Monthly Archives: March 2011

Imagining Islamic Aesthetic #40 – Famous Islamic Monuments

With the expand of the Islamic Empire and more and more people come to embrace the Islamic aesthetics, the people by time built great monuments of Islamic architecture each with their own flair and style. All over the world there are excellent examples of these Islamic monuments, and some of them stood as the best. For this edition of Imagining Islamic Aesthetics, we will look into five of the finest monuments that feature Islamic architecture that stood as the testament of the influence and wonders of the Islamic Aesthetics, according to location and style.

Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Palestine-

Author - Deror Avi

The Dome of the Rock or Qubbat As-Sakhra (قبة الصخرة‎) is one of the most important Islamic Shrine after The Grand Mosque of Mecca and the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina. It is completed in 691AD under the orders of the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik, built on the Temple Mount where it is believed that the Temple of Solomon once stood. The Muslims believed that a rock inside it, the Foundation Rock is where Prophet Muhammad once stood before ascending to the Heavens in an event called the Mi’raj.

The Dome of the Mosque is often confused with the al-Aqsa Mosque, which stood nearby. It remains one of the most popular tourists spot in Jerusalem, alongside the Wailing wall of the Jews and the Church of the Holy Sephulchre of the Christians.

The Shah Mosque in Iran

The Shah Mosque or the Masjid-I-Shah as it is known in Persian is one of the most beautiful example of Islamo-Persian architecture. It stood on the north-side of the Naghsh-i Jahan Square, and built during the Safavid period which started construction on 1611. The Shah Mosque is said to be one of the most magnificent masterpiece of Islamic Persian Architecture.

The Mosque, along with the Naghsh-i-Jahan Square is registered under the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best sites to see in Iran. Its beauty mainly because of the seven-coloured tiles and the beautiful calligraphy.

The Alhambra palaces in Spain

Author – comakut

Al-Qalat Al-Hamra (لْقَلْعَةُ ٱلْحَمْرَاءُ,) or simply known as Alhambra, translated as the Red Fort or the Red One respectively, is a complex of fortress and palace built during the 14th Century by the Emirate of Granada of Al-Andalus, occupying on the hill of Assabica. It is the last palace of the Nasrid Dynasty. It is rediscovered after it fall under disrepair after the Reconquista in the 19th Century by European travelers and scholars.

It became many inspirations of songs and poetry, and it was registered as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it became one of the well known Islamic architecture, as well as a major tourist site for Spain.

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia (Greek for Holy Wisdom) or Aya Sofya in Turkish was once a church, but later is converted into a mosque when Sultan Mehmed took over Constantinople (old name of Istanbul) in 1453AD and then secularized to become a museum under Mustafa Kemal in 1935. The former mosque is the main inspiration of all Turkish Mosque, for example the Blue Mosque which stood just in front of it. The Architecture is Byzantine in style, but when it became the inspiration of Islamic mosques in the Ottoman Empire, it became synonymous with Islamic architecture.

The Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Author – Dhirad, picture edited by J. A. Knudsen

The Taj Mahal in Agra India is in fact a tomb dedicated by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It remained one of the most recognizable monuments in the world also considered as the most beautiful structure. It is the finest example of Mughal Architecture combining Indian, Islamic and Persian architectural styles. It is made out of white marble with decorations inlaid with semi-precious stones.

The Taj Mahal became one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1983. Millions of visitors came to India to witness the symbol of love that is Taj Mahal.






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Study – Muslim Contribution to Geometry


Geometry came to the Islamic empire through the translation of Greek works,with most of geometry knowledge taken from the book of Euclid, Foundations of Geometry.Though scholarly works like Euclid, Apollonius and Archimedes were appreciated, Arab and Islamic scholars refuted their conclusions as well as correcting them. They also contributed to the field of theoretical geometry. Although it is  a field  not very much studied in depth much by Muslims.

Types of Geometry Developed by the Muslims

There are two types of Geometry the Muslims took from the Greek and developed and improved – Mental and Concrete Geometry. Mental Geometry refers to the Theoretical Geometry, where the Muslim scientists had only commented and do explanations. There were more concerned with the Concrete Geometry where they apply in industries, art and construction.

Development of Geometry under the Muslims

Geometry was developed by Muslim scientists during the Islamic civilization. In some publications of Al-Biruni, there are some geometrical theories, givens and proofs. These methods were unique from those of the Greek. Muslim scientists, including Ibn Al-Haytham, employed both plane and solid geometry to specify the reflection for statuses of spherical, cylindrical, conical, convex and concavo-convex, and they unprecedentedly introduced creative general solutions to them. Muslim scientists pointed out that how to identify the proportion of the periphery of the circle to its diameter. They also proved excellent in plane geometry concerning parallels. Nasir Al-Din Al-Tusi was the first one to draw the attention to prove that Euclid’s theory lacks the issue of parallels; he introduced evidence based on hypotheses in his book Al-Resala Al-Shfia An Alshk Fil Khotot Al-Mtwazia (Adequate Treatise on Doubts about Parallel Lines). Muslim mathematicians know how the science of flattening the circle. Haji Khalifa viewed this science as the “science through which we know how the circle is transferred to a surface by keeping lines and circles drawn on the circle and how these drawn circles are transferred to a circle then to a line. ” The importance of this science, according to Al-Qongy, lies in the fact that it can be used in other sciences, especially astronomy. Of their publications in this field of geometry are Al-Kamel by Farghani, Al-Isti’ab by Al-Biruni, and Dostour Al-Targih fi Kawaad Al- Tastih by –Taqi al-Din al-Shami.

Muslim scientists introduced a lot of publications on geometric problems, geometric synthesis, angle divisions, drawing of regular rectangular shapes, and linking them to algebric equations. It is said that Thabit ibn Qurra divided the angle into three equal sections using a way which was different from that known by Greeks.

Qadri Toqan pointed out that sines were used instead of hypotenuse at the beginning of the third hijjri century. It is said that it was Thabit ibn Qurra who introduced (Manalos claims), with their present form. Above all, he solved some of the cubic equations in geometrical ways sought by some western scientists in their mathematical research in the sixteenth century AD, including Cartan and other great mathematicians.

Qadri Toqan went on to say that those who are concerned with mathematics do not believe that Thabit was among those who paved the way for (calculus), a science which is of great significance for inventions and discoveries. But for all this science and its facilities for solving a lot of hard sums and operations, natural laws would not have been exploited for the benefit of humanity. Thabit was one of those concerned with analytic geometry and excelled in it. He introduced unprecedented innovations and wrote a book in which he explained the relation between algebra and geometry and how to combine them.

Another leap occurred in geometry when Al-Khwarizmi introduced algebra, which will be tackled when dealing with the contributions made by Muslims in human sciences.

In the field of area, the book, Marefet Mesahet Al-Ashkal Al-Basita Wa Al-Koreya (the Book of Measurement of the Plane and Spherical Figures) in geometry is considered one of the most important works of the Sons of Musa bin Shaker. In it, they emphasized the importance of identifying length, width and size.

This book by the Sons of Musa bin Shaker constituted a significant development of the two books of Archimedes on Measurement of a Circle and on the Sphere and Cylinder. In it, they utilized an approach used by udox and the concept of meager quantities introduced by Archimedes. This book was of great importance for the Islamic East and the Latinized west alike[20].

Muslim scientists tackled areas in their mathematical publications as being a branch of geometry. For example, Bahauldin Al-Aamili (1031 A.H./ 1622 A.D.) devoted the first three chapters of part six of his book Kholaset Al-Hesab( The Gist of Mathematics). In the introduction, he introduced basic definitions on area, especially the area of the surfaces and bodies. In chapter one, he dealt with the area of surfaces with straight sides as triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, hexagon and octagon, among others. In chapters two and three, he focused on the way through which the area of circles, curved surfaces, such as cylinders, complete and incomplete cones and the circle. In part seven, he referred to some issues related to the area of the land surface to conduct surveying to dig canals and determine heights, width of rivers and depth of wells.

It was natural of Muslims to transfer their geometrical knowledge and apply it to their architectural art, depicted in masjids (mosques), places and cities, among others. They paid attention to geometrical decorations, which were characterized by symmetry and accuracy.

In view of the above, it is vivid clear that Muslims excelled in geometry; their role could not be ignored at all. Mohamed Kurd Ali pointed out that “As far as geometry is concerned, Muslims were peerless innovators. Arabs did not invent buildings of their own; their geometry was full of their love of decoration and nicety. They invented the propped arch and excelled in the geometry of domes, ceilings and suspended ceilings, made of trees and flowers for their mosques and palaces. All these decorations have rendered these places masterpieces. According to a foreign knowledgeable person, the excessive obsession of Muslims with decorations has made their buildings as an oriental dress, which was beautifully knit and ornamented.

These have been some of Muslim contributions to the development of geometry. The characteristics of this science became clear after they had checked the heritage of the previous civilizations.


Parts of the article is taken from


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Internt Finds – Quran Flash

I haven’t done much blogging in recent weeks, time being much of a problem to spend sitting in the front of the computer and typing away. Now I have some spare time to spend, I can post up some articles as time allow me.

I have found this flash site from a casual, general information blog. I have to say that the developers of this flash site did a very impressive job, certainly befitting a site that features a holy text.

The Website features a fully readable Quran online which you can open, close and flip the pages just like the real scripture. The Quran is mainly in Arabic, the original language of the scripture, however there are also some versions that features other language such as English or Urdu. There are also bookmarking features to mark your favourite pages or to read where you left the next time you open the sit. The resolution can be changed as you desired to three different settings – low, medium and high quality resolution. This applies to either the resolution of the Quran pages or the flash website, or both.

There are options to change the background of the site. There are quite a number of wallpapers to choose – from nature photos, Architectural motifs to mosques. The wallpapers are impressive and very beautiful should you choose the high quality resolution option.

There are also options to choose different versions of the scriptures. You can choose versions like the Urdu language, or the one with Tajweed (method of reading the Quran) help. Each of the versions are different in forms and decorations.

This website is perfect if you don’t have a Quran handy and would like to refer it quickly, or if you ar a non-muslim and would like to peek into the Muslim’s holy scripture, or you just want to admire the beautiful decorations that were put into the work of the Quran.

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