Islamic architecture creativity and science


Architecture advanced as a science and a profession in Islamic civilization, and the one who looks at the heritage of Islamic architecture from China to Andalusia, its construction and engineering amaze him, and it is evidence that behind this architecture there is science, experience, and cumulative knowledge that requires us Meditation and perception.

The importance of Islamic architecture as a cultural heritage

The Islamic heritage in architecture and interior design is considered a true recording of the culture of society.

It is a product of the material heritage and aesthetic formations that have persisted and proven their originality and value in the continuous face, change and successive artistic revolutions, and even forced the world to respect them.

Therefore, the concept of Islamic heritage in architecture and interior design contains two basic parts: - 

The intellectual part, which is represented by cultural concepts, ideas, beliefs, and values, refering to metal geometry, it s what is known and understood, or it is called theoretical geometry, and it is included in The scope of mathematical science, defined as follows: “Science from which the conditions of quantities are known".

The material part that is evident in the works and things that become the property of the heirs, that points out sensory material, or practical engineering: which is what is seen with the eye, perceived by touch, and is useful practically , that is, applied engineering, which includes the construction industry, housing architecture, mosques, facilities, canal construction, etc. of construction works.

Which brings us to the interpretation  of the life of human society, as it is a product of the experiences, skills and creativity that society has produced throughout its history.

The Arabs’ awareness of the idea of planning, whether in terms of dividing the land into building plans, or the general plan for construction, This is what prompts us to recall their ability to urban plan cities and dimensions and to set rules for this planning In which society is strongly active with the authority to preserve the urban plan, surpassing Islamic civilization in this Track all other civilizations.

Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi describes the buildings of Fustat in Egypt and their precision, revealing the progress of architecture as follows: 

 “As for their buildings, they have ingenious engineering and purposeful arrangement, and they place their homes towards the north, where there are fresh winds, and their markets Their streets are wide, their buildings are tall, and they are built with carved stone and red brick, in the shape of their bricks. Half of Iraq's bricks are built, and they are so good at designing toilet channels, that the house is destroyed while the channel is standing"   

The role of the Islamic engineer 

The engineer had a distinctive role in Islamic architecture, and this role remained unknown because researchers did not realize its nature and assumed it Principled due to its similarity to the role of the engineer in the current era. 


Al-Qalqashandi defines the engineer as:

 “He is the one who arranges and estimates buildings, and judges the masters of their manufacture.” Ibn Khaldun defines him as: “the one who works in engineering.” as for architecture, it is the science of buildings, their construction, and their differences. And lands and their area, and the construction of rivers, and the purification of canals, and the construction of bridges, and so on. 

An engineer is called an architect or builder.

Al-Farabi and geometry

Al-Farabi (d. 339 AH/950 AD) distinguished between the science of geometry and its applied practice, and said: 

“As for the science of Engineering is known as two sciences: practical engineering and theoretical engineering"


The process looks at lines and surfaces, and at a wooden body, whether the one using it is a carpenter, or an iron body if he is a blacksmith, or in a wall body if he is a builder, or on the surfaces of two lands If a farmer is a surveyor, as well as every practical engineer, he imagines in himself lines, surfaces, and squares And triangulation and rotation in the body of matter, which is the subject of that practical industry.

However, Ibn Khaldun was precise and decisive in his definition of the architect, who was working at the same time As a structural engineer, since in that era the two specializations were not separated, he says:

 “Engineering, it is the science of buildings, their construction, their differences, lands and their area, building rivers, purifying canals, constructing bridges, and so on. on the architect or builder"

Branches of sensory engineering

Sensory engineering has several scientific branches, including: 

  • The science of building contracts, which is a science from which the conditions of buildings are known, and how to dig  rivers and purify canals, it is used to fill holes and put together dwellings, and its benefit is great in the construction of cities, castles, and houses, and in agriculture.
  • The science of surveying: it is currently known the rules of lines, surfaces, and bodies, and what  equals  the line, square, and cube, and its benefit is great in the matter of tax, dividing two lands, and estimating other dwellings   

Urban jurisprudence

It was also related to the jurisprudence of urbanization in Islamic civilization, which is a science that is needed in surveying or measuring lands, digging canals, determining the heights of mountains and the depths of valleys, calculating the areas of surfaces of various shapes, as well as finding the sizes of solids, and the science of space.

There are many manuscripts of surveying in the Islamic heritage, the most prominent of which is a manuscript by Abu Abbas Ahmad ibn al-Banna al-Marakshi Its title is “Cadastral Figures,” and it is useful for architects or employees conducting surveys lands for the benefit of the Kharaj (kinds of tax), or others who are interested in the applied aspects of engineering rules.

Division and divider

Division is the collection of common shares in a specific place, but it grows with practice.

The reason for this is the request of the partners or one of them to benefit from his share, so we find in the records of the Sharia courts a major role for the divider, especially in cases of conflict, inheritance, or selling a share in a property.

Therefore, the judges used to appoint a divider of people of jurisprudence and honesty, so that some people would not be tempted to take bribes, it was stipulated that the divider should be just, trustworthy, and knowledgeable, and the divider should receive his reward from the treasury, because The division is of the type of judicial work.

The judge should not force people to hire a divider, because if he did that, the divider would be judged the people.

The divider should record what he divides, that is, he should record what he divides on paper, so that he can memorize or modify it, that is, leveling it on the stocks of division, so that it can know its value and evaluate its structure, as it may be needed in the end, and sort out all a section, that is, it distinguishes it from the rest in a way, so that the share of some of them does not have any relation to the share of others, and thus a meaning is achieved distinguishing and separating perfection.

Water extraction science

It is a science from which you learn how to extract the water hidden in the earth and reveal it, and its benefit is reviving dead lands and cultivating them.

The science of pulling weights

It is a science that demonstrates how to pull heavy machinery, and its benefit is transporting great weight with little force.


It is a science from which it becomes clear how to find the instruments that determine time, and its benefit is knowing the times of worship, and extracting omens from planets and parts of the zodiac.

Therefore, he called the engineer who works in the applied field “architect,” and he mentioned this title The inscriptions of Islamic antiquities have two meanings: one refers to the engineer or builder, and the other refers to the person responsible for supervision on architecture.

Therefore, a distinction must be made between the architect, who designs and plans buildings, and the “architect,” who he supervises the implementation of architectural projects, this is a functional distinction that clearly appeared during the Mamluk era in Egypt.

Honest service engineer

Some engineers - in addition to their work - may perform the work of constructing buildings, that is, the architect becomes a designer of The building, and at the same time - he generally supervises those working in its construction, confirms what he mentioned Ibn Iyas reported that the dome of Imam al-Shafi’i was renovated by order of Sultan Qaytbay in Ramadan 885 AH.

If an engineer joined the Royal Buildings, he would be entitled an “honorable service engineer, this title indicates the position of the engineer in the Mamluk era, and among the titles that the architect was called in In the Mamluk era, the title of “teacher” was given to the chief engineer, and the chief engineer was called “the teacher of engineers”.


Mamluk documents called the sect of architects “masters of architectural expertise,” and singled out engineers among their members, the Mamluk era is considered the most prominent era of Islamic civilization in which architecture flourished as a science and art, as for documents from the Ottoman era, they were called “the sect of builders and engineers''.

At the top of the sect's pyramid is its sheikh, while the syndicators and the rest of the members form the body and base of the pyramid, the sheikh of the sect in the Mamluk era was called “the chief architect” and “the architectural teacher.” as for documents from the Ottoman era, they called the chief architect “Sheikh of Engineers” or “Sheikh.” Engineers sect in Egypt.

Architect Pasha

Architect Pasha is responsible for the development sect and is its head, although he resembles a very great man in the Mamluk era in that he is placed at the top of the sect’s hierarchy and assumed its presidency.

It appears that in many cases he had no special skills regarding construction or architecture, Architect Pasha had twelve building trades in his sect, and documents state members the sect of architect used to choose Architect Pasha for his good qualities, and so they would go to the judge and ask him to appoint him as their sheikh(syndicator), provided that he respects the rules, laws and ancient Sunnah of the sect, and the judge responds to their request, and since the members The sect has the right to choose Mimar Pasha, and they also have the right to remove him and install someone else If he violates what is assigned to him.

This organization reminds us of what was followed in Andalusia in architectural projects, from the dominance of the sheikh of the scholars over The sects of the builders and their organization of their work, as Ibn Sahib al-Salaa mentions about the construction of the mosque and minaret of Seville. “And in this year - that is, the year 567 AH - in the month of Ramadan, the Commander of the Faithful began to plan a place, this mosque, and the sheikh of the masters, Ahmed bin Basa, was brought to it, along with the masters of the builders from the people of Hazrat Marrakesh, the city of Fez, and the people of Adwa, and he gathered in Seville among them, including carpenters, sawyers, and construction workers, in numbers. every type, skilled craftsmen of all types.

The builders

It is a name for someone who is professional in the construction profession, whether with stone, brick, or otherwise, and the construction work may extend to carving and engraving stones, decorating walls and ceilings and covering them with faience, and perhaps to architecture as well.

It was common in documents to give builders the title of teacher, and sometimes the builder performed the work of an engineer, he designs the building, then builds it and supervises it, Islamic manuscripts are filled with many different images, which depict In which the construction process is accurate and realistic, these photographs showed the finest details that can be seen during construction one of the palaces, castles, houses, or even mosques, the interest of artists and photographers in photographing the moment of its construction.

Quality control

During the Ottoman era, the work of members of the architectural sects was subject to close supervision by the architect Bashi, sheikhs and mayors of the sects who were all responsible for the work being done in the best possible way, and when a complaint came from the building owner against a member of the architectural sects due to his fraud in building materials, or failure to observe the principles of the industry, it was Senior members of the sect go to the workplace and inspect the work, and in the event that the manufacturer’s fraud and lack of care are proven, due to the principles and rules of craftsmanship, a penalty was imposed on the manufacturer.






































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