|Local or Global|
"The call for proper connections between places goes far beyond a test of architectural ability and talent for urban design. The dilemma lies deep in our social norms and collective consciousness" ( Arefi, 1999)
The subtle arguments of local verses global are significant to the evolution of our understanding of global systemic change. The critique of the social evolutionism literature has dominated the efforts to locate globalization, because globalization, in general, weakens local ties and enhances homogeneity and sameness, based on the tenets of consumerism and capital mobility. On the other hand, social relations strengthen local ties and identity, and promote the process of place development.
The current problematic of place evolved from using criteria such as applicability and importance in selecting Western models, "the input of experts whose work was closely modeled on foreign examples was often not appropriate for the special context" (Nasr, eds., 2003).
The debate about global urbanization, which is based on the significance of cities and the development process, revolving around the process of framing a relationship between globalization and locality impacts, exportation or importation of urbanism techniques, the network structure of globalizing cities, the methodological debates about understanding global networks with urban change and with the synchronization movement of people. Continuous urban change draws conceptual framework for local changes and transformation.
The theoretical synthesis of 'transnational urbanism' presented by the urban theorist,
Michael Peter Smith, is considered as "the most balanced theoretical approach to globalization, seeing it as it works, without any vilification or glorification" (Encyclopedia). The term 'transnational urbanism' refers to a sophisticated and complicated process involving cultures, policies, institutions, actors, and localities. The primary sites of this 'cultural metaphor' are global cities.
This theory deepens our conceptual complication on globalization. It frames stimulating connections between the field of urban studies and the field of transnational studies, suggests methods for reconstructing urban theory to coincide with socio-spatial dynamics and the changing urban international relations. Smith suggests that we need to look beyond the intention of globalization and post-modernity, to recognize locality and the growth of cultural practices from a different point of view.
The theory of 'transnational urbanism' could bring a rational balance to the problematic of globalization and the loss of identity, but with the unbalanced laws that govern the earth and the dominance of man-made laws and the commanding forces, this balance will be restricted and confined to specific societies.
On the contrary, in the case of 'Islamic globalization' and the State of Al -Mahdi (as), when the Divine law controls the earth and brings out unity, justice, and equal opportunities to all societies, 'transnational urbanism' would achieve its fundamental goal of the balance between those conflicting issues.
Islamic Globalization and associated Teachings of Islam
In order to enrich our ideas about 'Islamic globalization', it is important to specify some Islamic teachings that enhance globalization. Islamic message is extensive and global, it was forwarded to all nations on the globe, not only one nation. It was conducted for building and spreading civilization on the earth. It is a broad message that covers the matters of ideology, culture, health, education, social life, and every aspect of our life.
Prophet Mohammed (s.a.w) is the Messenger of Allah (s.w.t) for all people in the globe. Quraan declared that Prophet Mohammed (s.a.w) was appointed as a messenger of goodness, truth and grace for all people living on the earth "And we sent thee not (O' Our Apostle Muhammad) but a mercy unto all the worlds" (Holy Quraan 21:107)
Humanitarian Equality is another feature of Islamic teachings. Islam considers all people on earth equal in their humanitarian rights, without any differentiations between them. The only distinction would be with more fear of Allah (s.w.t) "Verily the most honoured of you with God is the one of you who guardeth (himself) the most against evil" (Holy Quraan 49:13).
Islam considers all Muslims as brothers, despite their origins, languages, and cultures. Love, loyalty, and responsibility are the key elements of the countenance of this brotherhood, and this bond of unity and cooperation attaches Muslims to each other, any where on earth. Islamic doctrine encompasses many collective aspects that encourage social bonds. While respecting the rights of individuals, Islam expresses plenty of regulations for the right of groups. Islam encourages collectivity in all kinds of worshipping, eating, and various aspects of social life.
3. Towards a New Approach
The developments in political, economic, cultural and social spheres restructure urban spaces. These changes could affect the fabrication of urban space and lead to more invention of concepts. Consequently, town planning law and the building law for urban areas will develop and change. Before suggesting some urbanism guidelines for the future Islamic State of Al-Mahdi (a.s), it is useful to analyze parts of the Islamic theory and their Implications on town planning process, in order to propose a conceptual framework for a pure Islamic practice in urbanism.
Islamic theory and its Implication on urbanism
The term 'Islam' means submission and obedience. It can be defined -descriptively- as "following the orders and prohibitions without objection" (Al-Balagh, 1994). The religion of Islam is composed of three key elements; doctrine, legislation (social laws), and morals. Islamic message is complete, can solve all the problems, and encompass all aspects of life, including urbanism, "Never is there anything without a law concerning it or a known Sunnah" (Imam Sadiq/Al-Balagh, 1994).
The basic goal of the Islamic message is to guide people towards the perfection and happiness in their lives. Following are some Islamic beliefs that would affect urbanism and the building process The belief of the Oneness of Allah in himself, His attributes, His actions, and worship, has a perfecting impact on the human spirit, as the ultimate goal of a Muslim is to attain Allah's pleasure.
This spiritual interaction can be reflected on life affairs and translated into an integral system that aims to establish perfect society and perfect urban life The aim of creating humanity is to worship Allah (s.w.t), reform the earth, and achieve longevity with good and sustainable use of the available resources. People are urged to mobilize their energies in the domain of good and constructive work, and avoid being dissipated and lost In Islam, the basic criteria and guide for various life activities is that they should respect their nature and impact on social life.
In other words, they should be clear from crime and evil. Islam strongly challenges injustice, corruption, tyranny, and despotism. This criteria should be considered in the process of framing planning policies, specially land use proposals The incorporation of religious activities with different aspects of life is emphasized in Islamic theory, and could be translated into mixed use developments,
and reflected on some facilities -like mosques- in discrete diversity of functions and a lively social life The belief in justice, socio-equality, and distribution equity would strongly affect planning strategies and regulations There is no coercion in Islam.
Freedom of choice is represented in Islamic legislations, in a condition that no damage or harm will occur to anybody as a result of that freedom Noxious ethics such as monopoly, bribery, egoism, subversion, and perversion are prohibited in Islam, and should be prevented in town planning process Worshipping in Islam is not always individually performed. Islam urges Muslims to perform worshiping together, which would promote collectivity and affect urban life Islamic teachings provoke people to demand knowledge, wisdom, and be flexible to change.
Islam has provided unchangeable rules for the constant needs of humanity, but with fluctuating needs, the rules are much more changeable as far as they coincide with Islamic key principles. This would enhance flexibility in dealing with urban change Duties in Islam are within man's ability.
There is never a duty or an obligation that is beyond people's forbearance Islamic recommendations of beauty, adornment, and cleanliness would preserve public health for individuals and for the society, and affect the aesthetic components of urbanism The belief in the eternal life after death and the resurrection notion can create a spiritual motivation and movements in mankind and the design thinking Islamic doctrine stresses the significance and eternity of the soul, which may result in the perpetuity of special buildings -such as tombs- which affects urban rules and regulations.