Essential Architectural Features Of A Mosque

Mosques across the world, many of which will serve as Eidgahs next week, exhibit divers designs, mainly because they usually incorporate the prevailing architectural trends of the country they are built in. Yet, despite their diversity, most mosques have certain features that have remained constant despite the passage of time.

* Prayer halls, mihrab and minbars. Because a mosque’s primary purpose is to accommodate worshippers, prayers halls are an integral component, and usually have wooden or concrete jafferies (windows), arched entrances and mihrabs, which are semi-circular niches built facing the QIBLA and serve as a praying space for imams. Mihrabs are usually embellished with tiles and calligraphy. Minbars are also located in prayer halls, and serve as raised platforms upon which imams give sermons; they are usually made of wood, marble or bricks. *Courtyards. These serve as extensions to prayer halls, and promote the circulation of air and wind throughout the mosque due to their central location. This keeps temperatures cooler especially if water features such as fountains and ponds are in place.

* Domes. Most mosques have at least one dome, and they have to two main functions. Firstly, they increase the height of the prayer hall, which in turn, reduces the temperature. Secondly, they amplify sound. While these functions have been replaced by air-conditioning/fans and sound systems respectively, domes continue to be an essential element of most mosques. Their interiors are usually embellished with floral or geometric patterns, while their exteriors are gilded with materials such as copper, gold and silver.

* Minarets. The function of minarets was initially to serve as an elevated point for the muezzin to recite the azaan so its sound would emanate throughout the surrounding areas. Despite the fact that speaker systems have taken over this function, minarets still remain an intrinsic feature of mosques globally, primarily because they add character and elegance to the design. Varying in height and style , minarets can be round, square or octagonal in shape.

By Zoya Gul Hasan


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