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In Islam, a minaret (Arabic: &ldquobeacon&rdquo) is an element of Islamic religious architecture. It is the tower traditionally used by a muezzin, or crier to call the faithful to prayer five times each day. Minarets are always connected with a mosque, sometimes by an elevated passageway. At the time of the prophet Muhammad, the call to prayer was made from the highest roof in the vicinity of the mosque. The earliest minarets as such were former Greek watchtowers or the towers of Christian churches.
Today, calls to prayer are usually done in the prayer hall through a loudspeaker, and minarets serve mainly decorative purposes.
The oldest minaret in the world is in Kairouan, Tunisia. Built between 724 and 727, it has a massive square form.
The tallest minaret in the world is that of the new Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco, which stands 210 meters tall. Minarets were built to be &ldquolandmarks of Islam&rdquo &mdash to be visible from afar and to stamp an area with Islamic character.
The number of minarets per mosque varies, from one to as many as six. They are constructed in a wide variety of forms ranging from thick, squat spiral ramps to soaring, delicate, pencil-thin spires.
A minaret has one or more balconies, from which the muezzin announces the call to prayer, and a spiral staircase on the inside or outside. Often the minaret is square at the base, where it is attached to the mosque. Above this square base it may rise in a series of circular, hexagonal, or octagonal stages, each marked by a projecting balcony.
At the top is a bulbous dome, an open pavilion, or a metal-covered cone. The upper parts of the minaret are usually richly decorated with carving. The steps may be internal or external.
- - "minaret." Encyclopædia Britannica (2007). Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Al-Masjid al-Aqsa translates from Arabic into English as "the farthest mosque". The name refers to a chapter of the Quran called Al-Isrā' (Arabic: ٱلْإِسْـرَاء ), "The Night Journey"), in which it is said that Muhammad travelled from Mecca to "the farthest mosque", and then up to Heaven on a heavenly creature called al-Burāq ash-Sharīf (Arabic: ٱلْـبُـرَاق الـشَّـرِيْـف ).  
Although in its narrowest sense, the term "Al-Aqsa" refers to the silver-domed mosque on the southern side of the Temple Mount plaza, it has often been used to specify the entire area—including the mosque, along with the Dome of the Rock, the Gates of the Temple Mount, and the four minarets. Al-Masjid al-Aqsa refers not only to the mosque, but to the entire sacred sanctuary, while al-Jâmi' al-Aqṣá (Arabic: ٱلْـجَـامِـع الْأَقْـصّى ) refers to the specific site of the mosque. [note 1] During the period of Ottoman rule (c. early 16th century to 1917), the wider compound began to also be referred to as al-Ḥaram ash-Sharīf (Arabic: اَلْـحَـرَم الـشَّـرِيْـف , the Noble Sanctuary),  
Al-Aqsa Mosque is also referred to as Al-Qibli Mosque due to its housing the Al-Qibli Chapel (al-Jami' al-Aqsa or al-Qibli, or Masjid al-Jumah or al-Mughata).  
The mosque is located on the Temple Mount, referred to by Muslims today as the "Haram al-Sharif" ("Noble Sanctuary"), an enclosure expanded by King Herod the Great beginning in 20 BCE.  In Islamic tradition, the original sanctuary is believed to date to the time of Abraham. 
The mosque resides on an artificial platform that is supported by arches constructed by Herod's engineers to overcome the difficult topographic conditions resulting from the southward expansion of the enclosure into the Tyropoeon and Kidron valleys.  At the time of the Second Temple, the present site of the mosque was occupied by the Royal Stoa, a basilica running the southern wall of the enclosure.  The Royal Stoa was destroyed along with the Temple during the sacking of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE.
It was once thought that Emperor Justinian's "Nea Ekklesia of the Theotokos", or the New Church of the God-Bearer, dedicated to the God-bearing Virgin Mary, consecrated in 543 and commonly known as the Nea Church, was situated where al-Aqsa Mosque was later constructed. However, remains identified as those of the Nea Church were uncovered in the south part of the Jewish Quarter in 1973.  
Analysis of the wooden beams and panels removed from the mosque during renovations in the 1930s shows they are made from Lebanese cedar and cypress. Radiocarbon dating gave a large range of ages, some as old as 9th century BCE, showing that some of the wood had previously been used in older buildings.  However, reexamination of the same beams in the 2010s gave dates in the Byzantine period. 
During his excavations in the 1930s, Robert Hamilton uncovered portions of a multicolor mosaic floor with geometric patterns, but didn't publish them.  The date of the mosaic is disputed: Zachi Dvira considers that they are from the pre-Islamic Byzantine period, while Baruch, Reich and Sandhaus favor a much later Umayyad origin on account of their similarity to a known Umayyad mosaic. 
Construction by the Umayyads
The current construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque is dated to the early Umayyad period of rule in Palestine. Architectural historian K. A. C. Creswell, referring to a testimony by Arculf, a Gallic monk, during his pilgrimage to Palestine in 679–82, notes the possibility that the second caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate, Umar ibn al-Khattab, erected a primitive quadrangular building for a capacity of 3,000 worshipers somewhere on the Haram ash-Sharif. However, Arculf visited Palestine during the reign of Mu'awiyah I, and it is possible that Mu'awiyah ordered the construction, not Umar. This latter claim is explicitly supported by the early Muslim scholar al-Muthahhar bin Tahir. 
According to several Muslim scholars, including Mujir ad-Din, al-Suyuti, and al-Muqaddasi, the mosque was reconstructed and expanded by the caliph Abd al-Malik in 690 along with the Dome of the Rock.   Guy le Strange claims that Abd al-Malik used materials from the destroyed Church of Our Lady to build the mosque and points to possible evidence that substructures on the southeast corners of the mosque are remains of the church.  In planning his magnificent project on the Temple Mount, which in effect would turn the entire complex into the Haram al-Sharif ("the Noble Sanctuary"), Abd al-Malik wanted to replace the slipshod structure described by Arculf with a more sheltered structure enclosing the qibla ("direction"), a necessary element in his grand scheme. However, the entire Haram al-Sharif was meant to represent a mosque. How much he modified the aspect of the earlier building is unknown, but the length of the new building is indicated by the existence of traces of a bridge leading from the Umayyad palace just south of the western part of the complex. The bridge would have spanned the street running just outside the southern wall of the Haram al-Sharif to give direct access to the mosque. Direct access from palace to mosque was a well-known feature in the Umayyad period, as evidenced at various early sites. Abd al-Malik shifted the central axis of the mosque some 40 meters (130 ft) westward, in accord with his overall plan for the Haram al-Sharif. The earlier axis is represented in the structure by the niche still known as the "mihrab of 'Umar." In placing emphasis on the Dome of the Rock, Abd al-Malik had his architects align his new al-Aqsa Mosque according to the position of the Rock, thus shifting the main north–south axis of the Noble Sanctuary, a line running through the Dome of the Chain and the Mihrab of Umar. 
In contrast, Creswell, while referring to the Aphrodito Papyri, claims that Abd al-Malik's son, al-Walid I, reconstructed the Aqsa Mosque over a period of six months to a year, using workers from Damascus. Most scholars agree that the mosque's reconstruction was started by Abd al-Malik, but that al-Walid oversaw its completion. In 713–14, a series of earthquakes ravaged Jerusalem, destroying the eastern section of the mosque, which was subsequently rebuilt during al-Walid's rule. In order to finance its reconstruction, al-Walid had gold from the Dome of the Rock minted to use as money to purchase the material.  The Umayyad-built al-Aqsa Mosque most likely measured 112 x 39 meters. 
Earthquakes and reconstructions
In 746, the al-Aqsa Mosque was damaged in an earthquake, four years before as-Saffah overthrew the Umayyads and established the Abbasid Caliphate. The second Abbasid caliph Abu Ja'far al-Mansur declared his intent to repair the mosque in 753, and he had the gold and silver plaques that covered the gates of the mosque removed and turned into dinars and dirhams to finance the reconstruction which ended in 771. A second earthquake damaged most of al-Mansur's repairs, excluding those made in the southern portion in 774.   In 780, His successor Muhammad al-Mahdi had it rebuilt, but curtailed its length and increased its breadth.   Al-Mahdi's renovation is the first known to have written records describing it.  In 985, Jerusalem-born Arab geographer al-Muqaddasi recorded that the renovated mosque had "fifteen naves and fifteen gates". 
In 1033, there was another earthquake, severely damaging the mosque. The Fatimid caliph Ali az-Zahir rebuilt and completely renovated the mosque between 1034 and 1036. The number of naves was drastically reduced from 15 to seven.  Az-Zahir built the four arcades of the central hall and aisle, which presently serve as the foundation of the mosque. The central aisle was double the width of the other aisles and had a large gable roof upon which the dome—made of wood—was constructed.  Persian geographer, Nasir Khusraw describes the Aqsa Mosque during a visit in 1047:
The Haram Area (Noble Sanctuary) lies in the eastern part of the city and through the bazaar of this (quarter) you enter the Area by a great and beautiful gateway (Dargah). After passing this gateway, you have on the right two great colonnades (Riwaq), each of which has nine-and-twenty marble pillars, whose capitals and bases are of colored marbles, and the joints are set in lead. Above the pillars rise arches, that are constructed, of masonry, without mortar or cement, and each arch is constructed of no more than five or six blocks of stone. These colonnades lead down to near the Maqsurah (enclosure). 
Jerusalem was captured by the Crusaders in 1099, during the First Crusade. They named the mosque "Solomon's Temple", distinguishing it from the Dome of the Rock, which they named Templum Domini (Temple of God). While the Dome of the Rock was turned into a Christian church under the care of the Augustinians,  the al-Aqsa Mosque was used as a royal palace and also as a stable for horses. In 1119, it was transformed into the headquarters of the Templar Knights. During this period, the mosque underwent some structural changes, including the expansion of its northern porch, and the addition of an apse and a dividing wall. A new cloister and church were also built at the site, along with various other structures.  The Templars constructed vaulted western and eastern annexes to the building the western currently serves as the women's mosque and the eastern as the Islamic Museum. 
After the Ayyubids under the leadership of Saladin reconquered Jerusalem following the siege of 1187, several repairs and renovations were undertaken at al-Aqsa Mosque. In order to prepare the mosque for Friday prayers, within a week of his capture of Jerusalem Saladin had the toilets and grain stores installed by the Crusaders at al-Aqsa removed, the floors covered with precious carpets, and its interior scented with rosewater and incense.  Saladin's predecessor—the Zengid sultan Nur al-Din—had commissioned the construction of a new minbar or "pulpit" made of ivory and wood in 1168–69, but it was completed after his death Nur ad-Din's minbar was added to the mosque in November 1187 by Saladin.  The Ayyubid sultan of Damascus, al-Mu'azzam, built the northern porch of the mosque with three gates in 1218. In 1345, the Mamluks under al-Kamil Shaban added two naves and two gates to the mosque's eastern side. 
After the Ottomans assumed power in 1517, they did not undertake any major renovations or repairs to the mosque itself, but they did to the Noble Sanctuary as a whole. This included the building of the Fountain of Qasim Pasha (1527), the restoration of the Pool of Raranj, and the building of three free-standing domes—the most notable being the Dome of the Prophet built in 1538. All construction was ordered by the Ottoman governors of Jerusalem and not the sultans themselves.  The sultans did make additions to existing minarets, however.  In 1816, the mosque was restored by Governor Sulayman Pasha al-Adil after having been in a dilapidated state. 
An earthquake in 1927 and a small tremor in the summer of 1937 eventually brought down the roof of the Aqsa mosque, prompting the reconstruction of the upper part of the north wall of the mosque and the internal refacing of the whole the partial reconstruction of the jambs and lintels of the central doors the refacing of the front of five bays of the porch and the demolition of the vaulted buildings that formerly adjoined the east side of the mosque. 
The first renovation in the 20th century occurred in 1922, when the Supreme Muslim Council under Amin al-Husayni (the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem) commissioned Turkish architect Ahmet Kemalettin Bey to restore al-Aqsa Mosque and the monuments in its precincts. The council also commissioned British architects, Egyptian engineering experts and local officials to contribute to and oversee the repairs and additions which were carried out in 1924–25 by Kemalettin. The renovations included reinforcing the mosque's ancient Umayyad foundations, rectifying the interior columns, replacing the beams, erecting a scaffolding, conserving the arches and drum of the main dome's interior, rebuilding the southern wall, and replacing timber in the central nave with a slab of concrete. The renovations also revealed Fatimid-era mosaics and inscriptions on the interior arches that had been covered with plasterwork. The arches were decorated with gold and green-tinted gypsum and their timber tie beams were replaced with brass. A quarter of the stained glass windows also were carefully renewed so as to preserve their original Abbasid and Fatimid designs.  Severe damage was caused by the 1837 and 1927 earthquakes, but the mosque was repaired in 1938 and 1942. 
On 20 July 1951, King Abdullah I was shot three times by a Palestinian gunman as he entered the mosque, killing him. His grandson Prince Hussein, was at his side and was also hit, though a medal he was wearing on his chest deflected the bullet.
On 21 August 1969, a fire was started by a visitor from Australia named Denis Michael Rohan. Rohan was a member of an evangelical Christian sect known as the Worldwide Church of God.  He hoped that by burning down al-Aqsa Mosque he would hasten the Second Coming of Jesus, making way for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. Rohan was subsequently hospitalized in a mental institution.  In response to the incident, a summit of Islamic countries was held in Rabat that same year, hosted by Faisal of Saudi Arabia, the then king of Saudi Arabia. The al-Aqsa fire is regarded as one of the catalysts for the formation of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) in 1972. 
In the 1980s, Ben Shoshan and Yehuda Etzion, both members of the Gush Emunim Underground, plotted to blow up the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Etzion believed that blowing up the two mosques would cause a spiritual awakening in Israel, and would solve all the problems of the Jewish people. They also hoped the Third Temple of Jerusalem would be built on the location of the mosque.   On 15 January 1988, during the First Intifada, Israeli troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters outside the mosque, wounding 40 worshipers.   On 8 October 1990, 22 Palestinians were killed and over 100 others injured by Israeli Border Police during protests that were triggered by the announcement of the Temple Mount Faithful, a group of religious Jews, that they were going to lay the cornerstone of the Third Temple.  
On 28 September 2000, then-opposition leader of Israel Ariel Sharon and members of the Likud Party, along with 1,000 armed guards, visited the al-Aqsa compound a large group of Palestinians went to protest the visit. After Sharon and the Likud Party members left, a demonstration erupted and Palestinians on the grounds of the Haram al-Sharif began throwing stones and other projectiles at Israeli riot police. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd, injuring 24 people. The visit sparked a five-year uprising by the Palestinians, commonly referred to as the al-Aqsa Intifada, though some commentators, citing subsequent speeches by PA officials, particularly Imad Falouji and Arafat himself, claim that the Intifada had been planned months in advance, as early as July upon Yasser Arafat's return from Camp David talks.    On 29 September, the Israeli government deployed 2,000 riot police to the mosque. When a group of Palestinians left the mosque after Friday prayers (Jumu'ah,) they hurled stones at the police. The police then stormed the mosque compound, firing both live ammunition and rubber bullets at the group of Palestinians, killing four and wounding about 200. 
On 5 November 2014, Israeli police entered Al-Aqsa for the first time since capturing Jerusalem in 1967, said Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, director of the Islamic Waqf. Previous media reports of 'storming Al-Aqsa' referred to the Haram al-Sharif compound rather than the Al-Aqsa mosque itself. 
The rectangular al-Aqsa Mosque and its precincts cover 14.4 hectares (36 acres), although the mosque itself is about 12 acres (5 ha) in area and can hold up to 5,000 worshippers.  It is 83 m (272 ft) long, 56 m (184 ft) wide.  Unlike the Dome of the Rock, which reflects classical Byzantine architecture, the Al-Aqsa Mosque is characteristic of early Islamic architecture. 
Nothing remains of the original dome built by Abd al-Malik. The present-day dome was built by az-Zahir and consists of wood plated with lead enamelwork.  In 1969, the dome was reconstructed in concrete and covered with anodized aluminium, instead of the original ribbed lead enamel work sheeting. In 1983, the aluminium outer covering was replaced with lead to match the original design by az-Zahir. 
Beneath the dome is the Al-Qibli Chapel (Arabic: المصلى القبلي al-Musalla al-Qibli) also known as al-Jami' al-Qibli Arabic: الجامع القِبْلي , a Muslim prayer hall, located in the southern part of the mosque.  It was built by the Rashidun caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab in 637 CE.
Al-Aqsa's dome is one of the few domes to be built in front of the mihrab during the Umayyad and Abbasid periods, the others being the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus (715) and the Great Mosque of Sousse (850).  The interior of the dome is painted with 14th-century-era decorations. During the 1969 burning, the paintings were assumed to be irreparably lost, but were completely reconstructed using the trateggio technique, a method that uses fine vertical lines to distinguish reconstructed areas from original ones. 
Facade and porch
The facade of the mosque was built in 1065 CE on the instructions of the Fatimid caliph al-Mustansir Billah. It was crowned with a balustrade consisting of arcades and small columns. The Crusaders damaged the facade, but it was restored and renovated by the Ayyubids. One addition was the covering of the facade with tiles.  The second-hand material of the facade's arches includes sculpted, ornamental material taken from Crusader structures in Jerusalem.  The facade consists of fourteen stone arches,  [ dubious – discuss ] most of which are of a Romanesque style. The outer arches added by the Mamluks follow the same general design. The entrance to the mosque is through the facade's central arch. 
The porch is located at the top of [ dubious – discuss ] the facade. The central bays of the porch were built by the Knights Templar during the First Crusade, [ dubious – discuss ] but Saladin's nephew al-Mu'azzam Isa ordered the construction of the porch itself in 1217.  [ dubious – discuss ]
The al-Aqsa Mosque has seven aisles of hypostyle naves with several additional small halls to the west and east of the southern section of the building.  There are 121 stained glass windows in the mosque from the Abbasid and Fatimid eras. About a fourth of them were restored in 1924.  The mosaic decoration and the inscription (two lines just above the decoration near the roof as visible in the photos placed in the gallery here) on the spandrels of arche facing main entrance near main dome area which date back to Fatimid period were revealed from behind plaster work of a later date that covered them.  Name of Fatimid Imam is clearly visible in end part of the first line of inscription and continued in second line.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one the world’s largest mosques and a massive architectural work of art that intentionally blends different Islamic architectural schools. It features 82 domes, more than 1,000 columns, 24-carat-gold gilded chandeliers and the world's largest hand-knotted carpet. The main prayer hall is dominated by one of the world’s largest chandeliers.
The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan built this mosque to convey historic consequence and to embody the Islamic message of peace, tolerance and diversity. He intended that the Grand Mosque be a living reference of modern Islamic architecture that links the past with the present and creates a place of Islamic science and learning that would reflect genuine Islamic values.
Key Architectural Elements
The predominantly wool, single-piece carpet is 5,700 square meters and was hand-crafted by approximately 1,200 artisans. The total project took two years, including eight months for the design and 12 months for the knotting.
The mosque features seven crystal chandeliers by Faustig of Munich, Germany. The largest is 10 metres across, 15 metres tall and weighs 12 tonnes. There are two smaller versions of the same design, also located in the main prayer hall. These weight 8 tons each.
Four blue-coloured chandeliers of similar design and size are located in the foyer entrances surrounding the mosque. The largest weights about 2 tons and is located in the main foyer entrance.
History of Bukhara
Bukhara is an oasis city, the largest settlement, located right in the middle of the desert. Once located on the Great Silk Road, Bukhara is one of the oldest cities – its history exceeds 2500 years.
Bukhara embodied the centuries-old history of the ancient traditions with Islam. This is the city with an incredible atmosphere of wisdom, sacredness and teaching. Once you are in this city, it seems you are in a different world, on another planet. Incredible mixes of cultural, religious, ethnic civilizations have made Bukhara a city of indelible impressions.
On the territory of the Bukhara region lived Zoroastrians, Christians, Jews, and Buddhists. At the end of the 9th century, Bukhara became one of the most significant Islamic and cultural centres in Central Asia. For several centuries, travelers, pilgrims, preachers, researchers have come here. Bukhara is a storehouse of scientific, religious and philosophical knowledge.
Religious figures and progressive people of their time lived and studied here: Alisher Navoi, Abu Ali ibn Sino (Avicenna), Al-Bukhari and many others became the real property of the republic. They were prominent adherents of the spiritual and philosophical teachings of Sufism. The memory of them has been preserved on this land. They created incredible monuments, tangible and intangible, made discoveries, built unimaginably beautiful madrassas and mosques.
Narshakhi in the “History of Bukhara” made the first historical notes in the X century. In his work, he described the ancient fortress called “Ark”, which has survived to this day. Like Samarkand, Bukhara for many centuries passed from one conqueror to another. Every resident of Bukhara remembers and knows his rulers perfectly.
After the capture by Alexander the Great, the Greco-Bactrian state was formed here. Then such states as Kushan, Hephthalites Empire, the Turkic Khaganate, and the Arab Caliphate, the states of the Samanids, Karakhanids, the Kara Khitais, and the Khorezmshahs were formed here.
In the XIII century, the Mongol invasion occurred. The legend says that having conquered Bukhara, Genghis Khan rode up to its main minaret, Poi-Kalyan, to have a look at the tower. He raised his head and a battle helmet rolled off his head. The conqueror leaned over it, and then grinned: “I conquered Bukhara, but bowed before its minaret,” and ordered not to destroy the minaret.
During the reign of Temur and the Temurids, Bukhara prospered. In this era, the city became a paradise garden. Now it is Sacred Bukhara or Bukhara Sharif.
From the XVI to the beginning of the XX centuries, Bukhara was the capital of the Bukhara Khanate. Such famous dynasties as Sheibanids and Ashtarkhanids ruled here. At this time, the city reached its maximum development. Scientific knowledge and cultural life developed here. The city has acquired its modern look. Large architectural ensembles and complexes were built here. And we can still admire them.
What is the oldest minaret?
The oldest minaret that is still standing is the one you see here from the Great Mosque at Kairouan, in North Africa, which was built during the 700s AD. Another early minaret is the one from the Great Mosque at Samarra, which was built in the 800s AD.
The mosque at Kairouan The Abbasid Empire Early medieval timeline
It’s possible that the architectural inspiration for the earliest minarets came from Buddhist pagodas in China, which were first built in wood about 200 AD (themselves modelled on Han Dynasty watchtowers), and then began to be built in stone around 500 AD.
When the Almovarids ruled North Africa and Spain, they disapproved of minarets, and so people built mosques without minarets in those areas during the 1000s AD. But when the Almohads conquered the Almovarids, they built a lot of minarets to show that they had won.
Madrasah of Khalif Niyaz-kul
Char Minor (the Madrasah of Khalif Niyaz-kul) is a building tucked away in a lane northeast of the Lyabi Hauz complex. The structure was built by Khalif Niyaz-kul, a wealthy Bukharan of Turkmen origin in the 19th century under the rule of the Janid dynasty. The four-towered structure is sometimes mistaken for a gate to the madras that once existed behind the structure however, the Char-Minar is actually a complex of buildings with two functions, ritual and shelter.
The main edifice is a mosque. In spite of its unusual outward shape, the building has a typical interior for a Central Asian mosque. Owing to the buildings cupola, the room has good acoustic properties and therefore takes on special significance of ‘dhikr-hana’—a place for ritualized ‘dhikr’ ceremonies of Sufi, the liturgy of which often include recitation, singing, and instrumental music.
On either side of the central edifice are located dwelling rooms, some of which have collapsed, leaving only their foundations visible. Consequently, for full functioning of madrasah only of classroom and some utility rooms is lacking. However, it was common practice that so-called madrasahs had no lecture rooms or, even if they had, no lectures had been given in them. These madrasahs were employed as student hospices.
Each of four towers have different decorational motifs. Some say that elements of decoration reflect the four religions known to Central Asians. One can find elements reminiscent of a cross, a Christian fish motif, and a Buddhist praying-wheel, in addition to Zoroastrian and Islamic motifs.
On the esplanade to the right from Char-Minar is a pool, likely of the same age as the rest of the building complex. Char Minar is now surrounded mainly by small houses and shops along its perimeter
Uzbekistan, Bukhara, Spices and silk festival
Preservation of Historic Mosques: Building and Context
A masterpiece of Moorish architecture in the historic quarter of Fez, Morocco, the Al-Qaraouiyine Mosque was rehabilitated 2004–2007 by a team lead by architect Mohammed Fikri Benabdallah. Photo © saiko3p.
Historic mosques pose unique challenges for restoration and preservation. While it is important to preserve the building fabric itself, it is equally important to respect the historic evolution of mosque forms over time, and to consider the role of social and urban context.
By: Nihad Alamiri – Marketing Manager. May 2017
For much of the history of Islam, renovations of mosques reflected evolving needs, with less attention to the potential value of conserving older layers. Most historically significant mosques have witnessed multiple transformations over the centuries, with each addition or renovation typically carried out in the style of the given period. Restoring a mosque therefore requires elaborate documentation of all the layers of history embedded in its architecture, some of which are manifest, others of which may have been lost from view.
Further complicating the matter is the fact that, as noted in our previous post, many historic mosques evolved to accommodate various types of use — including educational, civic, ceremonial, celebratory, and social activities — in addition to their primary role as a place for prayer. One such example is the Al-Qaraouiyine Mosque in the historic quarter of Fez, Morocco, part of an active university and UNESCO World Heritage site that has developed over the course of a millennium. The mosque itself was carefully rehabilitated 2004-2007 by a team led by architect Mohammed Fikri Benabdallah, earning a place on the shortlist for the Aga Khan Award, which praised the effort “not only to preserve the historic fabric of the mosque but also to revive its cultural and social role in the life of the citizens of Fez and to enhance its use as a place of worship and a place of learning.”
This holistic approach to restoration improves upon early mosque restoration efforts in the Middle East, which tended to treat the mosque as an architectural object, separate from its historic context. The result was that modern streets and avenues were introduced immediately adjacent historic structures, obscuring the organic relationship between the mosque and the surrounding urban fabric. Today, however, as architectural heritage practices continue to evolve, there is a heightened sensitivity to conservation and the need to respect all historic periods.
Additional recent examples of successful mosque restoration and preservation work can be seen in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where five monumental mosques have been restored since 1999, in the wake of the war. According to the Islamic cultural research organization IRCICA, the restoration of these mosques “is closely connected with the historical, cultural and social environments attached to each site and structure.”
As these examples show, the value of mosque restoration and preservation efforts lies not only in the material and spatial aspect of the prayer hall, but also in their continuing vitality as community gathering places, hosting a multitude of functions. This combination is what allowed these mosques for many centuries to serve as civic centers for a busy urban milieu. Fortunately, states have begun to establish conservation programs not only for mosques, but also for the historic neighborhoods around them, and for the revitalization of traditional crafts needed to maintain the building materials and ornamental details.
A mosque without a living connection to its community is only an artifact. What makes a mosque such an important and dynamic space is that it brings all the complexity of its production, use, and maintenance into a living space.
In a future post in this series, we will review several architectural strategies for designing new mosques today.
Since 1904, Noritake has been bringing beauty and quality to dining tables around the world. Superior artistry and craftsmanship, attention to detail and uncompromising commitment to quality have made Noritake an international trademark during this past century.
The Noritake of today grew out of a trading company that was originally established by the Morimura Brothers in New York in 1876. This trading company imported chinaware, curios, paper lanterns and other gift items. In 1904, the forerunner of the Noritake Company was established in the village of Noritake, a small suburb near Nagoya, Japan. The goal of this first factory was to create western style dinnerware for export. It took until 1914, however, to create the first porcelain dinnerware plate that was suitable for export.
The earliest dinnerware plates were mostly hand-painted, often with liberal applications of gold. By the early 1920's, Noritake introduced assembly line techniques which allowed for mass production of high quality, yet affordable dinnerware. In the ensuing decades, Noritake continued to perfect its production capabilities and expand to markets world-wide.
Today, Noritake is an acknowledged leader in tableware manufacturing and marketing with subsidiaries, factories and affiliates around the world. Our products are sold to customers in over 100 countries and are used in hotels, restaurants and airlines throughout the world. Join us in continuing the Noritake tradition. distinctive designs, innovative technology and superior product quality.