The "Urf" And Its Role In Diversifying The Architecture Of Traditional Islamic Cities
journal article
The 'Urf', or customs, in various Muslim societies had a very important role in establishing a framework of accepted norms of behavior operational in its own terms at the level of the community. As a result, each region of the Muslim world, sometimes comprising a number of distinct communities, developed a local distinctiveness in the way certain societal activities are conducted, including building activity. A primary reason why local customs thrived was the recognition by Muslim legal scholars of the importance of the Urf as a mechanism of societal behavior, and was thus accepted as one of the sources for the law. This was a basis for its institutionalization in each community. This paper explains the Urf from the vantage point of Islamic jurisprudence, then discusses its implications on building practice. This is supported by illustrative examples to convey the impacts on architecture at the local level. It also attempts to put forward a theoretical basis for the phenomenon of unity and diversity prevalent in the architecture of traditional Muslim societies. The paper also addresses lessons from this insight for contemporary building and urban design, and suggests areas for further research associated with this topic. 
Besim, Hakim S. “The 'Urf' and its Role in Diversifying The Architecture of Traditional Islamic Cities.” Journal of Architectural and Planning Research 11:4 (1994): 108-127.
Locke Science Publishing Company, Inc. 1994
Saudi Arabia
Islamic architecture
Islamic art
urban planning
architectural history
art history