Friday, 1 February 2013

"Islamic City Planning" Based On Ibn Masoud Thought

Assalamualaikum. Hari ni saya nak kongsikan tentang buku terbaru yang saya baca. Tentang perancangan bandar dari perspektif Islamik. Buku yang berjudul "Urban Planning; An Islamic Perspective" ditulis oleh Azila Ahmad Sarkawi dan Alias Abdullah. Secara ringkasnya, buku ini menyebut tentang tiga elemen asas yang perlu ada dalam pembentukan bandar islamik. Artikel ni ditulis dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Sorry for poor english.

Ibnu Masoud (r.a.) is one the most respected Islamic jurists who actually gives a message or reminder of not to stop in a place that doesn't have a sultan, an active market and also clear running water. The statement from Ibn Masoud (r.a.) actually reflects the three characteristics of an ideal Islamic city. Islam basically is a religion that is based on moderation and pragmatism. In the context of urban planning, it emphasizes very simple and little requirement to create ideal urban environment and healthy place for the people. The simple requirement however has big significance towards establishing an ideal city that is balance in term of every aspect comprises physical, economic, governance, social, environment, and many more. All the basic principles and requirement could implicate a good, harmony, healthy and sustainable city. Thus, the three elements stated by Ibn Masoud are actually the three qualities that should be in a city to make it ideal from an Islamic view.

The first is about the sultan or ruler. In whatever organization or place, a leader is needed to ensure smooth administration and management. The existence of ruler would actually lead to establishment of law and rules that must be obeyed. This is because with law and leader, a place could be ensured for harmony and stable government. Existence of leader and law can control a place or organization for the betterment of its structure. Other than that, everything will be in order if there is a ruler or leader to rule the kingdom towards certain organizational goal or objectives. In Ibn Masoud statement, a ruler is needed to ensure there is a body, organization or government to effectuate programs of social justice as required by Islamic norms and value systems, protect the weak from the strong, advocate the poor, bring a systematic administration and rule.

Based on this first element, a city must have leader or sultan because he can administer the city towards a clear direction, managing everything so that everything will be well-organized, prevent oppression and misuse of resources, prevent corruption and ensure smooth ruling process. Just imagine a city without a sultan (leader), everything will be in chaos, people acts they way they like although it is wrong, the poor becomes victim, crimes happen everywhere, lots of social, physical and economic problems. All these problems would certainly contribute to instability and problem. So clearly seen here a city must have a leader to rule the place and for all the reasons above. So, it will guide city planning process as there is law and policies, concern to the community and respect to the leader. This guides planners work in term of what they must do and obey because it will eradicates planning for self-importance or money.

Second quality of an ideal city from Islamic perspective is an active market place. This actually reflects the concern of Islam on the need for wealth. An active market place is an indicator of a well-organized and prosperity of a city which has economic strength and stability. An active market happens only when the populations are able to support such activities. What active market indicates here is the economic stability of a place, as well as safety. Our Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was once quote that 9 over 10 of income sources are in commerce. The importance of active market here is it can to develop the economy of the population.

An active market place is very important to a city due to several reasons. Based on our Prophet statement, major income source is from commercial activities. This statement is proven right because when we see Gross Domestic Product of any state, commerce is one of the major contributors to the economic sustainability and growth. Thus, a city must have active market place to ensure good economic growth. This will actually benefit to the whole as more job opportunities will be created in the city, attract investment from local and foreign, boost sectoral performances and many more. Furthermore, active market place will also cater the needs from local population, promote wealth accumulation to community and finally establishing a vibrant city. Investors also normally choose to invest in area which has high population and consumers to ensure its success. Thus, in planning the cities, planners must realize that they have an obligation towards creating commercial activities strategically so that it will be active, functioning and contributing to the economy.

The third quality is clean running water. What it means here is a clean environment. A good city will never neglect this aspect because of its importance. A city which has clear running water symbolizes that they have taken environmental aspect into consideration in its city planning. Other than that, clean running water here reflects the healthy and unpolluted environment. Only a city which has lush green fields, good environment preservation, sustainable physical development and undamaged by soil erosion would be able to sustain clear running water. Apart of that, this last quality also actually reflects on the general attitude of the population towards the environment on the whole. A good population will care about their environment, and management of their city and not just developing land without control. Clean water symbolize how a city manage its scarce natural resources.

A city should have clean and clear running water. This is because water is one of the elements that is shared and will be used by the population. Clean water will ensure healthiness of the community because they consume clean water every day. If water sources are polluted, this will give effect to the population especially to their health. Moreover, water is one of the nature elements that we must care of. This symbolizes our concern to the environment, not only in the city but everywhere. In term of town planning work, planners must be careful while doing planning so what they plan will not pollute the environment, not only to water but as well as to other elements too. Adding to this, planning also must not cause disaster to the city such as flood.

In conclusion, what we can see from Ibn Masoud quotation is, a city must have all these elements in order to achieve ideal Islamic city. If we see, the three qualities emphasized to make a city ideal are very comprehensive since it focuses on the social (ruler and administration), economic (active commerce) and also environmental aspects (clear running water).


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