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Reviving Islamic Discourse.

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Jul 15, 2018

Dr. Samir Mahmoud and the team discuss variety of topics related to Islamic architecture, aesthetics, the modern world and philosophy.


Dr. Samir Mahmoud, PhD. is a graduate of the University of Cambridge (2012) in Islamic Studies. He is currently Assistant Professor of Architectural History & Theory at the Lebanese American University (LAU). Between 2013-2016 he was Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture at the American University of Beirut (AUB). He was Postdoctoral Fellow at the Khalili Centre for Research in Art & Material Culture, University of Oxford (2012-2013) and Agha Khan Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT (2012).


Dr Samir is also director of "The Living Turath Initiative." Living Turath (Living Tradition in English) is an educational initiative that enables Muslims to discover the wisdom of the Islamic tradition today. Its mission is to educate Muslims on the continued relevance and value of traditional Islamic perspectives and practices for their day-to-day lives. To this end, we organize educational workshops, lectures, & retreats.


Dr Samir's interests vary widely and include: art & architecture (Islamic and Western), philosophy (Islamic, Neoplatonism, and Continental), Islamic studies, urban & landscape design, and psychology (particularly the dialogue between Islamic and Western ‘therapeutics of the soul’). He has lectured in the UK, Lebanon, & Australia.


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[6:40] Islam and Sci fi discuss ion – of the tradition of storytelling in east and west;

How to reconcile imagination and stories to Islam.


[18:00] Islamic Architecture

Philosophical cultural shifts


[23:00] Kant, philosophical traditional onwards, of modernity forgetting and rejecting history.


[25:00] What is architectural modernism – break with the past.


[34:00] – Architecture is not neutral – it impacts on your lifestyle, happiness – colours, streets, use of materials, size of spaces.  


[36:00] – Late twentieth century becomes about how do we bring back what was lost – architecture theorists realise it has not been working.

The great transformation (book) -  capitalism.

Before there was a higher ethics controlling the market, now it is the MARKET that creates those norms and codes and ethical values for us.


The challenges of modernity are unique; qualitatively different o all that has come before;


[38:30] Quranic discourse as universal


[40:00] impulse in Islam towards non- figurative art


Islam recognizes the truth of other traditions; other traditions not seen as entirely other.

Islam is not just a perspective amongst others; it encompasses all in one – this seen in its artistic impulse; a likewise universality in the abstract.

[46:30] No concrete image that could represent Islam

Islam did not obliterate other culture’s forms


Western culture had images at centre; in Islam patterns were central.

[51:00] Islam took pride in borrowing from other cultures; there was no need to enclose upon ourselves

Post-Mongol invasion – Islam rejuvenated and flourished.


[56:30] Anecdotes on Hayban Laksan story and encounter with Germans in Spain.


Last of the Mohicans – if we are able to communicate more effectively; by explaining our wisdom to others, instead of asking for our right  


[1:00:00] - Hadith then Plato and Aristotle; scholars though the Greek had revelation, or through their own fitrah were able to discover their wisdoms  


Islam brought into the 21st century by its fixation on patterns to convey; instead of image.

Islamic architecture in the present: Cambridge Muslim College in the UK.


Dome has become part of experience and meaning of what a mosque is – creating that continuity.


[1:12:00] Mosques become a nexus for identity. A garden as welcoming;  


[1:15:00] Mystical geometry. Geometry as the realm behind the physical; instils a state of reverie.

More accurate representation of reality – the geometry than what we see in reality; what people now call virtual reality. Virtual means something beyond imagination.

No images dictated to you