Muslim Architecture

Since God cannot be represented in any shape or form, mosques and religious centres are bare rooms decorated only with Islamic Calligraphy and art. There are no pictures or statues, not even of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as it is also forbidden to depict the Prophet and this is why in films or in other forms of art there is usually a light on his face.

Although mosques and Islamic shrines differ in style due to period and region they were built in, many of them display fine Islamic architecture. Some are extravagantly decorated with Islamic calligraphy, gold, mirrors and colours.

Mosques can be quite distinct (especially in the West) when they have minarets where someone stands to call to prayers (mu’adhin) and domes. The dome of a mosque symbolises the universe which Allah created. Many mosques have four minarets and a dome. Outside of the prayer hall is a place for ritual washing – wudu. There are no chairs in a prayer hall and the only furniture is the minbar from where the imam preaches the Friday khutbah (sermon). The Qiblah (direction) wall faces the Ka’bah in Makkah and a niche called the Mihrab indicates the direction for prayer.

Shirk forbids any representations of people and so the walls of a mosque are often decorated with calligraphy. This is usually texts from the Qur’an. Decorative patterns in tiles and mosaics such as arabesque are also used.

In the United Kingdom mosques serve many community functions It is the madrassah (school) where children learn Arabic and there may also be a reading room, a library and a bookshop. The prayer hall itself is also used for funeral services but not for weddings.

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