How would one characterize Islamic Architecture? How does one describe a mosque? What makes up a mosque? Is a minaret a symbol of Islamic Architecture? What building best describes Islamic Architecture?
I am afraid the field of architecture has nothing to do with Islam – the divine religion. Islamic architecture actually refers to Muslims’ contribution toward the art over time. A study of the distinctive features of Islamic architecture would be strictly the study of the history of Muslim culture and should only be seen as such. Muslim architecture, in other words, is not based on any direct teachings of Islam. Therefore the subject is out of our field of study.
The physical structure of a mosque also has no religious significance. It is only a building specified for the purpose of worshipping the One God. It can be any piece of land portioned out for this purpose. Muslims can construct any kind of building that matches their taste. The common practice of building minarets was initiated mainly to make it prominent in a settlement so that people can know where the mosque is situated and also that the presence of mosques indicates the faith of the local populace.
Tariq Mahmood Hashmi
October 16, 2003