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Contemporary architectural trends and their impact on the symbolic and spiritual function of the mosque

Author: 
Aida Hoteit
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

Since the dawn of history, mosque architecture has witnessed changes and developments to meet the cultures and civilizations passing through; accordingly, modern contemporary architectural trends have presented bold innovative solutions that affect the stereotypes that have been attributed to mosques over time. At this point, a discussion was initiated on the feasibility of maintaining certain mosque elements that are considered to be essential for some in the process of going to the mosque, such as the minaret and the dome. However, some trends posed ideas that exceeded the spiritual function of a mosque, as well as the cause and essence of its existence; accordingly, the present research study was conducted to elucidate those various trends and to discuss and evaluate their conformity with the standards and principles in mosque architecture. The study begins with the definition of a mosque and its fundamental elements, determines the most significant mosque styles in the world while highlighting the relationship each has with the culture or civilization it produced, and subsequently addresses the function of the mosque and the requirements to be considered in compliance with the provisions of Sharia. Throughout this study, variations in the symbolism of a mosque between function and form are addressed, and then some of the recent trends that have caused considerable controversies are discussed. To conclude, there is no legitimate objection that mosque architecture should keep pace with modern developments in the field of architecture and technology, provided that this does not affect its spiritual function. Therefore, a mosque is not required to remain confined to a certain feature or restricted to elements that did not exist before in the mosques of the First Islamic Empire. However, it is required, rather than preferred, that a mosque belongs to and integrates with its surrounding. In a different sense, the mosque’s architecture is to be inspired or mimic the architecture of its surroundings or the country in which it is built while remaining in conformity with the spirit of Islamic art and culture.

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