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Building a Comtemporary Mosque in Sydney as an Antidote to Islamophobia Theoretical framework

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. Gene Fowler

Content 1 Preface 3 Executive Summary 4 Introduction 5 Background 8 Relevant literature 10 Project Objective 11 Project Methodology 13 Islam & Muslim 14 What is Islam? 17 Islam & Muslims in Sydney: Australia 22 Islam’s Predicament 23 Introduction 24 Misconceptions 25 Controversies 26 Mosque 27 What is a Mosque? 28 Traditional Mosque Architecture 31 Mosque of Today 32 Contemporary Mosque 33 Why building a Mosque is a Problem? 34 Designing a Mosque today 35 How should we design a Mosque 36 Conclusion 37 Bibliography

As-Salamu Alaykum ‫مكيلع مالسلا‬ is a common greeting among the Muslims which means peace be with you. Ironically, in the Western perspective, it seems rather difficult to find the word ‘peace’ in Islam. In fact, “[it] It is no secret that Islam is the most poorly understood and most feared religion in the Western World”1 ; hence the development of Islamophobia. Islamophobia means racism against Muslims. Islam is terrorised by minorities that misuse Islam as a tool to justify their wrong doings and cause great conflicts and tensions (for example, the Gulf War and September 11). Unfortunately, the negative lights of Islam overshadow the positive lights which generated endless misconceptions and negative perceptions of Islam and Muslims; subsequently leads to social crisis such as racism, discrimination and disharmony. Therefore, this develops an antagonistic relationship between Muslim and the West. Why is there a negative construction of Islam in the West? One may ask, shouldn’t a religion bring peace, harmony and happiness to humanity? On the contrary, there seems to be more negative implications tagged to ‘it’ than positive ones (or at least what has been propagated in the mainstream media). Muslims in the West are vulnerable to

stereotyping, misconception and alterity2. In addition to that, Muslims are also faced with rejection of Mosque building in the West. The rejection of Mosque building is a manifestation of social disharmony and segregation. Thus, harmony cannot be achieved as long as there is segregation in society. This calls for a mission to question the building of Mosque in the West. I am intrigued by this contemporary social phenomenon. I questioned how Islamophobia can affect the society and how can architecture be an antidote to Islamophobia. I think it is important to start asking these vital questions as a catalyst for a peaceful and brighter future. This project primarily provides a platform for critical discussions and debates; answers and resolutions may be secondary to this research. I was born and grew up in a Muslim country, Malaysia. Therefore, Islam has been a well integrated part of my life: though I am not a Muslim but a devoted Buddhist practitioner, living in Malaysia has allowed me to have a greater depth of awareness and understanding of Islam and Muslim. Therefore the current ongoing Islam-related conflicts and tensions have provoked a sense of social responsibility in me which I am able to fulfil it (at least an attempt or opportunity per se) in this design studio.

1 Syed Mohiuddin,”American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture and Interfaith Initiative of Omaha,” Islamic Society of North America, http://www.isna.

Lionel Teh March 2010


2 Alterity is a philosophical term mean-


ing “otherness”

1 Preface


2 Preface Image of the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque (also known as Blue Mosque) Shah Alam, Malaysia

This project is a journey to establish an understanding of the relationship between Islam and Australia (the West) and leads to the question of building a Mosque in Sydney, Australia. In the West, Islam is a highly misunderstood religion (because of negative media portrayal and the lack of social understanding) which caused the development of antagonistic relationship between Islam and the West; hence Islamophobia. Consequently, Muslims become victims for their own religious beliefs. They are often stereotyped and viewed through a negative lens. In addition to that, their place of worship, the mosque also faces major rejection in the West. As symbols of Islam, the Mosques in the West are perceived to be physical threats to the non-Muslim communities and afraid of it from becoming breeding ground for fundamentalist, extremist, fanatical or even terrorist. Hence, these issues cause racism, discrimination, xenophobia, Islamophobia and ultimately causing polarization of a multicultural society; Australia is no exemption. Therefore, in this project I would like to question

the role of architecture in bringing peace to the relationship between Islam and Australia(the West) in the contemporary world today. Subsequently, making an attempt to seek for answers to the following questions: What is a Mosque? Why is Mosque important to Muslim? Why building a mosque in Sydney is a problem? What is a contemporary Mosque? What is the role of a Mosque in Sydney? How can a Mosque be a catalyst to peace and harmony? In terms of methodology, this research studio will be divided into 3 parts: factual research work, design exploration work and design application work. The research will begin with collection of relevant literatures such as scholarship, articles, books and statistical reports. Then, with the collected information, critical analysis and data evaluation will be made. Through part 1, I will establish a theoretical framework that will be the core structure for the rest of the project. Part 2 involved precedent studies, site analysis, studies of design theories and explore in architectural design proposition. Part 3 involves interpretation and architectural intervention with the application of benefits from part 1 and 2. This project is an individual undertaking. At the end of this

journey, this project should allows one to have a clearer picture and understanding of the relationship between Islam and Australia (the West); gaining a sense of appreciation, respect and compassion to this issue in the contemporary world. As a result, this project will develop an architectural intervention of a contemporary Mosque in Sydney, Australia. Essentially designing: A Mosque that acknowledges it presence to the context (sensitive), A Mosque that allows Islam and Muslim’s presence in the society (extrovert), A Mosque that symbolises freedom of faith, unity, equality, diversity and acknowledge religion pluralism in Australia (symbol), A Mosque that promotes dialogue snd allows the development of social acceptance, mutual trust and respect (transparency), Note: This project will not be an attempt to critic or essentializing Islamic doctrine or theology. It is merely delineating Islamic history, reading the religious dimension of Islam and its manifestation of place of worship in the west; also, dwelling in the physical architectural manifestation as a mirror of its social dimension. Building of mosque is not to proselyte but to share the religious values of Islamic practice.

3 Executive summary

Executive Summary









Background Islam is a set of religious beliefs articulated by the holy scripture of Qur’an. Along with Christianity and Judaism, Islam is one of the three main Abrahamic monotheistic religions. Since the founding of Islam by Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century, the religion has been widely propagated around the world. Today, Islam is the second biggest religion in the world after Christianity. Muslims are practitioners of Islam. The population of Muslims are mainly concentrated in Middle East, North Africa and South East Asia; and considered as minorities in the Western countries such as Europe, America and Australia. Islam has a long but silent history on the land of Australia; it pre-dates European settlement. In Australia, the earliest Muslim visitors are the Macassar traders from Indonesia in the 1650s. In those early days, they traded with the local Indigenous people on the Northern coast of Australia and at the same time spread their religious beliefs and cultures. In the 1860s, Afghan cameleers were brought in by the British to explore the inland of Australia. Therefore, Muslims has been an integral part of Australia since the very beginning in helping to develop Australia as today. Australian Muslim population grew as the influx of immigrant and Australian born Muslims increased. Today, there are over 340,400 (ABS census 2006) Muslims living in Australia. The international environment of crisis related to Islam such as terrorism, misogynism, fundamentalism and extremism has brought a huge global impact to the negative perception of Islam in the West. In addition to that, the propagation of negative

Islamic affairs from the mainstream mass media is also contributing to stereotyping and propelling towards Islamophobia. Islamophobia is a term coined to indicate racism act against Muslims. Racism act includes marginalization, discrimination, stereotyping and xenophobia. These cause huge conflicts and great tensions formed between Muslims and the West; subsequently developing an antagonistic relationship between both civilizations, as Samuel P. Huntington theorized it as “the clash of civilizations”. Australia follows global trend; therefore these issues are not alien to Australia. Australia is blessed with diverse cultures and ethnicities that form a vibrant and dynamic mix of population. Muslims are 1.72% (ABS census 2006) of the Australian population and therefore Muslims are considered to be minorities. Since the abolition of ‘White Australia policy’ in the early1970s1, Australia has made efforts to integrate the rich and diverse cultures and ethnics through the promotion of multiculturalism. Unfortunately, Islamophobia is still very visible in today’s Australian society; controversies in Sydney such as 2005 Cronulla riots and 2008 opposition of Islamic school in Camden proof the existence of Islamophobia. Mosque is a place of worship for Muslims. The whole world is a mosque as Prophet Muhammad once said. In the early days, mosques are as simple as a line drawn on the sand indicating the direction of the Ka’ba2 for prayers. However, over time Mosques became “a concession to human vanity and, worse, to man’s desire to introduce idolatrous worship of an object or edifice, rather than 1 James Forrest and Kevin Dunn, “Constructing Racism in Sydney, Australia’s Largest EthniCity,” Urban Studies 44, no. 4, (2007), cgi/content/abstract/44/4/699. 2 Ka’ba is a large cube building inside the al-Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca and it isconsidered to be the holiest place in Islam.

5 Introduction


Today, with the presence of Islamophobia in the West, building a Mosque in a nonIslamic country has become a big challenge. The level of social acceptance of mosque buildings could well be an indication of Islamophobia. The Australian ABC television channel’s program, The Chaser’s War on Everything,5 choreographed a realistic skit of a Mosque proposal in Mosman (a wealthy and elite Sydney suburb) and interviewed the local residents to put their level of acceptance on the test. Unfortunately, it is clear that Islamophobia is present in the interviews conducted. The rejection of mosque building or anti-mosque is a form of constructing Mosque as abnormal and Muslim as not local;6 that will lead to a construction of alterity7 to Australian Muslims. 3 Martin Frishman and Hassan-Uddin Khan, The Mosque History, Architectural Development & Regional Diversity (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2002), 30. 4 Abu H. Imamuddin et al, Community Mosque – A Symbol of Society (Bangladesh: Aga Khan Award for Architecture, 1985), one-document.jsp?document_id=2806 (accessed March 30, 2010). 5 ABC, The Chaser’s War on Everything, 6 Kevin Dunn, “Islam in Sydney: Contesting the Discourse of Absence,” Australia Geographer 35, no 3 (2004), http:// 7 Alterity is a philosophical term meaning “otherness”.

The development of Mosque Architecture is empirically proven that religion is less of an influence than the influence from cultures and traditions; this point could be justified by the absence of any prescriptions on Mosque design guidelines in the official Islamic doctrines. Mosques in the West are commonly represented with domes and minarets which has a strong visual language and s8trong reference to a particular (sometimes more than one) foreign culture and tradition but not necessarily the religion itself. Mosques in Australia are commonly designed and built to mimic the great precedented Mosques in Islamic countries. Therefore, Australian Mosques are often seen as lack of locality and considered to be exotic and foreign to the land of Australia. Hence these are the reason why Mosques are perceived as being incompatible with Australian culture and tradition. Paradoxically, on one hand integration is trying to take its place in the society and on the other hand it seems rather difficult for the majority to assimilate different architectural presences in the community; the Mosque. Thus, this leads to the next question of what a Mosque should be in the land of Australia. How can a Mosque be viewed as a positive contribution to the society rather than an eruption of a controversy? Does society have to change to tolerate, or does Mosque have to change to integrate? 8 ArchNet Discussion Forum, “Islamic Architecture, Architecture based on Qur’an and Sunnah,” ArchNet, http:// id=177715.

6 Introduction

continue using humble cave or shelter for communal prayer without distraction.”3 Since the beginning, Mosques are not merely prayer halls but multifunctional centres. Besides having the ability to house socio-cultural activities, Mosques are also “a symbol of identity, strength, peace and justice.”4 Mosques are therefore very important to the Muslim communities and vital in shaping the Islamic society.

7 Introduction

respect tolerance


mosque sydney

Islamophobia is a neologism which emerged in the late 1980s and the term has been widely used after the attack of September 11 in United Sates. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said “...when the world is compelled to coin a new term to take account of increasingly widespread bigotry, that is a sad and troubling development. Such is the case with Islamophobia.”1 Therefore it is extremely important to address this issue to mobilize the international agenda of peace and harmony. Islamophobia has be a widely spoken discourse in the West and sparks controversial debates and discussions all over the world. Islamophobia cannot exist in isolation but commonly resonates with other wide spoken discourses such as racism, religious pluralism, multiculturalism and orientalism etc. The development of contemporary Mosque architecture in Western countries is taking a shift in redefinition and reformation of Mosque building in Western context (at the least it has 1 United Nation Press Release SG/SM/9637 HR/4802 PI/1627,”Secretary-General, Addressing Headquarters Seminar on Confronting Islamophobia, Stresses Importance of Leadership, Two-Way Integration, Dialogue,” United Nation, http://www. htm.

become more noticeable). The development of contemporary Mosques such as Polder Mosque in Rotterdam, Netherlands by MemarDutch, the Cologne Mosque in Germany by Paul Bohm and the Great Mosque in Strasbourg, Fance by Zaha Hadid are great precedent of redefining the roles and traditional forms of Mosques in the Western land; and avoiding mere mimicking of great traditional precedented Mosques. Besides that, it is also a suggestion of progression and willingness to face changes; hence combating the stereotype of Islam being monolithic. In parallel to the idea of contextualization, critical regionalism shares a similar nature to counter the lack of local identity. In literature review, it is important to identify the relevant existing body of researches, scholarships, books, theories and current affairs to imbue myself with the relevant knowledge and ideas in the task of building this journey. The agglomeration of information allows for a wider and richer perspective to develop. In the process of developing a design for contemporary Mosque, it is important to understand the social, economy and political weather (both globally and locally) through delineation of history and related theories.

8 Introduction

Relevant Literature

relevant kewords: 9 Introduction

Islam Muslim Mosque Islamophobia Islam and the West Sociology of religion Law and Religion in Australia The clash of civilization Religious Pluralism Multiculturalism Modernism Postmodernism Globalisation Capitalism Secularism Orientalism Imperialism Fundalmentalism Xenophobia Alterity Misogynism Racism Discrimination Controversy Misconception Cultural assimilation Conflict Tension Migration Extremism Terrorism Essentialism Ethics and aesthetic Critical Regionalism Symbolism Others and Space Minority and Space

Ultimately, the objective of this project is to build a contemporary Mosque in Sydney, Australia. The nature of this project might be controversial, provocative and even sensitive. Therefore a huge amount of care and sensitivity is required for this journey. The proposition of building a Mosque is entailed with a set of questions waiting to be answered. The questions are: What is Islam? What is the relationship between Islam and Sydney? (Also informed by global relationship) What is Islamophobia? Why Islamophobia? What is a Mosque? Why is it a problem building a Mosque in Sydney? How do I build a contemporary Mosque in Sydney? Through the journey of searching answers for these questions, I will be able to develop a better understanding and greater comprehension of the related issues. It will then become the ingredients for the architectural intervention.

The starter for this project is an agglomeration of related information that is needed to be collected, analysed, evaluated and make discoveries. This will be done through the writing of a literature review (theoretical framework). It will help to crystallize my ideas and direction in this project; it also allows me to reorganize my thought through critical thinking and writing; progressively forming a coherent set of information which will propel my proposition. The existence of Islamophobia causes polarization of society. The ambition of a harmonious, peaceful and integrated society in Sydney can neither be afflicted to the Muslims nor the non-Muslims. However architecture can act as a catalyst to society change by encouraging interracial interaction, transparency and dialogue which will then lead to the development of mutual understanding and mutual respect. The exploration of architecture as a tool to bridge the racial schism forms the basis of my studies. Therefore, my project objective is Building a Contemporary Mosque in Sydney as an Antidote to Islamophobia.

10 Introduction

Project Objectives


1. Factual Research Work 20% In this part, it will begin by collecting relevant literature and ex-research data such as scholarships, articles, journals, books and web information. Then critical reading, analysis and data evaluation will be made. All these information will be represented in the written theoretical framework (literature review) that will act as the backbone of this project. 2. Design Exploration Work 20% Precedent studies, site analysis and proposed client brief will be introduced in this part. The information obtained from part one, precedent studies, site analysis and client brief will lead to design exploration work. This will include the reading of archetypes (Carl Jung), relevant contemporary architectural discourses (example: critical regionalism), design methodology and form exploration in relation to established brief. 3. Design Application Work 60% Part 3 involves interpretation and architectural intervention with the application of benefits from part 1 and 2. This will result in a comprehensive and well articulated architecture intervention (Mosque design). The translation of proposition can be done through diagram production, architectural drawings (plans, sections and elevations), model making and presentation (visual and verbal).

11 Introduction

The methodology requires a crafting of time versus work. In this research studio, I have started by designing a project framework of the proposed work to be done throughout the semester. Also, I have decided to make 3 divisions of works. The 3 parts are:

12 Introduction

Project framework




13 Islam & Muslim

01 & m




Introduction 1400 BCE

30 CE

610 CE

Islam, Christianity and Judaism are the three primary monotheistic faiths of the Abrahamic religion. Chronologically, Islam is the latest found Abrahamic religion: Judaism was found in 1400th century BCE, Christianity in 1ST century CE and Islam in the 7th century CE. The three religions share the patriarch Abraham in their religious lineage and share the Abraham’s appearance in their religious text. Islam considered Abraham to be the “first Muslim” (Surah 3) and referred to as Ibrahim alHanif “Our Father Abraham”. More than half of the world population is practising Abrahamic religions.

Map is showing the widespread of Abrahamic (green) and Dharmic religions (blue) in each country.

Islam in Arabic means “submission to God” and the word Islam is derived from the word Salam which means peace. Prophet Mohammad is the founder of Islam and is regarded as a messenger of God by the Muslims. Islam is articulated by the Qur’an and Hadith (and Sunnah). The birth of Islam is marked on 610 CE, “because it was the year of the Revelation – namely the Prophet’s first encounter with the Angel Gabriel, who commanded him to...”1: Read in the name of thy Lord, who has created – created Man out of a germ-cell! Read – for thy Lord is the Most Bountiful One who has though [Man] by the pen – taught Man what he did not know! (Qur’an 96:1-5) Islam grew as an influential religion through propagation. After the passing of Prophet Mohammad, the Islamic empire was quickly expanded across the west to North Africa and across the east to Pakistan. Subsequently Islam is propagated to China, India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia. In the later days, the growth of Muslims in the West is mainly contributed by immigration and immigration birth. Today, 24% of the world population are Muslims, 1.65 billion people in numbers.2 The numbers of Muslims are still growing as it is the fastest growing religion in the world. 1 Martin Frishman and Hassan-Uddin Khan, The Mosque History, Architectural Development & Regional Diversity (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2002), 18. 2 Houssain Kettani, “2010 World Muslim Population” (paper presented at the 8th Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, Hawaii, January 2010).

14 Islam & Muslim

What is Islam?

Islam Key Beliefs

The ‘Five pillars’ of Islam

One God

Shahada (the declaration of faith)

Allah is the Arabic term for God. Muslims’ fundamental belief is that there is only one God (otherwise known as the concept of tawhīd ). God is the Creator of everything. God is beyond comprehension, Muslims believe that God knows everything of the past, present and future, although we cannot understand how.

One enters Islamic faith by reciting “I bear witness that there is no god, but God; I bear witness that Muhammad is the prophet of God.” The shahada must be constantly repeated and lived throughout life so that the truth will penetrate to the centre of one’s being. Salat (prayers)

Prophet Muslims believe that prophets and messengers were sent to earth by God to all people. Adam is the first prophet and Mohammad is the last.

Muslims are expected to perform their prayers 5 times a day. Muslims are required to wash their hands, face, arms and feet before each prayer; and pray facing towards Mecca. The prayer involves standing, bowing down, prostrating, sitting and recitation of the Qur’an. The purpose of prayers is to constantly stay in connection with God on a daily basis and also a form of spiritual cleansing.

Scriptures Muslims believe that God gave scriptures to all the people through prophets. In Islam, Qur’an is a scripture reveal by God to Prophet Muhammad. It contains revelations from God in Arabic and is believed to be the absolute and final scripture. Qur’an explains everything you need to know to be a Muslim. The readings are accompanied by Hadith and Sunnah (for Sunnis). Hadith is the words and deeds of the Prophet Mohammad recorded by his followers. On the other hand, Sunnah embodies all the elaborations of Qur’anic teaching. It is a collection of traditions, customs, moral sayings and anecdotes (hadiths) of Muhammad.

Muslims are required to make contributions to those less fortunate, regardless of their religion. Muslims consider themselves to be trustees of the wealth that belongs to God. Sawm (Fasting) In the month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim year), Muslim adults are required to abstain from food, drinks and sex during daylight hours. Fasting is an act of spiritual development where one has to reflect their behaviour and strive to purify their thoughts. Haji (Pilgrimage to Mecca) If it is financially and physically possible, Muslims are required to travel to Mecca once in their lifetime. Haji takes place during the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar.

15 Islam & Muslim

Zakat (Charity)

Branches of Islam

Food and Drinks

Islam is divided into two main sects, the Sunni and the Shi’i. Sunnis are the majority of Muslims in the world (about 85%). This division arose over the order of caliph succession in the first century of the Islamic calendar and started as political but empirically becomes more theological and ideological. Sunni means ‘adherent of the Sunnah (refer above)’. Shi’i Muslims believe in the chain of leaders (superior authority).

The prohibited food and drinks include: -Alcoholic beverages -Pig meat -Meat of an animal that died of natural causes or as a result of strangling and beating -Blood that is in liquid

Milestones in a Muslim’s Life

Sacred Places

Circumcisions of boys – Boys undergo circumcision in their early life. Puberty – Boys are considered to reach puberty when they start to produce semen and for girls when they start to have their period. When reach puberty, they are considered to have entered the adult world and are obligated to perform the rituals of Islam, such as perform 5 prayers a day and fasting during the month of Ramadan. Marriage – When boys and girls reach puberty, marriage is permissible. Old age – All children have a duty to take care of their aged parents. Death –There are no elaborated funeral ritual. The body of the deceased must be handled with care and respect. Burial is encouraged to take place as early as possible.

Mecca The most sacred place for Muslim is the Ka’ba shrine located at the sacred city of Mecca in the modern day Saudi Arabia.

Jerusalem The third most sacred place is Jerusalem where Prophet Mohammad is believed to have miraculously travelled in his famous Night Journey, and from where he ‘ascended’ tp the heavens. Masjid (Mosque) Mosque is the most important place for Muslims where they can perform their daily and weekly important prayers.

16 Islam & Muslim

Medina Medina is the second most sacred place for Muslims, also known as the city of the Prophet.

Islam & Muslim in Sydney: Australia Introduction

The graph is showing: line 1. % of Muslims in Australia line 2. Muslim population in Australia line 3. Australia population _________________________________________ time

¬facts: Australian population is 0.294% of the world population Australian Muslim population is 0.005% of the world population Australian Muslim population is 0.021% of the world Muslim population 17 Islam & Muslim

% of different religion in Australia

In Australia, Islam is the fourth largest religious grouping after Christianity, ‘No Religion’ and Buddhism (according to ABS 2006 Census). Muslim population is Australia has been increasing since 1970s and today, there are 340 400 Muslims in Australia which is 1.7% of Australia population. Muslims in Australia are ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse from over 70 countries. Nearly 38% of the Muslims in Australia are born locally. Muslims in Australia are mostly educated working class people.

The Macassar Traders The early Muslim visitors of Australia were the Muslim Macassar traders from the east Indonesia archipelago whom believed to have arrived on the northern coasts of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland as early as 1650s. The Macassarese traded with the local Indigenous people and fished for ‘trepang’ otherwise known as sea cucumber. Macassar was the hub for trepang trade as it is sold as a delicacy to the Chinese. Evidence of their presence is found in cave drawings of the distinctive Macassan boats and in artefacts found in Aboriginal settlements in the north. Marriages between Macassarese and the Indigenous people are believed to have taken place. Therefore there were inter-cultural exchanges between the two communities.1 Afghan Cameleers In 1800s, Afghan camel drivers were brought to Australia by the British. The Afghan Cameleers played a vital role in Australia history and contributed significantly to Australia economy. They were important for 1 Alice Aslan, Islamophobia in tralia (Glebe, Sydney, N.S.W: Agora Press, 2009), 28-31.

the early exploration of inland Australia for the development of transportation and telecommunication links. Many towns were established along the railway and each town would have at least a mosque. The increasing use of motor vehicles slowly reclaims their jobs and eventually, they return to their homeland. However some stayed in Australia and many were married to local Indigenous people.

racial discrimination. The introduction of the White Australian Policy limits the inflow of immigrant base on skin colours (race). Therefore Muslims with darker colour tone and non-European background where kept out. This also causes many existing Muslims in Australia return to their homeland as a result of declining employment opportunities.

Malay Pearl Divers

During this time, he Australia government realizes the importance of immigrants for population growth which is essential for the economy development in Australia. This led to the change of immigration policy to encourage immigration into Australia. In the 1970s the Australian government shifted their views on immigration and the country’s cultural identity. Thus, the government abandoned the White Australian Policy and embraced the policy of ‘multiculturalism’.

The pearling industry was first established in the 1850s and it was important to Australia’s early economy. The industry recruited approximately 1800 Malay pearl divers because they were suitable for the though working conditions in the water. Racism against Asians was present during that period and anti-Asian legislation was introduced by the Western Australia government. Slowly, the Malay pearl divers were replaced by competitive Japanese divers in the 20th century and eventually the Malays were forced to find other employment. Their settlements were poor and isolated from the white residents. They built a mosque in 1930s.2 Australian Century




In the early 20th century, Muslims in Australia faced with a crisis of 2 IBID, 32.

After the Second World War

Australian Century




Many Muslims have migrated to Australia by the early of 21st century. Muslims arrived from more than sixty different countries which endowed Australia with diverse culture and ethnicity. The Muslim population continues to grow because of the increasing numbers of the Muslim immigrants and also local born Muslims.

18 Islam & Muslim


19 Islam & Muslim





Muslims plays an important role in the development of Australia today. The Afghan cameleers were recruited during the early European settlement made a significant contribution to the exploration of Australia’s outback. They assisted in the building of railway and telegraph lines. In the present days, Australian Muslims also make significant contribution to the country’s economy, politics, cultures and social richness. The most significant contribution of Islam to Australia is the cultural diversity which forms a rich and dynamic multicultural society. In this situation, the Anglo-centric minded local government (generalization) starts to question the relevance of multiculturalism and the social identity in Australia. This discourse has been widely debated and discussed in an effort to cultivate cultural assimilation and to counter social polarization. Today, in the given situation where Islam conflicts and tensions precede many other things, we start to question what the role of Islam in Australia is. The western

Islam reformist, Tariq Ramadan claimed that the word of today for Muslims is contribution as oppose to integration. Ramadan further explained that integration suggests something that is segregated, waiting to be integrated. However Muslims are already in the West, thus it is already integrated, he claimed; therefore let’s question what Muslims can contribute to their society they lived in instead. Ramadan also said that to shape Western Islam is to be “..faithful to the principles of Islam, dressed in European and American [Australia] culture, and definitely rooted in Western Society.”1 To be an Australian Muslim is to be an integrated society. One should not feel threaten to his/her own culture and tradition as a minority. This is because, threat often leads to defence which brings nothing but harm. Therefore one’s culture and tradition should be shared (but not imposed) which often arouse curiosity of people from different cultural background. Why would someone be more interested and fascinated by other cultures when he/she is on vacation? Can we not be as interest and fascinated by the different culture present in our local community? 1 Tariq Ramadan, Western Muslims and The Future of Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 4.

20 Islam & Muslim

Contributions Australia

Muslims in Sydney: New South Wales Nearly 50% of the Muslims population of Australia resides in New South Wales. For the past 3 decades the numbers of Muslims in NSW are rapidly increasing.

% of different religion in Sydney

In Sydney 44% of Muslims are born locally and 56% are born overseas from varies countries: majorities are from Lebanon, Bangladesh and Turkey

muslim population by states

ancestry of Sydney muslim population

Sydney has the highest concentrate of Muslims among all the Australian cities. As shown below: the percentage of Muslims in NSW is 4% which is higher than the percentage of Muslims in Australia (1.7%). The Muslims in Sydney are diverse in ethicities and cultures which contributes to the richness of Australian culture.

Sydney map of Muslim population (%)

country of birth of Sydney muslims population

Sydney map of Muslim population (total)

21 Islam & Muslim

muslim population growth in New South Wales



Is l

22 Islam’s Predicament





P m

en t

Islam is a highly misunderstood religion; thus it is the most feared religion in the world. There is more negative connotation to this religion than any other religions. Often one associates the word Islam with terrorist, fundamentalist, misogynist, extremist and fanatical, etc. This proves the severe lack of understanding and respect to Islam which subsequently causes great conflicts and tensions between Muslim and non-Muslim. Why is this happening? Could this be “the clash of civilization” (introduced by Samuel P. Huntington) where the people’s religion and culture becomes the primary source of conflict in the Post-cold War word. According to the British author, Karen Armstrong, Islam has been hijacked by minorities and used Islam as a tool to justify themselves. Armstrong claimed that these are acts of rebellion against the imbalance world and an act of powerlessness immanent in them. Therefore violence becomes an escape of these threats. Islam is under immense pressure from secularization, globalization and w e s t e r n i z a t i o n . Secularization was introduced to separate religion and politics; and it is seen as enlightenment to liberate religion from the corruption of states affairs. This is to allow religions to be true to itself. In Islam, Muslims live to God’s will which is prescribed in the historical scripture of Qur’an. Their chief were given duty to build a truthful Islamic society for the members to live in and through living in the society

in accordance to God’s will, Muslims are able to form profound relationship with the divine. Thus, Muslims have to look for god in history and state affairs are religion.1 Today, the arrivals of Islam and Muslims in the West are faced with many challenges. The issues of integration, anti-racism, ethnic pluralism and religion pluralism are central discourses for many Western countries. Strong social and political efforts are required in bridging the schism of multicultural society. Many may argues that there are opposing fundamental values between Islam and the West which causes incompatibility and possibly the essence of Islam’s antagonistic relationship with the West. On the other hand, there are many Western Islamic reformists emerged and pressed towards modernization of Islam; yet there are many traditionalists that holds on tight to their specific cultures and traditions. Tariq Ramadan calls for contextualization and adaptation of Islam in the West without drowning Islam in the West. His optimistic view of Islam in the West is criticized by many, yet it seems to give so much light and promises. In Australia, although the Muslim population is only 1.7% of Australia population (0.022% of the world Muslim population), it is vital to address these issues because controversies and misconceptions are continuously spreading, Muslim population is continuously growing and the conflicts and tensions between Islam and the West is continuously increasing. So, where should we go from here? 1 Karen Armstrong, Islam A Short History (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000), x – xi.

23 Islam’s Predicament




There are many misconceptions and negative preconceptions of Islam, Muslim and Mosque. This is because of the wide spread of negativity on Islam in the mainstream media and the lack of understanding. Muslims are considered to be minorities (based on population) in Sydney and often socially constructed as ‘Others’. The professor in Human Geography and Urban Studies, Kevin Dunn claimed that the construction of ‘Others’ is cause by two central ways: deviance and absence. The first method of deviance can be constructed by stereotyping ‘Others’ and portraying them as culturally inferior. The second method of absence is commonly constructed by the oppression of dominant culture causes minority culture to be silent.1 The images are common preconceptions of the followings:

H fu ous a n e Mu nd dam of a s e e In nd t h xtr nta On tr mi av em li ly ov na e is st e r d t fo rt et om r ed s es pr ay er s

M Te iso E r g Fu xtr ror yni F n e i s No ana dam mis st t Ha t ti en t Vi ve ci ca ta ol f vi l li st en ou li t r ze wi d ve s

1 Kevin Dunn, “Islam in Sydney: Contesting the Discourse of Absence,” Australian Geographer 35, no.3, (2004), http://

24 Islam’s Predicament

B by ein M g Ob usl rel op r l i i p Ex eli iga m m gio res F t g t e n se Ba ana rem ion ed n an d Un ck ti is by d Tr ed wa ca t ea uc rd l te at p d ed eo pl un e fa ir

T Au err V s o Ob iol ter ris F l e e m Ex und iga nce Mi tr am ti so em en on gy is ta ni m li sm sm

Misconception and Muslim

Controversy (Global/ Sydney, Australia)

During the 1991 Gulf War, many Australian Muslims are discriminated, abused and attacked because of the development of Islamophobia which stemmed from the misconception of every Australian Muslims are Arabs. Similar trend happened after the 2001 September 11 crisis where every Australian Muslims are misperceived to be terrorist. The matter is further stirred by the Bali bombing crisis. The construction of Islamophobia continues to grow especially in the society today. Local controversies such as: the Cronulla riot, the Cleric Sheik offensive opinion, local council rejections of Islam-related building development, ethnic crimes and ethnic gang rape are results of Islamophobia. These controversies reported in the media are able to cause more problems is they are not properly framed or amplified. However, media remains as an important role to create this awareness and the making the crisis of Islamophobia to be more apparent. Therefore it is important for the main stream media to be ethical in conveying sensitive messages to avoid and reduce misconceptions or negative preconception.

25 Islam’s Predicament

Throughout the historical timeline, there are many significant events that happened and shaped the world today. In the Islamic world, there were many historical events that cause Islamophobia in the West. The wave of Islamophobia is highly dependent on global event, especially in the modern days where information is easily available; therefore misconceptions and negative preconceptions are able to spread even faster and wider.

26 Mosque

03 e




Mosque is derived from Arabic word Masjid means literally ‘house of prostrations’. It is described to served both as a house of worship for Muslims and as a symbol of Islam. In the beginning, monotheistic religions are believed to have opposed the use of any religious building. Paradoxically man starts to embrace idolatrous worship building as reconciliation to human vanity. “Hence, the more impressive the building, the greater the anathema.”1 Soon the religious leaders realized the importance of religious building as a symbol and attraction to maintain or to increase the number of followers. Therefore the greater their shrines are, the stronger the attractive power. Prophet Mohammad once said ‘The world is the Mosque’. Muslims are able to perform their prayers in any clean space2 and at the same time, should acknowledge the physical direction towards the holy Ka’ba.3 These are the only two fundamental requirements prescribed for praying ritual. Each prayer is established by the very presence of a person and the 1 Martin Frishman and Hassan-Uddin Khan, The Mosque History, Architectural Development & Regional Diversity (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2002), 30. 2 Fethi Ihsan, “The Mosque Today,” in Architecture in Continuity, ed. Cantacuzino, Sherban (New York: Aperture, 1985), 54. 3 Ka’ba is the black cube building inside the al-Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca. It is considered to be the holiest place in Islam.

profound connection to God, Allah. Essentially, one could argue that Mosque is secondary to Muslims’ connection to Allah. So, why build Mosques? Mosques are designed and built as a space to allow Muslims to perform their prayers both individually and collectively in an appropriate environment. Therefore, Mosques are usually clean, include a mihrab (niche) to indicate the direction and provide amenities to perform the ritual ablutions before praying. Besides providing a prayer hall for prayers and sermons, early Mosques are used to serve as hospitals, community centre, and education centre etc. The multifunctional act of a Mosque is an amplification of the notion of Umma (community) in Islamic principles. Therefore, more than a religious building, the early Mosques are extroverted and played an important role in the community. The Mosque in itself is not sacred but it is through a person that converts a mosque into a ‘mosque’ whenever they perform their prayers. So, why is mosque important to Muslims? Mosque is a physical manifestation of faith and beliefs. However, through time, mosques are also seen as a manifestation of power; monumentalizing and idolatry. Beyond a prayer halls and multifunctional centres, Mosques are symbol of Islam. The mosques promote collective strength and act as catalyse to develop community spirit (ummah).

Al-Masjid al-Haram(The Holy Mosque),Mecca

27 Mosque

What is a Mosque?

Traditional Architecture


Islam does not practice the placement of religious value to materials, hence Islam has no specific object or symbol of devotion that are able to evoke emotional response comparable to the symbolic cross to the Christians and the Star of David to the Jews. In Islam, the idea of sacred space did not exist.2 The act of taking off one’s shoes and performing ritual ablutions before entering a mosque is merely acts of self-purification; it is not a suggestion of crossingover from the secular to the sacred domain.

Hagia Sophia in Turkey

1 Martin Frishman and Hassan-Uddin Khan, The Mosque History, Architectural Development & Regional Diversity (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2002), 12. 2Hasan-Uddin Khan, “ The Architecture of the Mosque, an Overview and Design Directions,” in Expressions of Islam in Buildings, ed Salam, Hayat (Singapore: Concept Media/The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, 1990), 125.v

28 Mosque

The development of Mosque Architecture began by borrowing features from existing religious building before establishing its own architectural identity.1 The language of Mosque architecture is developed empirically through time. The Mosque architecture does not adhere to any specific guideline as there are no particular architectural Mosque ideas stated in neither the holy Qur’an nor the Hadith. The wide spread of Islam to different places brought influences of local climate, building resources, cultures and traditions to Mosque design. This contributed to the richness of regional Mosque designs.

The followings are the common components of a Mosque:

Courtyard The courtyard is usually adjacent to the entrance and act as a transition space between the prayer hall and the outside. It is a space for the community to interact (akin to an urban square in a modern city) and also served as an extension to the prayer hall. Ablutions fountain Traditionally the ablutions fountain is located in the courtyard before the prayer hall to allow the Muslims to perform their ablutions ritual prior to entering the prayer hall. Usually, shoe storage facilities will be located near by. The Mihrab The mihrab is a niche which is placed on a qibla wall. In the prayer hall, Qibla is the

wall facing Mecca. Usually the mihrab and qibla are the most decorated feature in the prayer all. The mihrab is not considered as sacred but merely an indication of direction. The Minbar The Minbar is the pulpit that is always placed on the right side of the mihrab. It consists of a flight of staircase, with or without railings, leading to a small platform and usually crowned with a cupola-type roof. The origin of the minbar is merely a few steps platform, first used by Prophet Mohammad as a platform for speech to accommodate the large crowd. Dome Dome is a common feature adopted in a mosque design. It is usually place directly above the prayer hall, towards the mihrab. Minaret Minaret is a tower-like feature of a Mosque which is traditionally used to broadcast adhan (call for prayers). It is not a prescribed requirement of a Mosque; however it started to serve as a landmark and becomes a symbol of Islam.

29 Mosque

The Portal The entrance portal is the threshold between the urban bustle and the tranquil atmosphere of a Mosque. It is usually very grand and highly ornamented. The portal possesses a physiological effect of it being a gateway to the house of God, hence expresses a sense of formality and respect to a Mosque.

Mosque Typologies The development of mosque architecture was based on the Prophet’s house in Medina. Through time, it has revolved, mutated and adapted to different regions, cultures and traditions. The Mosques that have ever built prior to Modern Movement in the twentieth century could be put into 5 categories:1 1. The Hypostyle hall with flat roof supported by a series of repetitive columns. 1. The Arabian, Spain and North Africa: the hypostyle hall and open courtyard

Anatolia: the use of big central dome

2. The centralize dome that dominates the Mosque’s silhouette or a centralize pyramidal pitch roof. 3. The layout with iwan (vaulted hall) placed on four sides; bi axially divides the space to form a central courtyard. 4. The triple dome Mosque with a large courtyard. 5. The enclosed garden with series of pavilions set in it. Art in Mosque architecture:

3. Central Asia and Iran: the bi-axial four-iwan type

4. The India subcontinent: triple domes and an extensive courtyard

5. China: detached pavilions within a walled garden enclosure

30 Mosque

1 Martin Frishman and Hassan-Uddin Khan, The Mosque History, Architectural Development & Regional Diversity (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2002), 12.


Mosque of Today:

The calligraphy has a unique role in Mosque. Often, versus from the Qur’an are inscribed on the Mosque facade to convey spiritual message to the passerby and users. The other reason is the prohibition of figurative images that depict any living beings in Muslim art which “...constitute an impermissible challenge to God as sole Creator”2 and afraid of it being idolatry.

Today, Mosque are built all around the world. There are lack of Mosque architectural discourse and lack of formal documentation of mosque typologies and common guidelines. Therefore Mosques are commonly designed in reference to existing ones. However many contemporary architects are starting to explore and experiment in Mosque architecture with western perspective. The Mosques of today can be categorized into four typologies. However these typologies are vague but nevertheless help us to identify different types of Mosques. The typologies are:

Geometry are commonly used in Mosque designs for decoration. Geometry is often used as an expression of rational to generate spatial planning and architectural forms. Geometry can be rationalized through mathematical calculation and metaphysical significances. 2 Martin Frishman and Hassan-Uddin Khan, The Mosque History, Architectural Development & Regional Diversity (London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2002), 14.

1. Vernacular/traditional The Mosque has specific regional characteristic which is usually built with traditional techniques and materials. The majority of this type is built in rural and unmodernise area. 2. Historicist The Mosque is referred to a particular historical style and the selected style will be the base of the design. Besides one style, it can also be an agglomeration of historical styles which often turn out to be too clumsy and unarticulated. 3. Contemporary Classic The Mosque is referential to historical styles with original reinterpretation to these models. These types of mosques incorporate contemporary structures and innovative construction techniques. 4. Modern The mosque is a design to portray the modern Muslims and devoid from historical styles. It utilizes the twentieth century direction of architecture, such as modernism.

31 Mosque









32 Contemporary Mosque


os qu e


Why building a Mosque is of origins (of a particular ethnicity), rather than a Problem?

In Sydney, the Muslim communities are diverse in cultures and ethnicities. Therefore Mosques are usually built to accommodate a particular ethnicity. Commonly, most proposed Mosque designs in the West impose a stereotypical image of a Mosque (with a dome and minaret). Too often, the mosques are designed to resemble the strong culture and tradition from the place

Another reason is because of the Mosques’ strong visual language and presence. Therefore Islamic appearance is too apparent and sometimes too imposing. Mosque buildings are often covered and introverted (for example: Lakemba Mosque and Auburn mosque in Sydney) which increases the mystery and speculation of the non-Muslims. Along with the misconceptions and negativities tagged to Islam, the non-Muslims are afraid that the Mosques would be a breeding ground of Islamic fundamentalist, extremist, fanatical or even terrorist. Even if Mosques are allowed to build in the Western land, they are usually built in periphery of the city centre and the outer suburb (example: Lakemba and Auburn in Sydney). Can mosque not be built in the heart of the city?

33 Contemporary Mosque

Today, building a Mosque in the West is a controversy. Often it faces with many oppositions, rejections and even stirs a commotion (for example: the rejection of Cologne Mosque in Germany, the opposition of Abbey Miles Islamic centre in London and Mosque refusal by Baulkham Hills Shire Council, Sydney). So, why Mosque buildings are constantly being rejected in the West? Aren’t we (the West) embracing multiculturalism and religion pluralism which makes the Muslims entitled to equality and freedom of faith?

referencing the religion in its context. Therefore the local non-Muslim communities have trouble relating themselves to the so called ‘foreign’ architectural style; some say that it is an exotic image imposed to the local context and others say that it is unsuitable for the locale.

Today, a Mosque in the West can either be traditional or contemporary. Traditional Mosques are usually conservative and literal interpretations of historical precedent mosques. Often the designs are copied literally regardless of context. To ‘pluck and place’ is fundamentally problematic as it is lack of locality and demonstrates an absence in Mosque architectural understanding; also, it usually involves bad replication. On the other hand, a mosque can be on the contemporary stage at several levels. To be contemporary is not simply to please others with superficial architectural forms but to acknowledge one’s own presence in the contemporary world. Therefore to be contemporary is also to be sensitive to the context. In order to bring a building (mosque) into existence, it is crucial to establish thorough understanding of physical, social, cultural, economical and political context. All these information will give a greater depth to the existence of a building and avoid arbitrariness. There’s a need in pressing on the positivity in hope that it will suppress the negativity.

have been multifunctional and secular to serve as community centres for local residents. However, interestingly enough “... in recent years mosques have moved towards a single function. As places of prayer, ...”1 This is particularly relevant to the West where the majority of the Mosques are solely used for religious purpose. Also, they are sometimes secluded, introverted, exclusive and separated from the overall community. Why? Is this because of alterity of Muslims by the non-Muslims or is it because the need for the Muslims to be exclusive for a sense of protection and identity preservation? Whatever the reasons may be, it is even more important to question how can we ‘reintegrate’ the Mosque into the community and blur the religious boundaries that is existing between Muslims and non-Muslims. There are more important questions to be asked prior to develop an appropriate Mosque that is both relevant and conducive to the context.

1 Hasan-Uddin Khan, “ The Architecture of the Mosque, an Overview and Design Directions,” in Expressions of Islam in Buildings, ed Salam, Hayat (Singapore: Concept Media/The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, 1990), 110.

34 Contemporary Mosque

Designing a mosque today Historically, early Mosques

How should we design a covered or closed as a defence to negativity from the outside Mosque?

The Mosque needs a strong sense of community, ummah. This is because “the place of prayer never stood alone but was complemented by other spaces that dealt with general societal interactions.”1 Therefore it should not be designed to be introverted, 1 Hasan-Uddin Khan, “ The Architecture of the Mosque, an Overview and Design Directions,” in Expressions of Islam in Buildings, ed Salam, Hayat (Singapore: Concept Media/The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, 1990), 110.

The modern Muslims in the West require creativity to practise Islam as Tariq Ramadan claimed. Similarly, designing a contemporary Mosque requires creativity in bringing solutions to these complicated issues that are sensitive and controversial. The past must not be avoided nor should it be mimicked; it is evidence to inform us of the future. In being contemporary, Mosques can utilize the great technologies available today. This could be expressed by adopting the idea of sustainability through recycling, harvesting rainwater and solar power etc. The contemporary Mosque must be welcoming, not just to Muslims but non-Muslims. Transparency is important for allowing dialogue to form between people. Introduction of secular programs in a Mosque can encourage nonMuslim users. This will give an opportunity for the Muslim community to interact with the non-Muslim community and hopefully create a greater bond and mutual understanding.

35 Contemporary Mosque

A Mosque in Sydney should be a symbol of diversity (religion pluralism), equality and freedom of faith (citizen rights). It must have the ability to accommodate different cultures and ethnicities. In addition, a Mosque should also be a symbol of social participation and act as a platform for positive contributions to the immediate surroundings of its existence. The design of Mosque should not be done with fear nor should it be merely design for the sake of pleasing the authorities and the non-Muslim communities. To begin, we need to approach the design with a correct attitude and determination to ensure a brighter outcome. The Mosque architecture is an opportunity for the Muslim to present their aspiration and share the Islamic values with the local community regardless of religion, ethnicity and culture.

but it should be a platform that allows the presence of Muslims and accessible to the local community. Building a Mosque is neither a language of defence nor to demonstrate power and strength but it should be an act of compassion to serve the people: present as a sign of willingness to contribute to the society.


36 Conclusion

This paper will be an ongoing project for 2 semesters; therefore conclusion will not be made.

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United Nation Press Release SG/SM/9637 HR/4802 PI/1627.”Secretary-General, Addressing Headquarters Seminar on Confronting Islamophobia, Stresses Importance of Leadership, Two-Way Integration, Dialogue.” United Nation. (accessed April 15). Kettani, Houssain. “2010 World Muslim Population.” Paper presented at the 8th Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, Hawaii, January 2010). Ramadan, Tariq. Western Muslims and The Future of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Armstrong, Karen. Islam A Short History. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000. Kevin Dunn. “Islam in Sydney: Contesting the Discourse of Absence.” Australian Geographer 35, no.3, (November 2004), Ihsan, Fethi. “The Mosque Today.” In Architecture in Continuity, edited by Cantacuzino, Sherban, 53-63. New York: Aperture, 1985. Khan, Hasan-Uddin. “The Architecture of the Mosque, an Overview and Design Directions.” In Expressions of Islam in Buildings, edited by Hayat Salam, 109-126. Singapore: Concept Media/The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, 1990.

37 Bibliography

ArchNet Discussion Forum. “Islamic Architecture, Architecture based on Qur’an and Sunnah.” ArchNet. forum/view.jsp?message_id=177715 (accessed April 14, 2010).


Theoretical Framework