The description of Paradise in the Holy Quran served as the basis for the design of gardens all over the Muslim World and was also incorporated into Islamic Architecture. They tried to create reflections of Paradise on Earth. The influence could be seen from India in the east to Spain in the west. The variations in the design are derived according to the regional differences that exist.

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Design Principles of Traditional Islamic Garden Source: ©Author of the article
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sacred Elements in Islamic Architecture Source: ©Author of the article

MAIN CONCEPT AND PHILOSOPHIES

Architecture as Tawhid:  Unity and Ubiquity of Allah

An Islamic structure should focus on strengthening the bond between Muslims within the conformity of God’s will. The garden acts as a gathering space and catering to the need for a social space for society.

The architecture of IhtiramRespect

Should portray obedience to Allah. It is mentioned in the Quran that Allah loves beautification. Gardens are a form of beautifying a space. It is an act of piousness to please Allah.

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Verse Source: ©https://starsinsymmetry.wordpress.com
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Beautification of a space Source: ©https://starsinsymmetry.wordpress.com

Architecture with Ikhlas: Sincerity

The design should depict purity and sincerity. The symmetrical planning and the grandeur of the garden in itself depict the dedication and sincerity that helped in the evolution of Islamic Architecture that constituted:

  • Balance and Symmetry
  • Concept of perfect creation
  • Formal Landscape
  • Centered upon God
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Plan of Taj Mahal Source: ©Ansari, Nazia: The Islamic Garden, CEPT University

Architecture as the pursuit of Ilm: Knowledge

It is celebrated through calligraphy of religious inscriptions and uses light as an expression of knowledge. The enclosure of the garden is ornamented with calligraphic inscriptions.

Muslims believe in monotheism derived from them to produce this unique Islamic art that is a clear depiction of Unity with Variety.

It is a decorative element of building facades carved with verses from the Quran. The inscriptions are more or less utilized in framing on the facades of the built structure.

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Ornamented Façade Source: ©http://wanhaziqhilmi-islamicarchitecture.blogspot.com

Architecture for Iqtisad: Balance

It should have harmony between functional and spiritual elements.

The architecture of Haya: Modesty

The basic concept of Islamic philosophy is the design that was modest and simple. Inward planning was practiced to maintain privacy due to regional and cultural ethics.

Latticed windows or openings to allow light and serve for the view of the external world.

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Interior of the Pink Mosque, Shiraz Source: ©https://mymodernmet.com
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The Pink Mosque, Shiraz Source:©http://architecture-mag.com
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Geometry of a type of Lattice Screen Source: ©Author of the article

The Paradise Garden came into prominence during the Islamic Rule. The Paradise Garden acts as a metaphor for paradise on Earth. The term Paradise is derived from a Greek word, paradeisos, which is taken from an old Avestan word predating the old Persian word, pairidaeza, meaning enclosure. 

The concept of enclosure of green space was introduced in Ancient Persian landscape practice. The garden was an answer to the aridity of the local climate where the high walled garden and the shady trees with its air-cooled streams of water and fountains, was a simple symbolic representation of paradise. Cool pavilions, flowing springs, gushing fountains, shady and fruitful trees, are some of the essential features of the garden. The use of water was given importance since water is scarce in the desert and they considered water as a sacred element and was bliss for them giving a calm and serene effect. The idea was to create a safe, green haven that would shut the harsh climate of the desert.

WATER IN ISLAMIC GARDEN

Initially, gardens were utilized to grow orchard trees for fruits and shade as well as crops for sustaining life. In Ancient Persia, water was scarcely available, so it was considered as a sacred entity that has dual application, one is for functional purpose and the other one is aesthetic and ornamentation purpose. The garden was provided with water channels with a sufficient slope to enable the irrigation system required for the garden. The water was obtained from natural resources such as springs, sinking wells. The water was transported through a network of conduit systems termed as ‘Qanat’ which was originally introduced in the 7th century C.E. in Persia. In the 8th century C.E., the Persians invented the water wheel to utilize the flowing water from the river and use it for irrigation.

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Qanat System Source: ©https://www.mei.edu

Functional Aspect of Water

Water from aqueducts, reservoirs with the help of water lifting devices, the water enters the channels in the garden and distributes water through the quadrants to help reach water for enriching the plants. The water runs through each quadrant far enough so that plant roots can reach it. Access was allowed or denied by opening or blocking the entry points with either mud or stones.

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Layout of Water Channels Source: ©https://www.untermyergardens.org

The ornamental aspect of water

Water is used to define higher volume and creates symphonies and ripples. They act as an ornamentation element of the garden. Also, for the people of the deserts, water was scarcely available so channelizing water into their enclosure also displayed a sense of luxury.

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Aga Khan Garden Source:© https://www.architecturalrecord.com
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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi Source: ©https://in.pinterest.com

Water as a means of passive cooling

The means of water created a tranquil environment in the hot arid region. It also helps in maintaining the micro-climate of the place.

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Evaporative Cooling Source:© https://www.pinterest.ph

The layout of the flow of water

The water channels were located at the central axis according to the char bagh layout, creating a cross plan section of four divisions. The water channels occupied the primary and secondary axes where the water appears to be sunken.

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Layout of a charbagh Source:© http://catnaps.org

Watercourse

Water is irrigated in a straight line. The direction depends on the topography, followed by various angular paths, perpendicularly changing direction. It also influences the plant arrangement.

Colour

The water reflects the color of the canal bed which is usually turquoise and blue ceramic. If the color of the bed is brighter than the reflection becomes secondary.

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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi Source: ©https://www.reddit.com

They were metaphorically depicting the beauty on earth as compared to otherworldly things. The symbolism of these gardens was often displayed by the political, military, and diplomatic usage. The water flowing through the gardens emblemize the garden of the promised Paradise, as mentioned in the Quran.

References

Ali, Abdullah Yusuf. The Meaning of the Holy Quran. 1937.

Catherine Adlard, Michelle. “The garden as a metaphor for paradise.” Rhodes University, January 2001.

Mughal gardens: paradisiacal intense political space

Moynihan, Elizabeth B. “Paradise as a Garden In Persia and Mughal India.”

Ansari, Nazia. “The Islamic Garden.” CEPT University.

Begley, Wayne E. “The Myth of the Taj Mahal and a New Theory of Its Symbolic Meaning.” The Art Bulletin 61, 1979.

Azmeea, Nurshamiela; Yunosa, Mohd Yazid Mohd; Mydinb, Md Azree Othuman; Ismaila, Sumarni; Ariffin, Noor Fazamimah Mohd; Isaa, Nor Kalsum Mohd and Latiff, Zainab Abdul. “Analyzing teh Features of Mughal Garden Design: Case of Taj Mahal, Agra, India.” 29 Feb 2016.

Md Jani, Haza Hanurhaza and Harun, Nor Zalina. “The Physical Characteristics of the Islamic Garden and the Importance of the Concept in Malaysia.” Planning Malaysia: Journal of the Malaysian Institute of Planners VOLUME 16 ISSUE 4 Page 208 – 219. 2018.  

Moynihan, Elizabeth B. “Paradise as a garden in persia and mughal india.” 

Stiny, G. and Mitchell, W. J. “The grammar of paradise: on the generation of Mughul gardens.” School of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of California, March 22, 1980.

Goker, Parisa. “An Analysis of Water Features in Persian gardens; Bagh-e-Shahzadeh.” International Journal of Environmental Science and Development, January 2017.

Yunos, Mohd Yazid Mohd and Mydin, Md Azree Othuman. “Symbolism and role of water in traditional Islamic Gardens.” May 2016.

Hussain, Nur Huzeima Mohd; Hassan, Khalilah; Akhir, Norizan Md. “Contemplating the Islamic Garden and Malay Traditional Landscape from the Quran.” University Teknologi MARA Perak, Malaysia, August 2018.

Yunos, Mohd Yazid Mohd; Mydin, Md Azree Othuman; Asif, Nayeem and Utaberta, Nangkula. “Redefining Islamic Garden: Comparitive Analysis of approaches, ideas and design framework.”  August 2015.

Jani, Haza Hanurhaza Md.; Harun, Nor Zalina; Mansor, Mazlina and Zen, Ismawi. “Islamic Garden Concept in Response to Landscape Design.” November 2018.

Farahani, Lella Mahmoudi; Motamed, Bahareh and Jamel, Elmira. “Persian Gardens: Meanings, Symbolism, and Design.” Landscape Online, January 2016.

Rahaei, Omid. “Analyzing the geometry of Iranian Islamic gardens based on the Quran’s characteristics of paradise.” Journal of Research in Islamic Architecture, 14 September, 2015.

Rashid, Mahbub. “Islamic Architecture: An Architecture of the Ephemeral.” 2020.

Yunos, Mohd Yazid Mohd. “The Islamic Garden Design Principles: Thoughts for the 21st Century.” University Putra Malaysia, May 2016.

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Author

Dania Irshad, a prefinal year student, pursuing B.Arch from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, focuses her intent as an architect with a social conscience who not only wishes to design only for the users for also in consideration of the environment. She is a voracious reader as well has her passion in writing.

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