In reference to food, halal is the dietary standard, as prescribed in the Quran. This term is most commonly used in relation to food products but halal and haram are universal terms that apply to all facets of life. The global halal market is estimated to be worth more than $2,300 billion and the value of halal food sector is reaching $700 billion annually. The non-food sector is much bigger, because it also includes chemicals, healthcare, cosmetics, personal care, pharmaceuticals, fashion and design.
Design is fundamental for all of us. Design decisions impact virtually all aspects of daily life. Many of the design choices we make are visible to the outside world and give us an opportunity to express our life values, and those of the community we belong to. It shapes the world we live in, how we build houses and mosques, how we decorate our homes, how we dress ourselves, and all products we use every day. Being a Muslim is a major part of one’s identity and Muslims desire to express the values and teachings of Islam through the things they wear, carry with them and display in their homes.
This brings us to two major areas where design can improve current offerings in order to better serve the needs of Muslims.
This means following Islamic values when producing and designing objects. Examples are the usage of halal materials and keeping in mind the compliance with halal standards during the manufacturing process. Avoiding wastage is also very important so using recycled wood, for example, is encouraged.
The tourism industry is leading the trend of halal design. Halal hotels which completely cater to the needs of the Muslim population are a strong upcoming segment around the world. Certain major chains of “regular” hotels design their hotels in line with Islamic beliefs and values:
– Prayer facilities face the direction of the Qibla.
– Toilets and showers are placed perpendicularly to the Qibla direction.
– Bedrooms are designed as such that a bed can be placed perpendicularly to the Qibla direction.
– Sinks are positioned to directly face the direction of the Qibla when performing Wudhu.
This includes artifacts, symbols, shapes and colors that Muslims relate to their Islamic belief and community.
Based on the importance of the holy Quran as the word of God, Muslims throughout the history celebrated the Arabic language. Calligraphy gives a visible form to the revealed word of the Quran and is, therefore, considered the most noble of the arts. It combines a geometric discipline with a dynamic rhythm.
The display of pictures or sculptures of creatures with a soul were debated by Muslims throughout the history and were strictly forbidden in many Muslim societies in the past. Geometric patterns, Islamic mathematics as a form or art came to exist as a consequence of the Islamic prohibition on depicting the human form. The extensive use of complex geometric patterns to decorate buildings, raised mathematics to the form of an art.
Arabesque compositions are as ubiquitous in Islamic decoration as geometric patterns. Like geometrical designs, these too are found across the entire range of mediums from book illustration to plasterwork: in ceramics, woodwork, metalwork and ivory-carving, even in carpets and textiles.
Green is considered the traditional color of Islam. The Arabic word for “greenness” is mentioned several times in the Quran, describing the state of the inhabitants of paradise.
Design and Islam in the 21st century
Contemporary Islamic design interprets ancient Islamic arts such as calligraphy, geometric patterns or Arabesque compositions in a modern way to create wallpaper, posters, paintings or wood carvings. At present, there is minimal contemporary Islamic art and design available on the consumer markets across the world, although the consumer demand is very much present. Real estate and travel accommodation are currently leading edge when it comes to halal design but the growth potential of this market is very high and will certainly rise in the near future.
Source: Dubai Exports, Islamic Fashion Design Council