Shaban / Ramadan 1423 H
Volume 15-11 No : 191
Camps \ Workshops
The elements of Islamic garden design are driven from
descriptive verses of paradise garden in the Quran and Hadith
The Islamic garden tradition has been particularly international. It developed to its greatest heights in different parts of the world at different periods of time. When Islam swept across most of the Middle East and spread eastwards to the Pacific and westwards to the Atlantic, the Islamic garden tradition adopted from and adapted to an array of contemporary cultures. Although Islamic gardens could be found in diverse areas of the world, these gardens still had a great deal of similarity and undeniable physical unity. Historians have often researched this point trying to understand the reasons for this similitude. Having examined this aspect of the Islamic gardens, Newton concluded that “this similarity is not a matter of detailed form, or an apparent physical sameness. It is a unity of spirit over a 1000 years, among people united in religious beliefs, but diverse in geography and racial origin”.
It is not difficult to observe that the fundamental unity that Islamic gardens display over different regions and periods of time is attributable to the oneness of the source of inspiration: the Islamic faith. The elements of Islamic garden design are driven from descriptive verses of paradise garden in the Quran and Hadith. In 164 verses, the Quran provides a vivid description of the layout, water, shade, walls, gates, and pavilions of paradise garden. This article presents five elements of design, fundamental to an Islamic garden design that are based on and driven from the detailed description of paradise garden in the Quran and Hadith.
The typical layout of an Islamic garden is divided into four quarters by water channels or walkways with a water fountain or basin at its center. This quadripartite layout developed from the ancient Persian prototype mainly influenced by irrigation systems, and the Gardens of Paradise as described in the Quran and Hadith. In his ascent to heaven (Meraj) Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) describes four rivers; one of purified water, one of milk, one of honey, and one of wine. These four rivers are also mentioned in the Qur’an: “in it are rivers of water incorruptible, rivers of milk of which the taste never change, rivers of wine, a joy to those who drink, and rivers of honey pure and clear.” (Quran, Surah Muhammad).
The quadripartite layout of the Islamic garden became the principal symbol of the Quranic paradise garden. However, water remains its supreme element of design, both on a physical and metaphysical level. Most of the Muslim world is dominated by arid and semi-arid environment. In such terrain, the aridity and harshness of the burning sun explain the significance of water for life. In the Qur’an, numerous verses refer to rain -metaphorically- as God’s mercy. “He.....sendeth down water from the sky, and thereby quickeneth the earth after her death.” However, water contains within itself aesthetic properties as well. The verse “Gardens underneath which rivers flow” was mentioned over thirty times in different surahs. The Quran refers to its dynamic and calm forms. “As to the Righteous, they will be in the midst of Gardens and Rivers.” And “In them (both) will be two springs pouring forth water in continuous abundance” (Al-Rahman:50).
The Kauther which was promised to Prophet Muhammad is a heavenly fountain which gives the faithful an eternal bliss.
|Vegetation and Shade|
The Quranic description of heavenly gardens are rather consistent and provide vivid impression of greenery, trees, lushness, gushing fountains, delicious fruit, and unimaginative beauty. Shade is a significant feature in paradise gardens. The joy and cool it offers can only be grasped by those who have experienced the high temperature and suffocating heat of the desert. In the Quran, God promises shade to his faithful believers. “Spreading shade” is an expression posed in the Quran as part of the reward that awaits the believers and righteous. “We shall admit them to shades, cool and ever deepening” (Quran Al-Nisa).
The Islamic garden drew a superb vocabulary of trees, shrubs and vegetation from the Quran. Fruit trees were planted in abundance. They provided shade, food, and colour.
Both the Quran and Hadith provide intricate description of pavilions where the righteous reside. “He who has good disposition shall have a house built for him in the highest apartment of paradise”.
In the cool pavilions of paradise, there will be couches lined with brocade. The garments of the righteous will be of silk and brocade, and they will be ornamented with bracelets of gold and silver. These pavilions that God prepared for the righteous are precisely described to be built elevated over running water. “For those who fear their Lord, that lofty mansions one above another, have been built: Beneath them flow rivers” (Quran, Al-Zumar:20).
|Walls and Gates|
Notwithstanding its enormous scale, paradise seems rather an enclosed garden, surrounded by walls. The Quran describes the arrival of the righteous at the gates of paradise. “And those who feared their Lord will be led to the Garden in crowds: Until behold, they arrive there: Its gates will be opened.....” (Quran, Al-Zumar:73). And “Gardens of Eternity, whose doors will (ever) be open to them” (Qur’an, Saad:50)
Islamic gardens were built by Arabs, Persians, Mughuls, and Turks. They were superimposed on indigenous cultures that preceded Islam, spanning from India to Spain. And yet, they display a fundamental unity over different regions and times. Paradise Quranic imagery provided the link among Islamic gardens. 164 different verses of the Quran and some Hadith provided the characteristic form and design vocabulary of the Islamic garden; the quadripartite design, water features, shade, vegetation, elevated pavilions, walls and gates.
The writer is Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, West Virginia University and can be reached at Hala.Nassar@mail.wvu.edu
The Western version of "Islamic terrorism" is itself a perversion of Islam.
The unleashed squads of 'Islamic terrorists' are manufactured by the enemies of Islam
to trigger a global anti-Islamic backlash and set the stage for war against Muslim States
The paradox of “Islamic terrorism” striking at Muslim countries (like the bombings of a club in Bali, Indonesia), confirms an insidious pattern of “Islamophobia” artificially manufactured in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Based on speculation and no evidence, the first suspects in any current global bombings reportedly point to “Islamic terrorism.” Indeed, the 9/11 airliner-hijackings, used as a justification for launching an Anglo-American war on Afghanistan, have to date led to no conclusive evidence that either Al-Qaeda or other “Islamic terrorist” networks perpetrated the bombings. The Indonesian blasts, under sheer speculation, were instantly attributed to “a close network of Islamic militants,’ specifically the Jemaat Islamiyah, an Indonesian- based group supposedly affiliated to Al-Qaeda. Before the bombings, on September 28, addressing the Congress of the Indonesian National Youth Committee, KNPI, the Indonesian Vice-President, Hamzah Haz (without mentioning the U.S.), urged ‘foreign countries’ to stop breeding Indonesia as a ‘hotbed of terrorism,’ and inciting global animosities against this country. The Vice-President stressed that the United Development Party, (Hasyim Muzadi), the largest Muslim political party, consisting of previously moderate Muslim leaders and 40-million strong, and the Nahdlatul Ulama, the Pjaafil Ma’arif of 30- million strong, had criticised the U.S. presence in Indonesia. Despite these objections by Muslim leaders (with new opposition to American forces in Pakistan by the clergy in the recent Pakistan elections), “Islamic terrorism” has become an epidemic spreading through the Muslim world and elsewhere, utilised as a pretext for waging wars from Afghanistan to Iraq and now, Indonesia. President George W. Bush’s doctrine of “pre-emptive strikes” has made Indonesia the latest target, unleashing hordes of FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and other intelligence agents under the so-called pretext of ‘smoking out’ the Muslim terrorists. However, the strategy of infiltrating foreign nations and expanding military bases worldwide, again under the terrorist pretext, has become a transparent pattern for increasing launch-pads in the Anglo-American war in the Middle East, or entrenching a global military hegemony under imperialist domination. In the latest Anglo-American war-plan, the amassment of imperialist troops in Oman, Qatar, and other bases displays the military ‘take-over’ of sovereign nations. Most of these, with puppet governments blackmailed or ‘terrorised’ by American military hardware, have capitulated to infiltration under the false premise of Bush’s anti-terror war. But the American proposal for military strikes against Iraq has come under opposition from the international community at the United Nations, with France’s President Jacques Chirac firmly opposed to U.S. military action and Russian President, Vladimir Putin backing this, isolating the Anglo-American machinations for perpetuating a global war. Notwithstanding the opposition, George Bush has vowed to proceed ‘unilaterally’ (albeit softening his war-rhetoric under Security Council pressures) since the U.S. Congress has overwhelmingly supported his ‘pre-emptive doctrine.’
While the wave of ‘Islamophobia,’ or anti-Muslim propaganda, has spread worldwide, targeting nations with vast Muslim population like Indonesia (thus weakening their opposition to an imperialist war against a Muslim nation), the Muslim community within the United States has also been ‘neutralised,’ terrorised by the current administration’s policies in the post-9/11 period. Muslims and Arabs have been reportedly targeted by IIRIRA (Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act), an immigration reform bill that was signed by president Clinton in 1996. The Homeland Security Department headed by Tom Ridge gives unfettered authorisation to officials to detain, arrest or spy on civilians. Arab residents in the U.S. under persecution and harassment live in perpetual panic and fear of government retaliation. The sort of McCarthyism or type of witch-hunt that targeted civilians under the Truman administration has been revived against Muslims, Middle Easterners and other foreigners. Despite the government line that the country unanimously backs a war against Iraq, the majority of Americans do not, and the purpose of the September 11 bombings themselves is viewed by many as targeting the U.S. population itself.
The Western version of “Islamic terrorism” is itself a perversion of Islam. The imperialist Establishment was responsible for creating the Taliban-fundamentalist, or pseudo-religious fascism, which distorts the image of Islam as a religion propagating peaceful co-existence and tolerance for other faiths. Extremism, or ‘fundamentalism’ is fundamentally oxymoronic in Islam. Further, suicide or suicide-bombers targeting civilians is another violation of the Islamic doctrine, that prohibits suicide. The unleashed squads of ‘Islamic terrorists’ are manufactured by the ‘enemies of Islam’ to trigger a global anti-Islamic backlash and set the stage for war against Muslim states. The pseudo-religiosity in whose name these terrorist networks operate is also the kind of pseudo-religiosity typical of cults, specifically those fomented by the so-called Armageddon Millennarians of the Christian-Zionist factions promoting global warfare, particularly targeting the Arab world, where they strive to rebuild the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. But behind this pseudo-religiosity and its apocalyptic designs are materialistic imperialist schemes of global domination and the destruction of civilization through a feudal and Satanic perversion of faith. By spreading confusion within and outside the ranks of Islam, through the escalation of worldwide catastrophes and bombings, the string-pullers hope to achieve their ends. The Muslims enlisted in the suicide-programs masterminded by the imperialists are themselves intimidated and sometimes coerced into terrorism by threats to their families or themselves. But in the final analysis, the destructive forces manipulating religion, the Islamic religion in particular, to further their ends are short- sighted. They have overlooked the backlash of all the economic dislocation through global wars that will self-destruct their own mission. Already, since “Islamic terrorism” was manufactured and deployed in America, the U.S. economy is plunging to its lowest levels since World War II. Just as Hitler made his ‘putsch’ into Poland and unleashed World War II, they will bring the world down with them in a holocaust of humanity. The irrationalism behind this self- defeating doctrine only confirms that their so-called ‘fundamentalist’ religion is, in fact, a mask for pre-fabricated ‘syncretic’ or Satanist cults.
The writer is based in
Hyderabad and can be reached at