Ottoman Aesthetics and Design

Starting 21 December 2024 8 Weeks

Registrations are closed, thank you very much for your interest.

Ottoman Aesthetics and Design

To understand Islamic aesthetic principles of Beauty and Truth, one must begin with a deep comprehension and appreciation of Islamic artistic tradition.

Ottoman Aesthetics and Design

General Info

  • Course Category: Islamic Aesthetics and Design
  • Course Format: Online
  • Dates: January 21 – March 10, 2024
  • Time: Sundays  5 PM UTC (90-minute sessions)
  • Instructors: Raci Senalp
  • Course Price: $80

About the Course

Islamic arts, thinking and sciences have always been integrated with one another throughout history. Mastering any field under Islamic arts requires this comprehensive outlook as a foundation. To understand Islamic aesthetic principles of Beauty and Truth, one must begin with a deep comprehension and appreciation of Islamic artistic tradition.

It is imperative to critically examine and develop a sound Islamic identity and vision to move beyond a superficial orientalist perspective that has unfortunately prevailed in the West and amongst Muslim society, owing to centuries of cultural colonialism.

This is foundational to emulating our historical heritage in modern times and preventing degeneration or resorting to replication. Hence, “a feeling of belonging” is essential. Preserving historical works and contemporary interpretations of the traditions is critical for design when referencing divine beauty.


Week 1: Intro to Islamic Art: The importance of words and concepts

While we often assume that words and their meanings exist independently, it is essential to recognize that the definitions we ascribe are distilled from the overarching ideology of a given civilization. To delve into the realm of Islamic arts, a preliminary step involves revisiting and redefining crucial concepts to align with the principles of Islamic thinking.

Week 2: The Nature of the Human Being: Fıtrah

To create a compelling and deeply engaging work of art that resonates with the human spirit, it is essential to first understand the nature of the recipient, which is the human being. The foundational principles of aesthetics and beauty are intrinsically linked to human nature and find their roots therein.

The contemporary departure from traditional aesthetics can be attributed to a historical failure in establishing and nurturing this intrinsic connection over the preceding centuries.

Week 3: Intro to History of Western Art

Commencing from the Gothic era onwards, the journey of Western art and architecture will be concisely and critically examined. In this lesson we will be taking a look at the spirit and the psyche of Western Civilization through its artwork.

Week 4: Modernism: An art style, an ideology, a religion

Western civilization gradually lost its connection with its human aspect and started to deviate from its classical foundations.This divergence eventually manifested as an artistic movement known as modernism.

Furthermore, our inquiry will extend to the examination of modernism not solely as an artistic expression but as an overarching ideology, at times elevating to the status of a religious belief system.

Week 5: Intro to Islamic thinking: Collective consciousness of a civilization: Part 1

A civilization is a system of ideas and beliefs that shows itself through every aspect of life. In this lesson starting from the city of Medina how the theoretical and practical foundations of Islamic civilization have been laid and how they guided their successors.

Week 6: Intro to Islamic thinking: Collective consciousness of a civilization: Part 2

In this course, we will delve into the facets of Ottomans, examining how Islamic principles are expressed through various fields such as society, sciences, art and architecture. Our aim is to unravel the underlying ideas that shape their beliefs across these diverse domains

Week 7: The Development of Islamic Art: Takamul: Part 1

In contrast to Western civilization, Islam adopted a distinctive approach in the development of its ideolgy, emphasizing a process of maturation rather than abrupt transformations. This lesson aims to examine the history of Islamic art by studying the underlying ideology that influenced its approach to artistic development.

Week 8: The Development of Islamic Art: Takamul: Part 2

Expanding on previous lesson, we will be exploring the Ottoman perspective. We will examine how they studied and crafted their own approach based on Islamic thinking, drawing inspiration from diverse ideas originating from Arabia, Iran and the West.

Our Instructor

Ahmet Raci Şenalp is an architect, instructor, and researcher. He completed a B.A. in architecture from Istanbul Technical University (ITU). 

His research and work explore the outlook of the Islamic perspective on beauty and truth. His research aims to reach the true roots of Islamic art and surpass the surface-level orientalist view that has indoctrinated the West and Muslim society over centuries of cultural colonialism. He champions that each artwork must reference divine beauty and strives to spread this message through lectures, exhibitions, and his professional practice as an architect. 

Raci Şenalp is an architectural project manager at an Istanbul-based firm, Hassa Architecture, specializing in contemporary applications of traditional Islamic architecture. Hassa Architecture designed the Diyanet Center of America in Maryland and many other famous sites worldwide. 

His work focuses on concept development and curation for exhibitions. Additionally, he teaches classes at Mekteb-i Mimari, a school for architecture students.


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Islamic Aesthetics and Design