mean?
Usually before, it was a social event, people would gather
for many weeks to prepare for things and people were
happy. They were looking forward to an important event.
Now, it just comes to that particular event, that particular
day and then it is over with, you know, after that day...
(MM4, personal communication, p. 118)
The room is a part of a large villa.
It is a big living room. So it is really a traditional Moroccan
living room, in the sense that the roof is carved gypsum
and the doors are made of carved wood. The sofa
(seating) is all around the room against the walls. That was
good, because combined with the fact that the living room
was really big, it accommodated all the people invited to
the wedding. There were well over two hundred people
inside the living room. (MM4, personal communication, p.
There was occasionally an added structure in the room made
especially for the wedding. There was
one particular detail in. ..the middle of one of the walls. It
was a structure (a stage) for the bride and the groom, for
them to sit there to be seen by everybody. (MM4, personal
communication, p. 11)
So, temporary arrangements are incorporated into a place setting to
accommodate special occasions.
The other type of home described in the interviews is apartments. They are
set in modern developments of the citys urban fabric. Both have room
views over parking spaces, though not all rooms have that.
The first apartment is set at the ground level of a five-story high building,
which is a part of a complex of similar buildings. The apartment described
has five rooms total, and is shared by a husband and wife, the husbands
mother and his younger brother.
The layout of the apartment is set to reserve private places at the deep end
of the apartment. The kitchen is set in-between semi public and semi private
parts of the apartment.
When you just enter the apartment, you have the kitchen,
ok. After the kitchen, there is a hallway, which is where
they have the telephone, right? On the right, there is a
living room, European style. It is common to have a
European-style living room, and another Moroccan-style
living room. (MM4, personal communication, p. 113)
The two reception/living rooms are distinct.
People want to sample both things. There are things that
are more typical to Morocco. So in the furniture and the
layout of things, in this particular apartment, it is actually in
the European room that they have the Hi-Fi system, so it is
all linked with European culture...the Moroccan living room
is relatively small...the seating was raised above the floor
by a type of wooden platform, and in the middle you had a
table, for people who wanted to eat. There is a table there
all the time. In the Moroccan living room you have the
television, and there is a little window from which you can
see a little garden and the space dedicated for parking.
(MM4, personal communication, p. 113)
The European room is larger than the Moroccan room. The Moroccan room
on the other hand, has the dining table and the TV, which are more
incorporated elements of the daily life.
Being on the ground floor, the apartment has access to the garden outside
the building; a part of which is dedicated for the apartment. It is just a small
garden, which is also used for hanging out the laundry (MM4, personal
communication, p. 114).
The second apartment described in the interview is a singles apartment.
There, the bedroom of the participant was described, as opposed to the
apartment. It is a multi-function room in which the participant did his
studying, sleeping, and some entertaining.
The room was approximately 4m x 4m, with a closet, a rug,
a bed and a glass window that overlook a public parking
space. The walls were a cream color. There were two wall
hangings. The first one was of an old taxi car with the
Moroccan flag on it, and the other one was of a flower
vase. There was no TV in the bedroom. There was a room
with a TV in the apartment, though. I just had a small
cassette recorder in the room. (MM4, personal
communication, p. 117)
Although the event that triggered the discussion of the room was winning
the lottery to get an American green card after being rejected eight times,
one can notice a sense of nationalism with the local taxi and the Moroccan
flag. There was no assigned study place. The participant would study on
the floor, on the bed, but had no desk" (MM4, personal communication, p.
220.127.116.11.1.2.3 Neighborhood Mosques
Two mosques mentioned were conveniently located for the participants. It
was a five to fifteen minute walk from their homes. The closest mosque was
the context of the event, and thus was described with detail. The other was
mentioned for its dominant place in the old city of Fez, where an event took
place. The mosque was hardly described, except that it has sixteen gates
and that it was historic and massive. It is named after a female historical
figure, Fatima Al-Fihriah.
The first mosque was vividly described. Stylistically, the mosque had a
typical Moroccan style.
I think Moroccan mosques have had the same model
usually, and they still have the same model; the same
structures, the same design, more or less. There are some
with much more luxury, I would say, but the structure and
model is the same. It is the same cubical minaret sawmah,
with only one minaret, not like others, and there are no
domes on the mosques. It is horizontal with the sawmah
as the vertical element. (MM1, personal communication, p.
There are differences in the amount of artistic details among mosques, but
they have similar main components.
The indoors have a lot of columns, everywhere. They do end in
arches, with a lot of carved designs and artistic work (MM1, personal
communication, p. 104). The outdoors has an open plateau separating the
mosque building from the streets. There are no outer walls, though. The
grounds around the mosque are barren and have plants. It is decorated with
traditional tiles, zalleej. From the outside, one can notice the endowment
shops (waqf) concept present in this mosque. Before entering there are
one or two shops outside (MM1, personal communication, p. 103). These
shops are located outside the mosques boundaries. They sell everything.
You can find books related to Islam and religion, but you can also find many
other things, so the shops outside are related to the mosque (MM1,
personal communication, p. 103).
Modern and traditional elements are mixed in the mosque. The indoor
carpet is modern, while the outdoor is carpeted by traditional woven palm
tree leaf mats Haseer. That is mostly used on Friday prayers, where
worshipers overflow onto adjacent streets During Friday prayers, the
circulation stops outside (MM1, personal communication, p. 104).
So, adjacent open grounds to the mosque are turned into prayer grounds
when needed. This is conventional within the culture.
In the following is a list of place categories named and described by the
Pakistani male and female subgroups.
18.104.22.168.1 Male Subgroup
Memories of the Pakistani male group fall into six place categories. They
varied between city, neighborhood and countryside scales. These are:
mosques, homes, public recreational places, schooling institutions, work
places, and streets. Mosques are the most frequently mentioned place in
the interview, far more frequently than streets and work places. Homes
came second, while public recreational places were the third most
frequently mentioned place category, and schooling institutions fourth. In
the following section, I will illustrate the description given for each by the
22.214.171.124.1.1 City Scale
There are four place categories under the city scale. These are:
commercial, educational, recreational and mosques. In the following are the
categories as characterized by the participants.
126.96.36.199.1.1.1 Commercial Places
Three commercial places were described in the interview. A family furniture
retail business that is located in a furniture market, various endowment waqf
shops under a mosque and a weekly Bazaar. Each has a unique character.
The furniture market is a specialty market with individually owned shops. It
was in a main furniture market, mostly wooden furniture, but I added steel"
(PM6, personal communication, p. 15). The shops are deep linear places,
where furniture is exhibited in the main space, and the back is used for an
office/ social place. Socialization at the back of the shop is a daily activity.
We did not really play much there, because lots of customers would come
in, but we had pakoras and tea or samosas, those were the top thing, every
day (PM6, personal communication, p. 14).
Occasional markets are common too. They convene in a variety of time
intervals. The weekly and the cattle bazaar are described in the interviews.
Weekly bazaars occur in the city center where there would be adequate
space. In some cases, where the settlement has grown, it convenes
multiple times and may be in several places. About the center of the city
there will be a big ground area. So usually, when the population was small,
they would hold it only once a week, and then once the population
increased, they started holding it twice and then thrice a week on different
grounds just to serve different community (PM8, personal communication,
Weekly bazaars are specialized mainly in daily household goods. They
were governed by the city government (PM8, personal communication, p.
30). The place is described by one of the participants as a place where
there were no shops there but there were huge grounds dedicated to it
(PM4, personal communication, p. 28). They will have groups of vendors;
each is specialized in a cluster of similar goods. There were three different
regions, on the far right, there were vegetables and fruits, in the middle
area, there were sports goods and things like that, and on the far left, there
were spices and things like normal kitchen utensils. As you go inside
deeper, these sections keep on changing (PM4, personal communication,
p. 29). There are subgroups of each of the main groups based on similar
goods offered. It was divided, according specialty (PM4, personal
communication, p. 19).
The vendors will be mostly sitting on the ground in lines, and there will be
lots of bargaining between the vendors and the customers. Obviously there
was a lot of haggling between customers and those sellers about prices and
if you are not given the good stuff (PM4, personal communication, p. 28).
The result was that "the prices will be very competitive there compared to a
real shop (PM8, personal communication, p. 30) Shoppers would buy their
whole weeks needs and may take into service "Kholies (PM8, personal
communication, p. 30) to carry their goods.
The other form of an occasional market is the cattle market associated with
Eid. They commence a few weeks before Eid ulAdha. It is not permanent. I
think they brought the animals from other areas (PM1, personal
communication, p. 47). They tend to assemble outside city limits because
they are really messy (PM1, personal communication, p. 46).
The last form of commercial settings mentioned are the waqf shops
attached to main mosques.
There is a kind of a common practice in most of the towns
in India and Pakistan... the mosque will be higher up, and
the lower section will be a market. (PM7, personal
communication, p. 31)
These shops offer a variety of goods it could be silk, it could be clothes,
and it could be hardware, so they dont have to go far... everything in
different areas (PM7, personal communication, p. 31). These shops are
incorporated into the mosque in order to maintain the mosque financially
(PM7, personal communication, p. 31).
188.8.131.52.1.1.2 Educational Institutions
Schooling institutions are the fourth most frequently mentioned
environmental setting. Whether it is a school or a university, all were large in
size, and composed of several buildings within large closed compounds.
They accommodate various grade levels. ...It (the school) had such big
boundaries, so you can see its a school (PM8, personal communication, p.
7). ...there were three buildings in the school. One was the junior school,
the second was the prep school, and the third was the senior school (PM3,
personal communication, p. 21). The majority of the school compounds
were open game fields, with games that are most popular to the culture.
Almost 70% of it (the school) was just grounds, and 30% of
it was buildings, ... they had football grounds (soccer),
hockey grounds, a couple of basketball courts, and lots of
empty fields where we invented our own games. (PM8,
personal communication, p. 7)
The grounds also had about three or four football (soccer) grounds, the
ground for cricket, table tennis, every kind of sport you can think of and they
had a mosque there (PM3, personal communication, p. 21).
Main structures are multi-story buildings, two story buildings (PM8,
personal communication, p.6.) They are built of white brick it (the school)
was mostly brick. I mean the outside was brick. You can actually see the
brick outside, with the inside off-white in color (PM3, personal
communication, p. 20). The white color is the dominant color for schools.
Mostly the schools will be white (PM8, personal communication, p. 7).
The buildings may have other facilities besides class rooms. They may have
language laboratories, or a mosque. Because of the facilities offered in a
school, distance from home to school becomes trivial. The journey was
about 45 minutes to 1 hour... My parents chose that school because it was
one of the best schools in the town (PM3, personal communication, p.19).
University buildings have similar characteristics to schools, but are larger
and more complex. They are mostly modern, but may have a British colonial
core. The most vivid description I had of a university campus was of a
promenade-like walk within a closed campus. It was a walk which was well-
planted and manicured. lt was much maintained and, of course, itself lined
with trees and flowers and bushes (PM4, personal communication, p. 9).
There are sculptures and focal points around the path along which people
sat and socialized in groups.
In that particular case, experiencing the walkway in its physical and social
aspects was the ultimate goal of the walk, as opposed to an announced
destination, ...it was really the trip, because whenever when we used to go
there it was about to close... a good ten to fifteen minutes of walk (PM4,
personal communication, p. 9).
184.108.40.206.1.1.3 Recreation Areas
There was a variety of public recreational places mentioned in the interview.
They varied from an open ground next to a mosque to ones standing on
their own, from a colonial multi-functional stadium that is owned by the
government, to a cricket stadium built for charity by donors, from a public
park, and finally a club. A common theme across these places is that they
are all multi functional.