The Art and Architecture in Islam – NYCCSSE

The architecture and art of the Islamic world is crucial to understanding Islam. The art of the Islamic world is restricted by the prevailing religion of the time Islam. Despite these restrictions art was still created. An example of art is pottery and Charles Wilkinson’s essay goes over pottery. One of the other practicalities to apply art is architecture. The geometric patterns among the architecture are unique to this time period in their number. The applications of architecture can be seen in mosques, the Dome of Rock and Topkapi Palace. Mosques are sourced from the textbook written by Rebold Benton. Islam has an article on the Dome of Rock and Wanda Reif wrote a brief on the Topkapi Palace.

Mosques often had a rectangular floor-plan (Benton 222 Figure 6.2) which was adopted due to it being easier to produce mosques en mass this way. The mosque would have a minaret, a type of tower that is usually built in these structures or in their walls (Benton 221). A muezzin was the person who climbed the spiral staircase of minaret to direct prayer (Benton 221). Inside the mosque, the mihrab, which is a small room with a part outside the mosque’s walls. This room is designed to face Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad (Benton 221). The mihrab entrance does not contain a door (Benton Figure 6.2). Based on that, we can assume this room is always open. The columns are numerous, you can’t walk three feet straight without walking into one or passing it by (Benton 221 Figure 6.3). If a mosque has a court which contains a fountain within its center. The fountain was used for purification and for special events (Benton 221). Some mosques are surrounded by a forest like the mosque of Sultan Sula(e)yman, Istanbul. (Benton 223 Figure 6.4). The forest area was likely chosen perhaps for the prayers to be conducted in peace, away from the noise of the city.

One example of a mosque is the Mosque of Cordova in Spain which has arches that are painted as orange and tan stripes (Benton 222 Figure 6.3). Arches were created by voussoirs which are defined as “wedge-shaped stones that make up the arches” (Benton 222). The mosque was started in 786 and has been enlarged four times since (Benton 221 Figure 6.2). This is testament to the Islamic world’s beliefs that usability is prioritized before historical significance is taken into account. The mosque also contains multiple halls and arcades (Benton 221).

Islamic inspired architecture is not limited to religious buildings. One of their greatest non-religious buildings is known as the Alhambra Palace. The palace was constructed in Granada, Spain between the years of 1354 C.E. and 1391 C.E. (Benton 225). The palace was created during the Nasirid dynasty, the last Islamic leadership to rule southern Spain (Benton 225). Because it was built on a mountaintop, this resulted in a lower temperature. (Benton 225). This palace is known for breaking the established norms of Islamic architecture by creating sculptures, like the Court of Lions. Statues and sculptures were condemned by the Qur’an as work of the Devil (Benton 226). A possible reason why these statues were constructed is that it was the will of a political ruler and the location is far away from the center of Islam’s influence.