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Public Attachment to Religious Places: A Study of Place Attachment to Mosques in Malaysia

Authors: Mina Najafi, Mustafa Kamal Bin Mohd Shariff


Religious place attachment is an affective bond that develops between people and their religious settings. The published literature shows that although religion has a significant impact on the public ‘place attachment’, the architectural features and attributes of the places could still play an influencing role in strengthening this attachment. However, the role of architectural characteristics and features of the religious places, as the components that give them meaning(s), has not been adequately explored. This paper reports the impacts of factors influencing the physical and ambience quality of different styles of Malaysian mosques from the Muslim public perspective. Thereby, a survey was conducted to investigate Malaysian public attachment to selected five Malaysian state mosques with respect to their architectural characteristics and features. The survey employed the results of series of interviews as its theoretical basis. The finding proved that Malaysian ‘Muslim’ society has equally strong attachment to all selected mosques in spite of their different architectural styles. The findings also confirmed that the emotional attachment to the impressive aspects of architectural features (e.g. dome, minaret etc.) and the unique identity of the studied mosques is irrespective of the architectural styles, e.g. Modern vs. Postmodern. The paper also argued that religious activities and pleasant architectural characteristic of the studied places including the functional facilities are equally important factors in forming place attachment. This is a new approach to the study of physical and ambience quality of mosques, hence providing sufficient theoretical basis for further investigations and improvements.

Keywords: Place Attachment, Place Identity, Physical Features, Malaysian Mosques

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