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Islamic Architecture

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Introduction

Islamic Architecture Islam was practiced throughout Arabia and was soon adapted into the cultures of the Middle East and beyond. Islamic architecture was comprised of mausoleums and mosques. At first, Islam had no architectural tradition of their own, so they borrowed extensively from the styles, forms, and methods that already existed in order to create their own architectural traditions that followed strict beliefs and values of Islam. The assimilation of Islam gave way to a beautiful mixture of beliefs and cultures that was reflected in the architecture. The Islamic religion is a monotheistic religion where God is called "Allah", and was first practiced in Mecca, Arabia around the year of 610. People who practiced this religion were called Muslims. Muslims believed that their faith was the "final revelation of God's truth- the first and second manifestations being Judaism and Christianity" (text pg. 256). Muhammad was the most prolific Islamic prophet that received his calling to "recite" the word of God at the age of forty. He continued to recite the word of Allah for the next twenty years, traveling from Mecca and ending in Medina. ...read more.

Middle

In general, mosques were always oriented towards Mecca and consisted of covered walkways, columns and arches, a small niche or mihrab that faced Mecca, and a fountain placed in an open courtyard, that the Muslims used for purification. Islamic architecture also had minarets built beside the structure, which were large towers, typically used for muezzins to call to other Muslims when it was time to pray. In Istanbul, the most prominent mosque is the Mosque of Sultan Sulayman. It was built between the years of 1550 and 1557 and its sheer size reflects the importance Islam had on this culture. The Mosque of Sultan Sulayman was consciously modeled after the great Byzantine church, Hagia Sophia, which was built approximately one thousand years earlier. However similar, the Muslim mosque was larger and positively magnificent, even the courtyard was sheltered with the same elaborate roofing system displayed on the mosque. The focal point of the structure is a large central dome with smaller domes and half domes encircling it. ...read more.

Conclusion

The white exterior resembles the purity of Allah. The large central dome is a striking focal point and the entire mausoleum rises up from the earth like a lone mountain. Images of the enchanted setting are mirrored in the water's reflection. Water was used for purification at a mosque yet here it added another layer of texture to the overall appearance. The emphasis on height and the use of vertical lines is reminiscent of the Hindu temples, while the use of arches, minarets and domes speaks true to the Islamic influence. The Taj Mahal was built in honor of and in memory for Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Muslim Shah Jahan, whereas the mosque was strictly built in honor of Allah. Overall, the Taj Mahal was constructed in a serene environment that blended both nature and architecture seamlessly, an expression of love that inspired a fine specimen of building art. Since Islam did not encourage different art forms, the Mosque of Sultan Sulayman and the Taj Mahal are expressions of art. The mixture of beliefs and culture, and the complexity and careful planning of the layouts personify Islamic architecture. ...read more.

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