Islam, against the lens of modern society, has been questionably seen to carry on the controversial issues about its conventional way of practice. With the prolonging unfortunate occurrences throughout the globe, Muslims stereotype is often prejudged as violent. By the lack of awareness and comprehension, the maledominated religion inevitably causes the state of Islamophobia which apparently becomes a huge extermination to its image. Correspondingly, one of the culprits is said to be sexual discrimination deep-rooted in Islamic culture – female figures are promoted to be submissive and suppressed under male’s control.
Architects: Panisara Sittiwong
On the contrary, the glorious Quran states “Paradise is under the feet of mothers”. This can potentially mean women as the creatures naturally possessing modesty and compassion is the key to improving Islamic society. Likewise, The Foundation of Islamic Centre of Thailand has continually been encouraging Thai Muslim women to be engaged with several religious and social scenes in Thailand. Therefore, Islamic society in Thailand has been praised by many other nations from Islamic world for setting a good example of becoming an ideal Islamic society. For this reason. The Foundation of Islamic Centre of Thailand marks the start of promoting true understanding of Islam with the attempt to revise at its root by allowing femininity to soften the masculine notion.
The Foundation of Islamic Centre of Thailand appears to be one of the hidden places in Bangkok by the recognition of the exquisite architecture yet surprisingly unseen of the Masjid. With its unique flower-like modular thin-shell concrete structure, the 60-year-old modern Islamic architecture, originally designed by Paijit Pongpanroek, owns its significance unlike any other mosques.
The Foundation of Islamic Centre of Thailand is consisted of two main buildings: the existed Masjid and the Islamic Cultural Centre as the future extension.
The idea of acting as an urban plaza tries to spare more public space to the foundation consistently from outside to the inside. The purpose is to become more friendly and welcome to other religious devotees. The program has been modified to serve people in the neighborhood; Islamic garden and interiorscape, Halal food centre, Friday market, and exercise yard.
Decided to conserve the essential structure, the praying space has been simplified to remain and even enhance Islamic spirituality. Since the prayer has its focus on the mirab (the niche which indicates the direction of Mecca) and most of the movements lead visual domination to the floor, the visual disturbance at the particular height and as a whole of the interior space is highly to be concerned. Meanwhile, this gigantic public space needs to make each person feel at ease and concentrated individually as well. The floor treatment plays the most important role to the space. The newly fabricated shell in-laid marble pattern that has been adopted and simplified from the original Islamic pattern that the architect designed is tailored to fit a person and can make enough room for performing the prayer.
Similarly, the new addition to the existed Masjid is the female prayer hall to replace the temporary extended structure and to considerably provide the growing female users the quality of space to perform the prayer giving the message of sexual equality to the modern society. Out of respect to the existed architecture, the extended structures repeat the silhouette of the original modules though have been replaced by the innovative technology like stainless steel wrapped by translucent stretching fabric giving contrast appearance to the existing. Stained-glass lighting effect representing femininity in Islamic space, it has been reinterpreted with the innovative material as in dichroic filmed glass transmitting dynamic lighting effects.
The foundation aims to establish the Islamic Cultural Centre to publicize Islamic culture to Thai society expecting to create inter-religious relationship among Buddhists, Christians, or other devotees. Especially, the cafe integrated public library is suitable for anyone regardless of religions or even ages. The Centre focuses on attracting both regular visitors and new comers by balancing the exciting permanent exhibitions like the foundation’s archives, Quran Gallery, and Hajj Experience; along with the temporary exhibitions like introduction to Islamic culture, Islamic artist corner, and casual theatre.
At the end of the day. The Foundation of Islamic Centre of Thailand intends to be part of improving indecent perception of Islam by reconciling at its root. By giving the message to the society, Islam is attempting to adjust to contemporary changes and never neglecting the rest of the world. Although it might not entirely change concerning social contexts of the present days, it is gradually becoming more accepting and compromising. At least, this could behold as the beginning of an awareness.