Architecture refers to the designing and constructing buildings and every location has different styles based on the people living there. Islamic architecture in the same way has many examples of both secular and religious buildings constructed by Muslims after the seventh century by the Muslims who conquered various parts of the world. Mostly Islamic architecture includes mosques, tombs, forts, public baths, palaces etc.
Some of the features that can be visible in Islamic architecture are:
- Mosques with halls: Mosques are one of the most famous type of buildings that were built by the Muslims. Usually mosques have a large hall with a mihrab towards which people face while they are praying. Many people gather in the mosque to pray together.
- No images or representation: Islamic buildings, especially mosques do not contain any images in the premises. Idolization in Muslims is prohibited and hanging a picture of a living being(either humans, animals, birds etc) can lead to idolization. It is believed that only Allah can create the world and the living things in it, so hanging pictures means comparison of God’s creation to something created by humans.
- Horseshoe arches: Horseshoe arches in round or pointed form is an important feature in Islamic buildings. It is believed that the Muslims imitated this style from the Byzantines. Horseshoe arches has been used in many Islamic buildings such as mosques, tombs, etc.
- Domes: Another important feature that is included in the Islamic architecture are domes. Domes have also been used in a large number of buildings built by the Muslims.
- Decorative ornaments: Muslims believe that living in poverty is not good. They believe that a person should live as luxuriously as he can, by also planning for the afterlife by doing good deeds. So they used many decorative items in the buildings they constructed.
- Other features that can be visible in Islamic architecture are courtyards, towers or minarets, gardens(known as the paradise gardens), muqarnas, fountains etc that can be seen in many Muslim buildings.
Islamic architecture has not been very unique, it has been influenced by architectural styles in many places of the world which were conquered by them after the seventh century when Islam began to spread. With its spread, muslims were influenced by persian architecture, indonesian architecture, malaysian architecture, sino-islamic architecture, somalian architecture, ottoman architecture etc. So, it can be stated that Islamic architecture along with its uniqueness includes features of other architectural styles too.
Some of the most famous buildings that are built in Islamic architectural style are:
- Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock built during the seventh century is one of the most important places for Islam and Judaism. This is because in Judaism it is believed that this is the place where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac and in Islam, many scholars believe that Muhammad left for heaven from this place with the angel Gabriel.
- Great mosque of Samarra is a beautiful place, though most of the mosque has been demolished now. Only one of the cone shaped tower is left. This mosque was built with bricks and decorated with beautiful blue glasses.
- Other mosques that are very important and display the architectural intelligence of the Islamic culture are Suleymaniye mosque complex, the Friday mosque, Jameh mosque, Hassan II mosque, Suleiman mosque etc.
- Other than mosques, Islamic architecture examples includes public baths such as the Granada’s Alhambra, the Citadel of Aleppo in Syria, Haseki Hürrem Ḥammān in Istanbul etc.
- Tombs in Islamic architecture include Taj Mahal, Humayun’s tomb etc.
- There were residential buildings also constructed by the Muslims like the Agra fort, fortress of Al-Ukhaidir. Karbala in Iraq, Jodhabai palace etc.
Islamic architecture has given a number of beautiful and breathtaking buildings to the world. It covers many mosques, tombs, forts, etc. belonging to very old times to the modern times.