Imagining Islamic Aesthetics #10 – Minarets

For our Imagining Islamic Aesthetics for this edition, I would like to bring to your attention, again, one of the most fundamental Mosque architecture – Minarets.

Minarets came from the Arabic word Nour, means light. Hence, Minarets, in accordance to Arabic grammar, means “Place of Light”. It is named as such because Minarets is not actually exclusive to the mosque architecture, in fact it is a general term, as it could also be used to refer to lighthouses.

Author - damian entwistle

This the Minaret of the Mosque of Uqba, or more commonly known as the Mosque of Kairouan. It is one of the earliest minaret structure, completed in 836AD. It became a prototype for minarets to come after it, and the plan of the minaret is usually emulated by the future mosques in the Western Islamic world.

Author - Izzedine

Great Mosque of Samarra. It is a 9th century mosque in Iraq and one time had been the largest mosque in the Islamic World. This minaret is not actually a minaret – it never serves the purpose of calling the faithful to prayer, since the height is not practical. Instead it serves as a visual statement of the presence of Islam in the Tigris Valley. The tower is called Malwiya – Arabic for snail shell.

Author - Emesik

Minarets of Jame’ Atiq Mosque of Qazvin, Iran. It is one of the oldest mosque in Iran. Here you see two minarets and it should be flanking an unseen Iwan. The foundation of the mosque is undersood to be once of a Zoroastrian fire temple.  These two minarets is characteristics of Central Asian mosque architecture, and there is a possibility of these minarets to be used and serves its purpose of calling the faithful to prayers, or just as aesthetic reason.

Picture by: Giovanni Dall'Orto, May 29 2006.

Three Minarets of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is actually Sultan Ahmet mosque, but called the blue mosque due to the amount of blue tiles used to decorate the interiors of the mosque. Turkish mosque have needle pointed, thin minarets, as you can see here. There is usually one or two minarets of each mosques, however it is not uncommon to see that major mosques have much more than that, for example this Blue Mosque have 6 minarets in total.

Author - Baldiri

The minaret of Al-Azhar Mosque. Cairo. Egypt. Egyptian mosques have up to two minarets for each mosque. The shape of the minarets are usually octagonal, slim and very heavily decorated, topped by onion shaped domes and finished with finials of crescent moon. It have multiple balconies and decorated with Muqarnas.

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