What do Fight Club and Dhikr Ceremony Tell to Architecture, Life and City Planning?

“We’re the middle children of history, man! No purpose or place. We have no great war. No great depression. Our great war’s a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives.” 


                                                                                             Tyler Durden -  Fight Club


When the day comes, you can also hear (what we already heard): “I need a fight club as well.”

It is constantly said that the satisfaction which is trying to be obtained by materialistic units is not enough for human beings after some time. Maybe soul (Razi is the one who identifies the soul as a separate unit among Islam philosophers) needs the satisfaction.

To be able to reach the spiritual satisfaction, some people engage in art, some people worship and some people perform collective actions. Some break their habits, some fall into new habits.

Western modernism or modern world found some systematic and regular activities like concerts, theatres and arts to close the spiritual gap. These elements were usually permuted from traditional world and were put into a pattern.

Modern world invented places which have strict rules for the activities we mentioned.  In the places like theatre halls and modern art galleries, it was determined roundly what to do and in what way with the maximum number of people. Just like the determination of the roads by certain lines in the modern cities which are off modernists’ hands and this causes the determination of life.


Predetermination; of the seats, functions, the structure of the houses, the size or places of the urban gaps.

We are trying to tell the deadness. The deadness that does not allow surprises or diversity.

Is enrolling the Fight Club the only way of breaking the deadness?

It can be said that modernism is the discovery of mind; or the reverse, the discovery of modernism by mind…  If we look roughly to the “metamorphosis” of today’s modernism along with architecture, the buildings and the cities which are constructed under the pressure of the rationalist thought separates into two dominant sections. One is the “green architecture” or “green sensitive advanced technology architectural production” which comes out of the tenderization and humanization of the technological obsession; and the other one is deconstructivist quests which can be described as a more spiritual quest (we say it because it is mostly an opposite approach to the rationalist thought in the meaning of the convenience or inexpensiveness of production).

Deconstructivism is a philosophical movement which is remembered with Derrida. Corruption of pattern. The attempt of acquiring the reality by corrupting the pattern. It can be said that a spiritual quest in modern world is like such a quest in addition to material things in architecture.

An interesting statement from Derrida: “I can imagine Muslim theologians saying ‘Deconstructivism – we have known it for centuries!’ to me.”


Have you ever been in an Islamic monastery for dhikr ceremony? Or have you ever accompany sufi music? Have you ever sit on the floor covered with carpet in a square room without knowing how many people will be there?


When you go to a theatre in the modern sense, you certainly get a place where you can make yourself comfortable. You look at the stage with an exterior eye. But if you have joined to a dhikr ceremony, you are directly in it. And you should know that your feet may go numb due to your position with all those people sitting very close.


Well-dressed people listen to Wagner Opera with the musical notes in their hands. During the dhikr ceremony in Islamic monastery, there is a collective activity with the clothes special to the order and musical notes again.

OMA is the one who tried to “break” or “rethink” the human relationship for theatre. In Wyly Theatre, it was tried to include the audience to the show in different ways. We are afraid like Derrida, Rem Koolhas will also say one day: “I seem to hear that Muslim architects who look at Wyly Theatre are saying ‘break new ground’ ” :)

OMA’s design Wyly theatre. A discussion on relations between stage-audiences

In addition, thinking about dhikr by “knowing” is important. Which means: the activity you join is sometimes pictures the whirling dervishes above the rough sea comprised of the sounds “Hu” or “Allah”. Besides, all the things you do are good deed as a part of the faith. It accommodates a lot of richness if you look at from another perspective.

All the points we are trying to tell above aim to demonstrate that there are certain differences as well as the fact that it is not easy to discriminate the traditional, modern or western, eastern, Islamic.

Going back to “deadness”; in contrast to the modernist attitude, we see that the Islamic neighborhood changes in time and there are numerous residences that are built by the residents without predetermination. It would be a missing approach to see it as a pre modern attitude. Islam tradition does not like deadness. And it believes the dignity* of individuals. It conducts nobody to something that it cannot take part in.  Neither in the city nor in a religious (or artistic) ceremony (or show).

If Fight Club is a bash toward the deadness. We have known it for centuries.


cap and bow tie

*Turgut Cansever