The Architecture of the Mosque -1

Knoji reviews products and up-and-coming brands we think you'll love. In certain cases, we may receive a commission from brands mentioned in our guides. Learn more.
The most important building in Islamic architecture is the mosque, which well represents the significance of Islamic architecture as well as dominates the Muslim cityscape and provides a sense of identity to the place.

Islamic architecture includes number of different types of buildings such as mosques, madrasas (theological schools), markets, tombs, fortifications, palaces and houses. The most important one of these buildings is the mosque, which well represents the significance of Islamic architecture as well as dominates the Muslim cityscape and provides a sense of identity to the place. The development of mosque architecture was influenced by many important factors including, a wide variety of local building materials and methods of construction, climate, tradition, and culture. Although, these factors gave rise from the beginning to highly different styles, the architectural elements of the mosque remained common to most mosques everywhere. These elements include the dome, the minaret, the mihrab, the arch and the ablution fountain.

1. THE DOME

A dome is a hemispherical structure, which first appeared in small buildings and tombs in the ancient Middle East, India, and the Mediterranean. Of course, the dome of the Pantheon is one of the earliest monumental examples of a large-scale masonry dome in Rome. Byzantine architecture also featured large-scale domes, such as Aya Sophia cathederal, which influenced the early Islamic architecture. The architecture of the mosque exhibited many different forms of domes including:

1. The hemispherical dome, which can be seen in the Mediterranean and Anatolia architecture (fig.1).

2. The slightly pointed dome, which dominates the architecture of Iran and Central Asia (fig.2).

3. The bulbous dome, or onion dome, which represents the most important features of the architecture of Indian subcontinent (fig.3).

Fig. 1. Hemispherical dome, Al-Azhar Mosque, Mosque, 10th , cairo, (Fatimid)

Fig. 2. Slightly pointed dome, Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque,17th, Isfahan, Iran

Fig. 3. Bulbous dome, Friday Mosque of Old Delhi, 17th, Delhi, India, (Mughal)

2. THE MINARET

The minaret is a tower, from which the Muezzin (man who has a good and loud voice) announces the time of the prayer. Most mosques have one or more minaret, which are usually placed at the corners of a mosque. The minaret has many different forms such as:

1. Octagonal minaret, usually found in Egypt’s mosques. (Fig. 4)

2. Square minaret, which can be seen in the mosques of Spain and Maghreb, (Fig. 5)

3. Square with octagon minaret in Syria and Egypt, (Fig. 6)

4. Square with circular minaret is also in Egypt (Fig. 7)

5. Spiral staircase minaret, can be found only in the architecture of Iraq and Egypt (Fig. 8)

6. Free-standing slim conical minaret is a feature of the mosques of Iran and Central Asia, (Fig. 9)

7. Two slim-tower minarets flanking the portal appeared in the mosques of Iran, (Fig. 10)

8. Minaret with domed pavilion-like top, an important feature of the architecture of the Indian subcontinent (F.g.11)

9. Pencil-like minaret dominates the architecture of the mosques in Turkey, (Fig. 12)

10. Three floor-tower minaret, which can be seen only in China, (Fig. 13)

Fig. 4. Minaret, Al-Azhar Mosque, Mosque, 10th , cairo, Fatimid

Fig. 5. Minaret, Ali bin Yusuf Mosque, 12th, Marrakech, Morocco, almoravid

Fig. 6. MinaretGreat mosque of Damascus, Syria, 8th,Umayyad

Fig. 7. Minaret Sultan Faraj ibn Barquq Funerary Complex, 15th Cairo, Mamluk

Fig. 8. Minaret of the Great mosque of Samara’a, Iraq (Abbasid)

Fig. 9. Arslan Jadhib Mausoleum and Minaret, 11th, Sang Bast, Iran, ghaznavid

Fig. 10. Friday Mosque of Yazd, 14th, Yazd, Iran, Timuid

Fig. 11. Lahore Fort Complex: Badshaahi Mosque, 17th, Lahore, Pakistan, Mughal

Fig. 12. Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Complex at Lüleburgaz, 16th, Lüleburgaz, Turkey, Ottoman

Fig. 13. minaret of the Great Mosque of Xi'an, China

3. The Mihrab

The Mihrab is a Semicircular prayer niche in the qiblah wall (the wall facing the direction of Mecca city in Saudi Arabia) of a mosque, and the place of the prayer leader (imam). The mihrab originated in the time of the Umayyad dynasty in the beginning of the eighth century, when the famous mosques at Jerusalem, and Damascus were built. Mihrabs are usually ornamentally decorated. (Figs. 14-19)

Fig.14. Mihrab, Al-Azhar Mosque, Mosque, 10th , cairo, Fatimid

Fig.15. Mirab, Great Mosque of Córdoba, 9th,Umayyad

Fig.16. Mihrab, Ali bin Yusuf Mosque, 12th, Marrakech, Morocco, almoravid 

Fig.17. Mihrab, Esrefoglu Süleyman Bey Mosque, 13th, Beysehir, Turkey, Seljuk

Fig.18. Mihrab, Friday Mosque of Yazd, 14th, Yazd, Iran, Timuid

Fig.19. Mihrab, Friday Mosque of Old Delhi, 17th, Delhi, India, Mughal

4. THE ARCHE

Another important feature of the mosque is the arch. There are many different types of arches, whose shapes differ according to its region’s culture, traditions, building materials and method of construction. The most important common one is the pointed arch, which was used in Iran and Central Asia. Other shapes were also used in different parts of the Islamic world including the Polylobed arch in Spain and, the keel-shaped arch, in Egypt, the horse-shoe arch in Maghreb, and the Ogee Arch in the Indian subcontinent (figs.20-24).

Fig.20. Pointed arch, Friday Mosque at Qum, 14th, Qum, Iran, Ilkhanid

Fig.21. Polylobed arch, Great Mosque of Córdoba, 9th polylobd archs, Spain Umayyad

Fig.22. keel-shaped arche, the Mosque of al-Aqmar (1125) Cairo, Fatimid

Fig.23. Horse-shoe arch, Qarawiyyin Mosque, 9th, Fez, Morocco , almoravid

Fig.24. Ogee Arch, Friday Mosque of Old Delhi, 17th, Delhi, India, Mughal

5. THE ABLUTION FOUNTAIN

Cleansing is an important ritual for a Muslim to prepare himself/herself to perform prayer. However, the ablution fountain represented an important element to be added to the characteristics of a mosque. Muslims use fountains to clean their faces, hands, feet, and rinse their mouths before the prayer. Similar to the other features of a mosque, the ablution fountain took different forms and styles according to the culture and tradition of its region.

Fig.25. Ablution fountain, Great mosque of Damascus, Syria, 8th , Umayyad

Fig.26. Ablution fountain, Ali bin Yusuf Mosque, 12th, Morocco, almoravid

Fig.27. Ablution Fountain, Qarawiyyin Mosque, 9th, Fez, Morocco , almoravid 

Fig.28. Ablution fountain, Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Complex, 16th, Lüleburgaz, Turkey, Ottoman

22 comments

Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
Posted on Feb 18, 2012
Eddie Go
0
Posted on Feb 17, 2012
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
Posted on Oct 18, 2011
john doe
0
Posted on Oct 18, 2011
deepa venkitesh
0
Posted on Aug 5, 2011
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
Posted on Aug 5, 2011
deepa venkitesh
0
Posted on Aug 5, 2011
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
Posted on May 17, 2011
Bambang Udoyono
0
Posted on May 17, 2011
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
Posted on May 16, 2011
Guest
Posted on May 15, 2011
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
Posted on Apr 24, 2011
Steve Sudbury
0
Posted on Apr 24, 2011
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
Posted on Apr 24, 2011
Jessie Agudo
0
Posted on Apr 24, 2011
Trevor Snyman
0
Posted on Apr 17, 2011
James R. Coffey
0
Posted on Apr 17, 2011
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
Posted on Apr 17, 2011
M 5446
0
Posted on Apr 17, 2011
Aunty Ann
0
Posted on Apr 17, 2011
Abdel-moniem El-Shorbagy
0
Posted on Apr 17, 2011
Ron Siojo
0
Posted on Apr 17, 2011