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Making Space for God: Reclaiming a Transformative Approach to Islamic Architecture

Nevine Nasser
One Design Studio, London, England
nevine@o-n-e-design.com

Introduction

This paper attempts to identify and articulate the principal dimensions of a transformative approach to Islamic architecture by examining the relationship between sacred space and spiritual experience. The central aim is to explore whether conforming to a hierarchical order of existence enables the ontological nature and metaphysical roots of Islamic architecture to be expressed in form. Such an investigation emerges as part of a wider enquiry into the nature of creativity and ultimately, of existence and offers a methodology for aligning an architect’s creative and spiritual practices.

An ontological hermeneutic approach is developed that examines the relationship between theory, architecture, creative practice and spiritual practice by drawing on the Quran, Sufism, phenomenological experiences of sacred space and a number of multi-disciplinary sources. It utilises mixed methods, drawing on action research, practice-as-research, transpersonal research, Angela Voss’ methodology of the imagination, phenomenology, and grounded theory. By undertaking textual analysis, case study research and practice-as-research underpinned by direct engagement, collaboration and a willingness to examine personal transcendent experiences and spiritual practice, the work may be situated within a broader concept of research in relation to the wider academic context.

The research found that the intuitive and contemplative processes underlying design practice are intimately related to spiritual practice, a relationship shown to have historically informed the inner dimensions of making in the Islamic tradition. The spiritual states fostered as individuals on a spiritual path, and magnified by group practice, awaken this transformative quality. Working collaboratively and recognising the spiritual aspirations of others are also crucial aspects of this process, aided by shared experiences of spiritual practice.

Definitions

The definition of sacred space draws on Mircea Eliade’s notion of an axis mundi – a place that connects the physical and spiritual worlds and embodies a cosmological order.1 However, it diverges from Eliade’s understanding of ‘sacred’ as opposite to ‘profane.’2 Such a distinction is not made in Islam as it considers all things to stem from the will of God.3 In pre-modern Islam, sacred space was not exclusive to religious architecture, which brought together diverse functions under one roof.4 However, with progressive secularisation in the Muslim world, these functions became separated and Islamic religious architecture was used solely for spiritual practice and became classified as ‘sacred space.’ The term ‘sacred space’ is therefore a necessary divergence from the classic Islamic view which considers sacralisation to be a function of spiritual practice.’5 In this way, Islamic sacred space offers the potential for participating in Divine Unity through an experience of oneness, referred to in Islam as Tawḥīd.

A definition of spiritual experience benefits from Rudolf Otto’s conception of ‘the numinous experience,’ defined as a non-rational, non-sensory experience that is awakened or evoked.6 He explains that occasionally architecture is capable of direct representations of the numinous resulting from interplays of darkness, silence and emptiness that have a mystical effect.7 In Sufism, mystical revelation (Arabic: ma’rifa) underpins transcendent experience and is a function of the spiritual heart (Arabic: qalb).8 The Arabic word ‘qalb’ means the central part or essence of something and is derived from the root verb q-l-b which means ‘to turn something inside out, inverting, transforming.’9

Fundamental Principles

Sufi spiritual practices are designed to awaken, transform and develop the hearts infinite capacity to plumb the universe of consciousness as a means to self-realisation and God-consciousness.10 The heart is likened to sacred space, as the place of submission and locus of knowing that is experienced as love. In Islam, the whole of existence forms a space for God to reveal Himself.11 Everything came into existence from non-being through the being of God (the Divine Essence, Arabic: al-Ḏhāt). It is as though the pure Essence held its breath until it could no longer do so and existence appeared as the breath of God (nafas ar-Rahmān).12

I was a Hidden Treasure, so I loved to be known. Hence I created the creatures that I may be known.

This sacred narration (HadithQudsi) captures two processes, the descent, where God becomes manifest through love, and the ascent, the longing of human beings, who are the result of that love, to return to their origin. Love is the motive for both the descent and ascent.13

An analogous relationship between spiritual experience and sacred space is identified that is expressed through symbolism, mediated by the heart and enhanced by contemplative practice. The capacity to experience existence as a symbol of God, is directly related to the degree that the heart is awakened through spiritual practice.14 Symbolism is considered to actualise communion with the Divine. It reveals spiritual meaning and supports spiritual experience. Symbolic forms can bring about new knowledge or states of being, whether or not there is a conscious understanding of their meanings.15 How does this process of actualisation occur? To answer that question would be to move away from Art-historical interpretations of semiotic architectural vocabularies constituted of ‘signs,’ which in my opinion, has caused the transformative capacity of Islamic architecture to be mostly lost to contemporary designs.

The principle zāhir wa bātin (seen and unseen) plays a fundamental role in understanding and designing Islamic sacred space. It is a unifying principle that reconciles dualities by revealing the illusion of polarity that is characteristic of the physical realm and transcended in spiritual experiences of Tawḥīd (Oneness).16 It points to an integral unity in which zāhir and bātinare seen as two poles of one continuum. In the context of practice, viewing challenges in relation to this principle helps to resolve dichotomies such as contemporary/traditional, worldly/spiritual, exterior/interior and public/private.

Reclaiming the Wisdom of the Past

The research examines the principle features of transformative examples of classic Islamic architecture that can be reclaimed in the creation of a contemporary Sufi Centre in London, England.17 These principle features informed the development of a framework of archetypal languages, constituted of symbolism, geometry, light and sound by exploring their metaphysical and ontological roots through textual and case study research. The buildings were selected based on the transformative experiences they had inspired in myself and others whilst also representing the diversity of pre-modern Islamic architecture.18 These archetypal languages informed poetic designs that continue to inspire the remembrance and glorification of God as the Source of existence into the present time.19 The principle zāhir wa bātin underpins understandings of the metaphysical and ontological dimensions of these archetypal languages, revealed in terms of interchangeable binaries such as form/meaning, solid/void, light/darkness and sound/silence. The architectural techniques utilised to create contemplative physical forms that functioned as conduits to higher spiritual realities were studied and inspired the creation of context-sensitive meanings and manifestations in the Sufi Centre. The design process aimed to transcend mimetic processes, allowing new views of existing principles to unfold in the act of interpretation, thereby contributing towards the evolution of traditional ideas. The work also attempted to reconcile traditional design principles and techniques with contemporary architectural issues and challenges.

The process of relinking with the wisdom of the past recalls Adrian Snodgrass’ concept of ‘dynamic repetition,’ described as, ’A retrieval of possibilities… A mode of interpretation in which new aspects of what is being interpreted… unfold in the act of interpretation.’20 Dynamic repetition is compared to Gilles Deleuze’s understanding of assemblages on the plane of immanence that gain power from the way they are repeated and interlinked as part of an essential and ceaseless process.21 These views come together in the Islamic notion of spiritual interpretation (ta’wīl), where the literal appearance of something (zāhir) is interpreted and referred back to the hidden principle or archetype that determines its nature (bātin).22 The word ‘ta’wīl’derives from the Arabic root a-w-lmeaning ‘to turn back’ which echoes the process by which the interpretation of symbols leads back to a Divine origin.23 Ta’wīlis the means by which the multilevelled meaning of symbols is revealed, which is dependent on the interpretative level, spiritual state and personal capacity of the viewer and on a hierarchical view of existence.

The connection between symbolism and the hierarchy of existence is reflected in the etymological root of the word ‘symbolism’ – the Greek verb symballein (to agglomerate), where symbols in different cosmological and ontological realms are joined together forming an integral unity. Henry Corbin states, ‘A symbol guarantees the correspondence between two universes belonging to different ontological levels: it is the means, and the only one, of penetrating into… the esoteric dimension.’ In Sufi thought, existence emanates through a hierarchical order from the Oneness of God to the physical realm, like gradations of light varying in intensity, where each level is like a shadow of the previous one.24 These cosmological realms have corresponding ontologies, referred to as ‘presences’ (hadarāt).25 In this context, this hierarchical order is articulated in terms of three key realms; the physical realm (al-Mulk), the intermediary realm (alMalākūt) and the spiritual realm (al-Jabārūt), with their respective organs of perception; the senses, the imagination (khayāl) and the heart (qalb).26 The imagination is meditative, productive and reliant on mystical revelation (ma’rifa) which suggests it is a function of the spiritual heart.27 It is important to avoid reductive understandings of the levels of existence, which in reality are fully integrated in line with Tawḥīd(Oneness). The structure is merely a cognitive map that informs the principles of traveling back to God on the spiritual path. Literalist, reductive understandings of separate levels may contribute to the disparity between Traditionalist, Art-historical, and Phenomenological perspectives on the study of Islamic architecture. These perspectives may become more integrated by assigning each to its correct level of enquiry in relation to the hierarchical model of existence.28 The parable of the blind men and an elephant comes to mind here!29

The imagination is the place where the images of the archetypal world are revealed, allowing each realm to symbolise with each other by virtue of real corresponding subtle or spiritual forms which provides the foundation for an analogical knowledge.30 For each symbol in the physical world a sequence of archetypes (amthāl) exist like rungs in a ladder that culminate in the Divine Essence.31 Corbin’s doctrine Mundus Imaginalis (the imaginal realm) explicates how it mediates between the physical and spiritual realms.32 It recalls the Quranic notion of the barzakh (liminal space).33 Macrocosmically, the barzakh separates the physical and spiritual worlds, whilst reflecting both of their attributes.34 Microcosmically, the barzakh is the self (nafs) that mediates between spirit (rūh) and body (jism),35 or the heart.36 The imaginal realm begins beyond the sphere of sensory perception and is reached only by internalising or travelling inwards. The difference between subtle and physical entities is described in terms of an inversion that occurs at the limits of the physical world, where rather than existing in their world, as in the physical realm, their world exists in them. The entities through the realms subsist independently and exist simultaneously; each entity is contained ‘in’ the other.37

For Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the transformative power of Islamic sacred space originates in the inner realities (ḥaqā’iq) of the Quran, the primary realities of the cosmos and the Prophetic Substance from which flows the Muḥammadan grace (al-barakāt al-muḥammadiyyah), also referred to as fayḍ or barakah; translated as divine energy emanating from the Divine Essence which enables spiritual transformation.38 Fayḍ inspires the creative act and allows spiritual principles to crystallise in the corporeal world. Creative success is thought to rely on accessing the archetypal world by personally cultivating fayḍ or being instructed by a master who has done so, which results in architecture that liberates and provides a sense of peace and equilibrium for others.39 The flow of fayḍ can be cultivated through designs that incorporate symbolic proportional systems that synthesise cosmology, philosophy, mysticism and metaphysics.40 These proportions are derived from a geometric order that underpins the order of nature and the cosmic order, a relationship which traces a conceptual continuity from the Pythagorean tradition.41 This geometric order expresses mathematical correspondences between sound, light, energy, matter, the cosmos and the human microcosm.42 Designs that incorporate this geometry in a meaningful way can give rise to transformative, multi-sensorial experiences.43

Transformations in Practice

My experience of creating the Sufi Centre through practice-as-research led me to view design as a contemplative and mystical process. My practice transformed from a conventional approach to one involving multiple transformations and intuitive insights from which a design unfolds as though recalling an already existing archetypal state, which was seen to be analogous to practices of spiritual remembrance. My understanding of space became associated with its ontological quality and transformative capacity as a symbol of being (wujūd),which becomes the primary aim of a design and the source of its meaning.

Seen in relation to the principle zāhirwabātin (seen and unseen), the physical fabric of a building unfolds from qualitative experiential aspects that generate its spatial order and spatial sensibility, which from the perspective of a visitor, converge into one continuum.44 The ontological qualities of architecture reflect ritual, spiritual practices taking place within a sequence of spaces that gradually position a visitor’s consciousness towards transcendent encounter.

Through practice, the issues involved in bringing Islamic architecture into being in a particular spatial and temporal context were explored and documented and aided an interpretation of the possible mind-set, intentions and techniques of traditional creative practitioners. Working with a design team who were also Sufi disciples offered the perfect opportunity to bring our spiritual and creative practices into greater alignment, to develop meaningful designs based on shared understandings of spiritual practice and to contribute towards the spiritual transformation of others. These factors were significant to my own transformation as an architect and Sufi disciple.

In working collaboratively, I found that performing daily spiritual practices gradually cultivates intuitive capacity and openness to creative inspiration.45 A creative practitioner’s spiritual station and personal spiritual experiences shape their receptivity to ‘heart-knowledge’ which impacts design.46 Participating in ritual preparation encapsulates a spiritual, creative practitioners’ departure from conventional approaches to practice. Mystical qualities that are experienced by a creative practitioner are radiated and externalised through their work to be experienced by others, thereby completing the circle of communication.47

The great Muslim architects and artisans of the past were believed to have fully integrated their creative and spiritual practices in order to be capable of receiving and transmitting inspiration from the spiritual realm.48 Contemplating these possibilities during the case study research allowed me to experience heightened perceptions of space. These views also enabled a different understanding of the diverse rituals performed by traditional artisans prior to undertaking certain tasks in the context of Medieval Islamic guilds, which in some cases still continue today.49 These practices had both a spiritual and practical purpose.50

The paper concludes that by prioritising engagement with the hidden dimensions (bātin) of Islamic architecture, understood as enfolding its visible dimensions (zāhir), according to a hierarchical model of existence, notions of typology, location, time, style and scale may be transcended. In order to create sacred spaces that relink with a timeless, transformative quality, creative practitioners would benefit from cultivating the capacity for personal transformation, viewing creative practice in light of personal spiritual development.


1 Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and The Profane. Translated by Willard R. Trask (New York: Brace & World, 1963), 36-7.

2 The is no word in the Arabic language equivalent to ‘profane,’ the closest would be ‘not sacred.’

3 Motohiro Ohno, Masjid Reinterpreted: The Sacred and the Profane in Islam (Tokyo: IMES Working Papers Series No.17, 1989), 108.

4 These typologies included Sufi lodges (zāwiya), schools (madrassa), hospitals, and shelters for travellers. For an in-depth discussion see:

Martin Frishman and Hasan-Uddin Khan, The Mosque: History, Architectural Development & Regional Diversity (London: Thames & Hudson, 2002), 30.

Cihan Buğdaci and Ergün Erkoçu, The Mosque. Political, Architectural and Social Transformations. (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2009), 137.

5 Aslam Farouk-Alli, “A Qur’anic Perspective and Analysis of the Concept of Sacred Space in Islam,” Journal for the Study of Religion 15, no.1 (2002): 70.

6 Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and Its Relation to the Rational (London: Oxford University Press, 1958), 6-7.

7 Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and Its Relation to the Rational(London: Oxford University Press, 1958), 69-71.

8 Nicholas Heer and Kenneth Honerkamp, ThreeEarlySufiTexts. (Louisville: Fons Vitae, 2003), 12-14.

9 Mehmet Yavuz Seker, “A Map of the Divine Subtle Faculty: The Concept of Qalb (Heart) in Classical and Contemporary Islamic scholarship” (PhD diss., Australian Catholic University, 2012), 13.

10 Shaykh Hazrat Azad Rasool, Turning Toward the Heart: Awakening to the Sufi Way(Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2003), 6.

11 Rusmir Mahmutcehajic, The Mosque: The Heart of Submission (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006), 25.

12 Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 268.

13 William C. Chittick, The Self-Disclosure of God: Principles of IbnAl-’Arabi’s Cosmology(Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), p. ix.

14 Nevine Nasser, “Beyond the Veil of Form: Developing a Transformative Approach Toward Islamic Sacred Architecture Through Designing a Contemporary Sufi Centre” (PhD diss., Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, 2019), 57.

15 Laura U. Marks, Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art. (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2010), 151-6.

16 For a full discussion of the notion of polarity understood in terms of the inability to recognise unity, see, Emily Pott, “The Zaqqūm Tree,” Eye of the Heart Journal (Issue 3, 2009), 101-16.

17 In August 2014, The School of Sufi Teaching appointed me as architect to create a meeting place in central London for the students of the Naqshbandī-Mujaddidī Sufi Order under the leadership of Hazrat Sheikh Hamid Hasan of New Delhi, a project initiated over twenty years earlier by Hazrat Sheikh Azad Rasool. It is the first purpose-designed Naqshbandī-Mujaddidī Centre outside of India. The project constituted the conversion of an existing building located in Bethnal Green and was successfully opened to the Naqshbandī-Mujaddidī community in the presence of Sheikh Hamid Hasan on 22nd February 2020.

18 The case-studies were – the Jame Masjid in Isfahan (Seljuk, 11thC), the Alhambra Palace Complex in Granada (Nasrid, mid-13thC), the Sultan Hassan Mosque and Madrassa in Cairo (Mamluk, mid-14thC), the Taj Mahal Mausoleum Complex in Agra (Mughal, mid-17thC) and the Sultan Ahmet Mosque in Istanbul (Ottoman, 17thC).

19 Laura U. Marks, Enfoldment and Infinity: An Islamic Genealogy of New Media Art. (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2010), 193-4.Carol Bier, “Geometric Patterns and the Interpretation of Meaning: Two Monuments” in Iran,” Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science (2002), 75.

Valérie Gonzalez, Beauty and Islam: Aesthetics in Islamic Art and Architecture (New York: I.B.Tauris, 2001), 53. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islamic Art and Spirituality (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1987), 4.

20 Adrian Snodgrass and Richard Coyne, Interpretations in Architecture: Design as a way of Thinking (London: Routledge, 2006), 139-40.

21 Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations, 1972-1990 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 147.

22 Henry Corbin, Temple & Contemplation (London: Routledge, 2013), 38.

23 Nader Ardalan and Laleh Bakhtiar, The Sense of Unity: The Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture (Chicago: Kazi Publications, 1973), 5.

24 Johannes Marinus Simon Baljon, Religion and Thought of Shāh Walī Allāh Dihlawī: 1703-1762 (New York: Brill, 1986), 57-59.

25 William C. Chittick, “The Five Divine Presences: From al-Qunawi to al-Qaysari,” The Muslim World (Blackwell Publishing, 1982), 107-128.

26 Henry Corbin, Temple & Contemplation(London: Routledge, 2013), 192.

27 Henry Corbin, Temple & Contemplation (London: Routledge, 2013), 265-6.

28 The Traditionalist approach is designated to the spiritual level, the Phenomenological approach to the imaginal level and the Art-historical approach to the physical level.

29 The parable of the blind men and an elephant is a story about a group of blind men who have never come across an elephant before and who learn and imagine what the elephant is like by touching it. Each blind man feels a different part of the elephant’s body. They then describe the elephant based on their limited experience of only one part and their descriptions of the elephant are different from each other. The story is thought to have originated in ancient India and appears in Sufi, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Baha’i and modern texts. It represents limitations in human perception on matters that no one has fully experienced. For the full text of the parable see: E. Bruce Goldstein, Encyclopedia of Perception (SAGE Publications, 2010), 492.

30 Henry Corbin,“Mundus Imaginalis,” Cahiers Internation aux de Symbolisme (Vol. 6, 1964), 9.

31 Martin Lings, Symbol & Archetype: A Study in the Meaning of Existence(Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2005), 12-13.

32 For a summary of this doctrine see, Henry Corbin, “Mundus Imaginalis,” Cahiers Internation aux de Symbolisme (Vol. 6, 1964), 3-26.

33 The barzakhis a concept from the Quran describing two seas; salty and sweet, kept separate by an intermediate barrier. See, Quran (55:19-20) and (25:53).

34 William C. Chittick, TheSufiPathofKnowledge:Ibnal-Arabi’sMetaphysicsofImagination(Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989), 14.

35 William C. Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibnal-Arabi’s Metaphysics of Imagination (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989), 17.

36 Thomas Dahnhardt, Change and Continuity in Indian Sūfīsm: A Naqshbandi-Mujaddidī Branch in the Hindu Environment (D.K. Printworld, 2002), 130-138.

37 Henry Corbin, “Mundus Imaginalis,” Cahiers Internation aux de Symbolisme(Vol. 6, 1964), 6.

38 Arthur F. Buehler, Sufi Heirs of the Prophet: The Indian Naqshbandiyya and the Rise of the Mediating Sufi Shaykh (Columbia: The University of South Carolina Press, 2008), 202.

39 Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islamic Art and Spirituality (Albany, NY: State Univ. of New York Press, 1987), 6-8.

40 Loai M. Dabbour, “Geometric proportions: The underlying structure of design process for Islamic geometric patterns,” Frontiers of Architectural Research (Volume 1, Issue 4, 2012), 380-391.

41 These ideas of a symbolic and harmonious universe were carried forth by classical Greek philosophers, were further developed by Islamic philosophers between the ninth to the twelfth centuries and then preserved through a natural communication between Medieval Jewish, Christian, and Islamic philosophers.

42 For example, ‘the golden ratio’ is considered to correspond to ‘the musical fifth’ which describes phenomena as diverse as the spirals of galaxies, growth and breeding patterns in nature, the behaviour of light and atoms, and the radiation of energy. See, Burger, Bruce. Esoteric Anatomy: The Body as Consciousness. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1997, p.143. For a description of the relationship between light and sound, see, Helmholtz, Hermann L. F. Von. On the Sensations of Tone. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2007. For a description of the relationship between the structure of matter and musical harmony, see Tame, David. The Secret Power of Music: The Transformation of Self and Society Through Musical Energy. New York: Destiny Books, 1984. For a description of the relationship between cosmic and lunar cycles and proportional harmonics, see, Burger, Esoteric Anatomy, pp.146-7.

43 Nevine Nasser, “Beyond the Veil of Form: Developing a Transformative Approach Toward Islamic Sacred Architecture Through Designing a Contemporary Sufi Centre” (PhD diss., Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, 2019), 167.

44 The notion of ‘spatial sensibility’ is attributed to Samer Akkach who defines it as a particular awareness of space that responds to a hierarchical worldview which shapes its spatial ordering by mediating spiritual, experiential and physical dimensions. See:

Samer Akkach, Cosmology And Architecture in Premodern Islam: An Architectural Reading of Mystical Ideas (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005), xvii.

45 I found that, in a similar way to my own practice, my colleagues also performed ritual actions ahead of undertaking creative work in order to cultivate a desired creative state. These practices involved daily Sufi practices, ablutions (wudū)and prayers (salāt).In some cases, additional practices were performed, such as Quran recitation and fasting, which were thought to inspire an inner state of strength and tranquillity and a sense of timelessness that served to attune one’s inner being to the inner realities of the Quran. Fasting, which several other colleagues also mentioned, was seen to foster a deeper state of nearness and connectedness to God that they felt made their work more beautiful. Recorded in a conversation with Citi Youssoff, the project calligrapher on 22/01/2019.

46 Fatemeh Nasrollahi, “Transcendent Soul of the Muslim Architect and the Spiritual Impact of Islamic Architecture: Islamic Architecture and Mundus Imaginalis,Journal of Islamic Studies and Culture (Vol.3, 2015), 86-99.

47 Nader Ardalan and Laleh Bakhtiar, The Sense of Unity: The Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture (Chicago: Kazi Publications, 1973), 10.

Marsha Andreola, “Engaging Geometry’s Sacred Nature: An Orientation for Teaching Sacred Geometry Through the Practice of Traditional Hand Drawing.” (PhD diss., Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, University of Wales, 2014), 208.

48 Spiritual training included guidance in spiritual courtesy (adab), personal character and conduct, and ritual practice. See, Katya Nosyreva, “The Unknown Craftsman and the Invisible Guild: Exploring Spiritual Principles Underlying Traditional Visual Arts- The Design of The Tomb of a Sufi Master and the Making of a Mihrab” (PhD diss., Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, University of Wales, 2014), 46.

49 These rituals include, for example, visiting the tombs of revered saints who are associated with the craft, reciting prayers, performing ablutions, chanting or singing during repetitive or arduous activities and using rhythmic recitations to regulate time. See:

Kuran, Timur. “Islamic Influences on the Ottoman Guilds.” The Great Ottoman-Turkish Civilisation, (Vol. 2, 2000), 44-6.

Jean-Louis Michon, Introduction to Traditional Islam: Foundations, Art and Spirituality (Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2008), 86.

Marcus Milwright, Islamic Arts and Crafts: An Anthology (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2017), 40-1. Katya Nosyreva, “The Unknown Craftsman and the Invisible Guild: Exploring Spiritual Principles Underlying Traditional Visual Arts- The Design of The Tomb of a Sufi Master and the Making of a Mihrab” (PhD diss., Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, University of Wales, 2014), 39-40.

Pesherova, E.M. Pottery Production of Central Asia,(Moscow, 1959), 314-6, cited in Nosyreva, “The Unknown Craftsman and the Invisible Guild,” 44.

50 Marcus Milwright, Islamic Arts and Crafts: An Anthology (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2017), 40-1.

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