The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Urbanization of Madinah
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Spahic Omer
Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design
International Islamic University Malaysia
Jalan Gombak, 53100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Islamic theory of general planning and development is as old as the Muslim community. Its fundamental principles have been comprehensively laid in the Holy Qur’an, as well as in the sayings and practices of the Prophet (PBUH)[i]. Certainly, the best example of the earliest Islamic development and city planning is the establishment of the Muslim community in Madinah in the wake of the migration (Hijrah) from Makkah. Henceforth, the matter was evolving steadily, corresponding with both the rapid spread of Islam throughout the world and the incredible growth of the civilization and cultures inspired by the Islamic worldview. In this study, I attempted to identify and examine some principles of Islamic urban planning and development, which the Prophet (PBUH) under the aegis of revelation had bequeathed to the subsequent Muslim generations. Central to the study are some vital city planning and development issues as advanced by the Islamic perception of reality, truth, the world, space and time, and which the young Muslim mind was then intensively acquainting itself with. The issues discussed are: the philosophy of the Islamic city, the mosque institution, provision of social amenities, spirituality and development, peaceful coexistence with the environment, housing, the marketplace, and open spaces. By exploring these subjects, the strength and soundness of the fundamentals of the first Muslim community clearly come into sight, as does the visionary disposition of the Prophet (PBUH) to development, leadership, sustainability and management. The period covered by the study is the one which the first Muslims had spent in Madinah subsequent to the Hijrah, about the last ten years of the Prophet’s heavenly mission. Studying this period from the perspective of urban planning and development is of great importance indeed, because at the time of the Hijrah the ongoing revelation of Islam was already about thirteen years old and the Muslims were yet to set up a free and autonomous state of their own. Once the city of Madinah with most of its inhabitants wholeheartedly welcomed the new religion - so fiercely disapproved of by many where it had originated - the wait finally came to an end and the stage was set for broadening the focus of the nascent community’s undertakings. As a result, the focus of revelation was likewise widened. The religion of Islam thus began to assert itself as a universal code of life overlooking no segment of human existence, after having been portrayed essentially as an inclusive belief system during the entire precarious Makkan episode. From the point of planning and development, the entire Madinah period, the first half in particular, was exceptionally eventful too. This study aims, firstly, to help its readers identify and understand the essence, purpose and origins of the Islamic theory of general planning and development; secondly, to help its readers understand, appreciate and promote the extent of the Prophet’s interest in the idea of planning and development and its objectives; and thirdly, to play a part in clarifying and removing some pervasive misconceptions/misunderstandings about Islam and its Prophet (PBUH), in general, and about the nature and achievements of the early Muslim community in Madinah, in particular. The city is an actual organic entity and so must be studied as such. If one wanted to understand really a city, its form, function and spatial arrangement, plus the values and decisions on which the former rests, one must try hard to experience it as if he is one of its users, as if he is of those affected by the said values and decisions. One, furthermore, ought to possess...
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