Visual Dhikr™
returning to remembrance

London Eye architects to design new Cambridge Mosque

Award-winning architects Marks Barfield, working in association with Professor Keith Critchlow, have been appointed by the Muslim Academic Trust to design the new Cambridge mosque. Marks Barfield are internationally-renowned for striking projects such as the London Eye and the Kew Treetop Walkway.

On behalf of the Trust, Chairman Tim Winter said:

‘Moving the mosque to this new location represents a hugely exciting opportunity for Cambridge. Working with Marks Barfield, we can create on the Mill Road site a superb place of worship to replace the overcrowded facility on Mawson Road.

‘This building will be truly inclusive, sustainable, safe, secure and respectful of the neighbourhood. It will be a landmark building which will inject new life into the Mill Road area of Cambridge of which the local and wider Cambridge community can be proud’.

Located a few hundred yards from the current Mawson Road mosque, in a predominantly residential neighbourhood, the new building will stand on the site of the derelict Robert Sayle warehouse, while retaining and enlarging the existing community garden at the front.

The new design has the additional advantage of including ample space for off road parking in a new underground garage.

Rising from 2 storeys to a maximum height of 3 storeys above ground level, the new building will be consistent with the height, scale and massing of the surrounding built environment.

The overall design for the site has been developed from the concept of a calm ‘oasis’, with the ‘trees’ set out on a generous 7.8 x 7.8 metre grid forming the main mosque structure. The concept will be reinforced across the site with about 20 new cypress trees creating a new permeable green edge around the building. The ‘oasis’ will offer a significant new open space in a built-up area of Victorian terraced houses.

The façade of the complex will be completed in brick, complementing the materials already used in the neighbourhood. Integrating site services, offices and residential accommodation the building will be set in a hard and soft-landscaped area. Car parking and mechanical plant will be located in the single basement level with bicycle racks at street level.

Inside, the new Mosque will accommodate a congregation of up to 1000 men and women. In addition to the Mosque’s dedicated areas (ablution, teaching, children’s area, morgue) there will be a café, teaching area and meeting rooms for use by the local Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

‘The new Mosque will be a real neighbourhood as well as a spiritual centre, easily accessible by public transport and on foot, with facilities for formal and informal community group meetings as well as a leisure destination,’ said Tim Winter.

Green issues have been paramount in the design. The building will be naturally lit throughout the year, very well-insulated and heated and cooled using energy efficient and locally generated energy from ground source heat pumps.

In the coming months the mosque project team will consult local stakeholder groups in the process of preparing the detailed scheme and planning application in 2010. The balance of the funding for the £13m project is being sought from a number of donors and benefactors.


Thursday, October 22, 2009 |

The "American Qur'an" - art or blasphemy?

From TimesOnline

Bess writes:
This is an image from the “American Qur’an”, a series of pictures matching Sura or specific chapters from the Islamic holy book to recent American disasters such as Hurricane Karina, and wildfires in California or else scenes from contemporary America: gangsters, migrants labouring in fields, etc.
So far the artist Sandow Birk has copied half the Qur’an’s 114 Suras onto 16 x 24 inch panels, in a style reminiscent of urban graffiti.

They are now on display in San Francisco and Culver City near Los Angeles. Eventually the plan is to the turn the panels into a book reports AP.

Birk admits the concept is Christian: “When you go to a church here, the minister read a passage from the Bible and then he spends 30 minutes talking about, “How does this passage relate to your life in the 21st century?” That’s a familiar way that Americans have of dealing with religious texts.”

Creative – certainly – but is it blasphemy? The Qur’an forbids the making of idols, says this piece in the LA Times, the hadith contains restrictions on the use of figurative imagery.
The issue, it concludes, is open to interpretation.

Obviously, the question of which verses Birk matches with which event is highly interesting. For 9/11 - depicted above - for instance, he choses Sura 44 (10-12)

44:10 But watch thou (O Muhammad) for the day when the sky will produce visible smoke

44:11 That will envelop the people. This will be a painful torment.

44:12 (Then they will say): Our Lord relieve us of the torment. Lo! we are believers.

Is this just a case of match-up-the-verse-to-the-event? Or is this a call to convert to Islam? Amboy's take? [it]"implies that the 9/11 attacks were Allah's punishment for not accepting Islam." What do you think?

Ruh's comment:

This is a situation that Muslims often hate to see, verses from the Qur'an (or any Holy Text for that matter) being taken completely out of context. This artwork is merely the artist trying to use the controversy that surrounds Muslim issues to generate talk and interest. The verses used are entirely the artists interpretation and a deliberate attempt to define a meaning.

The other concern that many Muslims will have is the use of figurative work alongside the holy verses of the Qur'an. Again the artist must have known this is an issue and widely held interpretation (hence the lack of any figurative work in mosques), so it seems quite deliberate.

Islam is not like Christianity and nobody speaks for God, in Islam, or what has occured in any given situation. Muslims largely regard 9/11, along with other senseless terrorism, as one of the most disgusting and un-Islamic acts against humanity.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 |

Cairo's Museum of Islamic Art to reopen

I never managed to visit the museum but glad to see it being reopened soon...

After years of restoration work on its fine neo-Mameluke buildings and exhibitions of Islamic art, Cairo's Museum of Islamic Art is close to reopening to the public. Nevine El-Aref took a tour.

On Port Said Street in the Bab Al-Khalq area of Cairo stands the lofty, honey- coloured edifice of the Museum of Islamic Art, its neo-Mameluke architecture and luxurious façade featuring the rich patterns and elaborate decoration of the Islamic style.

However, inside the institution the picture that greets visitors will soon be far less familiar. Following years of restoration work, visitors to the museum will soon be able to roam around spacious galleries showcasing the museum's collection of rare wooden, metal, ceramic, glass, rock crystal and textile objects from across the Islamic world.

Following years of negligence, the Museum of Islamic Art has finally been undergoing comprehensive rehabilitation not only of its building and interior design, but also of its exhibition design and displays.

"Restoring the Museum of Islamic Art is an ambitious and challenging task that illustrates Egypt's commitment to preserving one of the country's Islamic institutions, in addition to its Pharaonic and Coptic heritage," Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni said in an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly.

Hosni added that over the last five years, renovation work to the tune of LE85 million had been carried out at the museum, with work continuing until December 2009 when the institution will celebrate its official reopening.

Full Article