Monday, June 18, 2007

[Informasi]: Import, Adapt, Innovate - Mosque Design in the United States

Written by Omar Khalidi

Islam's first mosque, built in Madinah in 622, was a simple rectangular structure constructed of palm logs and adobe bricks. The United States' first purpose-built mosque, completed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1934, was a simple rectangular building of white clapboard on a cinder-block foundation, with a dome over the front door.

In the 13 centuries that separate those buildings, mosque design has evolved differently in the different countries and cultures where Muslims live, and in the us too the thematic and visual characteristics of mosque architecture had to deal with a new environment-one that had its own pre-existing historical and visual vocabulary.

Of nearly 1000 mosques and Islamic centers in the United States surveyed in the mid-1990's, fewer than 100 had originally been designed to be mosques and, of those, the older ones had not been designed by architects. Many of these simple buildings were meant to be used as cultural or community centers—for example, the Albanian Cultural Center, the Arab Banner Society, the Indian/Pakistani Muslim Association—and not exclusively as mosques. They had a room for prayer, but—like the Cedar Rapids mosque—they also served as clubs, with a social hall for weddings and parties and a basement for bingo games.

No longer. American mosques built in the last few decades, in the period in which Islam has begun to feel at home in the United States, are almost universally architect-designed. And despite stylistic features that vary considerably, especially among the more elaborate mosques, all of them fall into one of three basic categories. First, there are those mosques that embody a traditional design transplanted entire from one— or several—Islamic lands. Examples are the Islamic Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. (built in 1957); the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, Ohio (1983), and the Islamic Center of West Virginia in South Charleston (1989).

Second, there are those that represent a reinterpretation of tradition, sometimes combined with elements of American architecture. Examples are the Islamic Cultural Center in New York City (1991) and Daral-Islam in Abiquiu, New Mexico (1981).

Third are the designs that are entirely innovative, like those of the Islamic Society of North America's headquarters in Plainfield, Indiana (1979); the Islamic Center of Albuquerque, New Mexico (1981); the Islamic Center of Edmond, Oklahoma (1992) and the Islamic Center of Evansville, Indiana (1992). As in the older mosques, most of the buildings in all these categories are not exclusively places of worship, but function rather as Islamic centers, with such facilities as classrooms, library, conference center, bookshop, kitchen and social hall, as well as recreational facilities, residential apartments, and in some cases even a funeral home.

The Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. was the first of the large, traditionally designed structures, and architecturally it is still one of the most significant buildings that Muslims have built in the United States. It is listed, and thus protected, as a historical American building. It was designed by Mario Rossi, an Italian architect practicing in Cairo, with the help of engineers from the Egyptian Ministry of Pious Foundations, whose functions include care of mosques supported by religious endowments.

The Islamic Center took its inspiration in part from the Mamluk architecture of Cairo, but it also includes Ottoman Turkish and Andalusian decorative motifs. The interior furnishings are also a multi-ethnic mix: The wall tiles were donated by Turkey, the chandeliers are from Egypt and the rugs were presented by the Shah of Iran. It was financed by the diplomatic missions of the Islamic countries and such donors as the Nizam of Hyderabad, who gave $50,000—a grand sum in the 50's. In his 1985 book East Comes West: Asian Religions and Cultures in North America, E. Allen Richardson noted that the mosque represented a new type of cooperation among Muslim countries in support of a US mission, and became a symbol of Muslim unity and identity.

The Albanian Islamic Center in Harper Woods, Michigan is another example of transplanted Islamic architecture. Designed and built in 1962 by an American architect, Frank Beymer, the mosque makes a clear and unambiguous statement of its national character in its Ottoman exterior, represented by its sleek arches, dome, and color scheme. Although all Muslims are welcome there, its façade proclaims the identity of its original founders, the Albanian Muslim immigrants of Michigan.

A number of mosques similar to the one in Harper Woods and Washington, varying in size and scale, were built in the 1980's. Two other transplantations of traditional mosque architecture to an American site are the Islamic Centers near Toledo, Ohio, and in South Charleston, West Virginia. Turkish architect Talat Itil designed and built the striking Ottoman-style mosque in the cornfields of Ohio in 1983. Its 41-meter (135') Ottomanesque minarets and hemispherical 18-meter (60') dome are visible from the nearby highway, an exotic bit of Middle Eastern visual culture in an otherwise Midwestern environment. In addition to his obvious disregard for the building's surroundings, the architect appears also to have disregarded the flexible spirit of Islam, which maintains that the material culture of Muslims—including architecture—is bound by space and time and can therefore be both varied and diverse.

The transplanted-mosque approach has been used by Muslim and non-Muslim architects alike: In Washington and Toledo, they were Muslim; the Harper Woods architect was not. In South Charleston, West Virginia, William Preston, the non-Muslim architect who designed the mosque, says he was modeling it "after a famous Islamic house of worship, the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, which is larger than the Taj Mahal." Though the South Charleston mosque is geographically far, from its prototype, conversations with the architect, his clients, and many of the worshipers at the mosque make it clear that the final design does not disappoint them. For them, stylistic imitation meant "capturing the flavor" of the old, the familiar—or, at most, "blending" old and new. This nostalgic community of Muslims was of a generation that, in the words of Preston, seeks "the stability and humanness embodied in vernacular and pre-modern architectures."

In this context, the role of the architect is to bring back the past, the familiar; to make the users of the building feel at home; and to reinterpret its vocabulary in everyday language that can be easily understood. Yet the very architectural symbols that do this—minarets, domes, arches—have been co-opted throughout America in Shriners' halls, vaudeville theaters, restaurants and even gambling casinos, much to Muslims' regret, and similar architectural fantasies have turned up in Hollywood productions and in Disneylands.

Mosques that have attempted a reinterpretation of traditional architecture in the American landscape have had mixed results. The Islamic Cultural Center (ICC) of Manhattan is one example. It was designed by the prestigious firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and completed in 1991 on a site in uptown Manhattan at the intersection of Third Avenue and 96th Street. The project represents an effort to find an image that would please both Muslims and the larger, surrounding society. Its history also highlights the relationship between architectural production and the cultural politics of identity. The mosque was designed for the use of Muslims in the New York City metropolitan area, who include high-profile, influential Muslim diplomats and others attached to the United Nations, consulates, and trade offices.

The governments of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Libya bought the site in 1966, and the State of Kuwait has been the prime financier of the project since 1981. Initially, the project was given to the Iranian-American architect Ali Dadras, who drew up a traditional mosque plan with a courtyard and gardens. By the mid 1980's, however, the ICC's board of trustees had come to favor a more contemporary style, and Dadras was replaced with SOM, whose long architectural involvement in the Islamic world included the design of the Hajj Terminal, the National Commercial Bank building and King 'Abd al-'Aziz University, all in Jiddah, as well as many other large projects in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

During the design stage of the project, the ICC board appointed two advisory committees, one composed of "prominent members" of the Muslim community in New York, the other of architects, mostly non-Muslims. The debate between the two centered on the image of the mosque. The architects—some practitioners, some scholars—wanted a "mosque that belonged to the 21st century." The Muslims wanted the designers to reproduce the style of a traditional mosque with literal versions of historic motifs.

The architects urged SOM to exercise complete freedom in forms and motifs while respecting Islamic beliefs, and Michael McCarthy, the SOM architect, chose to follow their advice. Interviewed for Architectural Record's August 1992 issue, he justified his decision by pointing out that "Islam in its vast conquests absorbed the best of local building techniques and materials under an overall umbrella of careful geometric ordering of mass, enclosures, and finishes. Why not meld this tradition with the best that the 20th century has to offer?"

After a long and thoughtful debate the two committees agreed on a "modernist" building, but with the Muslim committee insisting on the inclusion of both a minaret and a dome, neither of which were favored by the architects' committee. The conflicting perceptions of what a mosque ought to look like brought into high relief the salience for many Muslims of "old and familiar," a preference that many Westerners are unaware of and some Muslims prefer to disregard.

When it was completed in 1991, the ICC mosque consisted of a 27-meter (90') clear-span structure roofed by a system of four trusses supporting a steel and concrete dome, beneath which the women's gallery is suspended. The plan is composed of a domed cubical volume in the center, with four square corners roofed by skylights in the form of quarter pyramids. Light pours in through these skylights and through the decorative square openings of the trusses beneath the dome.

The square is consistently used throughout the building at various scales and in a variety of material and expressions. The external walls are divided into large square modules of light granite panels, each outlined by a strip of glass and supported by a concealed grid of tubular steel. This abstract geometric form has lent the design a simple, rational appeal and given the project a contemporary character, while allowing continuity of association with traditional Islamic architecture through the use of abstract geometry.

The building's link with traditional mosque architecture, however, goes deeper than subtle references through geometry, or the obvious use of architectural icons and calligraphy. As Islamic architectural historian Oleg Grabar pointed out, SOM's drawings for the final design of the mosque were quite reasonably within the conventional Ottoman tradition. The SOM reference to the Ottoman mosque type also inspired the skylights in the roof corners and the patterned glass in the upper walls, which bathed the prayer area with light. The stepped, pendentive-like beams at the corners of the middle part, in addition to their structural role in supporting the dome, help visually to connect the trusses to the dome, thus allowing a smooth transition between the square plan and the circular dome. This inspiration from traditional structural and esthetic systems seems to unify the middle and upper parts of the interior of the mosque. Although the dome is used as a traditional form, it is effectively and successfully expressed in a contemporary language.

While the architects' committee had resisted the inclusion of a minaret, some outsiders joined the traditionalist Muslims in supporting it. Among them was David Rockefeller, who donated a large sum toward the financing of the minaret when he was told it was in danger of being excluded for reasons of cost as well as design. With this encouragement, the design of the minaret was entrusted to Swanke Hayden Connell Architects of New York. The chief designer was Alton Gürsel, a Turkish-American architect, whose unenviable task was to satisfy the perceptions of what a minaret should look like in the eyes of the nearly 50 Muslim countries represented in the New York community. Gürsel designed nine minarets before eventually choosing one design that was sufficiently abstract and de-historicized; in contrast to the massiveness of the mosque proper, its slenderness, simple articulation and sheer height (one and a half times the height of the dome) made it an elegant addition to the project.

In view of its astounding cost ($1.5 million) and its functional uselessness—no call to prayer issues from it—the minaret demonstrates the importance many of the participants attached to a suitable expression of their identity as Muslims: Construction of significant parts of the ICC project, such as the school and the library, were delayed so that the minaret's construction could go ahead. The architects and the chief financial patrons of the project, however, did not see this choice as giving image-making precedence over service to the community.

Rather, because of the mosque's location in one of the world's financial and cultural capitals, the architects conceived it as providing a "welcoming image, which includes, rather than excludes the public." Since its completion in 1991, the mosque has become a landmark in the area.

Similar to the Washington, D.C. mosque in conceptual framework, but differing in scale and location, is the Dar al-Islam mosque in Abiquiu, New Mexico, designed by the great Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy. It was built in 1981 and is used predominantly by native-born American Muslims. The 210-square-meter (2260 sq ft) mosque sits on a reinforced-concrete foundation, upon which a concrete-block stem wall has been built to create a uniform edge at ground level. The mosque's dramatic form, as sculptural as anything in the surrounding landscape, was achieved by combining a Byzantine and Sasanid dome, barrel vaults, and large, pointed arches. The Dar al-Islam mosque grew out of the same romanticized regional style that Fathy created for New Gourna in Egypt, and uses the same earthen construction. Because of New Mexico's cultural links to Spain, which nurtured a local mud-brick building tradition quite similar to that in New Gourna, Fathy's Dar al-Islam is certainly appropriate to its context.

Three criticisms can be made of the Dar al-Islam project, however. One is its disregard of the local climate, wetter and colder than that of Egypt, resulting in water seepage from the roof and the dome. The second is that its physical isolation from population centers allows the building to avoid dealing with the conflicts and diversities of modern life. The third is that, by thus refusing to engage in a dialogue with the dominant culture, the mosque and its community are in danger of reinforcing western views about the "otherness" of Islam.

A decisive departure from both the transplanting of traditional architecture and the modern reinterpretation of it can be found in the designs of Gulzar Haidar, a Pakistani-Canadian, and Bart Prince, an American. Their projects represent the innovative, the creative and the unprecedented mosque. Haidar advocates a design approach that is "environmental," "morphological" and "semiotic." His notable example is the mosque in the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) headquarters in Plainfield, Indiana. According to Haidar, Islamic architecture should be expressive and understandable to all. It should employ a form of language that invokes in immigrant Muslims a sense of belonging in their present and hope in their future. To the indigenous Muslims it should represent a linkage with Muslims from other parts of the world and should underscore the universality and unity of Islam. To the new Muslim this architecture should invoke confidence in their new belief. For non-Muslims it should take the form of clearly identifiable buildings which are inviting and open, or at least not secretive, closed, or forbidding.

In 1979, the parent organization of ISNA decided to consolidate its numerous activities at a headquarters in Plainfield. Haidar was engaged to design the complex, with detailed construction documents prepared by the associated architect Mukhtar Khalil, an Indian Muslim. Though the headquarters were never completed, the buildings that were constructed included a mosque, library, and some office space, and they are nonetheless now collectively known as the ISNA headquarters.

The buildings are set amid elaborate landscaping with a formal front plaza. The mosque, the library and the office block form a unified scheme in which the mosque and the office block are placed on one axis and the library on a perpendicular axis. The architect explains the symbolism of the design in these terms: A mosque is a space celebrating man's servitude to God. The office building is an arena of work for Islam and its society in North America. The library is a research facility upholding the Qur'anic ideal that only through knowledge, intellect, and contemplative thought does man ascend to higher levels of belief and action.The ISNA mosque has an austere contemporary character that is entirely without iconic references to traditional Islamic architecture. The solid exterior walls give few clues about what is inside. Haidar sees this contrast between outside and inside as embodying two of the 99 beautiful names of God: al-batin ("the hidden") and al-zahir ("the manifest"); he believes these attributes of God are "of special interest to architects in pursuit of the silent eloquence of space and the quintessential presence of form."

According to Haidar, the ISNA mosque addresses itself to Muslims through its concepts of al-batin and al-zahir, through mystical geometry, and particularly through its cubical form, a subliminal reminder of the Ka'ba, the symbol of unity. He relates his decision to contrast the inside and the outside to the fact that Muslims are a minority living in predominantly non-Islamic America. He sees this contrast as symbolic of the fact that Islam in this country is a private matter of faith, rather than the state religion that it is in much of the Islamic world. "If the dome is symbolic of the esoteric and the divine, and the cube of the exoteric and the Earth, then we consider it a fitting gesture to make the dome internally manifest and externally veiled," Haidar wrote. Moreover, the exterior of the building, in its materials, details, and fenestration, is intended by Haidar to be "sympathetic to North American indigenous architecture rather than any historic or modernized Islamic style."

Conceptually related to the ISNA headquarters in terms of innovative mosque design are a number of other Islamic centers. One is the Islamic Center of Albuquerque, New Mexico, completed in 1991 and designed by Bart Prince, a leading exponent of organic architecture. From a distance, the building resembles a giant set of bleachers reaching skyward in tiers and topped by towers that contain tall, narrow windows. Inside, the mosque is essentially one large hall divided at prayer times by a temporary partition to separate men from women. The ceiling steps up with the tiers, supported by thick wooden beams and rafters made of bronze-colored pipe. Daylight pours through the narrow windows. It is a simple, elegant building, functional, and completely at home in its environment.

The work of the New Mexican architect resists easy translation into words. Dramatic and often unusual forms characterize this project, like his other buildings in New Mexico. His style is rooted in the peculiarly American tradition of organicism. Defined by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Oklahoman architect Bruce Goff, the organic tradition argues for the necessary individuality of each architect and each architectural design. The tradition's individualism makes it difficult to attribute a coherent set of stylistic characteristics to it. Coherence comes instead from a shared attempt to create an organically integral architecture that rethinks the possibilities of geometry, space, structure, and material.

The Albuquerque building project began in 1986 during a time of extremely negative press about Islam; the architect designed a climatically sound building unencumbered by historical precedent. There is no dome, no minaret, nor any other readily identifiable sign of "Islamic architecture." There is, however, a prayer niche in the qibla wall pointing the worshipers toward Makkah.

Akin to the Albuquerque mosque is the Islamic Center of Evansville, Indiana. Built in 1992, this simple, bungalow-like building makes no reference whatever to traditional Islamic architecture. Inside is a large rectangular room with a barn-like roof. Minimum effort is made to relate the interior of the prayer hall to the conventional notions of a mosque, and no architectural elements have been added as direct visual references to mosques. The only exception in this otherwise domestic, suburban design is the projection in the qibla wall, just like the one in the Albuquerque project.

Practically the same design is found in the Masjid al-Salam in Edmond, Oklahoma, which was completed in 1992. According to Siddiq A. Karim, the architect of this mosque, the local authorities required that the mosque be in harmony with the neighborhood of single-family homes in which it is located.

What do these various mosque projects tell us about the nature and direction of mosque design in North America? New and insecure Muslim communities at first often construct mosques that are architecturally nondescript. Better established communities have built a large number of mosques in the purely traditional styles found in the Muslim homelands, with little regard to their surroundings in North America. Some architects have experimented with reinterpreting traditional styles, using mixed designs and achieving equally mixed results. The innovative mosques of Haidar, Prince, and Karim have not always been well received by the immigrant Muslim communities because they do not match the immigrants' notions of what a mosque should be. Given the extreme diversity of America's Muslim population, it would seem logical to favor the unprecedented mosque, with maximum regard for the strictly Islamic requirements and minimum regard to ethnic or national taste or historical style, be that Ottoman, Mamluk, or Mughal. We have seen such a compromise reached in the case of the minaret of the ICC mosque.

Attachment to traditional design principles is, however, by and large restricted to first-generation immigrant Muslims. Their descendants and American converts to Islam, who will eventually constitute the majority of the US Muslim population, will probably tip the scales in favor of more innovative architecture. Many Muslims of all backgrounds may even see this as responding to a prime Islamic imperative: to live in harmony with the total natural and historical environment of a place.

Dr. Omar Khalidi ( is a staff member of the Aga Khan Program in Islamic Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

This article appeared on pages 24-33 of the November/December 2001 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.

[Informasi]: The Minaret: Symbol of Faith & Power

Written by Jonathan M. Bloom

Among the most distinctive sights in any Islamic city are the minarets, tall slender towers attached to the city’s mosques from which muezzins call the faithful to prayer five times a day. Indeed, the minaret—along with the dome—is one or the most characteristic forms of Islamic architecture, and the sound of the adhan, the call to prayer, is as typical of Cairo or Istanbul or Riyadh as the sound of bells is of Rome. In West and East alike, minarets have become such a distinctive symbol of Islam that political cartoonists use them as shorthand to indicate a Middle Eastern or Islamic setting, and authors and publishers use the word similarly to refer to the Muslim world or Islam itself.

Bishop Kenneth Cragg, for example, titled his classic study of Muslim-Christian relations The Call of the Minaret; the American Friends of the Middle East published the "Minaret" series or pamphlets in the 1950’s; and there are periodicals named Minaret or The Minaret or Manara (the Arabic term) published in the United States, Pakistan, Sweden and several Arab countries—as well as a Web portal of the same name.
Despite the recent proliferation of skyscrapers and television towers, soaring minarets still give a distinctively "Islamic" look to the skylines of cities from Morocco to Malaysia. And though tape recordings may have replaced and loudspeakers amplified many "live" muezzins, minarets remain essential elements in mosque design the world over, and architects are repeatedly challenged to reinterpret this traditional form in new and distinctive ways.
In recent years, as Muslims have established communities and built houses of worship in European and American cities, minarets have come to mingle with the traditional verticals of western cityscapes, often with surprising results. In Oxford, England, the university town whose "dreaming spires" were commemorated by the poet Matthew Arnold in the 19th century, a furor erupted in the summer of 2000 when the Egyptian architect Abdel Wahed El-Wakil proposed to erect a 10-story minaret on the playing fields of historic Magdalen College as part of a new Islamic center. In Frederick, Maryland, whose church spires, as Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, gave the town "a poetical if seers and dreamers might live there," the local Muslim community was recently denied a construction permit to build a mosque, although Frederick’s "clustered spires" had long been obscured by blocky, angular office buildings.
Once, a muezzin could rely on the strength of his lungs to lift the call to prayer above the clamor of a traditional city’s activities, but today’s muezzin cannot be heard without amplification above the modern city’s incessant traffic and industrial noise. And outside the Muslim world, municipal noise restrictions often limit the volume at which Muslims can call the faithful to prayer, thus obviating the need for a muezzin’s tower—and giving rise to imaginative substitutes: In some British cities with large Muslim populations, enterprising Muslims have brought the adhan into the electronic age by "beeping" the daily prayer times on an Internet website and broadcasting a text alert to Muslim subscribers’ mobile phones.
Whether or not minarets are actually used to call the faithful to prayer, they remain potent symbols of Islam, and have sometimes been targeted accordingly. During the horrendous civil war in Kosovo, for example, Serbian forces regularly placed explosives inside minarets, not only destroying the towers but ensuring that they would collapse onto and damage the adjacent mosques. By this destruction, the Serbs hoped to erase what they saw as signs of centuries of Ottoman oppression.
Such clashes between competing visual cultures are unfortunately not only recent news, although modern weapons and explosives tend to make the results more dramatic. After the Ottoman sultan Fatih Mehmet conquered the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in May 1453, one of his first acts was to order a wooden minaret added to the 900-year-old church of Hagia Sophia to signal its conversion into a mosque. The temporary wooden minaret was soon rebuilt in stone and three others added for good measure. As Mehmet and his successors built other mosques in their new capital, Istanbul’s skyline came to be punctuated by dozens of slender, arrow-like minarets that gave the Ottoman capital a distinctive aspect and signaled to all that it was no longer the capital of Christian Byzantium but the new capital of an Islamic empire (opposite page, top).
Meanwhile, at the western end of the Mediterranean, as Christians wrested the Iberian Peninsula back from Muslims in the late Middle Ages, the victors transformed the great stone or brick minarets of Andalusian congregational mosques into church belltowers. The magnificent 10th-century minaret in Córdoba, once the pride of the Muslims’ city, was encased in more stonework to give it a "Christian" look, and topped with a belfry and a set of bells. Tourists can still climb the remains of the old minaret, intact inside the belltower. Similarly, the celebrated 12th-century tower of the Almohad congregational mosque of Seville was given an elaborate belfry between 1558 and 1568 by the Andalusian architect Hernán Ruiz the Younger. Where once the minaret had been crowned with four large gilded bronze balls, Ruiz crowned the new belfry with a revolving human figure—an allegory of Faith—that serves as a weathervane and gives the building its popular name, "La Giralda" (Photo 1, page 30).
From the perspective of the history of architecture, these episodes can be seen as rounds in an ancient game of architectural "tit for tat." Some 500 years earlier, Christians in ninth-century Córdoba had accused the Muslims of pulling down the "pinnacles"—that is, the belltowers—of their churches and "extoll[ing] their prophet" from their "towers and foggy heights." The Córdoban theologian Eulogius histrionically recounted how his grandfather had had to clap his hands over his ears to shield himself from the muezzin’s cry.
But it is not only Christians who have objected to minarets: At certain times and places some Muslims believed—and some still believe—that minarets have no place in the design of mosques. In many parts of the Muslim world—Malaysia, Kashmir and East Africa, for example— tower minarets were virtually unknown before modern times. In the 20th century, however, the expansion of visual communication and travel has homogenized regional architectural styles into an international "Islamic" norm of domes and soaring towers. Nevertheless, one expert, Dr. Mohamad Tajuddin bin Mohamad Rasdi of the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, recently stated that modern architects and their clients who build monumental mosques with fancy minarets, domes and muqarnas ignore the teachings of the Prophet.
Other Muslims may differ with Dr. Rasdi’s interpretation of Islamic tradition, but there can be no doubt that while the beautiful adhan clearly dates back to the time of the Prophet, the minaret is certainly a later invention. When Islam was revealed in the early seventh century, Jews called the faithful to prayer with the shofar (ram’s horn) and Christians used a bell or a wooden gong or clacker. Indeed, the sound of a bell wafting in the breeze from a distant monastery is a frequent image in pre-Islamic and early Islamic poetry. In this context, we can well understand how ‘Abd Allah ibn Zayd, one of the Prophet’s companions, dreamt that he saw someone calling the Muslims to prayer from the roof of the mosque. After he told the Prophet about his dream, Muhammad recognized it as a vision from God and instructed Bilal, an Abyssinian freedman and early convert to Islam, "Rise, Bilal, and summon all to prayer!" Bilal, who was known for his beautiful voice, did so, thereby becoming the first muezzin. (The word muezzin comes from the Arabic mu’adhdhin, or "one who gives the adhan.")
According to Islamic tradition, Bilal and his successors normally gave the call to prayer from a high or public place, such as the doorway or roof of a mosque, an elevated neighboring structure or even the city wall, but never from a tall tower. Indeed, it is said that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s cousin, son-in-law and fourth caliph, ordered a tall mi’dhana (a place from which the call to prayer was given) torn down, because its height enabled the muezzin to see into the homes around the mosque. The call to prayer, ‘Ali believed, should not be given from any place higher than the roof of the mosque. It is for this same reason that, in later years, blind men have often been selected and trained as muezzins, for they are unable to inadvertently violate the privacy of other people’s homes.
Since tower minarets were unknown in Muhammad’s lifetime and for many decades after his death, how then did the tower come to be so identified as the preeminent architectural symbol of Islam? And why do minarets take such different shapes—ranging from the tall, pencil-slim towers of Ottoman mosques through the multistoried towers of Egypt to the square shafts of North Africa and Spain—while such other features of the mosque as minbars (pulpits) and mihrabs (the wall niche marking the direction of Makkah) are remarkably consistent in form?
In trying to understand how the tower got its special meaning in Islamic societies, scholars have attempted—with mixed success—to trace minarets back to various traditions of tower building in the pre-Islamic cultures of Eurasia. Over a century ago, for example, A. J. Butler, the British historian of Roman Egypt, speculated that the multistoried form of the typical Cairene minaret of the Mamluk period might have been derived from the Pharos (lighthouse) of Alexandria, one of the wonders of the ancient world, which—although long destroyed—is known from descriptions by ancient writers to have been square in the lower part of its shaft, octagonal in the middle and cylindrical at the top (Photo 2). Butler’s contemporary, the German architectural historian Hermann Thiersch, elaborated this theory by publishing a detailed study of the history of the Pharos. He showed that the ancient tower had stood well into Islamic times and could have inspired Mamluk builders in Egypt.
Even Thiersch acknowledged, however, that the answer was not quite that simple. Not all minarets had three different cross-sections like the Egyptian ones—some had entirely square shafts and some had cylindrical ones. He therefore suggested that square minarets, such as those found in Syria, North Africa and Spain, were derived from church towers. His church-tower theory was strengthened by the survival of the Arabic term sawma’a, used in medieval North Africa and Spain to refer to minarets. Derived from the Arabic word once used to describe the cell of a Christian monk, sawma’a is the source of the obsolete Spanish word, zoma, or "tower."
But this theory still left cylindrical towers unexplained. Thiersch believed that cylindrical minarets, like those common in Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia (Photos 3, 4), derived from Roman and Byzantine monumental victory columns—an explanation that supported his view that minarets were erected principally as symbols of Islam’s triumph over other religions. But while it was relatively easy to see how square church towers in Syria might have led to square minarets in Syria, Thiersch was unable to explain how—or why—something like Trajan’s Column in Rome could have inspired Central Asian builders to erect cylindrical brick minarets!
Another group of European scholars sought the minaret’s origins in the ancient nomadic cultures of Central Asia and India. The Austrian art-historian Josef Strzygowski (1862-1941), for example, compared the round brick minarets of Iran and Central Asia to round campaniles in Italy and early medieval round towers in Ireland, and hypothesized that all these towers derived from a common source in the folk arts of the steppe nomads of Asia, who had migrated to western Europe in the early Middle Ages. Ernst Diez (1878-1961), his fellow Austrian and a historian of Islamic art, interpreted minarets similarly as vestiges of the ancient Indo-Aryan practice of erecting wooden posts to represent deities.
In some respects Diez was following in the footsteps of the 19th-century British architectural historian James Fergusson, who believed that the minarets of Indian Islamic architecture were adaptations of Buddhist and Jaina towers or pillars of victory. According to Fergusson, minarets had in turn inspired the Chinese to build pagodas—except for spiral pagodas, which he thought had been inspired by ziggurats, the stepped towers that the Sumerians and Babylonians had erected in Mesopotamia from the third millennium BC!
Still other experts thought that minarets were themselves direct descendants of the Mesopotamian ziggurats. Many have remarked on the supposed resemblance of the Malwiya (Photo 5), the 50-meter (162’) spiral tower erected at Samarra, Iraq in the middle of the ninth century, to a ziggurat. However, though there is a centuries-old tradition of representing the Tower of Babel, the most famous ziggurat of all, as a spiral tower, in fact, modern archeologists have determined that only a few ziggurats—such as the one at Khorsabad and perhaps another at Babylon—actually did spiral, and those were square, not round, spirals. The vast majority of ziggurats were actually square stepped towers, with separate flights of stairs at right angles to their sides, so whatever inspired the Malwiya, it was not a ziggurat of the usual type.
Indeed, Muslims commonly associated ziggurats in general, and the Tower of Babel in particular, with idol-worship. Commentators on Sura 16 of the Qur’an ("The Bee"), for example, understand verse 26, which says that God "struck at the foundation of their building, and then the roof fell down upon them, from above them," as a reference to the immense tower that Nimrud built at Babel in order to ascend to heaven. It is therefore most unlikely that pious Muslims would have considered a ziggurat to be an appropriate model for any addition to an Islamic religious building. Clearly, the tower must have had other associations for Muslims, and any explanation of the origins and meaning of the minaret must begin by searching for those associations.
The first mosque to have had towers is the Great Mosque of Damascus, erected early in the eighth century, which had relatively short, square towers—some of them are still visible today—at its four corners. These structures, however, were left over from the building’s earlier incarnation as the enclosure surrounding the Roman temple to Jupiter that once stood on the site (Photo 6). Historians do not know what purpose, if any, the Roman towers may have served in Umayyad times, although it is quite possible that muezzins would have climbed them to give the call to prayer from their tops. Many centuries later, two of these short towers were surmounted by taller towers in the Mamluk style and a new third tower was built on the north side of the mosque.
The first mosque to have had purpose-built towers was the Mosque of the Prophet at Madinah, which was extensively remodeled by the Umayyad caliph al-Walid in the early eighth century, at just the same time that he was having the Mosque of Damascus rebuilt. Unlike the Damascus mosque, nothing survives of the Umayyad mosque at Madinah, but according to historical accounts, it too had a tower in each of its four corners. However, the Madinah towers were slender and tall, measuring nearly fifty cubits (something like 25 meters or 82’) high. The historical sources call those towers either manar or manara, but do not reveal the purpose they were expected to serve.
At approximately the same time, the Umayyad caliphs ordered similar tall, slender towers erected in the corners of the Great Mosque in Makkah (also repeatedly repaired and restored in later times), but no other mosques had towers at this time. One must imagine that in both cases the towers were erected not for the call to prayer—which was given from all mosques—but to mark and proclaim the particular sanctity of the sites they adorned.
In contrast, some early mosques—though certainly not all—are known to have had structures on their roofs used to shelter the muezzin when he gave the call to prayer. These small structures, normally called "sentry-box" or "staircase" minarets, were reached by a staircase outside the mosque, and they resemble a small version of the minbar, or pulpit, normally found within congregational mosques. The earliest surviving example is at the Great Mosque of Bosra in Syria, where a narrow external flight of steps leads to the mosque’s roof. This staircase can be identified with a fragmentary inscription (now in Istanbul) which refers to the construction of a mi’dhana in the year 720 or 721.
Muslims have continued to build staircase minarets over the centuries in several areas, especially in remote areas of Upper Egypt, East Africa, Anatolia and along the Gulf coast of Iran. The Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, for example, included one in the mosque he designed along traditional lines for the village of New Gourna near Luxor (Photo 7).
Early Muslims had a number of different terms for "a tower attached to a mosque from which the call to prayer is given." The most common word, manara, and its relatives manar and minar describe neither the tower’s supposed function nor its form. Manara, from which the English word minaret ultimately derives, is a "place or thing that gives light"; manar is specifically a "marker" or "sign." Sawma’a, as we have seen, was used in North Africa and Spain. Mi’dhana, "the place of the adhan," is the most accurate term, but it didn’t refer specifically to a tower and wasn’t all that common. Of course, all of these terms eventually became synonymous, but originally each had limited geographical currency or referred to different types of towers. Thus, a square tower in Spain or North Africa was called a satuma’a, while a cylindrical tower in Iran was a manar.
It was only in the ninth century, when the Abbasid caliphs ruled from the shores of the Atlantic to the deserts of Central Asia, that towers began to be consistently attached to mosques. Whereas the holy shrines at Makkah and Madinah had multiple towers set at the outer corners of the sanctuaries, Abbasid mosques were normally built with only one tower, located on the wall of the mosque opposite the mihrab—the niche in the Makkah-facing wall that marks the direction of prayer. Perhaps the most famous example of an Abbasid tower is the great Malwiya at Samarra, but there is also a much smaller tower of the same shape attached to the nearby mosque of Abu Dulaf.
The historical sources do not exactly explain why Muslims started attaching a single tower to their mosques at this time, but evidence suggests that the single tower signaled the growing importance of the congregational mosque as a religious institution and as the center of the ‘ulama, the class of religious scholars that was crystallizing at this time. Whereas in early Islamic times great height had been an attribute associated with royal power in the palaces that towered over neighboring houses and mosques, by the ninth century height came to be associated with religious power instead. Abbasid palaces might be immense but they remained relatively close to the ground, while mosques—or at least the towers attached to them—had an exclusive claim to height. Thus, the minaret served the purpose indicated by its most popular name: it was introduced primarily as a marker or indicator of the presence of Islam, not specifically as a place to give the call to prayer.
Though Mesopotamian builders erected helicoidal spiral towers like the Malwiya, their model was not normally imitated elsewhere in the Abbasid Empire. Instead, builders in each province followed models in their own architectural traditions. At Kairouan in Tunisia, for example, where the Great Mosque was erected in the mid-ninth century by the Aghlabid governors for the Abbasids, a multistoried tower was built of small stones laid like bricks (Photo 8). The massive square shaft has slightly sloping walls that give the building a sense of great solidity—a design based not on an Abbasid model but on a Roman lighthouse which once stood nearby on the Mediterranean coast.
Only in Egypt was the Mesopotamian type of spiral tower copied, namely at the mosque erected by Ahmad ibn Tulun, the semi-independent Abbasid governor of the province in the late ninth century. The present stone tower (Photo 9), with its spiral top, is a later replacement of the original brick one, which was also spiral in shape. Contemporary sources tell us, however, that the call to prayer was normally given not from the tower but from the top of a multistoried fountainhouse in the mosque’s courtyard, while the tower was used for other purposes.
An account that shows that Egyptians didn’t consider the tower an integral part of the mosque comes from Nasir-i Khusraw, a Persian visitor to Egypt in the mid-11th century. He reported that the descendants of Ibn Tulun had sold the mosque to the caliph for 30,000 gold coins. When the descendants then tried to tear down the tower, the caliph demanded to know what they were doing, since he had just bought the mosque from them. They replied that, although they had sold him the mosque, the price did not include the tower; in the end, the caliph had to pay another 5000 dinars for it. Though the story bears a certain resemblance to a popular Jeha folktale, it does reveal that mosque and tower were still considered separate structures in the 11th century.
Elsewhere, the tower was becoming an essential architectural feature of the mosque. Over 60 towers dating from between the early 11th century and the mid-13th still stand in Iran, the Central Asian republics and Afghanistan, either attached to mosques or isolated. Generally these are smooth cylinders of brick with an internal spiral stairway leading to a balcony supported by a deep muqarnas cornice. The exterior is usually covered with broad bands of geometric patterns separated by narrow bands and inscriptions. Sometimes the towers stand on low bases, and sometimes the shafts are decorated with lobes, flanges or decorative arcades. A fine example is the Tower of Mas’ud III, built in the early 12th century at Ghazni in today’s Afghanistan (Photo 10). Only the lower 20-meter (64’) section remains, but it is magnificent: Its plan is an eight-pointed star, and seven bands of ornamental brickwork, terra-cotta panels and stucco decorate the shaft, including an inscription band giving its patron’s name and titles. The tower’s upper section fell to an earthquake only in 1902, after eight centuries; it remains a mystery how medieval builders ensured that such tall and slender structures stood for so long in some of the world’s most active earthquake zones. It is thought that wooden beams inside the brickwork may have provided some of the necessary tensile strength.
The special taste for towers in this period, when the Seljuq Turks were the dominant political force in this region, can be ascribed to the widespread recognition of the form as an appropriate symbol of Islam triumphant. For patrons with limited resources, towers were far less expensive to build than entire mosques, yet they were gratifyingly visible. Some towers that appear independent today were once attached to mosques built of sun-dried brick that have now disappeared, but other towers were conceived to be independent of any adjacent structure, and served as landmarks or beacons to guide caravans across the landscape, or to signify the presence of Islam. The most impressive of this latter type is undoubtedly the minaret of Jam (Photo 11), located in a remote Afghan valley. Scholars only reached the site, once known as Firuzkuh and serving as the capital of the Ghurid dynasty, in 1957, and the discovery of its enormous three-tiered brick minaret caused a great sensation. Standing about 65 meters (213’) tall, it is decorated with a variety of geometric patterns in brick and stucco.
The builders of the Qutb Minar, which was begun in 1199 as the minaret of the Quwwat al-Islam ("Might of Islam") Mosque in Delhi—the first great Muslim construction in northern India—were undoubtedly inspired in part by the minaret of Jam. Standing 72.5 meters (238’) tall, the Qutb Minar (page 27) took decades to complete and was a potent symbol of the Muslim conquest of northern India. A century later, one of the Khalji sultans attempted to build a minaret nearby twice its size and height, but the project barely got off the ground, and only the enormous base remains as a testament to its builder’s overweening ambition.
At the same time that builders were erecting taller and taller minarets, they also realized that towers could be used effectively in pairs to decorate portals and arches. This idea spread quickly from Iran both west to Anatolia and east to Afghanistan and India. Indeed, pairs of minarets flanking a portal became standard in 14th-century Iranian architecture (Photo 12) and remained so throughout the following centuries, while a single minaret became the exception. The mosque at the Mongol capital of Sultaniyya in northwest Iran had four minarets, two flanking the portal and two flanking the principal facade, and the sultan’s tomb there was crowned by eight towers. The Taj Mahal at Agra is enclosed by four elegant minarets of white marble.
In Anatolia, which was opened to Muslim settlement after the battle of Malazgirt in 1071, the first minarets followed the Iranian model, having slender cylindrical brick shafts, sometimes decorated with glazed tiles, a circular balcony and a conical roof. The Ottomans, who expanded from northwest Anatolia into eastern Europe, further developed this type in stone, and the presence of multiple minarets came to indicate that a mosque had been founded by a sultan. The Üç, Serefeli ("Three-Balcony") Mosque in Edirne, built for Sultan Murat II in 1438, is the first Ottoman mosque to have had not only multiple minarets but also multiple balconies on a single minaret. Each of its four stone towers has a differently decorated shaft; that at the northwest corner rises to 67 meters (220’) and has three balconies, giving the building its popular name.
The varied minarets of early Ottoman mosques gave way to soberer and plainer types, particularly under the masterful hand of Sinan, the greatest Ottoman architect. Sinan’s mosque for Süleyman the Magnificent in Istanbul (1550-1556) has two pairs of minarets framing the courtyard: The taller two measure 76 meters (250’) and have three balconies each. Sinan’s mosque for Sultan Selim in Edirne (Photo 13) has four identical minarets framing the dome; each stands over 70 meters (230’) tall and has three balconies reached by three nested helical staircases.
This series climaxed in the early 17th century with the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (the "Blue Mosque") in Istanbul, where six minarets—a pair with two balconies and a quartet with three balconies—frame the mosque and courtyard. Tour guides often say that the sultan provoked the ire of the theologians by surpassing the number of minarets at the sanctuary in Makkah, but this story, like many associated with minarets, is pure fancy: The mosque at Makkah had already had seven minarets for several centuries when the Sultan Ahmet Mosque was built. The engineering mastery of Ottoman architects should not be underestimated: Even the devastating earthquake of August 1999 failed to damage the great Ottoman minarets, although many lesser modern structures were toppled or rendered unsafe.
Seventeenth-century European travelers to the Ottoman Empire record that teams of muezzins gave the call to prayer antiphonally from the several balconies of minarets, but the increasing height and multiplication of minarets in Ottoman times cannot be explained by piety alone. For architects, the minarets served to frame the domed masses of the mosque; for patrons they remained a powerful symbol of Islam—and the Ottoman sultanate—triumphant. Ottoman minarets consequently became a familiar sight as Ottoman domination extended around the Mediterranean basin into Syria, Arabia, Egypt, North Africa, Greece and the Balkans. The traditional square minaret continued to hold its own in Morocco, where the Ottomans never ruled.
Beyond the traditional lands of Islam in the Mediterranean basin and West Asia, minarets had a varied history. For example, in West Africa, minarets were often mud towers with slightly sloping sides and wooden projections like beam-ends (Photo 14), while along the East African coast, the staircase minaret was most common. In China, minarets were unusual. The cylindrical form of the 36-meter (120’) minaret at Guanzhou (Canton) shows that it was modeled on an Iranian type, but elsewhere in China the traditional forms of portals and pagodas were adapted for use as minarets (Photo 15). In Java, the square minaret at Kudus is one of the oldest Muslim buildings in the region. Dating from the 16th century, the brick tower differs in both material and style from the traditional timber and fiber mosques, and it shows many formal and functional similarities to indigenous Hindu gatehouses.
Mosque builders in recent decades have generally tried to reconcile local minaret traditions with the pressures of international architectural modernism, with varying degrees of success. The Islamic Center Mosque (1957) in Washington, D.C., for example, has a Mamluk-revival stone minaret built on a steel frame. In contrast, the architect of the Sherefudin Mosque (1980; page 29) in Visoko, Bosnia-Herzegovina, brilliantly exploited the full potential of modernism in his cylindrical white minaret with a balcony detailed with green industrial tubing. The four slender, pointed, futuristic minarets of Islamabad’s King Faysal Mosque (1986) anchor the building firmly to the ground. And the minaret of the King Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is a tribute to 20th-century engineering (Photo 16): Its 200-meter (650’) minaret has a pierced, square shaft enclosing a high-speed elevator. Decorated with a broad band of colored tilework and a crenelated top, it is a modernizing reinterpretation of the great towers of the Almohad period, such as the Kutubiyya in Marrakech and the Giralda in Seville. From its summit, a powerful laser beam indicates the direction of Makkah.
The minaret, we see, is at once less and more than it appeared at first sight. Although often and commonly used as a place from which to give the call to prayer, it wasn’t invented for that purpose at all. Today, as cities become noisier and more crowded, the minaret faces an uncertain future as the place from which a muezzin can be heard. Nevertheless, minarets continue—and will continue—to be built, and to serve as silent but visually powerful symbols of the worldwide presence of Islam.
Jonathan M. Bloom is professor of Islamic and Asian art at Boston College and the author and co-author of many books on Islamic art and architecture, including Minaret: Symbol of Islam. His most recent book is Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World (Yale).
This article appeared on pages 26-35 of the March/April 2002 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

[Informasi]: Lambang Bulan Sabit dan Bintang

Sumber: Eramuslim

Assalamu 'alaikumwr wb.

Yang saya hormati Ust. Ahmad... Mohon pencerahanya dengan detil tentang lambang Bulan Sabit dan Bintang yang ada di kubah masjid. Atas jawabannya diucapkan banyak terima kasih.




Assalamu `alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Beberapa versi pengamat sejarah mengatakan bahwa sebenarnya asal muasal lambang bulan bintang berasal dari lambang khilafah Islamiyah terakhir yang dimiliki umat Islam, yaitu Khilafah Turki Utsmani.

Khilafah ini adalah warisan terakhir kejayaan umat Islam. Memiliki luas wilayah yang membentang dari ujung barat sampai ujung timur dunia. Wilayahnya mencakup tiga benua besar dunia, Afrika-Eropa dan Asia. Ibukotanya adalah kota yang sejak 1400 tahun yang lalu telah dijanjikan oleh Rasulullah SAW sebagai kota yang akan jatuh ke tangan umat Islam.

Rasulullah bersabda, "Qonstantinopel akan kalian bebaskan. Pasukan yang mampu membebaskannya adalah pasukan yang sangat kuat. Dan panglima yang membebaskannya adalah panglima yang sangat kuat.."

Berabad-abad lamanya umat Islam memimpikan realisasi kabar gembira Rasulullah itu. Namun sejak zaman Khilafah Rasyidah, Khilafah Bani Umayah hingga Khilafah Bani Abbasiyah, kabar gembira itu tidak pernah juga terealisasi. Memang sebagian Eropa sudah jatuh ke tangan Islam, yaitu wilayah Spanyol dengan kota-kotanya antara lain: Cordova, Seville, Granda dan seterusnya. Namun jantung Eropa belum pernah jatuh secara serius ke tangan Islam.

Barulah ketika Sultan Muhammad II yang lebih dikenal dengan Sultan Muhammad Al-Fatih menjadi panglima, jatuhlah kota yang pernah menjadi ibu kota Eropa itu. Lewat pertempuran yang sangat dahsyat dengan menggunakan senjata paling modern di kala itu, yaitu CANON atau meriam yang sangat besar dan suaranya memekakkan telinga, Muhammad Al-Fatih berhasil menjatuhkan kota konstantininopel itu dan menjadikannya sebagai ibu kota Khilafah Turki Utsmani. Serta menjadikannya pusat peradaban Islam.

Wilayahnya adalah tiga benua dengan semua peradaban yang ada di dalamnya. Saat itu bulan sabit digunakan untuk melambangkan posisi tiga benua itu. Ujung yang satu menunjukkan benua Asia yang ada di Timur, ujung lainnya mewakili Afrika yang ada di bagian lain dan di tengahnya adalah Benua Eropa. Sedangkan lambang bintang menunjukkan posisi ibu kota yang kemudian diberi nama Istambul yang bermakna: Kota Islam.

Bendera bulan sabit ini adalah bendera resmi umat Islam saat itu, karena seluruh wilayah dunia Islam berada di bahwa satu naungan khilafah Islamiyah. Tidak seperti sekarang ini yang terpecah-pecah menjadi sekian ratus negara yang berdiri sendiri hasil dari jajahan barat.

Wajar kalau lambang itu begitu melekat di hati umat dari ujung barat Maroko sampai ujung Timur Marauke. Inilah lambang yang pernah dimiliki oleh umat Islam secara bersama, bulan dan bintang. Dan lambang ini kemudian seolah menjadi lambang resmi umat Islam dan selalu muncul di kubah-kubah masjid. Dan kalau kita perhatikan, nyaris hampir semua kubah masjid di berbagai belahan dunia punya lambang ini.

Dan banyak institusi umat Islam yang juga memakai lambang ini, misalnya Masyumi di masa lalu. Bahkan di zaman reformasi, di Indonesia muncul Partai Bulan Bintang yang lambangnya bulan bintang.

Wallahu a`lam bish-shawab, wassalamu `alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Ahmad Sarwat, Lc

[Informasi]: Pray Between Two Pillars

Sumber: Islam Online

Question :

As-Salamu'alaykum. I have a question about the hadith that states we should not pray between two pillars, because it can cut the saff (line) of jama'ah (congregation). Can you explain to me this hadith status? How wide is the measure between them? Is it enough for one person only or more persons? Jazakumullah khairan.

Wa`alykum As-Salaamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger. Some scholars disliked performing prayer between the two pillars based on some reports narrated in this regard, while other scholars said it is allowed, quoting the hadith that when the Prophet, peace be upon him, entered the ka'bah he prayed between two posts. A third group of scholars tried to bring harmony between the several reports on the issue and stated that it is allowed to pray between the two pillars if the person is praying individually but not in jama'ah. Therefore, it is recommended not to pray between the two pillars unless the person is praying alone or if the mosque is tight and there is a crowd.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

[Fikrah]: Eksistensi Mihrab dalam Masjid

Mihrab telah diterima oleh umum sebagai bagian dari masjid yakni sebagai ruang imam. Namun interpretasi ilmiah berkata lain dengan mengartikannya sebagai ruang penunjuk arah qiblat yang di adopsi dari bagian ruangan depan gereja atau kuil di Persia.

Mihrab sendiri dalam bahasa arab haraba berarti melawan atau berperang. Beberapa sejarawan menganggap bahwa istilah ini lebih berasal dari Persia yaitu lubang yang tidak tembus atau cekungan (niche) pada kuil Mithraistik.

Apakah mihrab menurut Qur'an dan Hadits?

Mihrab dalam Al Qur'an

Kata mihrab disebutkan tiga kali dalam Al Qur'an: QS. 3:37, QS. 3:39, QS. 19:11. Berikut petikan salah satu ayat:

''Maka Tuhannya menerimanya (sebagai nazar) dengan penerimaan yang baik, dan mendidiknya dengan pendidikan yang baik dan Allah menjadikan Zakaria pemeliharanya. Setiap Zakaria masuk untuk menemui Maryam di mihrab, ia dapati makanan di sisinya. Zakaria berkata: "Hai Maryam dari mana kamu memperoleh (makanan) ini?" Maryam menjawab: "Makanan itu dari sisi Allah". Sesungguhnya Allah memberi rezeki kepada siapa yang dikehendaki-Nya tanpa hisab.'' (QS. Ali Imran (3) : 37)

Menurut penafsiran Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali dan Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan dalam cetakan al Qur'an King Fahd Complex; Saudi Arabia, mihrab berarti tempat shalat (kecil) atau ruang privasi, namun bukan arah atau penunjuk tempat shalat apalagi ruang imam.

Mihrab dalam Hadits

Kata mihrab juga terdapat pada hadits berikut:

''Dari Wa’il bin Hujr radliyallahu 'anhu berkata, aku menyaksikan Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam ketika bangkit menuju masjid maka beliau masuk ke mihrab. Kemudian beliau mengangkat kedua tangannya sambil bertakbir. Kemudian meletakkan tangan kanannya di atas tangan kirinya di atas dadanya.” (HR. Baihaqi)

Para ulama Hanafiah menjadikan hadits ini sebagai dasar mengapa ada mihrab dalam masjid. Mereka membolehkan mengadakan mihrab dengan apapun itu bentuknya, baik berupa cekungan, lubang yang tidak tembus (misykat) ataukah ruang imam yang jelas (dengan mengadopsi bagian altar gereja).

Beberapa Ulama yang lain memiliki interpertasi lain pada hadits tersebut, karena memang pada jaman Rasulullah saw tidak ada mihrab melainkan sutrah (tanda atau dinding qiblat). Mereka lebih mengartikan kata mihrab dalam hadits ini semata-mata sama dengan kata mushalla (tempat shalat), seperti istilah mihrab dalam al Qur'an, daripada sebagai ruang imam atau ruang atau tanda untuk arah qiblat (Mashalihul Mursalah).

Sebagian ulama yang lainpun tidak menyetujui kehadirannya di dalam masjid, dengan bersandar pada hadits berikut, namun didhaifkan oleh kalangan hanafiah:

Dari Musa Al Juhani berkata, Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam bersabda :
Ummatku ini selalu berada di dalam kebaikan selama mereka tidak menjadikan di dalam masjid-masjid mereka seperti mihrab-mihrabnya orang-orang kristen.” (HR. Ibnu Abi Syaibah di dalam Al Mushannaf)

Mereka memberikan pengecualian bersyarat untuk kasus di mana sutrah atau dinding qiblat tidak beda dari dinding lainnya sehingga tidak jelas arah qiblat harus ke mana. Mereka berpendapat jika sudah ada mimbar, maka mihrab tidak perlu, karena cukup dengan mimbar itu saja sudah bisa menjadi petunjuk arah qiblat tempat shalat. Jika tidak ada mimbar maka boleh membuat mihrab kecil ala kadarnya (tanda, garis, cekung atau lubang), tidak mirip altar gereja yakni dengan ruangan besar yang dalam untuk imam, sehingga imam tidak tampak dari sisi kiri dan kanan masjid oleh makmum. Dan mereka juga mengingatkan supaya mihrab yang dibuat tidak menjadi hiasan belaka tanpa membawa manfaat.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

[Informasi]: Pandangan Keliru dalam Arsitektur Islam

Oleh : Ismail Raji A. Al Faruqi*

*"Banyak orang muslim dan non muslim yang meragukan fakta bahwa Islam sedikit banyak mempunyai hubungan dengan arsitektur. Keraguan mereka itu disebabkan karena mereka tidak tahu atau keliru, atau karena kedua-duanya (tidak tahu dan keliru)."*

Banyak orang muslim dan non muslim yang meragukan fakta bahwa Islam sedikit banyak mempunyai hubungan dengan arsitektur. Keraguan mereka itu disebabkan karena mereka tidak tahu atau keliru, atau karena kedua-duanya (tidak tahu dan keliru). Pertama, pihak yang tidak tahu : orang-orang muslim yang tidak menyadari bahwa :

1. Di seluruh Dunia Islam, kesatuan arsitektural merupakan satu segi dari kesatuan umat dibawah Islam. Sebelum kedatangan Islam, kesatuan arsitektural belum ada. Sebelumnya, gaya arsitektur dimana-mana saling berbeda. Kesatuan gaya justru muncul bersama Islam, yaitu : saat arsitektur khas Islam mulai mendominasi, dengan memperbolehkan munculnya variasi-variasi untuk hal non-esensial, sehingga gaya tersebut bisa menyesuaikan diri dengan iklim setempat, serta hal-hal istimewa peninggalan nenek moyang atau pakem adat istiadat.

2. Karakteristik gaya-gaya arsitektur yang terdapat di seluruh Dunia Islam dilengkapi dan diilhami oleh Islam. Seluruh standar arsitektural tepat guna pertama-tama diterapkan di Madinah, Baitul Maqdis, Dimasyq, Qayrawan, dan Baghdad, lalu menyebar ke seluruh Dunia Islam, seiring perkembangan dan penyebaran agama Islam.

3. Seperti halnya cabang seni rupa lain, arsitektur merupakan ekspresi keindahan umat Islam, sesuai dengan keunikan serta perbedaan pandangan mereka terhadap realitas, ruang, waktu, sejarah, sikap personal, serta hubungan organiknya dengan ?ummah.? Islam merupakan agama yang lengkap dan sangat komprehensif, baik pandangan hidup maupun kebendaannya. Pengaruh Islam meresap ke seluruh sendi kehidupan. Islam mengatur cara berpakaian, makan, istirahat, bermuamalah, bahkan bersantai atau rekreasi. Tentu saja hal itu sangat mempengaruhi, sangat menentukan kebiasaan manusia. Meskipun faktanya standar arsitektur Islam sepertinya hanya berlaku dalam pembangunan masjid ( dalam hal pemilihan dekorasi, desain atap, kerajinan kayu, sistem penerangan, corak permadani), namun bisa ditelusuri bahwasanya pola dasar tersebut mempengaruhi seluruh gaya arsitektur Islami.

Kedua, pihak yang berpandangan keliru, yaitu kaum muslimin serta para orientalis yang teguh pada tesis : ?Tak ada hubungan antara Islam dan arsitektur.? Menurut mereka, Islam hanya mengatur masalah peribadatan saja. Kelompok sekuler tersebut memandang Islam tidak dapat menentukan hal-hal yang berada diluar daerah religi (ibadat hubungan personal dengan Tuhan). Mereka membagi kehidupan menjadi dua : kehidupan religius dan kehidupan sekuler, sebagaimana tradisional Kristen memisahkan kerajaan Tuhan dan Kaisar, sehingga terjadi pemisahan kehidupan gereja dan negara. Mereka (kelompok sekuler) mengetahui bahwa ajaran Islam itu lengkap dan meliputi seluruh sendi kehidupan. Mereka sengaja berusaha untuk melemahkan hukum Islam, agar pengaruh-pengaruh keislaman yang memang universal dan berjangkauan luas bisa ditekan sedemikian rupa. Tampaknya mereka takut hukum Islam menyentuh hukum agama atau undang-undang sekuler mereka, sampai mencampuri etika berpikir serta estetika keseniannya. Kaum subversifpun mencoba menyingkirkan Islam dari kancah kegiatan manusia, dengan mengusung gagasan baru yang tidak islami, seperti : nasionalisme, kristenisasi, westernisasi, dan komunisme. Faktor gagasan baru tersebut berupaya menyimpangkan arsitektur sebagai ekspresi aspirasi manusia tertinggi dan termulia. Akhirnya, faktor-faktor itupun mengubah orientasi arsitektur menjadi hanya sebatas pengisi kebutuhan dasar dan kegunaan, atau menghubungkan tema-tema arsitektur dengan unsur alam- sejenis penyembahan berhala dari neo-Hellenisme- sebagai usaha peniruan secara membabi-buta terhadap Barat modern.

*Professor masalah pengkajian Dinul Islam di Temple University, Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, U.S.A

[Informasi]: Penemu Metode Arah Kiblat, Siapakah Dia?

Sumber: NU Online

Selama berabad-abad Muslim di seluruh dunia menjalan petunjuk dalam Al-Quran, agar menghadap Qiblat di Mekkah ketika sholat. “… Palingkanlah mukamu ke arah Masjidil Haram. Dan dimana saja kamu berada, palingkanlah mukamu ke arahnya ….” (Alquran 2;144)

Namun, bagi umat Islam yang jaraknya ribuan mil dari kota Makkah, bukan hal yang gampang untuk menemukan arah yang benar untuk sholat atau arah Qiblat. Masalah ini sering menimbulkan kontroversi.

Beberapa mesjid di Kairo, Mesir mempertimbangkan dua arah Qiblat yang berbeda dengan besaran sudut sebesar 10 derajat antara arah satu dengan yang lain, bila diambil garis lurus dari dinding luar mesjid dan dari dinding dalam mesjid.Di Amerika Utara, umat Islam mengambil arah Timur Laut sebagai arah Qiblat, berdasarkan rute lingkaran besar ( jarak terpendek permukaan bumi ) ke arah kota Makkah, sementara umat Islam lainnya mengambil arah Tenggara.

Umat Islam yang hidup di abad pertengahan, menggunakan hitungan matematika yang canggih untuk memecahkan kesulitan dalam menentukan arah Qiblat, sebelum masyarakat Eropa berhasil menemukan metoda yang sama. Ketika orang-orang Eropa meyakini bahwa permukaan bumi rata, para ilmuwan Islam sudah membuat koreksi tentang lengkungan permukaan bumi. Dua bentuk alat yang berhasil ditemukan, membuktikan bahwa ahli matematika Islam pada saat itu jauh lebih maju. Peta dunia dengan pusat kota Makkkah, menunjukkan arah dan jarak ke kota Makkah, dari berbagai tempat di dunia bagi umat Islam di abad pertengahan, dan mereka sudah membuatnya dalam bentuk peta ‘timbul’ yang baru dikenal di oleh dunia barat pada abad ke-20.

Pakar sejarah dari Johann Wolgang Universitas Goethe di Frankfurt, Jerman, David King mengungkapkan,”Saya sudah melakukan penelitian tentang arah Qiblat selama 20 tahun, dan penemuan peta ini sangat mengejutkan saya”. Selama 10 tahun terakhir, King berusaha menemukan siapa pembuat peta-peta itu, dan siapa yang lebih penting siapa yang mendisainnya. Bukti-bukti yang ada menunjukkan bahwa peta-peta timbul tersebut dibuat dekat Isfahan, atau yang dikenal dengan negara Iran sekarang, pada saat pemerintahan dinasti Safavid (1502-1722). King meyakini, petak-petak pada peta yang menjadi bagian yang istimewa dari peta tersebut, sudah ditemukan berabad-abad sebelumnya.

Satu dari dua peta bersejarah itu muncul pada tahun 1989, dalam pelelangan di pusat lelang Sotheby, London. Peta yang kedua, dimiliki oleh seorang kolektor yang tidak bersedia disebutkan namanya, yang membeli peta tersebut dari seorang pedagang barang-barang antik di Paris pada tahun 1995. Kedua peta itu sangat mirip, dan diperkirakan berasal dari tempat pembuatan yang sama. Peta-peta tersebut memiliki lebar sekitar 9 inci, dan aslinya dilengkapi dengan 3 alat yaitu kompas, jam matahari, dan alat penunjuk berputar, yang menunjukkan arah dan jarak ke kota Makkah. Peta-peta itu juga menggambarkan garis lintang dan garis bujur, dimana garis lintang digambarkan dengan garis melingkar sedangkan garis bujur digambarkan dengan garis vertical. Lebih dari 100 lubang terdapat pada peta yang terbuat dari campuran tembaga dan timah itu, yang menunjukkan berbagai lokasi berbeda ke arah kota Mekah sebagai pusatnya. Karena fungsinya bukan sebagai alat navigasi, peta-peta penunjuk arah Qiblat itu tidak seperti peta yang kita kenal pada umumnya. Peta tersebut tidak memberikan keterangan daratan, lautan atau sungai.

“Hal itu tidak mengherankan, karena yang mereka butuhkan adalah keterangan tentang garis lengkung permukaan bumi dan motivasi untuk menemukan arah Qiblat,” ungkap seorang ahli sejarah matematika Len Berggren dari Universitas Simon Fraser di Vancouver, Canada. “Yang menjadi kejutan adalah ide membuat peta itu dalam bentuk menyembul,” tambahnya. Bukan hanya garis bujur dan garis lintang yang keduanya menjadi penemuan yang belum pernah terjadi di dunia Islam, tapi ukuran-ukurannya pun sangat tepat sehingga jarak ke kota Mekah dalam petunjuk tersebut, sesuai dengan jarak seperti yang ada sekarang. Kalau garis-garis itu hanya berupa garis lurus, maka teori untuk menemukan arah Qiblat pada peta itu tidak berlaku.

Menurut King, para pembuat peta di Isfahan tidak pernah mengerjakan bentuk lengkung dalam peta itu sendiri, mereka juga melibatkan pakar astronomi bukan para ahli matematika.

Lantas darimana model asli penunjuk Qiblat sebenarnya berasal ? Menurut perkiraan King, pada awal abad ke-19, para ahli astronomi Islam sudah merancang metode untuk menghitung arah Qiblat. Seiring dengan munculnya metode, King menduga peta-peta penunjuk arah Qiblat juga mulai dibuat. Sementara itu, rekan King di Universitas Goethe Francois Charette berteori, bahwa garis lengkung dalam peta untuk menerjemahkan bentuk sama dalam kartografi ( penggambaran peta ). Dugaan lainnya, peta itu didisain oleh seorang pakar yang sangat menguasai ilmu trigonometri. King memperkirakan pelopornya adalah Abu ‘I-Rayhan Al-Biruni (973-1048) ilmuwan Islam abad pertengahan yang hidup di Ghazna, (sekarang Afghanistan) yang juga menulis sejumlah bukun yang sangat berpengaruh, yang membahas secara mendalam tentang Qiblat.

Namun dalam katalog yang dibuat oleh balai lelang Sotheby, saat pelelangan peta itu menuliskan bahwa peta-peta itu merupakan inspirasi bangsa Eropa Barat, dan instrumen bersejarah itu adalah bukti dari hasil asimilasi ilmu pengetahuan yang berkembang di Eropa dan teknologi di Persia pada abad ke-18. Namun interpretasi itu dibantah keras oleh King, dengan mengacu pada bentuk fisik dan bukti sejarah. King berargumentasi, meski para pakar matematika Eropa juga melakukan penelitian untuk menemukan arah Qiblat, ada kenyataan sejarah yang membuktikan bahwa formula tentang bagaimana menemukan arah Qiblat sudah dilakukan oleh ilmuwan Islam pada abad ke-9. Tidak ada bukti para ilmuwan Eropa yang ada di Persia pada saat itu membawa alat seperti peta dengan kota Mekah sebagai pusatnya.

Sampai hari ini, tidak ada petunjuk lain yang memberi titik terang tentang dari mana sebenarnya asal peta penunjuk arah Qiblat itu berasal. Masalahnya, banyak naskah-naskah dalam bahasa Arab yang tidak dipelajari dan dikatalogkan di perpustakaan-perpustakaan di dunia. Naskah-naskah it bisa jadi memuat keterangan-keterangan bagaimana umat Islam pada jaman dahulu menentukan arah Qiblat, dengan metode yang belum dikenal sebelumnya. (MA/ln/islamicity)

[Artikel]: Menghias RumahNya

Oleh: Fauzia Dwi Anggraini, Balikpapan

Sebuah mesjid saat ini ramai diangkat sebagai berita di saluran TV. Mesjid ini menjadi berita karena kabar kemegahannya. Berada dalam kompleks seluas 10 ha, dihiasi dengan kubah terbuat dari emas dan pilar-pilar yang terbuat dari marmer, cukup dapat membuat tercengang setiap orang yang melihatnya.

Melihat mesjid ini, timbul pertanyaan yang sedikit menggelitik benak saya. Apakah pantas membuat sesuatu yang terlihat mewah, megah dan mahal ketika masih ada mereka yang fakir disekitarnya? Apakah ini bukan yang dinamakan berlebih-lebihan, walaupun ditujukan untuk menghias rumahNya?

Contoh lain sebuah masjid di bilangan Kebayoran Baru, dimana lantai 2 yang menjadi tempat bagi jamaah muslimah terasa amat sangat panas akibat aliran udara yang tidak lancar. Aliran udara terhambat akibat lubang-lubang yang sedianya menjadi ventilasi aliran udara ditutup dengan kaca patri beraneka warna ornament hiasan masjid. Disatu sisi menyuguhkan keindahan secara visual, di sisi lainnya justru menurunkan nilai fungsi si lubang ventilasi tadi sehingga menghambat kegiatan ibadah didalamnya.

Selain itu banyak masjid yang dari luar terlihat megah dan dihias dengan indah tetapi memiliki fasilitas kamar mandi dan berwudhu yang cukup memprihatinkan. Banyak keran air ditempat wudhu yang rusak atau bocor, pintu kamar mandi yang telah jebol atau bahkan aliran air buangan yang menggenang. Berwudhu dimana menjadi salah satu bagian penting dalam ritual beribadah seharusnya mendapatkan fasilitas yang lebih memadai, nyaman, dan terjamin kebersihannya.

Tak ada yang salah dengan niatan menghias rumahNya selama dilakukan sesuai dengan syariah dan tidak berlebih-lebihan. Sebuah masjid sederhana akan lebih terasa bermakna ketika dapat menawarkan kenyamanan beribadah. Masjid yang terpelihara kebersihan dan kerapiannya, pemisahan shaf yang tertib antara jamaah laki-laki dan perempuan serta dilengkapi dengan fasilitas berwudhu yang memadai. Sebuah masjid dimana suara lantunan ayat suci Al Quran menjadi penghiasnya. Sebuah masjid yang bermegah-megahan dengan banyaknya jumlah jamaah yang dengan setia menyapa dan memujaNya.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

[Fiqh-ul-Bina']: Penataan Ruang Masjid (Bagian 3)

Sifat-sifat Mimbar Nabi
Dari Berbagai Sumber

Hadis riwayat Muslim dari Sahal bin Saad radiyallahu ‘anhu : Bahwa beberapa orang menemui Sahal bin Saad. Mereka berselisih mengenai jenis kayu mimbar Rasul. Lalu kataku (Sahal): Demi Allah saya benar-benar tahu jenis kayu mimbar itu dan siapa pembuatnya. Aku sempat melihat pertama kali Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wassalam. duduk di atas mimbar itu. Abu Hazim berkata: Aku katakan kepada Abu Abbas: Ceritakanlah! Ia berkata: Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. pernah mengutus seseorang kepada istri Abu Hazim. Abu Hazim berkata bahwa beliau pada hari itu akan memberi nama anaknya, beliau bersabda: Lihatlah anakmu yang berprofesi tukang kayu. Dia telah membuatkan aku sebuah tempat di mana aku berbicara di hadapan orang. Dia telah membuatnya tiga anak tangga. Kemudian Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. menyuruh meletakkannya di tempat ini. Mimbar tersebut berasal dari kayu hutan. Aku sempat melihat Rasulullah berdiri di mimbar sambil membaca takbir yang diikuti oleh para sahabat. Setelah beberapa lama berada di atas mimbar, beliau turun mengundurkan diri lalu melakukan sujud di dasar mimbar. Kemudian beliau kembali hingga beliau selesai salat. Setelah itu beliau menghadap ke arah para sahabat dan bersabda: Wahai manusia, sesungguhnya tadi aku lakukan hal itu agar kalian mengikuti aku dan kalian dapat belajar tentang salatku.”

Dari Abdul Aziz bin Abi Hazim dari bapaknya bahwasanya sekelompok orang mendatangi Sahl bin Sa’ad sedang mereka berselisih pendapat tentang masalah mimbar. Maka Abu Hazim berkata : “Adapun aku, demi Allah, sungguh aku mengetahuinya dari kayu apa mimbar tersebut dibuat dan siapa yang membuatnya. Aku telah melihat Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam pada hari pertama beliau duduk di atasnya.” Berkata Abdul Aziz, aku katakan kepadanya : “Wahai Abu Abbas, khabarkanlah kepada kami!” Dia berkata : Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam menyampaikan kepada seorang wanita --Berkata Abu Hazim : “Sesungguhnya beliau menyebutkan namanya pada hari itu”-- : “Temuilah budak kamu yang tukang kayu untuk membuat mimbarku yang di atas mimbar itu aku berceramah kepada manusia.” Maka budak tersebut membuat mimbar ini tiga tingkatan. Kemudian Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam menyuruh untuk diletakkan di tempat ini. Mimbar tersebut terbuat dari pangkal pohon hutan. Sungguh aku telah melihat Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam berdiri di atasnya kemudian beliau bertakbir (shalat) dan bertakbirlah manusia yang ada di belakangnya sedang beliau tetap di atas mimbar. Kemudian beliau (ruku’) lalu bangkit dari ruku’ kemudian beliau turun dari mimbar (dengan berjalan mundur) sampai beliau sujud di dasar mimbar kemudian mengulanginya lagi sampai akhir shalatnya. Setelah itu beliau menghadap manusia dan bersabda : “Wahai manusia, sesungguhnya aku lakukan yang demikian agar kalian mengikuti dan mempelajari shalatku.” (HR. Muslim dalam Kitabul Masajid bab Jawazul Khuthulah ulal Khuthasataini fis Shalah hadits ke-44)

Lafadh hadits :
فعمل هذه الثلاث درجاة
Imam An Nawawi berkata : “Pada hadits tersebut terdapat keterangan yang jelas bahwa mimbar Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam tiga tingkat.”

Dari Anas bin Malik radliyallahu 'anhu bahwasanya Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam berdiri pada hari Jum’at sambil menyandarkan punggungnya ke batang pohon yang menancap di masjid, berkhutbah kepada manusia, kemudian datang seorang Rumi dan berkata : “Alangkah baiknya kalau aku buatkan untuk Anda (Muhammad Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam) sesuatu yang Anda duduk padanya sedangkan engkau seperti berdiri!” Maka dia membuat mimbar untuk Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam dua tingkat dan Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam duduk pada tingkat yang ketiga. Ketika Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam duduk di atas mimbar tersebut, pohon (yang tadinya dipakai Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam bersandar) mengeluarkan suara seperti teriakan sapi sampai-sampai masjid Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam terguncang, sedih karena ditinggalkan Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam. Maka Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam turun mendekatinya kemudian memeluknya sedang pohon tadi terus mengeluarkan suara. Ketika Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam bersabda : “Demi Dzat yang jiwa Muhammad Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam berada di tangan-Nya, kalau aku tidak memeluknya, ia akan terus mengeluarkan suara sampai hari kiamat (sedih karena ditinggalkan Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam).” Maka beliau memerintah (shahabatnya untuk membuat lubang) dan menguburkan pohon tersebut. (HR. Ad Darimi dalam Muqadimah nomor 6 bab Maa Akraman Nabi bi Haninil Mimbar dan dihasankan oleh Syaikh Muqbil bin Hadi Al Wadi’i dalam As Shahihul Musnad 1/76-77).

Dari Ibnu Umar radliyallahu 'anhu bahwasanya Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam ketika badanya gemuk, Tamim Ad Dary berkata kepadanya : “Alangkah baiknya kalau aku buatkan sebuah mimbar untukmu, ya Rasulullah, yang akan menopang tubuh Anda!” Rasulullah menjawab : “Ya.” Maka dia membuat mimbar untuk Rasulullah dua tingkat. (HR. Abu Dawud dan dishahihkan oleh Imam Muhaddits Syaikh Muhammad Nashiruddin Al Albani dalam Shahih Abu Dawud Kitabus Shalah bab Ittikhadzul Mimbar nomor 958 [1081])

Dari Anas bin Malik radliyallahu 'anhu, dia berkata : Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam jika berkhutbah pada hari Jum’at menyandarkan punggungnya kepada sepotong kayu, maka ketika manusia semakin banyak beliau bersabda : “Buatkan untukku mimbar.” Beliau ingin (suaranya) terdengar oleh mereka, maka mereka membuat mimbar untuk Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam dua tingkat kemudian beliau pindah dari kayu tersebut dan menggunakan mimbar … . (HR. Ahmad 3/226)

Dari Ubay bin Ka’ab radliyallahu 'anhu, dia berkata : Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam shalat menghadap ke arah pangkal pohon ketika masjid masih berwujud bangsal. Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam berkhutbah pada pangkal pohon tersebut, maka salah seorang dari shahabatnya berkata : “Apakah perlu kami buatkan untuk Anda sesuatu yang Anda berdiri di atasnya pada hari Jum’at sehingga manusia melihat Anda dan Anda dapat memperdengarkan kepada mereka khutbah Anda?” Nabi menjawab : “Ya.” Maka dibuatkan baginya mimbar tiga tingkat dan itu merupakan mimbar yang paling tinggi. Mereka meletakkannya di tempat yang biasa beliau tempati … . (HR. Ibnu Majah Kitab Iqamatush Shalah bab Maa Ja’a fi Sya’nil Mimbar 199 dan Abu Nu’aim)

Dari Sahl bin Sa’ad As Saidi radliyallahu 'anhu berkata : Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam biasa berdiri di atas kayu yang berada di masjid ketika berkhutbah, maka ketika jumlah manusia semakin banyak, dikatakan kepada beliau : “Wahai Rasulullah, kalau aku buat sebuah mimbar sehingga kau berada lebih tinggi dari manusia dengannya?” Maka beliau mengutus seseorang untuk menemui tukang kayu kemudian aku pergi dengannya sampai masuk hutan (dalam suatu riwayat) lalu menebang pangkal pohon. Kemudian dia membuatnya dan kami membawanya. Mimbar tersebut dua tingkat dan tingkat yang ketiga adalah tempat duduk Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam. (HR. Abu Nu’aim)

Imam Syafi’i rahimahullah berkata : ''Sampai kepada kami hadits dari Salamah bin Al Akwa’ bahwasanya dia berkata : Rasulullah Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam berkhutbah dengan dua khutbah dan duduk dengan dua duduk. Orang yang menyampaikan khabar kepadaku mengatakan : “Nabi Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam berdiri pada tingkat di bawah tempat duduk istirahat (yaitu tingkat kedua). Kemudian beliau Shallallahu 'Alaihi Wa Sallam mengucapkan salam lalu duduk pada tempat duduk istirahat (yaitu tingkat ketiga) sampai muadzin selesai adzan. Kemudian beliau berdiri berkhutbah kemudian duduk dan berdiri lagi untuk khutbah kedua.”

Saturday, September 16, 2006

[Informasi]: Jalan Panjang Rumah Tuhan

Sumber: Gatra

TIPE bentuk masjid di Indonesia berasal dari masjid Jawa. Demikian menurut penelitian ilmuwan Belanda, G.F. Pijper. Ia merinci, ada enam karakter umum tipe masjid Jawa. Yakni berdenah bujur sangkar. Lantainya berada pada fundamen yang massif atau tidak memiliki kolong lantai sebagaimana rumah-rumah vernakular Indonesia atau tempat ibadah berukuran kecil, seperti langgar (Jawa), tajug (Sunda), dan bale (Banten).

Atapnya berbentuk tumpang, terdiri dari dua hingga lima tumpukan, mengerucut ke satu titik di puncaknya. Masjid punya ruang tambahan pada sebelah barat atau barat laut untuk mihrab. Ada beranda di depan atau samping masjid, biasanya disebut surambi atau siambi (Jawa) atau tepas masjid (Sunda). Juga punya ruang terbuka yang mengitari masjid yang dikelilingi pagar pembatas dengan satu pintu masuknya di bagian depan.

Beberapa ilmuwan lainnya juga mendeskripsikan karakteristik masjid Jawa ini. Gambaran secara umum terlihat hampir sama, hanya terdapat perbedaan dari cara mengungkapkan. Yang jelas, ciri bentuk masjid Jawa seperti itu sejatinya sangat unik. Serta menunjukkan perbedaan mencolok dibandingkan dengan bentuk arsitektur masjid di berbagai belahan dunia.

Pendapat Pijper tentang tipe bentuk masjid di Indonesia itu digarisbawahi oleh hampir semua ilmuwan. Bahkan banyak yang menyebutkan, pengaruh bentuk arsitektur masjid Jawa ini bukan hanya pada tipe masjid di Indonesia, namun hingga masjid-masjid di seluruh Asia Tenggara, antara lain Malaysia, Thailand (Patani), dan Filipina (Mindanao). Pendapat itu, antara lain, dikemukakan oleh akademisi Australia Hugh O'neill dalam buku The Mosque History Architectural Development and Regional Diversity (1994).

Sampai pada titik ini, banyak kalangan tampak berpandangan sama. Namun, ketika dihadapkan pada pertanyaan dari mana sebenarnya asal-usul bentuk masjid Jawa yang unik dan khas ini, akan mencuat perbedaan pendapat dan perdebatan yang tak terelakkan. Berikut saya paparkan rangkuman silang pendapat tentang asal-usul masjid Jawa dari para scholar.

Pendapat yang paling awal datang dari seorang ilmuwan Belanda bernama K. Hidding di tahun 1933 dalam tulisannya berjudul: "Het bergemotief in eenige godsdienstige verschinjnselen op Java". Hidding mengaitkan antara bentuk atap masjid Jawa yang tinggi menjulang dan bentuk gunung yang disucikan.

Asumsi Hidding ini juga mendapat dukungan sejarawan terkenal Belanda H.J. de Graff dalam tulisannya: "De Oorsprong der Javaanse Moskee", di tahun 1947-1948. Graff menegaskan, bentuk atap masjid seperti itu memang diturunkan dari bentuk gunung, karena ia merupakan suatu bentuk yang suci dan sakral dalam tradisi Hindu-Jawa.

Sedangkan peneliti J.P. Rouffer mencoba mengargumentasikan pandangan religius bahwa masjid Jawa muncul dari sebuah bangunan Buddha yang disebut dalam Negara Kertagama karangan Mpu Prapanca. Spekulasi Rouffer ini mungkin memang dilengkapi berbagai argumen religi, namun tampak sama sekali tidak mempertimbangkan segi fisik bangunan sehingga dasar hipotesisnya lemah.

Baik Hidding maupun Rouffer tidak mempertimbangkan aspek fisik, khususnya teknik dan konstruksi bangunan. Mereka hanya menginterpretasikan bentuk umum dikaitkan dengan pandangan religi. Padahal, semua pandangan dan interpretasi metafisik saja tidaklah cukup untuk menjelaskan keterkaitan segi-segi fisik atau arsitektural sebuah bangunan. Selain kurang rasional, pandangan seperti ini juga sering absurd, sehingga tidak mudah diterima begitu saja oleh banyak kalangan, khususnya sejarawan arsitek.

Di tahun 1935, seorang arkeolog Belanda bernama W.F. Stutterheim dalam bukunya berjudul Leerboek der Indische cultuuregeschiedenis, Vol. 3, ''De Islam en zijn komst in den archipel'', menyebutkan, masjid Jawa itu diturunkan dari bentuk bangunan besar komunitas, yang ia sebut sebagai hanenklopbaan seperti kalau di Bali disebut wantilan (tempat sabung ayam). Sayangnya, teori ini tidak didukung dengan argumen lebih lanjut.

Pandangan yang disertai argumen cukup meyakinkan mungkin dari Pijper dalam makalahnya berjudul The Minaret in Java (1947). Setelah menyebut karakteristik masjid Jawa, ia juga menyimpulkan bahwa bentuk itu tidak mungkin berasal dari struktur luar yang dibawa ke negeri ini melalui para pendakwah dari luar negeri.

Pijper yakin, ada suatu bentuk lokal dan asli yang diadaptasikan sesuai kebutuhannya hingga menjadi bentuk bangunan ibadah. Argumennya, denah bujur sangkar sudah sangat lazim digunakan pada struktur-struktur seni bangunan Hindu-Jawa seperti candi, dan tidaklah sulit mendapatkan contoh struktur lantai dinaikkan dengan fundamen massif seperti itu.

Atap yang bertumpuk dan mengerucut pada satu titik seperti itu jelas mengidentifikasikan orisinalitas dari bangunan pra-Islam, misalnya bentuk meru. Bahkan Pijper berpandangan, atap tumpuk lima Masjid Agung Banten maupun pada lukisan tua Masjid Jepara di abad ke-17 adalah kelangsungan dari meru.

Sejarawan H.J. de Graff menolak pandangan ini. Ia menentang khususnya teori Stutterheim yang menyebutkan, bangunan masjid Jawa berasal dari wantilan atau fighting-cock-court di Bali. Alasannya, bangunan itu adalah profan. Tidak mungkin umat Islam mau beribadah dalam bangunan profan seperti itu. Lagi pula, bangunan wantilan itu tidak bertingkat.

Terlebih lagi bangunan semacam itu hanya ada di Bali, tidak mungkin bisa memberi pengaruh ke seluruh Indonesia. Graff menyarankan untuk mengaitkan masjid Jawa dengan bangunan kayu yang ada di India, khususnya masjid di Malabar. Pertimbangnnya, batu nisan yang pernah ditemukan di Gresik juga berasal dari India (Gujarat). Selain itu, Masjid Kashmir dari kayu juga perlu dipertimbangkan.

Anjuran untuk merujuk ke bangunan India yang ditawarkan Graff ditampik arkeolog Indonesia, Sutjipto Wirjosuparto. Meskipun atapnya sama (tumpang), menurut Wirjosuparto, denah masjid di Malabar itu persegi panjang dan tidak dikelilingi oleh air. Ia menegaskan, asal-usul masjid Jawa itu dari bangunan pendopo di Jawa. Argumennya, denahnya bujur sangkar, jika ditambah dinding luar keliling sudah mirip ruangan masjid.

Kalau ditambah ruang mihrab di sisi arah kiblat, sudah persis sama dengan masjid. Sementara untuk alasan atap tumpang, ia merujuk pada atap bangunan joglo. Pandangan Wirjosuparto ini masih perlu penjelasan lebih lanjut, sebab nama pendopo sendiri berasal dari bahasa Sanskrit, ''mandhapa'', erat kaitannya dengan satu bagian pada candi Hindu India.

Juga sulit menjelaskan bahwa filosofi bangunan pendopo bagaimanapun adalah bangunan tambahan. Sementara kalau menjadi masjid, ia menjadi bangunan terpenting. Selain itu, hipotesis joglo juga meragukan. Memang benar atapnya tumpang, tetapi bukan berbentuk piramidal yang menuju pada satu titik di puncaknya.

Yang terakhir adalah hipotesis ilmuwan Prancis, Claude Guillot (1985), dalam artikelnya berjudul La Symbolique de la Mosquee Javanaise. Ia menyimpulkan, arsitektur masjid Jawa dipengaruhi secara kuat oleh arsitektur batu di India dan arsitektur kayu di Cina.

Adapun untuk atap tumpuknya diturunkan dari atap "cungkup" kuburan Islam di Jawa. Pertanyaannya, lebih dulu yang mana: masjid atau cungkup? Apalagi atap cungkup jarang yang tumpuk, kecuali pada atap cungkup makam Sunan Giri di Gresik, Jawa Timur.

Kalau demikian, dari manakah asal-usul masjid Jawa itu? Jalan masih panjang untuk sampai pada teori yang paling meyakinkan tentang asal-usulnya. Masih memerlukan bukti-bukti yang lebih kongkret lagi, baik bukti arkeologis, sejarah, maupun argumentasi arsitektur.

Mungkin yang paling prospektif untuk ditelusuri adalah pandangan yang menyebutkan bahwa masjid Jawa, rumah Tuhan yang beratap tumpang itu, berasal dari bangunan lokal yang diadaptasikan.

*Peneliti arsitektur masjid Nusantara, dosen arsitektur ITB, baru saja telah menyelesaikan program doktor di Toyohashi University of Technology, Jepang