chapter  2
26 Pages

The Islamic City

Historic Myth, Islamic Essence, and Contemporary Relevance
WithJanet L. Abu-Lughod

This chapter examines some of the basic works in the traditions of the Prophet, after deconstructing the concept of the Islamic city and explores somewhat different and hopefully more dynamic and analytic model. It deals with a brief discussion of whether and in what ways it would be feasible or desirable to build contemporary cities on Islamic principles. The chapter shows that criteria of authority, chains of authenticity, and the construction of reality in Orientalist scholarship. It provides to deconstruct Orientalist thinking about the Islamic city by showing not only that the idea itself was “created” on the basis of two few cases but, even worse, was a model of outcomes rather than one of processes. A modest list of the forces that created the traditional Islamic city would include: a terrain/climate; a technology of production, distribution, and transportation; a system of social organization; and a legal/political system that, in Islamic places and times, could vary considerably.