Knowing the Real Essence of Islamic Architecture – Part 1

author : Wajiha Haydri
4 years ago
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Islamic Architecture has multiple meanings; it refers to mosques, cultural centers, prayer rooms, schools and other buildings that were created under the Islamic rule. Palaces of sultans and Rajah’s (Rulers and Kings) also are worth seeing and are mostly situated in countries like Indonesia, Iran, Morocco and Pakistan. Islamic architecture boomed across the globe during the Golden Age of Islam.

History
Islamic Architecture dates back about 1400 years, the time and era of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). Though just a few buildings are standing but the ones which are intact without a trace of damage to them are Holy Kaaba in the city of Makkah and Holy Mosque in the city of Medina. Another stunning example of Islamic architecture is the Quba Mosque; foundation was laid by the Prophet himself. The Mosque was then extended to accommodate more people.

From then onwards as Islam spread across the globe, Islamic architecture was opted and praised by various cultures and cultural centers were seen in abundance.

The rise can significantly be related to the Arabian Peninsula as that time included architecture from the Greeks, Byzantines, Zoroastrians, Romans and Persians. Botanical styles were adopted from the Persians, domes from the Byzantines and arches from the Greeks and Romans. But the recorded and first time refinements could be seen in the time of Rashidun Caliphate (632-661 CE) and then the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 CE).

The world of Arabs has a traditional Medieval style, under the rule of Mamluk (Egypt) came the golden age of Islamic Architecture. The streets of the city Cairo became the prime expression of Islamic architecture. Similarly, North Africa was also showing different styles of Islamic Architecture. Use of gray and brown stone was being used for the desert region further east while the main emphasis was on the geometric form. The oil boom in the Arab world brought the harmony in old and new architectural ideas. Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is a beautiful example as it may look like a modern building but the design is solely based on a desert flower.

Features

The Mosque usually consists of a central courtyard and a quadrilateral form. This is still practiced in the modern architecture of Islam. There are some salient features in the Islamic Architecture that are key points in telling anyone about the genre of a building.

Minarets:  Also known as towers were originally used as light towers (torch served the purpose of light). Great Mosque of Damascus and Great Mosque of Kairouan (Tunisia) are some examples.

Plan: A four-iwan plan which has three subordinate halls and one principal that always faces towards Mecca ( Holy city of Kaaba)

v  Prayer Niche also known as Mihrab is always in an inside wall showing the direction of Mecca.

v  Cupolas and Domes

v  Pishtaq, is the formal way to the iwan.

v  Islamic geometric patterns or arabesques

v  Muqarnas and Mocarabe which is an Arabic space enclosing system quiet unique in its way. It is used for the decoration of Minarets, portals and domes.

v  Calligraphy, another important part of the Islamic Architecture which was used instead of images or pictures as they were forbidden (haram) in a Mosque architecture.

v  Courtyards and Central fountains are used for ablutions to perform wudu.

We would be bringing up more for you in Islamic Architecture, keep reading!

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