Fatemi Architecture

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The Rukn Mukhallaq seen here in Karachi Jamea with the minaret towering in the distance. (Image courtesy of Jamea taalebah Batul Merchant)

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he art and architecture of the Fatemi imams is not only researched and studied in Aljamea, but brought to life in its buildings and edifices.  These Fatemi ornamentations and monuments are not merely one-off replicas of their originals meant to serve as reminders of a former glory, but are rather components of a perpetual system of inspiration towards the everlasting ideals and values embodied by the Fatemi movement: aathaar and ma’aathir.  The Rukn Mukhallaq, for instance, a chamfered corner from the exterior façade of al-Jame al-Aqmar in Cairo in its incorporation of the Quranic verse, “Indeed, Allah is with the pious and those who do good,” reminds students that knowledge must lead to both piety and goodwill towards others.  In this manner, all throughout Aljamea, through form and materials, structure and layout, Fatemi ideals and values are reinforced.

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Aljamea Karachi’s masjid which lies ahead of all other buildings in the campus in its orientation towards Baytullah.

Aljamea’s campuses, those in use in Surat and Karachi as well as those under construction in Nairobi and Mumbai, centre upon the masjid. Its dominance is underscored by the fact that all buildings follow its orientation towards the Holy Kaaba in Mecca.  In Karachi, as is planned in Nairobi and Mumbai, the masjid lies ahead of all the other structures in its orientation, just as the imam of a masjid stands ahead of those that he leads in prayer.

Around the courtyard, between the masjid and minaret are the classrooms, the library and other facilities. The buildings merge to form one giant complex, spanning the length and breadth of the campus.  Despite their different functions and purposes, the campus lives and breathes as a whole; a single entity dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and character. Amongst these structures, the minaret stands tallest above the rest acting as a beacon signalling others towards the traditions and heritage of the Fatemi imams SA.

Another aspect of Islamic thought manifest in Aljamea’s campuses is the concern given towards impacting  the natural environment to the least extent possible.  Green building techniques and environmentally friendly operations are in practice both in Surat and Karachi. Where possible, buildings have been designed to utilise sunlight and facilitate natural ventilation to the greatest extent possible, decreasing dependency on artificial methods that consume great amounts of electricity.  In Surat, a solar water heating system has been in use for the dormitories since the early 1980’s.  An intricate layout of coconut trees planted along the perimeter of the Karachi campus’ sports field mitigates water logging not only in Aljamea, but in the surrounding homes.  Recycling, compost facilities, motion sensor lighting and paper reduction policies are just some of the ways in which Aljamea contributes to protecting Allah’s great bounty; the world we live in. The new Jamea campuses, both in Nairobi and Mumbai are on track to be LEED certified with installations and elements such as photo-voltaic panels, passive ventilation strategies and geothermal cooling.

In this manner, both in concrete and idea, Aljamea strives to reflect in itself and its students the values inspired by Islam and the Fatemi tradition.

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Rukn Mukhallaq seen together with an arch from al-Jaame al-Aqmar on the facade of the Surat Jamea Iwaan Mubarak (Grand Hall).