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Beauty Virtues of Mosques

Introduction

“Architecture is the imaginative blend of art and science in the design of environments for people.” (An Introduction to Architecture). The area of architecture has brought about tremendous betterment due to the unity of sculpture and skills. An architect has to be keen on accomplishing the maximum beauty and adore the work he is handling. “Decision-making, team leadership and creativity are the key elements of making architecture.” (An Introduction to Architecture).

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The five virtues of beautiful buildings are: first, “The archdave, frieze and cornice, were designed to be designed to be one-fifth of the height of the column”, secondly,” while a Corinthian capital had to be equal in height to the breadth of the columns at its lowest point,” thirdly, “ rooms should be as high as they are broad,” fourthly, “ correct ratios between the lengths and the sides of the rooms were 1:1, 2:3, 3:4,” and finally, the” hall should be placed at the central axis in absolute symmetry to both wings of the house.” (The architecture of happiness 171-172).

It is believed that the concept of true and immaculate beauty is indescribable and may not always be practicable to execute.

The proper approach to the work to be completed is the first requirement. The main architect should be able to coordinate the entire members of the group of workers. Creativity is the major constraint for a beautiful creation of sculpture. “The architect must also protect the health, safety and welfare of the general public and the users of the buildings.” (An Introduction to Architecture). The focus of the architect should never remain on the beauty, profit and speedy completion of the work. He should always concentrate on the public wellbeing, protection and benefits along with considering the clients of the structure.

Beauty concept in Islam

The religion of Islam supports the appreciation of beauty. It has the root from the fact that Hadith describes that the Lord Almighty is beautiful and He loves beauty. The philosophy of Islam is embedded in the eternal beauty and prevalence of purity. “The nature of beauty was addressed by Islamic philosophers in the course of discussions about God and his attributes in relation to his creation, under the inspiration of Neoplatonic sources such as the pseudo-Aristotelian Theology of Aristotle, a compilation based upon the Enneads of Plotinus.” (Black).

There are two aspects of Islamic architecture. The first is the physical aspect, the style and the second is the meaning or the functional aspect of the mosque. Although mosques are viewed as serious places of public worship, they need to conform to Islamic tenets both in their exterior and interior composition.

Islamic Art and Architecture

The mosques are the architectural contributions of the religion of Islam. They have the belief that mosques are the houses of their Lord Almighty and so they wish those to be in the best appearance they can. Thus to be clear to the fact it is very important for the followers of the religion of Islam to support the best architecture for their mosques.

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The expedition for the architectural glow is being carried out worldwide. Architectural beauty was investigated in the book named “Architecture of Happiness” by Alain de Botton. “A concern for architecture has never been free from a degree of suspicion. Doubts have been raised about the subject’s seriousness, its moral worth and its cost.” (The Architecture of Happiness) says the Architecture of Happiness.

A contemplation maddening quantity of the earth’s majority of intellectual inhabitants always had condescension on the awareness of adornment and plan, connecting satisfaction with discarnate and imperceptible stuff as a substitute. The literature goes through various themes cited by different philosophers on the matter of buildings and houses. The philosophers support having houses but for them, those are groups of stones and mud connected with cement rather than an art or skill. Their view but cannot be accepted to a human as a whole because beauty is the one always adored without fail.

“Common interpretations of Islamic architecture include the following: The concept of Allah’s infinite power is evoked by designs with repeating themes which suggest infinity… Foliage is a frequent motif but typically stylized or simplified for the same reason. Arabic Calligraphy is used to enhance the interior of a building by providing quotations from the Qur’an. Islamic architecture has been called the “architecture of the veil” because the beauty lies in the inner spaces (courtyards and rooms) which are not visible from the outside (street view).” (Encyclopedia: Islamic Architecture).

Architecture of Happiness

The main purpose of mosques is congregational worship and venerates God through prayers and propitiation. The first mosque was built “around the Kaaba” in Mecca, in the 7th Century. (Tristam).

(Tristam)
Tristam

“The careful study of the finest buildings promised to lead to laws of beauty.” (Botton, 171). The most prominent sculptured illuminations all around the world have some principles of beautification as common. The skills of architecture largely depend on the creativity and talents of imagination of the architect which is the backbone of any carve produced. The notion of exquisiteness has been estimated intrinsically hard to pin down and therefore gently bypassed. “Pinning down the architectural equivalents of generosity or modesty, honesty or gentleness” (Botton, 174) is seen significantly worldwide.

The “concept of order” and “coherence” accompanied by “linearity” (Botton, 175) are the key ideas kept firm in the architectural field of the contemporary world. The base to all the architectural development is the necessity proposed by the client in need. The inspiration from this part should be strong enough to motivate the architect to result in a well beautified compact site of work and skills.

Architectural Virtues of Islam

For devout Muslims, calligraphy is a manifested form of spiritual concept. It is also considered as the link between the languages of Muslims within Islam. The Holy Quran has played a significant role in the development of Arabic languages and inscriptions are found in calligraphy. “The traditional minbar is a common element of Islamic mosque architecture throughout the world.” (Huda).

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Minarets and towers were originally used as torch-lit watchtowers in the Great Mosque situated in the Syrian capital of Damascus. The Mihrab is the prayer area that is towards the direction of Mecca, the holy shrine. Perhaps this has been derived from earlier use of the area of prayers from the setting of Torah, scrolls of Jewish synagogues, or haikal or Coptic churches. Also the provision for central fountains for ablutions and cleansing the body before prayers.

The attributes of beauty virtues and architecture of Islam are considered during the architectural appraisal and investigation leading to the finalization of building plan for mosques. “Who hath created seven heavens in harmony. Thou (Muhammad) canst see no fault in the Beneficent One’s creation; then look again: Canst thou see any rifts? Then look again and yet again, thy sight will return unto thee weakened and made dim. (Al-Mulk 67:3-4).” (Badr). The connection of beauty and divinity was appreciated by the philosophers of Islam to a depth of love to God as explained by the Holy Quran and Hadith.

Islamic Architecture and Beauty

Much of Islamic architecture has been derived from Persian architecture. Besides, Mogul, Hindu and Egyptian/Byzantine architectural cultures are also evident.

“Among the divine names al-Farabi lists ‘beauty’ (al-Jamal), ‘brilliance’ (al-Baha’i), and ‘splendour’ (al-Zina). Although the connotations of these terms are principally visual and hence sensible, al-Farabi argues that beauty in all things is primarily ontological: the more any being attains its final perfection, the more beautiful it is.” (Aesthetics in Islamic philosophy).

The attitude of Islamic beauty is depicted within the triple beauty values of the religion. The Creator God is the symbol of beauty, the manner of His creation is beautiful and the belief of the existence of an invisible God is beautiful as well. So the concept arises on the matter that God loves beauty supported by many Hadith and hence the house of God should be built with the beauty philosophy itself. The philosophers quote those three pillars of the virtue of beauty as the illustrations of God in terms of the significance He kept for beauty for His creations. Thus the stability in the architectural beauty virtues of mosques is inevitable.

The architecture of the mosque tries to attain the maximum perfection in all aspects because it is the house of The Perfect who exhibited His perfection through his creations and blessings. The virtue of architectural perfection always depicts morals, principles, ethics and art. structural design and the sculpture in their substance from the Islamic wisdom of Islam straightly, and a different imperceptible and religious, facilitating the observer to expand intellect of illustrative contact and substantial places if required or sculptural beautification and captions, that with every statement depicts a pious direction to attain the discrete purpose of expansion because of which it is seen as effectual and provides a reflection for the necessity for lengthy conversations with the creator and contemplation permitting the channel of spending the time and also exhibiting the architectural highness in the context of sculpture and structural design.

The limitations in Islam for the architecture of mosques are identified with depth and the recent advents try to develop an Islamic architectural method to articulate the illustrative beauty of the sculpture. The architectural notion of Muslims is supported by the divine laws of creation, natural examples of purity, beauty and excellence. The truth in the creation is the impartiality and rightly placed approach of Lord Almighty. The creations of God should never try to imitate any lively creation of God as it is often seen as disrespect to God in Islamic religion which is also applicable in the case of His house built by the His creations. The perfect contrast is thus made at the architectural plan of the mosque. This limitation makes the difference witnessed between other architectural styles and Islamic architecture. The planner sought out various other methods for beautification and adornment to achieve the beauty of perfection. So the Islamic inscription, various prototypes representing the natural beauty, etc came up with importance in Islamic architecture. In addition to this more normally any form of generalization that can declare to have a position of nonfigurative sculpture is used to expand Islamic architecture worldwide. The Islamic is basically a meditative sculpture, which intends to articulate on top of all, a bump into the heavenly existence. “The origin of Islamic art has often tried to be explained through tracing it back to some precedent in Byzantine, Sassanid, Coptic or other art, yet what is lost sight of, is the intrinsic and original unity of Islamic art and thus the ‘seal’ that Islam conferred on all borrowed elements.” (Introduction).

Islamic architecture is not an independent method of sculpture but an integration of various architectural styles of the cultures around the globe.

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The constructions of mosques are a very important aspect of heavenly presence. The mosque is the representation of the reconstruction of heavenly thoughts on Earth. It is the holy place to pray; although it is supposed to have blissful modes, it is not so. All mosques give signs of Macca or Qibla known as Mihrab. Often it is constructed as a forte on the wall. A covered portion is provided before Mihrab or doors are built where Mihrab is not there. Masjids which are the sacred places of devotion were places of recreation for other religions as well.

History of Mosques’ Development

Macca was the mosque built before any others which the area surrounding the divine shrine was called Ka’ba which is seen as the Qibla by Muslims. The mosques that prevailed at the times of the Prophet, mosques were built in the style of the Prophet’s house at Madina made during the year of 622 A. At that time the Qibla was towards the track of Jerusalem which was then shifted to the current Qibla, Ka’ba.

At the start of the preaching of Islam, there were no mosques as such for performing the prayers and also the number of followers was very less. So the prayers were conducted at the house of the Prophet itself. Later as the religion began to grow the need for more space came and newer mosques were made. “In addition to the early mosques of Mecca and Madina, there are sources indicating other contemporary mosques in other towns.” (Kjeilen).

The people thought that building a mosque would bring around their transparency and devotion and they started with it to create their own mosques or donating considerably to make a portion of the mosque. But recently there are changes to the age-old customs and traditions. The mosques built at those ancient times were common to all who need to offer their prayers which now came up with divisions in sharing. The discrimination inside the religion of Islam has brought about the situation of choosing the mosques for their prayers.

Architectural Evolution of Mosque

During the initial centuries, there viewed an extensive conversion of churches to mosques sometimes with and else without the permission of Christians. At many places, the people were converted to Islam and the churches gradually were accepted as mosques for them to perform their prayers. In some areas, they had full support from the Christian community so that Muslims were allowed to treat churches as their own holy places.

As time passed over, many rooms were integrated into the mosques to perform various activities include the social lessons, proficient errands of the mosques and the motel provisions for the traveler, aged and ill. Pious and abstinent frequently stayed in the mosque, conceivably still inside the minaret. “A minaret is a tall, thin tower, usually with a cone, or circular shaped crowns on the top. Some are free-standing, while others are connected to another building. Minarets are usually found built with Islamic mosques.” (What is a Minaret?).

Minarets are the common architectural virtue seen in mosques worldwide. The architecture of Minaret has three components in common. The foundation, beam and balcony are the parts seen in any architecture of a mosques’ minaret. The base is made by digging the ground to depths to get a firm and rigid foundation for the entire structure because it is a tall and massy structure so could not make on the floor level. Various sustaining and stiff objects are used as supporting materials in the building of the base of the minarets. Minarets may possibly be tapering, quadrangle, cylinder, or else multilateral. The shaft has a staircase that is twirling in an anti-clockwise direction which requires null extra support due to extremely extended arrangement. The place occupied by the Muezzin for citing out the pray call is called the gallery. It is a terrace that surrounds the higher part of the minaret. It is enclosed by a crown resembling blind and decorated with embellishment, such as ornamental block and tile design, cornices, bends and writings, with the change from the streak to the porch normally fair corbels. Initially unadorned admired, a minaret’s basis in an instance can be resolved by its plane of flamboyance.

“Other elements inside a mosque include:”

“Dakka”: A raised area over which the Muezzin stands for performing the call to prayer, following the same performance from the minaret is named Dakka.

“Kursi”: A small table and a stool for keeping the Quran and for the person reading the Quran.

“Reliquaries”: These are places where the dead bodies, portions of the bodies or else the possessions of the pious and holy people are kept.

“Carpets”: The entire flooring of the mosques is covered by the carpets.

“Lights”: The lighting of the mosques is done by candles or bulbs which are not part of customs as such.

“Incense”: The holy house of God is always kept at pleasant fragrance. In the case of ceremonies, incense is given much priority which is surely a part of the customs.

“Water”: The provisions for water are kept in every mosque around the globe as ablution which is essential for performing the prayers is done using water. Also, drinking water will be present at any mosque. (Kjeilen).

The mosques that existed initially did not have any indications for the Qibla. During the reign of Uzman Bin Affan, the third Caliph, there was a decision to hang a sign of his to indicate the direction of Ka’ba to help the travelers in their prayers. Later, during the reign of Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik, there were steps taken to construct a niche similar to the Christian architecture in order to indicate Qibla. Under the supervision of Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz, a niche was built for Masjid al Nabawi where the sign of the third Caliph was hung. They named it Mihrab which is a reign followed in the architecture of mosques till now. Mihrab is defined as “an ornamental indentation in the wall of a mosque, which marks the direction of the Qibla. Mihrabs vary in size and color, but are usually shaped like a doorway and decorated with tiles and calligraphy to make it stand out.” (Huda). The setup of Mihrabs will be different for different mosques but are for the same purpose.

Minbar is another important construction in the architectural plan of mosques worldwide. Minbar is “a pulpit in a mosque from which the sermon is delivered. It takes the form of a domed box with a door at the top of a staircase.” (Minbar: Definition).

Every mosque has a lifted platform next to the Mihrab from where Khatib, the head of the mosques’ rituals, can perform a Khutbah which is always known as Minbar.

The architecture of Happiness & Islamic Architecture

The architectural aspects of mosques are of higher priority because of the precious position of the built-in cultural and belief aspects of religion as a whole. The virtues of the architecture should always match up to the concepts and faith of the people of Islam, keeping the Islamic philosophy and requirement to the essential limit. The main objective that should be kept in an architect’s design of the mosque is the reality that a mosque is representatively much significant for Muslims due to the fact of the existence of divinity and eternity in the mosque. The mosques are crowded by the followers of Islam five times a day when they perform their salah which is a compulsory ritual for them. The factual statement defines only the presence of divinity in the mosque but not the construction. The architectural build-up is a mix of all different sculptural styles of the world guided by the customs and traditions of Islam.

The mosques all over the world will have similar parts but never resemble their entire setup. The Minbar, Mihrab, or Minaret will have different looks at different places used for similar purposes. All those constructions are guided by the best and beautiful architectural virtues prevailing at the places of construction. If the mosques in eastern countries are considered, the observed architecture will show traits of Aryan style while the Middle East shows up the Arab and Iranian architecture; the church styles are seen in the western countries. The innovations of the architectural styles in the construction of mosques define the acceptance of beauty and the best for the building of a mosque. There exists the reason for the beautiful and splendid construction of mosques worldwide. The integration of the varied virtues contributes to the operation requirement of the Islamic philosophy followers.

The architecture of Happiness is a theoretical and contemplation infuriating volume on the structural design. De Botton starts by inquiring about the beautiful concept of the reader and then describing his views on the beauty and excellence of the architectural traits. According to him, beauty is something that is embedded between the extreme points of order and complexity. He explains the necessity of self-assurance and compassion often seeming to be tedious. “We delight in complexity to which genius has lent an appearance of simplicity.” (Rice).

He explains that always simple work requires major hardships. So is the case of the mosques’ architecture. The aim of the state in ‘Architecture of Happiness’ is that an architect will never opt for beauty alone, but tries to merge the hunt of an enthusiastic and demonstrative architecture. De Botton talks about contemporary structural design and its foolishness, the thought of a universal manifestation against a confined appearance to construction, mysticism, design and spirituality, structures encompass the authority to progress us ethically and religiously. That implies the actual architectural requirement of mosques. The mosques’ virtues expected at the philosophical as well as ornamental level can be achieved easily from the theories of De Botton as demonstrated in his work ‘Architecture of Happiness’. The reading voyage through the words of De Botton impresses a person about a simplified appearance with perfection and beauty is possible with keeping up the entire beliefs and faith of the group requirement. Real happiness through architecture is possible as explained in the work i.e. contentment is the goal of an architect. The mosques’ architecture as well wishes for contentment because their entire culture and customs are depicted in those sculptures which are the houses of divinity and eternity.

Conclusion

It is indeed remarkable that Islamic architecture has stood up to the ravages of time and many wars that have ravaged these countries. It has retained its pristine glory and aesthetic appeal despite many challenges and threats and has only improved over time and changing worldwide technology. The beautiful monuments erected by devout and aesthetically inclined Muslims all over the world are ample testimony of the enormous cultural values and traditions that this religion could truly boast of.

The architecture and the concepts of architecture were identified. The beauty and religion of Islam are linked through the philosophy of the religion itself, resulting in the recognition of necessity beauty traits with the simplicity of architecture in the case of mosques. The ‘Architecture of Happiness’ describes the art of sculptures as a mode to achieve happiness and so the significance of the work in the Islamic architectural requirements for mosques is substantiated. The confidence of perfection to divinity can be achieved with the architectural guidance from De Botton’s Architecture of Happiness.

Works Cited

Aesthetics in Islamic Philosophy. n.d.

An Introduction to Architecture. ARCHcareers.org. Web.

Badr, Kamal. The Concept of Beauty in Islam. Reading Islam, 2005. Web.

Black, Deborah L. Aesthetics in Islamic Philosophy. Routledge, 1998.

Botton, Alain de. The Architecture of Happiness. New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 2006. Print.

Encyclopedia: Islamic Architecture: Contemporary Architecture: Interpretation. Nation Master.com, 2005. Web.

Huda. Minbar. About.com: Islam, 2009. Web. 8 Dec. 2009. <http://islam.about.com/od/mosques/g/minbar.htm>.

Introduction. Salaam, 2008. Web.

Kjeilen, Tore. Mosque. LookLex Ltd, 2009.

Minbar: Definition. Microsoft, 2009. Web.

Rice, Terri J. Customer Review: Beautiful Review. Amazon.com,2007. Web.

The Architecture of Happiness. Alain De Botton. London: Pedalo Limited, Web.

Tristam, Pierrie. Masjid al-Haram, or the Grand Mosque in Mecca. About.com: Middle East Issues, 2009. Web. >

What is a Minaret? Ask.com, 2009. Web.

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