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To understand Islamic aesthetic principles of Beauty and Truth, one must begin with a deep comprehension and appreciation of the tradition.  It is imperative to critically examine and develop a sound Islamic identity and vision to move beyond a superficial orientalist perspective that has unfortunately prevailed in the West and amongst Muslim society, owing to centuries of cultural colonialism. This is foundational to emulating our historical heritage in modern times and preventing degeneration or resorting to replication. Hence, “a feeling of belonging” is essential. Preserving historical works and contemporary interpretations of the traditions is critical for design when referencing divine beauty.



Course Category: Islamic Design

Course Format: Online

Dates: Sundays, February 5 - March 5, 2023


Time: 3 PM UTC (90-minute sessions)

Instructors: Raci Senalp & Sirri Senalp

Critical Reflections of Self, the Ruh, and Design that References Divine Beauty


Raci Senalp

Ahmet Raci Şenalp is an architect, instructor, and researcher. He completed a B.A. in architecture from Istanbul Technical University (ITU). 


His research and work explore the outlook of the Islamic perspective on beauty and truth. His research aims to reach the true roots of Islamic art and surpass the surface-level orientalist view that has indoctrinated the West and Muslim society over centuries of cultural colonialism. He champions that each artwork must reference divine beauty and strives to spread this message through lectures, exhibitions, and his professional practice as an architect. 


Raci Şenalp is an architectural project manager at an Istanbul-based firm, Hassa Architecture, specializing in contemporary applications of traditional Islamic architecture. Hassa Architecture designed the Diyanet Center of America in Maryland and many other famous sites worldwide.  His work focuses on concept development and curation for exhibitions. Additionally, he teaches classes at Mekteb-i Mimari, a school for architecture students.


Sirri Senalp

Hudai Sirri Senalp is an urban planner and researcher with an MA in the History of Art. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Restoration.


Senalp’s research is focused on Islamic art and architecture, particularly its early formative stage, development process, and evolution over time. During his research, he established that Islamic art and architecture have developed through an Islamic worldview. This led Muslims to design a certain way, simultaneously addressing our body, nafs (self), and ruh (soul). His teaching includes how this is manifested in Islamic artworks, according to vernacular, monumental architecture, landscape, and city planning. He delivers lectures and seminars at universities, and architecture foundations, as well as at Mektebi Mimari, which is an institution for architecture students.


His MA dissertation is entitled “Evolution of Ottoman Muqarnas” (SOAS, University of London). He is expounding upon this in his Ph.D. research on muqarnas construction techniques and conservation problems at Yildiz Technical University, Department of Architecture.


Sirri Senalp is a general coordinator at Hassa Architecture company and completes architectural tasks such as urban designing. Hassa Architecture designed the Diyanet Center of America in Maryland and many other famous sites worldwide. 


Week 1: Ratio and Scale

While ratio defines the relationship between the different components, scale defines an artwork’s dimensions in relation to its composition. Both of these concepts are at the heart of human life and the rationale of the design. In this seminar, the issue of ratio and scale will be examined according to art, architecture, poetry, and music.


Week 2: Madda and Mana

For an artistic or architectural work to be aesthetic, it must address our body, nafs (self), and ruh (soul) at the same time. However, as our nafs relates to our psychology, little importance is given to how our ruh interacts with the outside world. This seminar will examine the impact and effects of art and architecture upon us.  


Week 3: The Ruh of Architecture

The object that gives spirit to architecture is an abstraction. However, the method for forming abstract spaces differs according to architectural traditions. This seminar will expand on the previous lesson and examine further important concepts.


Week 4: A Short Introduction to Western Art

Commencing from the Gothic era onwards, the journey of Western art and architecture will be concisely and critically examined. This seminar will study how the spirit of society showed itself through artwork.


Week 5: A study of Modernity and Islamic Thinking

The existence and emergence of modernity as an idea in the 20th century and how it affects our world will be examined. Finally, the theories and artwork of the Islamic world will be discussed and compared to the West.

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