Mosque design, architectural elements and interior design

In all parts of the world, the mosque in its various forms is considered the ideal Islamic building, the mosque gains its position from being a spiritual center for Muslims, we find that hundreds of thousands of mosques have been created to serve Muslims around the world, and this has resulted in a great diversity of design standards, where Various architectural elements and styles appeared in the Mosque design.

Essential elements in mosque design and common features

The architecture of the mosque is strongly shaped by the regional traditions of the time and place in which it was built. As a result, the style, layout and decoration can vary greatly. However, due to the joint function of the mosque as a place for group prayer and worship, some architectural features appear as common features in mosques around the world and are as follows:

Saucer or patio:

The most important necessity for the construction of collective mosques is that they are able to accommodate all the residents of the city or town. To this end, religious mosques must have a large prayer hall. In many mosques, this is adjacent to an open courtyard called the courtyard of the mosque. Within the courtyard one often finds a fountain and welcome water in the hot lands and important for ablution that takes place before prayer.

The mihrab:

Another key element in the architecture of mosques is the mihrab, a place in the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca to which all Muslims reach. Home of the most important Islamic sites, the Kaaba. The direction of Mecca is called the qibla, and so the wall where the mihrab is placed is called the qibla wall. The mihrab is usually a relatively shallow place, taking the shape of a small room.

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Minaret (tower):

One of the most visible aspects of the architecture of mosques is the minaret, the adjacent or adjacent tower connected to the mosque, which is declared the call to prayer. The minarets take many different forms – from the famous spiral minaret of Samarra to the tall minarets of Ottoman Turkey. The minaret not only works by nature, it serves as a powerful visual reminder.

Quba (dome):

Most mosque architecture is also concerned with one or more dome, the dome has importance within the mosque – as a symbolic expression of the vault of heaven. The interior decoration of the dome often emphasizes this symbolism, using sophisticated geometric, decorative or floral geometric shapes to create breathtaking patterns aimed at splendor and inspiration. Some types of mosques incorporate multiple domes in their structure, as in the Ottoman Mosque of Sulaymani, while others include one dome. In mosques with only one dome, they are always located above the qibla wall, the holiest section of the mosque. The Great Mosque of Kairouan contains three domes in Tunisia: one over the minaret, one above the entrance to the prayer hall, and one above the qibla wall.

Since this is the focus of the direction of prayer, the qibla wall, with its mihrab and minbar, is often the most decorative of the mosque. The rich decoration of the qibla wall appears as a mihrab and minbar of the Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo.


There are other decorative elements common to most mosques. For example, a large frieze of calligrapher or a cartridge with a relief pattern often appears above the mihrab line. In most cases, inscriptions in sin represent quotes from the Qur’an, and often include the history of the building’s dedication and the beneficiary’s name. Another feature of mosque decoration is pendant lamps, which also appear in the image of the Sultan Hassan Mosque.

Light is an essential feature of mosques, as the first and last prayers occur before sunrise and after sunset. Lanterns, along with other furnishings such as carpets, formed an important – albeit ephemeral – aspect of the architecture of mosques.

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Mosque design common types

Since the seventh century, mosques have been built all over the world. While there are many types of mosque architecture, three basic forms can be defined.

  1. The palaces mosque

The Great Mosque of Kairouan, Tunisia, is a typical example of the architecture of the Ksour Mosque. The mosque was built in the ninth century by Ziyad Allah, the third ruler of the majority dynasty, and is a branch of the Abbasid Empire. It is a large stone rectangular mosque with a small hall (supported by columns) and a large inner courtyard (courtyard). The three-layer minaret is in a style known as the Syrian bell tower, and may have originally been based on the shape of ancient Roman lighthouses. The interior of the mosque is characterized by a forest of columns that came to determine the type of arches

The mosque was built on a former Byzantine site, and architects reused ancient materials, such as columns, a decision that was a practical and powerful affirmation of the Islamic conquest of Byzantine lands. Many early mosques like these mosques benefited from ancient architectural materials (called spolia) in a similar symbolic way.

On the right side of the mosque’s mihrab, there is a shrine area, a region designated for the ruler that is found in some mosques, but not all of them is the tomb of this mosque is the oldest example of this, and its pulpit (pulpit) is the oldest known pulpit for scholars. Both are carved from teak wood imported from Southeast Asia. This precious wood was shipped from Thailand to Baghdad where it was carved and then transported on the back of camels from Iraq to Tunisia in a wonderful display of world trade in the Middle Ages.

The hypostyle plan was widely used in Islamic lands before the introduction of the Four Iwan Plan in the 12th century. A set of column lines was used in mosques. One of the most famous examples is the Great Mosque of Córdoba, which uses two-color bows in arches emphasizing the stunning visual impact of the Coliseum.

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  1. Four Iwan Mosque

Just as the hypostyle hall identified many mosque architecture in the early Islamic period; the eleventh century shows the emergence of a new form, the Four Iwan Mosque. The iwan is a domed space that opens on one side to the courtyard. The development of the iwan in pre-Islamic Iran was used in huge and imperial architecture. It is closely associated with Persian architecture.

In Iran in the eleventh century, hypostyle mosques were transformed into four-iwan mosques, which, as the name indicates, incorporate four iwans into their architectural plan.

The Great Mosque of Isfahan reflects this broader development. The mosque began its life as a hypostyle mosque, but was modified by Seljuk in Iran after their occupation of the city of Isfahan in the eleventh century.

The design is arranged around a large open courtyard. However, in the Iwan Mosque, each wall of the courtyard is interspersed with a huge domed hall, Iwan. This type of mosque, which became widespread in the twelfth century, has maintained its popularity to the present time.

  1. The planned central mosque

Ottoman architects were deeply influenced by Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, which is the greatest Byzantine church and has a huge central dome over its large nave.

Many Ottoman mosques in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries referred to the Dome of the Hagia Sophia; however, the work of the domes of the Ottoman mosques did not compete with and overrun the Hagia Sophia tribes, until the work of Mimar Sinan, the greatest Ottoman architect, if not Islamic . Sinan tried the central plan in a series of mosques in Istanbul, where he achieved what he considered a masterpiece in Selim II Mosque, in Edirne, Turkey, and is considered the greatest masterpiece of Ottoman architecture. It represents the culmination of years of experimentation with the centrally planned Ottoman Mosque.

Mosque architecture around the world

The three types of mosques mentioned above are the most common and historically most important in the Islamic world. Despite their common features, such as the mihrab and minarets, one can see that the various regional styles explain the great differences in colors, materials, and general decorations of mosques. The blue and white brick mihrab niche in Iran in the fourteenth century is a world away from the silent and stone-inlaid colors of an Egyptian niche in the same century.

More regional differences emerge when a person looks beyond the central Islamic lands to the structure of Muslims who live in places such as China, Africa, and Indonesia, where regional materials and traditions, sometimes have little influence from the architectural heritage of the central Islamic lands.

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