“The fundamental difficulty in mosque design arises from the fact that it is not always possible to draw clean lines between what is feasible and what is not, when there are only a few rules governing mosque architecture. The Koran refers to the word masjid twenty-eight times, but in none of these references is there any relevance to mosque architecture. Equally, the Hadith, the Traditions of the Prophet, do not specifically refer to mosque design and, surprisingly, there is no major historical account of architecture by Muslim scholars. The only rules that qualify a building as a mosque are that it should be a clean enclosure or sheltered space, with a mihrab oriented towards Mecca.”

“It must be said that the architecture of the mosque is generally in a stagnant state, due in no small measure to the erosion of regional vitality. The unquestioning acceptance by the clergy of modern planning requirements has severed the mosque from its lifeblood and made it a detached monument, whose importance as sculptural form is essentially untraditional. The resistance of the clergy, on the other hand, to all design innovation has made most architects today adopt the conventional approach and use the familiar imagery as the safest path to client satisfaction.”

“A truly contemporary approach must take into account the needs and aspirations of the people for whom the mosque is built. The technology is the means by which it is built, and the choice of technology, to be appropriate, must depend on honest response to such considerations rather than through literal expression of past styles that the mosques of the future will retain their differences and remain close to the spirit of Islam.”

Ihsan Fethi, “The Mosque Today

from Sherban Cantacuzino, “Architecture in Continuity” (1985)

Advertisements