The Grid in Classical Islamic Urban Design and Its Application in Modern Planning
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This paper, reconstructs the earliest urban environments in which Muslims lived with a particular focus on the central (jami) mosque. The term Jami, according to Mohmmed Makki Sibai, is a derivative from either the Arabic verb jama, which means ‘to gather,’ or from the Arabic proper noun juma which means Friday (1987:8), implying in both instances a place where people pray. Yet in early Islam, the central (jami) mosque was more than just a communal prayer space, it was the “veritable hub” (Collins, 2011:17) of the community, addressing their social, political, and educational needs, as I will repeatedly highlight below. Through a morphological analysis of the early Islamic cities such as Medina, Al-Basrah, Al-Kufa, and Al-Fustat, I assess the spatial influence of the central (jami) mosque in early Muslim settlements. Specifically, I analyze the institution’s influence on the orientation of neighbourhoods, layout of streets, and location of the marketplace. In doing so, I highlight the socio-religious significance and importance of the institution for not only the traditional but contemporary Muslim communities as well, who seek to replicate the mosque-based neighbourhood design feature, in the Canadian urban landscape.