Saturday, October 14, 2006

Apple's "mecca": MEMRI's contreversy; and is it "ok" anyway?





While visiting New York last weekend (sightseeing my mother) I took a look at the newly opened Apple's "mecca"... The site needs to be visited anyways especially for the always wonderful gadgets/laptops... by Apple... But what made me really visit it (it's in 5th avenue & 58th st... so you'd get to see it if you're in NY anyways) was the last contreversy surrounding it, which ended up to be based mainly on the mysteriously funded MEMRI (though not that mysterious as to whome is politically affiliated), which based itself on a very vague "Islamic website"... MEMRI's source seemed to me this time too vague to be taken seriously (no links to this "Islamic website" by the way)...But I would not be surprised if some of the usual too blinded crowds in some location would abject at Apple's architectural choices... and would see it as "blasphemous"...

Few reasons would suffice to abject at such an abjection (if it ever existed) as simply stupid to say the least:

1-Apple's choice was that way because it makes it beautiful... a simple-transparent cube (the old but always beautiful simplness of the Internationl Style) is just different in its architectural spirit but as basic (and thus obviously beautiful) as the Kaaba... after all this very form existed before the Kaaba.... and it was chosen not because it was inherently religious but because it conveys (rather than being a representation of) humanly based religious meanings: equalness, centrality, unity... They are just eternal ideas and they don't pertain specifically to any religion..

2-Because it's made of glass and transparent it evokes the International Style and all its modernistic connotations, thus it's not "likening the kaaba"....

3-Apple's choice of the word "Mecca" is not making fun of Kaaba nor Mecca itself: "Mecca" has been redefined in English a long time ago... it's just a shortcut for "center of gravity"... Just as we use "qibla" in Arabic... sometimes we don't mean the religious qibla.... it has a more generic sense..

4-Turning the model of a religious building into a commercial building has been done to other Islamic buildings and it was not perceived as something abjectional: there is the model of the Cordoba Mosque in a mall at Irvine (CA) as if it's in its origibal setting i.e. in the middle of a market... Besides the line is too fine between the secular and the religious in Islamic architecture (assuming the Kaaba is an "Islamic building" given that it was "adopted" by Muslims even though it was essentially pre-Islamic)... The mosque or the religious building could be turned very easily into other secular functions (fortification, depot of goods....)... In other words the notion of a "sacred building" rather than a "sacred site" is much weaker in the Islamic tradition than, let's say, the Byzantine (eastern Christian tradition) tradition...

5 Comments:

At 5:26 AM, Blogger psynaj said...

inchallah aidkom mabrouk
snin daima

 
At 5:11 AM, Blogger Takriti said...

Nice blog Tarek.

 
At 6:18 AM, Blogger Tarek Kahlaoui said...

@psynaj aidik mabrouk... sorry for the late response since I was away from my blog (closer to my dissertation)
@takriti: thanks... yours (actually three) looks nice too...

 
At 1:20 AM, Blogger almas said...

Firstly, the Mecca is not a pre-Islamic structure- the structure was constructed on the commands of Allah Subhana by prophet Ibrahim(sas)who preached Islam too. Secondly,your comments about the notion of sacredness of Islamic sites is weak is not justified your argument. Islam abhors idol worship and we do not worship the Kaaba- although it is the most sacred site for Muslims. That does not mean we idolise the Kaaba and will get swayed away by a wrong intrepration of the new Apple Store. No replication on earth can come close to the very aura of the Mecca which Allah has blessed us with- SubahanAllah

 
At 11:17 AM, Blogger vague.skies said...

The Kaaba is not merely a religious building. It is very significant across the history of Islam. It is true that the word "mecca" and "qibla" are used to refer to people's targeted spot but it may be used as a figure of speech, not to officially use it to name a building since it will definitely cause confusions and arouse controversey. Isn't it possible that this was the goal from the first place to build up this building that will gain all this publicity from the media and arouse people's curiousity around to go see it regardless of the means through which this publicity has been achieved?

 

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