Urban Landscape and Geography of the City in Islamic Traditions

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Historically, the city as a geographical location and a symbol of stability as well as the meeting place of different races has occupied a paramount position in the writings of Arab geographers and travelers. This paper explores the geography of the Arab-Islamic city from different perspectives in order to underline the various elements underpinning the development of the urban landscape of the Arab city in different eras. Initially, the paper investigates the geography of the Arab-Islamic city in Arabic travel literature with focus on the travel chronicle of Ibn Jubayr. However, the predominant argument of the paper deals with the impact of Islamic conquests on shaping the urban landscapes of Arab-Islamic cities in ancient times. The paper argues that after the early Islamic conquests of other nations, the city constituted a driving force for Islam and Muslims built mosques in the heart of cities as a symbol of their religious and political power. The paper reveals that ancient cities in Islamic countries had a morphology that was the result of the needs of their residents. Moreover, the paper illustrates that in the current era the Arab-Islamic city has declined compared to the cities of the West, for many reasons, including random expansion as result of administrative corruption, in addition to political, economic, social and natural drawbacks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-284
Number of pages20
JournalArab World Geographer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Ancient cities
  • Arab cities versus Western cities
  • Geographical landscape
  • Islamic conquest
  • Urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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