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A historic perspective of the architecture of the Islamic world with special reference to Cairo

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A historic perspective of the architecture of the Islamic world with special reference to Cairo
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     A historic perspective of thearchitecture of the Islamicworld with special reference toCairo Taqui Abdin  Contents 1 Introduction 2Historic perspective2.1 History and evolution of architecture in the Islamic world2.1.2 Hierarchy of sacred space2.1.3 Mosque development2.1.4 Timeline of mosque development2.2 Fundamental elements in Islamic architecture2.3 The architecture of the mosque 3 Main factors unifyingarchitecture in the Islamic world3.1 Unity through belief 3.1.1 Symbolic gestures and references3.2 Diversity3.2.1 Diversity of materials3.2.2 Diversity of cultures3.2.3 Interaction of cultures 4Cairo4.1 Birth of a city4.2 Prominent examples of the architectural periods of Cairo4.3 Case study: the Mosque of Sultan Hassan in Cairo 5Conclusion 6 Bibliography T   Abdin   2010    1 Introduction It has often been stated that the architecture of the Islamic empire is a style of its own,however it has been contested that Islamic architecture has developed from anamalgam of different cultures, styles, customs/traditions, theological philosophy andgeographical influences. This last is in keeping with the Islamic view that all worldly creation is comprised of forms discernible through mathematical laws of equality symmetry and geometry, an interpretation that shaped architecture to create forms thatexpressed unity within diversity. On a micro scale the snowflake is formed as a result of several factors – wind intensity, air pressure, humidity, temperature and chemicalproperties – all of which dictate the final outcome of the form/shape of each snowflake(Figures 1, 2). "The beauty observed in a snow crystal depends as much ion its geometrical order as on its ability toreflect a higher and more profound order. It follows that all shapes, surfaces, and lines are arranged in conformity with the proportions inherent in nature and reflect ideal systems of beauty. Resting on an objective foundation, independent of man and his subjective tastes, a beauty is attained that is general,universal, and eternal. Order and proportion are viewed as cosmic laws whose processes man undertakes to comprehend through arithmetic, geometry and harmony  " (Ardalan and Bakhtiar,P21).   Figure 1 Snowflakes demonstratesymmetry and geometry in nature.Source: www.snowflalkes.comFigure 2 Islamic domes illustrating symmetryand geometry in building. Source: WalyT Abdin 2010 1   The approach through which Islamic architecture can be properly studied is via analysisof the unifying features and documentation of the differences, linking them to the typesof buildings that were designed to serve the same purposes in every part of the world(Figure 3). There are diverse types of buildings that depended on the local customs, however only the mosque expressed a unified symbol and satisfied unchangeable/unchanging needs. Figure 3 Diverse building types in Islamicarchitecture: interior of Alhambra Palacein Granada, entrance to a caravanserai,Turkey and exterior view of a mausoleumin Bukhara, Uzbekistan.T Abdin 2010 2   The main focus or this paper will be the mosque since the mosque is a product of religious needs and the purpose of the Islamic conquests was to spread the religion.In order to stay as objective and impartial as possible religious texts will not bementioned however religious interpretation of meanings, philosophy and spirituality may be discussed/analysed in an architectural sense. Arabs emerged from the Arabian Peninsula with an century long campaign of conquestfuelled by the spread of their theological ideals. At the end of this century the firstcentury of Islam the conquered Territories’ stretched to further than any preceding empire, Spain in the west and in the east it bordered China. This was achieved throughtheir military successes, and religious, political and mercantile acumen (Figure 4). Figure 4 Map of the Islamic world in the 7th century AD. Source: Rogers p29.  Although the Arabs were able to conquer so many countries in a short space of time,they did not initially have an effect on the architecture of the occupied nations. Sincethe main aim of the conquest was to introduce the new religion to the world, the initialinfluence of the Arabs was spiritual rather than material." The Golden Age of the Saracens was the twelve years AD 632 to 644, comprised in the reigns of  Abu-Bakr Al Sidiq and Omar Ibn Al Khatab . This was a period of uninterrupted internal harmony and external conquest  ." (Freeman, History of the Saracens, p126). This allowed the cultures of the newly conquered lands to influence Islamic art, e.g.Persian ceramics, Christian frescos, Greco-Roman columns, classical philosophy etc. The skills of the conquerors as traders and merchants may also have been a factor in T Abdin 2010 3
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