Analysis Of Islamic Architecture

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A large number of thinkers have argued (a) that Islamic architecture is hidden, in the sense that its interior is not articulated on the basis of its exterior; (b) that the form of the Islamic building does not express or embody its function; and (c) that Islamic architecture is not tectonic, or structural, but iconic in character. In this paper we select Ernst Grube’s analysis of these three claims and focus our attention on the congregational mosque. We will argue against these claims. We begin our argument with a clarification of the meaning of “form follows function.” A clear understanding of the relation between these two concepts is indispensable for evaluating the claims Grube makes. Then we argue that the form of the congregational…show more content…
Second, the form of the Islamic building does not express or embody its function; that is, there is no causal relation between its form and function. In the words of one critic, there is a total absence of Islamic architecture. This means that the buildings the Muslim people use are not Islamic. Third, and a corollary to the preceding two claims, Islamic architecture is not tectonic. We identify an Islamic building not by its formal structure but by a multiplicity of symbols, representations, mosaics, colorful configurations, Qur’anic inscriptions, and similar iconic devices. In this paper we will argue against this view, and the architectural type we select for analysis is the congregational mosque (al jame’e). We hope the conclusions we reach will shed a light of understanding on the other types of Islamic…show more content…
In the first part we present a brief analysis of Ernst Grube’s view of Islamic architecture, mainly because his discussion of the three claims we just stated are both comprehensive and systematic. In the second part we advance an in-depth yet new analysis of the concepts of form and function. A clear understanding of the relation between these two concepts is indispensable for evaluating the claims Grube makes. Moreover, as we argue, the claims that Islamic architecture is hidden and that it is non-tectonic are founded on the assumption that the form of an Islamic building does not embody its function. In the third part we critically evaluate Grube’s three claims. Here, we first argue that the form of the congregational mosque embodies its function, and second explain in some detail how the function of the mosque is the basis on which its formal structure is designed. The proposition we will defend is that Islamic architecture exists and expresses the spirit of Islamic

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