Islamic Architecture
Islamic architecture
Hello people,

I would like to have some help with the question 'how much has the architecture of mosques changed from the 17th century to the 21st century?
Muslim Janoowala
Islamic architecture
hi muslim!

i deal with mosuqes-architecture since a vew days. looking at this type of building all over the world on archnet, i found fixed elements
of mosques until today.
the qibla wall with the mihrab is the most important. the diretion to the east in chrsitian churches - meaning from east comes the light - has been given up since 17th century. the orientation of qibla wall to mecca is already an absolute architectural symbol.
perhaps it can be a point of view, to study the meaning of the mosques as a "copy" of mohammad's house. when and why is this given up by the architects of mosques or/and their clients?
the influence of traditional architecture in the countries with
muslim people can also be important on
the changing of the mosques over several centuries.

i hope my ideas about your question are helpful.
good luck
Alexander Wehrle
Islamic architecture
thank you so much for answering this question. well i think that the architecture has changed over the years till present. if you look at contemporary mosques and if you compare them with the olden architecture of mosques you would see that the architecture has indeed chnaged. an example is the strasbourg mosque in london, the waterside mosque in dubai and the mosque in Islamabad. i would like you to look at these photos of these mosques and you will see for yourself that the architecture has changed. as i am writing an essay of islamic architecture, i am studying this particular aspect or should i re-phrase this question.
Muslim Janoowala
Islamic architecture
hi muslim! please look at the modern mosques in different countries. you will see, that there are variations in "modernity". the most minimalist mosque is for me a place for prayer in iran. it is called namaz-khaneh. situated in tehran. a very modern mosque is a mosque in rome. she has all elements of the types remembering moh.'s house. domes -tall central dome and small ones framing the center-, colums, courtyard, mihrab nish. the one (namez khaneh) designed by kamrah diba in 1978, focusses the prayer on a central symbol of mosque-architecture. the other one (mosque and islamic cultural center of rome) by paolo portoghesi und sami mousawi in 1984 tells us about the tradition of islamic mosque-architecture. i think it is an reflex on so many churches in rome as the center of the catholic world.
Alexander Wehrle
Islamic architecture
i found on archnet 3 modern mosques in islamabad: the b - type - m, ahle hadid -m and faisal - mosque, which of them did you mean. (or another?) the examples you wrote abaut in london and dubai i can not find.
have you some links for me to find them?
Alexander Wehrle
Islamic architecture
yes go to this link
it will show u the mosque in dubai and go to google and type mosques by zaha hadid and you will find one which says strasbourg mosque. you wont find it on archnet. thx anyway for your help. it is quite constructive. however i would like your personal opinion on this question please of you dont mind.thx
Muslim Janoowala
Islamic architecture
hi again.
i would also like some help on this topic "how in the middle east, western architecture has suppressed Islamic architecture". i would appreciate your opinion and guidance on this particular topic.A country like abu dhabi and dubai are perfect examples as it shows solid evidence that western architecture has taken over in the rush for development therefore forgetting Islamic architecture.
Muslim Janoowala
Islamic architecture
hi muslim!

first of all: the floating mosque in dubai is a fascinating project. and as so i understand architecture, there are more than one references to the tradition of islamic mosque - building: the colums, the court, the minarets, the arcades, the waterbassin, the dramatical lightning.
for me and my understanding of islamic
(since a few days studying it!)architecture and arch. in general the question of "suppressing" or "threa-tening" does not exist. it's influence in a long time during process. this process becomes faster and more complex as in the past: the development of the techniques (concrete, steel, glass) and the floating of information are much higher than 1-3 centuries before.
may be man cannot follow so fast and
they are frightened.

to zaha hadids projekt for strasbourg (france): i admire the buildings of zaha, but i do not understand the computer generated plans of exterior views. in the interior structure of the prayer hall i can find lightening effects from the ceiling.
this are informations i can get by reading the picture. now i will read the text about the projekt by zaha hadid architects.

please look at the grand national assembly mosque of ankara. the architect indeed shows the tradition he is coming from and transferred it in his building.

please answer my question about the mosque(s) in islamabad.
by the way: the things going on in the red mosque of islamabad are touching me. how can man know, what the truth must be? starting up a fundamental revolution out of a mosque with hundreds of death people is terrible.
you can say in christian history there are many examples of injustice done in the name of christ.....

please tell me links for mosques in kenya.

Alexander Wehrle
Islamic architecture
hi muslim!
an interesting pdf i found on
can be helpful on your thesis.
the pdf itself has the following adress:

in my eyes the most important term is "redefining identity".
as i see it, the problem is not the overwhelming western influence in islamic architecture, but a modern and suitible expression of idendity with architecture.
so it may be useful to think about a new thesis:
not "how much", but "how"
and "are these changings relatet to the tradition(s), that identity cannot be lost."
read the case-studies of the algerian authors. i think you can transfer it on the mosques.
also think about the clients: what will they express with their buildings?

caliphs and sultans were interested in demonstration of their power and the legitimation of following mohamed. in many cases the mosques are called with caliphs and sultans names.

what will the dutch company (as client) express with the floating mosque projected for dubai?

please do not hesitate to answer.
Alexander Wehrle
Islamic architecture
I think it is better to check the main masjid in Islam, in Makkah and Madinah as well. You can say that modernity has also influenced the architecture of these 2 masjids. I guess as Alexander says that the main features are there as rules, but not as traditions. You cannot say that this is a masjid without the direction to Makkah; even bathrooms within this area cannot face the qibla for instance. The use of modern technology and materials cannot be excluded to the West; therefore, you cannot say that it is Western. The Main point of Islamic architecture, including houses of Allah, is to follow the rules of Islam anytime and anywhere. That is, the materials are subject to availability. Islamic rules are to be adopted to the way of living in each part of the World, this why this type of architecture is different across the Islamic world. The masjid in Indonesia is different than the one Africa or even in Europe. As the Quran is still in use to be adopted to the new way of living, Islamic inhabitation, including masjid falls into the same pot of understanding.

I hope that will help a bit in the philosophy of Islamic architecture, taking into consideration that globalisation is an issue which affects many aspects round the globe.
Farida Mohsen
Islamic architecture
thank you very much Alexander and farida for your contributions. let me start off with saying that indeed we cannot point out that this is western and this is not. however the issue we are facing today is globalisation and that loss of identity. as you can see they are two questions and indeed i would like your in deciding on what topic i should start my research paper on or could i combine those tow quesions together. as we know that a country has its identity and therefore with no islamic architecture that country will lose its identity.
Islamic architecture provides a sense of harmony, unity and peace. slowly and slowly Islamic architecture is fading away.
now lets get back to buisness. let me explain to you people what exactly i am supposed to do. i have to write a 4000word research paper and thus i chose the mosque topic and the 2nd question but i cant really decide on what to do now? should i combine those two questions or if i am looking at the Mosque topic. where do you think i should start from. its my first time writing a research paper so i would like your guidance. i highly appreciate your contributions and taking your time to help me. i really appreciate it.
Muslim Janoowala
Islamic architecture
hi muslim!

faridas idea to check out the the mosques of pilgrimage can be the key for your 4000 word-paper.
if i had got farida right, the extensions and the changes of these mosques should be subjekt of your research.
do not laugh, but i think you can understand the hadj terminal in djedah as an extension of mecca. as it reminds with the tent-structure on the tents of nomads its arbic/islamic too.
its in any case a symbol of devellopment and globalism.

its very interesting to see, how the architects of mosques deal with the invironmant they are built in.
farida had mentioned it.
in mali the material (mud!) is indeed the main factor of the form, indonesia and china bring out pagode-forms instead of domes.
the mosques in germany are in the room-concept more like the ones of stone in sarajevo.
keep it simple and do not mix two questions in your first thesis. that is my opinion. and again: "redifining identity" of the algerian authors can be transferred on mosques.

good luck
Alexander Wehrle
Islamic architecture

I totally agree that one question will be enough for the first time, because you will end with many others if you break down this major question. I am talking from experience, as I am in the final stage of my PhD.
When I mentioned about globalisation, I didn��t mean that Islamic architecture is fading away. In fact, if you do not believe in what you are doing, you cannot be productive on it.
I said that the main sources of Islam draw headlines and left the rest to each region��s possibilities. This is why these rules are adoptable, which means that Islam can travel anywhere and anytime. The rules are there and flexibility is there as well, otherwise we would not practice it for centuries after the Prophet death. This is the core of Islamic architecture in following the rules and keep the identity of the culture and the region as long as there are no clash with the basics and the rules. For instance, fabric was the available material during the prophet time, when the Hijab became an obligation; curtains were drawn between the sections of male and female in the house, even in tents.
Think many time before you form your last question, break it down and analyse it before you write about it. This analysis is for yourself to clarify your thinking, taking into consideration this one question will not be a general or a broaden one. Try to have a clear idea about your final outcome. You are the only one who should draw a clear image of everything including the last perspective. But always remember to ask your self why I am doing this and not that, always say that to yourself and jot it down. Always judge yourself, and always think is this new in the field and what you are going to contribute to the general knowledge.

This is what in my mind now, and good luck
Farida Mohsen
Islamic architecture
Salam Alekom(peace to be with u),

hii everybody, i would like to contribute my opinion in this sweety issue. I agree with mrs.Farida in each of everything she pointed out, i think she has a good experience in this field.
what i want to point out is some guidelines u muslim should put them in ur consideration, before telling u them u should also take the advice whiche mrs.Farida told u to ask u always, is this an islamic original or it is a foreign one?....and try to be fair!.
The guidelines are as follows:

1-the first mosque in islam, it's the mosque of the prophet muhamed(peace be upon him), consider it from it's beginnig establishment till today...u need just to read about it, and u arenot obliged to write all about it in ur research.

2-the axis of the islamic architecture is the qibla-wall which is to be directed to mecca, the qibla of all islamic countries. that tempts u to put in ur mind that the qibla in Egypt for instance is to be directed to the SOUTH-EAST...and so on, in iraq to the SOUTH-WEST...

3-the materials of construction are different from country to another, and from civilization to another, for example in Iraq(mesopotamia) the burnt-brick is the main material from the olden-times or prehistoric times till the advent of islam and it continues to be used during the islamic days. and u should know that this material affected on the byzantine architecture which took constantinople(byzantium) a metroplis of it's empire...not the contrary, But Syrian architecture used the stones as a local material to build them mosques, and u should put in ur mind that the stone as a material of construction began in old-Egyptian architecture, and became a feature of Greek's architecture, then the Romans inherited it, then the byzantine.
what i wanted to tell u about this 3rd guidline, is to try to find the origin of each feature--as far as u can-- to determine the source of influence.

4-u should know that the Islam at the time of the prophet muhammed(pbuh) and his followers didn't allow to build more than one gregational-mosque in each city, and we saw that in the mosque of madina which is the first mosque of islam which all the cities followed it as the solely gre-mosque in the city, but this doesnt prevent to build al-masajed el-khamsa(the small mosques which muslims do their 5 prayers in them), these mosques now make it clear that the gregational- mosque is specialized to the gom'a prayer(the friday sermon). but in the mameluke period it has been authorized to build more than one gre-mosque in each new or old city, that had the great effect on the architecture of the mosques, wich submitted to much alterations and additions to be qualified as amosque of friday khotba, i mean they enlarged them and added minbars...etc.

5- u should put in ur consideration that the plan of the mosque of al-madina, which is a courtyard surrounded by 4 riwaqs (porticoes), although it isnot the first mosque to adopt this plan, but it is the prototype which the masons or olden architects took it as a chief plan to build their mosques all over the islamic world from the mesopotamia to egypt to west-islamic countries, that due to the nature of muslims to follow the prophet muhammed(pbuh) in each of

another thing i want to tell u is that the qibla wall(the direction to mecca) in egypt was the axis of the islamic architecture which all the mosques, houses..etc. were directed to it, changed as far as my knowledge goes from the reign of khedev isma'il, which introduced the modernity to the country, from this time on, the architecture of the mosques, houses..etc. began to be directed to either the EAST, or another directions.
good luck, and let me know if there is anything bothering ur research.
Salam Alekom,

(i attached a sample of the traditional plan of old mosques)
Waleed Akef
Islamic architecture

Herewith a reference to Isfahan in Iran �� of which certain aspects has impressed me.

Passageway to the mosque is a sacred ritual �� to be rewarded for every step taken. I am sure 17 century architects would have been aware of this - at a time when most people would have walked.

Pious consideration of this is beautifully transposed to the greater urban context, as is demonstrated in Isfahan �� refer the Shah and Shaikh Lutfullah Mosques, as well as the Palace Complex - Ali Qapu, Chehel Sutun and Hasht Behesht Restoration (available from Archnet Library) �� which stems from the 17 Century, Safavid Period.

Here the Palace Complex is approached from the residential areas, via the bustling suks, into the wonderful Royal Gardens with its arcades and Palace Buildings, up to the portalled entrance of the Shaikh Lutfullah Mosque, at which point you are twisted into Qibla, on entering the mosque.

This to me is the epitome of a sacred journey, wherein all matters of the world are put behind you on entering the mosque, with a mind steeped in contemplation �� and to my understanding, expresses a very beautiful aspect of Islamic Architecture.

One wonders if there are many examples of contemporary mosques which have inherited these qualities and intellectual vision, or achieved this level of contemplative beauty.

And yet, all this takes nothing away from the austere beauty of a simple mosque composed of a square with a dome above.

This in a way expresses the 2 types of Muslims, the one sedentary and the other nomadic �� (refer ibn Khaldun).
Saait Samodien
Islamic architecture
Assalam Muaalay Kum! Peace be on to U!
I response to your question of how much the Architecture of the Mosque changed.?
The Architecture of Islam will never change. It is represented in the first
house that Allah requested Abraham and his son to build and that is in Makkatu
Mukarama.A simple Cubical structure.
The essence of this structure is to
wordship One God and not to combine other Gods with Allah. Islamic Architecture therefore is the Architecture of a house of God. That house must have certain specifications
and follow some rules. The Most important of these is the"direction"
or in othe terms the "orientation " of
the building...which is referred to as
"Qibla" Where you the worshiper turn your face towards.The Mosque is not to have an idols or sculptures of animal or
human figures.The Mosque can not be entered with a shoes of any impurities.
The Mosque usually has a "member" and
a mihrab..A Member is a raised platform
from which the leader of the congregation gives a sermon. The Mehrab is a "niche" where the " emam" who
leads the prayer stands. These are
some of the basic elements of Islamic
Architecture which is found in a mosque.
or any other structure where you have
the function of worshiping "one God" called "Allah". These will never change
from the time of Adam /Hawa/Abraham/Moses/Issa/ and Mohamed
peace be upon him. Lets not confuse Islamic Architecture with something else.
Islamic Architecture is the Mosque and
the Mosque alone and this has not changed and is not here for anyone to change it. maybe the way of architectural structural expression .
Ibrahim Khadar
Islamic architecture
I am interested in knowing more about mosque reconstruction through a technique called "infogrpahy". I am not sure if the reconstruction of an image on a transparent sheet that goes over a recent photo to make it look as the original is called "infography" or not?
Does anybody knows this technique, if so what is it called?
Elham Bayour


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