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Abu Hanifa’s Brick and the Friday Mosque: New Approaches to Islamic Archite...

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Institute of Islamic Studies

170 St. George Street

Jackman Humanities Building, Seminar Room 530

Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8

Canada

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Art historical accounts of the foundation of Baghdad under the Abbasids in 762 mention that the eponymous founder of the Hanafi school of law Abu Hanifa (d. 767) was appointed by the Caliph to supervise construction and establish the standard size of mud bricks used to build the city. This narrative is one of the rare intersections between the study of Islamic architecture and urbanism and that of Islamic law. Methodologically, each field of study evolved following its own internal trajectory and, until recently, within an orientalist framework. Considering that Islamic law is based, in part, on using set principles to regulate transactions related to human interactions with each other and with the material objects around them, its exclusion from the study of art and architecture is quite problematic. In the case of mosque architecture, the art historical approach predominantly focuses on the materiality and patronage of the mosque and fails to take due consideration of the legal understanding of prayer and the symbolic role of the imam. Through the lens of a longue duréeapproach to Friday mosques based on a 13thcentury fatwaand the mosques this fatwadiscusses, this talk proposes a methodological shift in the study of Islamic architecture and approaches to urbanism more generally.

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Institute of Islamic Studies

170 St. George Street

Jackman Humanities Building, Seminar Room 530

Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8

Canada

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