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Additional resources for Architecture as Symbol and Self-Identity
The correct terminology would be a vector, that is, it gives the direction by which one should understand the monument. Now if you cannot read it-as it happens with minarets, very frequently the inscription is up high-then there is a kind of inner symbolism, what the maker said it was going to be. How it was understood afterwards is yet another story. The public changes its mind on the meaning of buildings. One can say that a building was built for purpose X and then over the centuries it acquired function Y.
Assuming that an ecological imperative is at work with cultural identity, do the adaptive forms thus produced have applications beyond the mosque? A fruitful direction for future action lies in the development of a complete inventory of major Islamic buildings. If systematically undertaken according to the various ecological and cultural zones of the Muslim world, other building types such as the madrasa and caravanserai can be analyzed for their generic forms and ordering typologies. A compendium of such studies would provide a useful "road map" to the more relevant forms appropriate today for each of the ecological/cultural zones of Islam.
Among the symbols of unity (always the reflection of the transcendental unity as such), the most profound as well as the most obvious is that of light. The Muslim artist knows how to capture, filter and crystallize it in myriad ways. Light symbolically corresponds to existence (wujud) because no form can be perceived without it. " Light is one. It only appears multiple and diverse because of the intervention of darkness which lacks intrinsic reality. Without light there is pure nothingness. Yet according to another point of view, darkness is the state of in differentiation (at- 'iima).