The Mediterranean Region: “Islamic” light in the architecture of the sublime

Majdi Faleh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review


This paper traces the material and the spiritual dimensions of light in the architecture of Islam. In a Quranic chapter called “An-Nur” or the light, and in a mystical group of lines “The verse of light”, God has explained how light is the essence of life on earth comparing this divine dimension to the light of heaven and earth. This metaphor clearly explains its sacred dimension confirming its importance in the architecture of Islam. The phenomenal experience of this natural element is created in the interiors of buildings, transforming them into an element that enlightens the soul and energizes the space.

Light is a timeless, dynamic, and transformative entity that shapes the configuration of space and enhances its dynamism. In the architecture of Islam, it is ingeniously transforming buildings into living entities. Its penetration and its reflection through patterns and on colours accentuates the dynamism of the interiors and calls for an exploration of the duality between light, pattern, and colour. The solid surface then becomes fluid and a myriad of patterns transforms the meaning of the architectural space. Each pattern, geometry and form is a living element inside the building. Muqarnas cells beneath domes are reflecting and refracting elements depending on light quality.

This research investigates the dimension of light in Islam and explains how this dynamic entity coexists with surfaces, patterns, and colours creating a unity within a diverse architecture. The sublime becomes architectural and its fluidity then reveals an intimate relationship between the spiritual and the material.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWIT Transactions on The Built Environment
Subtitle of host publicationIslamic Heritage Architecture and Art
EditorsB.A. Brebbia, A. Martinez Boquera
PublisherWIT Press
ISBN (Print)1743-3509
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event1st International Conference on Islamic Heritage Architecture and Art - Wessex Institute, Valéncia, Spain
Duration: 17 May 201619 May 2016


Conference1st International Conference on Islamic Heritage Architecture and Art


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