Colonial cities were built by colonists and used for different purposes in the countries that they conquered. Most of them were used as central trading centers where the colonists performed trading activities with other countries. They had the diversity of culture because of the mixed cultures that were represented by their colonists and trade partners. Colonial cities were built by colonialists and most of them remain so to this day, with only a few adjustments. Johannesburg in South Africa is an example of a city that was built by colonialists and is at the top of the hierarchy among the most developed cities in Africa. Islamic cities were built to represent the harmony and culture of the Islamic people. They were built by ancient Muslims, and most of them remain solidly so even in modern times (Eickelman, 4). Baghdad is an example of an Islamic city that will be used for this study. It is the capital city of Iraq and is among the most Islamic cities in the world. Other examples of Islamic and colonial cities include Istanbul and Campeche, in Mexico, respectively. The two contain some exceptions to the typical cultures and arrangement of their structures, and are exceptions to the general rules that regard Islamic and Colonial cities.
Colonial and Islamic cities are different in their architecture. Islamic cities are built with ancient Muslim architecture in all their buildings. They do not adopt the modern forms of building, but rather stick to Muslim structures of brown buildings made with brick, rock and mosaic designs. They are surrounded with mosques and the communities live in the center of the cities, in small houses that are similar to the Islamic structures in the towns (Ismail, Adel Abdel, 12). The buildings are close together and are surrounded with a sandy environment. They have narrow streets that are not labeled, and some are divided by walls. The Islamic cities have a different environment from most modern cities because of their topography. For instance, Baghdad is surrounded by sand, but has made the best of the situation. Even though the buildings have an ancient Islamic feel, are well maintained. By most Islamic standards, it is well developed and has well tarmacked roads. The city is divided into different parts that include business centers, mosques, learning institutions and residential areas. However, just like all the other cities, the buildings are placed close together.
Colonial cities, on the other hand, adopt the contemporary forms of architecture. Most of them were built with a modern sense by colonialists and have included better structures over the years. Colonial cities have the most recent structures and have monuments that represent their struggles and independence. They are divided into broad streets that neatly depict the activities that happen around there. Unlike the case with Islamic cities, colonial cities have residential areas outside of them and use the main centers for commercial purposes. The reason is that the colonialists lived in the outskirts of the city and used the cities for trade. They are surrounded by modern facilities and recreational areas. Colonial cities have a plan that places buildings away from each other, unless they have the same business. Buildings have enough space between them, unlike in Islamic cities. Johannesburg has such an approach to its structure. It is surrounded by a green environment between its buildings and has state of the art recreational facilities.
Even so, there are some Islamic cities that have undergone tremendous developments that are similar to colonial cities. Such cities are the ones that are well placed in their topography and are open to the influence of the world. Istanbul is one such city. It is vastly developed and is surrounded by water, unlike the case with the majority of the other Islamic nations. The city is a paramount economic hub to Turkey and trades with the world. It is surrounded by mosques, just like all the others but has a few synagogues around it. Although Istanbul has become a very modern city, it still embraces the Islamic idea of buildings in its structures. The difference is that the Islamic structures were rebuilt to acquire some form of modernist architecture. They do not remain to be as old as the others in their architecture. The incorporation of some modern structures makes it similar to colonial cities. Also, the city has a modern infrastructure in the transport sector. Its roads are similar to those of major cities and have very developed bridges and lighting systems. The residential areas, just like the case in colonial cities, are away from the city center. The city is not built with housing inside it but has outskirts in well-structured residential suburbs. The residential places are still constructed with Muslim structures although some places have normal houses for other non-Muslims to reside. Istanbul is the ultimate example of an Islamic city that is founded upon Islamic principles, but showcases flexibility as opposed to its brothers, especially those in the Asian continent. The city is located between Europe and Asia, which makes it open to forms of European change. The city is also similar to colonial ones in terms of its monuments. It has several monuments that remind it of the struggles in the Ottoman Empire wars. The structures, however, include those of other nations that had an influence on the city. An example is the Serpentine Column, which is a Greek monument that symbolizes the influence of the Greek on the city. To this extent, it differs from cities such as Johannesburg but is similar to other colonial cities such as Campeche in Mexico.
Campeche is one of the colonial cities in Mexico that is rich in monumental history, as is the case with Turkey. The history the city represents showcases the journey Campeche has undergone until it became a Free State (Standish, Peter, 20). It is surrounded by various other cities built with ancient Pyramids that are referred to as the ancient sculptures of Campeche.
The culture of most Islamic cities is based on closeness of a harmonized society and their religion. Islam teaches on people living communally and is strictly the only religion allowed in the cities (Howess, David, 25). The people share bread, pray together and share the same language. As a result, most Islamic cities have the structures together, with every quarter sharing a mosque for shared prayers. The mosque is the central representation of the culture of the populace, represented through Sharia law and the Quran. Their culture makes them live together in extended families and clans. According to the Islam religion, everybody is a brother or a sister that should be treated well and with respect. They follow the traditional teachings of the indigenous society. Women in the modern Islam cities still have to cover themselves in hijabs and are the lesser gender. Baghdad is developed, but women still have a lower social standing. In fact, there are quarters that are built so that unmarried women can interact there. The culture also consists of madrasa as part of learning, where students are taught about Sharia law.
The colonial cities are opposed to this kind of traditional setup (Quin, Franc, 4). Aspects of religion exist in these cities but are of a different nature because religion is freely practiced. The cities share different languages, and there is a majority of cultures represented in them. Because of the process of colonization, most of them have different races and cultures. The people intermarry to form all kinds of cultural backgrounds, which is not the case with Islamic cities. In Johannesburg, there is a majority of mixed race people because of the aspect of colonization. South Africa was colonized until 1994, and there is still the aftermath of that in the diverse culture of the city. Majority of the people in Johannesburg are Christians. There are other religions represented as well, showing the difference with the monogamous religion in Baghdad. In essence, the culture of most colonial, modern cities is open to all kinds of people, unlike the representation in Islamic cities. Women are permitted to dress however they please and are accepted as equals.
However, being the exception to the rules that stipulate the makeup of Islamic cities. Istanbul is a cosmopolitan city in terms of culture (Gezici, Ferhan, and Ebru, 8). It has an array of cultures brought about by the many visitors, tourists, and foreign settlers who flock the country on a continuous basis. The city is often referred to as a Melting pot of diversity, something that has been accrued to the USA. The reason is that the City is receptive to all forms of culture that they combine to form a unique blended enterprise. To this extent, Istanbul is similar to other colonial cities that show the diversity in ways of life of the people. Regarding religion, it is not entirely centered on Islam. For instance, Baghdad only has the Muslim religion, with a near 100%record. Istanbul is mixed and has a number of synagogues and churches to prove this fact. The division between the Muslim and non-Muslim population could be said to be a 50-50% basis, according to research. The culture was founded on the ways of the Ottoman Empire as opposed to the Islamic religion. The Ottoman Empire appreciated art, which has been reverberated in most of the structures that are in the city (Sizgen, Berna, 12). Because of the European influence on the Ottoman Empire, modern aspects of culture can be seen in Istanbul. The art can be seen in places such as the Pera Museum, which has a mixture of all the cultures in the city. Therefore, it can be inferred that the city is similar to most colonial cities.
The politics in Islamic cities is not very different to that of the colonial cities. With cities that underwent colonization, politics was introduced to them by their colonists (Johnston, 4). Most of these cities practice politics through the voting system, something that they borrowed from the colonists. Aspects of democracy are greatly cherished as the orthodox mode of acquiring leadership and governing the people. Johannesburg practices the voting system where the populace participates in the election of their governors and presidents. Democracy is something that is valued in South Africa, passed down from the leader and Icon, Nelson Mandela. Colonial cities had to put aside their indigenous forms of acquiring leaders, such as the kinship system, and incorporate aspects of democracy. The people adhere to the rules of the constitution, put together by legislators. Democracy is also adopted in Islamic cities, even though they are coupled with many scandals. Iraq, for instance, has a voting system that determines its leader. The city of Baghdad is a major voting block for the country since it has a high population. They are ruled by the rule of law that is enacted through legislation form a set of law makes. In terms of politics, the only difference between the Islam and colonial cities has to do with incorporating religion into politics. In Islamic cities such as Baghdad, sharia law is part of the political process. People are subject to Sharia law and the Imams form part of the leadership that is revered. They are not only religious leaders, but political once too. The same does not apply in colonial cities such as Johannesburg. Because of the diversity in religion, it cannot be used to express the political views of the people. Religion, therefore, plays no role in politics and its institutions.
The wars that are experienced in Iraq are a major stumbling block to the urbanization of its major cities, the most popular one being Baghdad. Most Islamic cities suffer from the turmoil of war, which makes them differ greatly from colonial cities that enjoy a relative amount of peace. The identity of Baghdad is based upon the continuous restless situation in the country. Most people identify Islamic cities with issues of war (Mark, Gottdierner, 6). War has formed the political identity of the people. The situation is ironical because Islamic cities are meant to live in harmony. The population of Baghdad is ideal for urbanization because it has the best topography and population of over seven million people. Even so, it is predicted as one of the most modernized cities in the region. It has schools, vast economic activities and a good infrastructure. Islamic cities can also be identified for their oil business, which a positive representation.
Colonial cities are identified by their exquisite forms of architecture and vast development. Everything about colonial cities is modernized because they have the influence of the outside world (Palen, John, 15). Most of them are urbanized and participate in inter-trade activities because the path was laid out to them by their colonist nations. Johannesburg was voted as the best city to live in Africa, and has an organized urban environment. It has the best learning institutions in Africa, and colonial cities enjoy a peaceful environment, which is not the case with their Islamic counterparts. The peaceful environment makes it possible for them to thrive and move with modernization. The infrastructure of Johannesburg is good, which makes it easy for it to thrive (Chipkin, Clive, 50). Additionally, it is identified with its deep African art in its architectural designs. Most colonial cities, therefore, are different from Islamic ones through the identity of their developments.
However, Campeche is an exception to the above even though it is a colonial city. It has embraced the traditional form of living and structures, just like Islamic cities. The city-state has architecture that is still founded upon the ancient rules in the Spanish Empires. Some of the buildings are timeworn, and are adaptive to the traditional methods of spacing in the streets, which is unlike most colonial cities. Therefore, from the above, it is evident that there are many substantially interesting factors that contribute to the structure of cities, whether they are Islamic or colonial ones.
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