Misconceptions about Islamic Architecture: the Role of Richard Francis Burton


  • Dr. Spahic Omer


This paper discusses the role of Richard Francis Burton in engendering and perpetuating a number of misconceptions about Islamic architecture. The focus is on the notions of architectural plagiarism, architectural lawlessness and thoughtless syncretism, irregularity and disproportionateness, and Islamic architecture’s incompatibility with the demands of modern times. Those ideas signified the salient features of most Orientalist theories of Islamic architecture, one of whose originators was Burton himself. The ideas, in turn, were reflective of the Western colonization and imperialism ethos, which befitted the versatile personality of Burton and its scholarly as well as military dispositions. The paper focuses on the context of Burton’s thought which revolved around his Orientalist and espionage mission in Egypt; his ideas that resulted from an interplay of scholarship, egotism and imperialism; the implications of architecture as the highest expression of a people’s artistic feeling; the meaning of plagiarism in Islamic architecture; and the relationship between modernization and Islamic architecture.




How to Cite

Dr. Spahic Omer. (2021). Misconceptions about Islamic Architecture: the Role of Richard Francis Burton. Quarterly Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society, 69(1). Retrieved from http://phs.com.pk/index.php/phs/article/view/101