One of the reasons why we chose the Alhambra motif as our logo, beyond the historical legacy of Andalucia, is because of the symbolism represented in geometric patterns. The interconnectedness of humans with the cosmos is understood through the concept of ‘tawhid’ (Oneness of God). This is also a reflection of the Islamic epistemology which does not compartmentalise knowledge into separate unrelated disciplines which are devoid of ethics. All acts must be moral and ethical, all issues should be addressed from numerous fields of study, for they all lead back to a Divine source. This is the inspiration behind the IFES.
The Alhambra was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-11th century by the Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Kingdom of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. The Alhambra was extended by the different Muslim rulers who lived in the complex. However, each new section that was added followed the consistent theme of “paradise on earth”. Column arcades, fountains with running water, and reflecting pools were used to add to the aesthetic and functional complexity. In every case, the exterior was left plain and austere. Sun and wind were freely admitted. Blue, red, and a golden yellow, all somewhat faded through lapse of time and exposure, are the colors chiefly employed.
“Throughout the ages mystics & theologians have used geometry as a contemplative focus, as it enables the viewer a vision of the underyling order of both the cosmos and the natural world . The cyclical movement of heavenly bodies, which Plato described as the ‘music of the spheres’, finds its Earthly reflection in the natural symmetries found throughout nature and most strikingly within the world of flowers, the proportions of which are governed by simple geometric laws. The origin of the word ‘cosmos’ is adornment (from which we derive the modern word ‘cosmetics’) and the adornment of sacred buildings with both floral and geometric patterns makes the viewer sensitive to the subtle harmonies uniting the natural world around us with the cosmos.
In Islamic art the geometric figure of the circle represents the primordial symbol of unity and the ultimate source of all diversity in creation. The natural division of the circle into regular divisions is the ritual starting point for many traditional Islamic patterns . . .”