Muslims have left their mark in different fields life - architecture is no exception. So we have spread across the entire. Muslim world and Spain fantastic architectural achievements in spectacular palaces, breathtaking gardens, beautiful mosques e.t.c. Out of all these structures, the mosque is the main feature.
Mosques are the most original creation of the Muslim genius. It is the masjid (mosque) that mainly distinguishes one area of the Islamic world from the other. The part of the Muslim world in focus here is Indo-Pakistan, Spain and Iran.
Five of the most common features of Islamic architecture are domes, minarets, ornamental writing, arches and arabesque. The original contribution of the mosque to architecture is that with the use of the dome, it solved the main problem of covering spaces with roof.
The dome is the favourite feature of Islamic architecture. In Cairo it was pompous while in Persia it was bulbous and carved with glazed tiles. Minarets were used to call for prayer, but, now it is a distinguishing feature of a mosque. Arches are mostly horse-shoe or pointed horse-shoe in shape.
Ornamental writing is employed with great success in decoration of mosques, palaces, where verses of the Qur'an are carved or laid around domes, minarets doors and arches. Persians developed this and the art of arabesque, which spread to other Muslims and adopted by the Western world.
IRAN: Iranian architecture stands out because of its refinements and delicacy. Persian Muslims (Iranians) who are the pioneers of all cultural and artistic movements in Islam, introduced innovations and beautiful designs.
One of their greatest achievements is the great change they brought to the architectural design and style of mosques. The Persian type of masjid had a madrassa school) attached to it. In this typical Persian design, the mosque courtyard which is for both wuduu and prayers is surrounded by verandahs at two floors behind which are situated small rooms for teachers and students.
From the middle of each side run open halls, each called an Iwan where lectures are delivered. Such Iwans are splendidly ornamented and flanked by small minarets. A smaller iwan of the same type serves as the gateway, while the main iwan is crowned with a dome narrowed at the bottom.
Unfortunately, most of these great Friday mosques are in a state of ruin. The most celebrated are 'The Blue Mosque' and 'The Masjid of Shah' both built in 15CE in Tabriz and the Great Mosque of Isfahan, built between II CE 15CE. One characteristics of Persian buildings is that they are made of bricks and glazed tiles which were primarily of geometrical forms but later diverse floral forms were introduced. The cylindrical shaped minarets of Persia were not used much in other countries.
SPAIN: In Spain, Muslims have left grand architectural monuments; one of the most popular being the Grand Mosque of Cordova. This mosque was started by Abdur Rahman (II), - using old Syrian architecture. It was continued by Al Hakim (II) and completed by Vizier of Hisham II (976 - 1000 CE). Unfortunately, it has now been converted to a cathedral by the Christian conquerors.
The Cordova mosque is a large rectangular congregational mosque with a deep sanctuary containing 11galleries separated by arcades, each with twenty columns. It has a famous 'court of oranges'. The wooden ceiling richly carved and polished is still intact. The structure behind which the imam stands (mahrab) is a very good example of workmanship.
INDO-PAKISTAN: In Delhi, India, Muslims have on display a. spectacle to behold in the Pearl Mosque. This masjid’s beauty lies its simplicity and its chief attraction is the purity of its marble. It is referred to as a pearl without a flaw. This mosque was built by Shah Jahan during the Mughal period. The famous Taj Mahal in India was also built by a Muslim.
Apart from these fantastic mosques, Muslims also built palaces. Alhambra in Spain, the palaces of Khuld and Dar-us-Salaam in Baghdad etc; gardens e.g Shalimar Bagh of Kashmir in Indo Pakistan etc. From these, it can be seen that in beauty and grace, in design and simplicity, Muslim architecture is superior to any other in the world.
Culled from Alim: The Islamic Software