Imam al-Ghazali lovers, this one is for you.
In the post prior, I mentioned Ba’Fadl without any elaboration other than they being well known for their mastery in fiqh. This post is the little remainder of what I know of them, and it’s quite remarkable.
Design and space that reflects and serves life.
Not too long ago, most people around the world would design buildings and other thing like roads and clothing, with clear consideration towards their culture and environment. Not just how something is design, but what is used to create it.
An old Malay house is designed in a way that despite the heat outside, it is manageable inside. It facilitates wind movement and light to enter. Today we build houses that require air conditioning when it’s not even hot, and fluorescent like to be turned on even when it’s mid day outside.
We dress in clothes that make us sweat more, using materials which need to be imported from abroad. In simple terms, many detach us from what are already near and available. Not to mention many of it in essence, result us in glorifying what’s foreign and alien, that at times it becomes unnoticed and the norm.
Here’s an extension I never expected despite my interest in this subject.
In Hadhramout and around, buildings are made of mud bricks of at least 45cm thick. Windows are large rectangle holes in the wall. To make a cupboard or bookshelf, they carve the wall almost to the point of cutting through the whole wall – a whole rectangle block, and then just place a door on that void.
That’s how most homes have a ‘built-in’ cabinets without jutting out of the wall. Not to mention saving money from purchasing wardrobes and such. There are other examples of this good method which not only make design practical and economical, but also functional and artistic.
Question is, what’s the dimension?
So if you can cut the rectangle void in the wall for a bookshelf, what’s the height and width you’d go for? The people in Tareem made their call that it should fit the complete 40 volume magnum opus of Imam al-Ghazali – the Ihya’ Ulum’uddin.
Not all houses today have the same size, but those who did probably followed that standard size not knowing the basis of the measurement. One that consciously did, is the Zawiyah of Shaykh Salem Ba’Fadl, who is also one of the teachers of the largest figure here, al-Faqih al-Muqaddam Muhammad bin Ali Ba’Alawi.
The zawiyah is about 900 years old.
*Pic is not of the bookshelf in the zawiyah.