Heavenly Notes #4

Heavenly Notes #4

Chapter 1: Dr. Mohammad Sadegh Mahfouzi

Divinity and Religiosity in Iranian Culture and Art

Throughout the various periods before and after Islam, the Iranian religious architect has seen everything in line with his movement towards the Most High God, considering himself a visitor to His threshold.

The need for divinity in Iranian architecture can also be expressed in the following ways:

a- The Iranian Muslim architect has realized that Islam’s confrontational view of architecture is aimed at inviting humans to a healthy life and utilizing worldly blessings. However, the world and its works are a means of testing, and one should not be fascinated and infatuated with the deceptive appearances of the world and consider the world as the goal, but rather the world is a means of a place to pass through and a bridge to cross to the afterlife. “And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement, and the abode of the hereafter is better for the righteous. Do you not understand?” (Al-An’am, 32)

Thus, a transformation has been created in the way the Iranian Muslim architect views worldly life. He has realized that the world is a temporary abode, and everything in the world will eventually perish, and everything is for the afterlife; of course, this does not mean that worldly matters are unimportant, but rather that one should deal with them in such a way that utilizes the passing life of this world correctly and does not prevent one from the abode of the hereafter.

b- The religiosity of the Iranian artist, in a sense, encompasses all matters related to human life and has control over all the dimensions and aspects of life, and in this matter, it guides the human towards giving his life purpose, just as “… we are from Him and to Him we return.” (Al-Baqarah, 156)

With the thought and essence that Islam has brought for him and in accordance with his nature and nature, the religious architect has been able to present his work well and encourage others to do good. This directionalization of architectural works has had a positive impact on the user and viewer. Masterpieces such as the Shah Mosque and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan during the Safavid era are examples of this effect. The directionality of architecture through religiousness has brought spirituality to the Iranian Muslim architect, and this spirituality has overcome other factors such as material, place, and time. This special talent has emerged, bringing a special look and a new perspective to the path of creating a meaningful space for the architect.

c- Inspired by the principles of Islamic theology and knowledge, the Iranian religious architect has been able to achieve unity and unity in architecture despite the multiplicity of materials, ethnicities, climates, and temporal and spatial conditions, something that had not been seen in this form in architectural history before. This religious inspiration has made the factor of unity and unity more evident and obvious than other factors such as temporal and spatial conditions and requirements. In this way, the Iranian religious architect has used a set of principles derived from the creation of each building, as if all the works, in their multiplicity, have a profound unity. This coherence and gradual elevation in the architecture of different Iranian periods from the 5th century AH onwards is clearly evident.

d- Iranian Muslim architects, based on religious orders, have paid attention to the historical works of their predecessors; However, they have looked at these works as pure historical phenomena and, while examining them, have also used the main construction patterns of those buildings as the basis for their work. The correct and logical use of the art of the ancestors has led to the use of patterns, techniques, methods and architectural elements of the pre-Islamic period in Iranian architecture during the Islamic period. But these elements and details have not been used purely, but have been intertwined with the religiosity of the architects, thus forming a perfected structure of Iranian-Islamic architecture.

e- Iranian architects, using the principles of their religiosity, have shaped each building according to its own nature and have paid special attention to the uplifting aspect of its space formation, which has ultimately led to the perfection of Iranian-Islamic architecture. One of the special features of Iranian architecture is its wonderful beginning, which from the very beginning, aimed at the pinnacle of religiosity, and this has always led to the necessary transformation. This change and transformation has also had its own stability and integrity; in a way that has led to the creation of eternal works.

f- Based on religious teachings, the Iranian Muslim architect had realized that both the content and the inside and the form and appearance of the work should have a spiritual essence and create a feeling of spirituality and purity for the user. Religious architects have been able to create spaces as a material mold for spirituality and human living, and in harmony with this, they have also decorated the interior of the buildings with divine colors. In this field, they have made the most of Islamic culture to the extent of their religiosity, and in architecture, while paying attention to the inside and outside, they have created a beautiful balance and harmony between form and content, and they have also expressed this balance in a simple way.

p- In addition to preserving the character of his work and displaying a reasonable balance and harmony in his building, the Iranian religious architect has also preserved the credibility of other neighboring buildings. Attention to divinity has taught him that he should give the environment its due value and attention to all factors in order to create a set of uplifting environments.

q- With his religiosity, the Iranian Muslim architect considers himself a part of the creation system and immerses his individuality in the system of divine order. On this basis, he does not consider himself credible in the face of his work, but rather gives all his credibility to his work. It was not that important to him to stay in history and in people’s minds. With his religiosity, he was no longer after fame and fortune, but became duty-conscious.

r- Since the Iranian religious architect considered his work to be authentic, he considered himself and his will to be unknown in the face of his building and gave credibility and authenticity to his work. Islam is a religion that has linked human material issues with spirituality and has never considered these issues to be separate. This feature has caused architecture to be no exception, and as an art and industry, it is a part of the religion and the world of the religious Muslim architect.

s- Throughout history, Iranian Muslim architects have always strived to decorate their works of art in the best way possible, using the luminous commandments of Islam and their religiosity. This is why, over the past fourteen centuries, a valuable treasure trove of architectural works has been left behind in Islamic lands, and without a doubt, the heart of the architect who built these buildings was full of divine love. And this principle has given the works of Muslim architects an authentic identity.

t- The religiosity of Iranian architects has an unchangeable foundation and basis that has cast a shadow over the architecture of Muslims in other parts of the world over time and location. All the elements and components of architecture such as space, volume, shape, form, material, color and light are derived from the unifying worldview of the religious Muslim Iranian architect. And this religiosity, mixed with architecture, has been able to serve as a starting point for the creation of Islamic architecture.

Dr. Mohammad Sadegh Mahfouzi

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