When in George Orwell—social conservative, Little Englander, intellectual cosmopolitan—hopefully envisioned an English socialist revolution, he assured his readers and himself that such a mere political event, like all such past convulsions, would prove no more than a surface disturbance. Rather, by its very nature—by its inherent logic, and by the ideology, aspirations, and world-historical forces from which it springs and to which it gives expression—it perforce obliterates that culture. This essay attempts, in an admittedly eccentric way, to support that sweeping assertion. Academic studies on specialized aspects of this subject abound, but no synthetic analysis and comprehensive history has yet been published.
For historians of architecture and culture alike, the answer is gratifyingly simple. This is the Islamic building par excellence, and as such the key to Islamic architecture.
Moreover, the medieval Muslim world, like medieval Europe, was a theocentric society, and the mosque was the natural expression of that society. To examine its functions in detail therefore affords insights into the workings of medieval Islamic culture.
For historians attuned to material culture as well as written evidence it is a primary source of the first order.
There are of course other and still more practical reasons for investigating the history of the mosque. This was the building type that by and large produced the finest structures in Islamic architecture; it was built to last, whereas many secular monuments tended to be richly decorated but of flimsy construction.
As a result, it has survived in larger quantities than any other type of medieval building.
Indeed, the early period of Islamic architecture—from about to about A. It was the mosque that embodied the first timid Arab experiments in architecture and it was in the medium of the mosque above all that Muslim builders came to grips with their pre-Islamic architectural heritage.
As a result, this is the building type that most faithfully reflects—like the church in the Christian world—the impact of the many distinct local architectural traditions that together shaped Islamic architecture. It seems appropriate to attempt a definition: The mosque is the principal religious building of Islam, and paramount among its many functions is communal prayer.
In its simplest and most widespread form the medieval mosque comprised a courtyard bordered by arcades adjoining a covered hall. Yet this definition, for all its deliberate inclusiveness, gives little idea of the nearly endless variety of forms and uses that characterized this most quintessentially Islamic building.
Nor does space permit a reasonably detailed inventory of the significant mosque types and their functions. It is imperative rather to distance oneself from this wealth of detail to better identify the immanent characteristics of the mosque and to appraise its unique role in Islamic culture.
Minert of the Masjid-i Ali, Isfahan, Iran Accordingly this essay will focus less on close analysis of individual mosques than on how the genre expressed the perennial concerns of Islamic religious architecture. These concerns, or underlying principles, governed and are reflected in the choice of component parts of mosque design and their interaction; the functions the mosque was called on to perform; the role of decoration; and finally all that contributes to the visual and aesthetic impact of this building type.
Mosque architecture is at base egalitarian, iconoclastic, inward-looking and above all profoundly religious in its intent.
The latter aspect deserves particular emphasis because of the much-vaunted identity of the sacred and the secular in medieval Islamic society. This theory, a favorite construction of some trends in modern scholarship, is ideally as true of Islam as of Christianity.
It is, however, only a theory and a glance at common practice is enough to dispose of it.Hassan Fathy and The Poor: The Controversy of Success Hassan Fathy Egypt New Gourna Architecture In Africa Cairobserver Le Corbusier Domino House.
Jun 26, · Campus Watch demands academic integrity in North American Middle East studies (MES) programs. It reviews and critiques MES bias with the aim of improving education – keeping watch on scores of professors at hundreds of universities.
JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources. Western architecture - Late 19th-century developments: The Industrial Revolution in Britain introduced new building types and new methods of construction.
Marshall, Benyou, and Bage’s flour mill (now Allied Breweries) at Ditherington, Shropshire (–97), is one of the first iron-frame buildings, though brick walls still carry part of the load and there are no longitudinal beams. Accordingly this essay will focus less on close analysis of individual mosques than on how the genre expressed the perennial concerns of Islamic religious architecture.
Oct 17, · Campus Watch demands academic integrity in North American Middle East studies (MES) programs. It reviews and critiques MES bias with the aim of improving education – keeping watch on scores of professors at hundreds of universities.