Insights April 20, 2023

Ramadan for Architects

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Ramadan is commonly understood as a month during which Muslims make great personal sacrifices. 

However, it is also a time when Muslims make great contributions to their society. A fundamental pillar of the Islamic faith is to acknowledge one’s own abundance, and to give from this to those in need. To uphold this tenet means offering between 2.5% and 20% of one’s wealth to benefit other members of society. According to Professor Habib Ahmed, this is a real number of upwards of 300 billion USD.

From an architect’s perspective, our abundance is a knowledge and artfulness about how to create spaces, both in the public realm and also within buildings. To give from this wealth is a willingness to think of other stakeholders whose voice isn’t always present around the project table. That might be neighbours, the environment or even labourers along the supply chain. There are metrics out there – for example social value and embodied carbon – that could provide a real number of what this wealth distribution might look like.

In the spirit of giving for Ramadan, Muslims continue right up until Eid ul Fitr. This involves an Eidiyah – or Eidi. For many, it is a gift specifically from an elder to someone younger.

For architects, the experience gained over decades of practice is certainly a gift worth passing on. At CW, we have stood on stage and written articles in which we give a future generation of architects insights into our failures – and at times successes. Our Eidi will help our successors be better architects than we are, and in so doing, share even more wealth to society.

Ramadan and its culmination does not have to be an exclusive event. There is a very universal message within that tradition. So Eid Mubarak, however you are celebrating it.

Image of Shahed Saleem’s 2023 Ramadan Pavilion at the V&A.
Image of Shahed Saleem’s 2023 Ramadan Pavilion at the V&A.

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