, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 235-251
Date: 09 Mar 2011

Fractal Geometrry in Muslim Cities: How Succession Law Shaped Morphology


Islamic succession law has deeply affected the urban fabric of Muslim cities. Properties were subdivided according to a refined and elaborate system of shares that were prescribed by jurists. Successive iterations of subdivision over the course of decades or even centuries gave a fractal character to the cities and thus becomes the main source of their complexity. Most property was subject to successive subdivisions until minimum but functional parts were arrived at. However, this fragmentation should not be understood in isolation from other mechanisms which sometimes resulted in a reunification of the fragments, and thus established a dynamic equilibrium in the urban fabric. The paper will present the mechanisms of subdivision according to laws of succession, and illustrate by hypothetical example their direct impact on the urban morphology, as a means of understanding the complexity of old Muslim cities.