Paramount to understanding the architecture of The Badshahi Mosque or the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one need consider the basic structure in which all mosques are developed. It remains true that any one particular mosque is a direct reflection of the time period in which they were erected; however, there are many fundamental necessities to consider during the construction of such a vast structure. The most fundamental of these remains the Sahn, or courtyard. The courtyard need be large enough to hold the entire male population of whichever particular city, or town, that the mosque is being used. Within this courtyard is most often the locality of some sort of water supply, as water is a hailed respite in hot lands, and often used for ritual cleansings during prayer.
Another essential element of architecture for a mosque remains in the mihrab. “The mihrab is a niche in the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca, towards which Muslims pray” (Khan, 2016). Thirdly, a Minaret (or tower) is essential in the construction of a mosque. The tower is simply the most visible aspect of any mosque from which “the call to prayer is announced” (Khan, 2016). A qubba (or dome) is also indispensable in the construction of a mosque, wherein the domes are features with symbolism similar to “the vault of heaven” (Khan, 2016). It is important to note that the significance of creating and erecting a mosque is exponential, particularly for the architect behind the design and even more-so in designing one of the most popular mosques around the globe such as that of the Badshahi Mosque. The designing of a mosque is considered an “architectural patronage” (Islamicarts.org, 2013) in all cultures and certainly helps in ascertaining one’s popularity.
The Badshahi Mosque
The Badshahi Mosque is a major tourist attraction in Lahore and one of the utmost famed landmarks. The design of this mosque was inspired by “Islamic, Persian, Central Asian and Indian influences” (Islamicarts.org, 2013). In order to best understand the architectural design for the Badshahi Mosque one need expose the design and materials in which the structure was constructed. The steps leading to the Main Prayer Hall, as well as the Main Prayer Hall floor, are adorned with multi-colored marble. The Main Prayer Hall itself is rendered into seven sections by means of gorgeously multi-foiled arches. Of these arches, three convey double domes that are miraculously finished in white marble while the remaining four sections are flat roofed domes. The visual beauty of such a structure is unsurmountable, but the materials in which the structure was built also allow for harmonious tones to be beautifully distributed throughout the entire hall and surrounding area. Marble is a hard, non-porous material in which sound reverberates better than material like that of wood (Elert, 2016).
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
An interesting architectural characteristic about the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque remains in the locality; this particular mosque’s geographical location is a “symbolic expression of the emotional connection the mosque maintains in the hearts of all UAE citizens” (Al-Awwal, 2016). This remains in particular to the burial plot of the first President of the UAE. Every architectural attribute of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was carefully considered. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a combination of Mamluk, Ottoman, and Fatimid styles; beautifully interweaving the “wide and diverse Islamic world” (Al-Awwal, 2016). Like the design of the Badshahi Mosque, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is exceedingly adorned in multi-colored marble. The Marble within the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque adorns natural colors. Inside this particular mosque are also crowned columns; interesting to note that the crowns are not at the typical location, the top, but rather located at the bottom of each. “This extraordinary technique is innovative to Islamic architecture” (Al-Awwal, 2016).
As stipulated previously it is best to understand the basic necessities of architectural design surrounding mosques in general, wherein on may better understand the designs and layout per design. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque adorns all fundamental aspects of a mosque, where some “41,000 worshippers may be accommodated within the mosque” and the Main Prayer Hall can accommodate 7,126 persons (Abu Dhabi Government, 2016). The main dome located within the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque remains the largest dome in the world. It is also interesting to note that the carpet throughout is also the largest in the world. This extravagant carpet is colored with 25 natural colors; green being the most predominant as it was the late Presidents favorite color (Abu Dhabi Government, 2016).
- Abu Dhabi Government. (2016). Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Retrieved from https://www.abudhabi.ae/portal/public/en/citizens/culture_and_recreation/cultural_and_historical_sites/gen_info20?docName=ADEGP_DF_104596_EN&_adf.ctrl-state=o12ky8wy6_4&_afrLoop=16272071679567429#!
- Al-Awwal, R. (2016, December 29). General Architecture – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center. Retrieved from http://www.szgmc.ae/en/general-architecture
- Elert, G. (2016). The Nature of Sound – The Physics Hypertextbook. Retrieved from http://physics.info/sound/
- Islamicarts.org Team. (2013, May 30). Badshahi Masjid Lahore. Retrieved from http://islamic-arts.org/2013/badshahi-masjid-lahore/
- Khan, S. (2016). Introduction to mosque architecture |Khan Academy. Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-islam/beginners-guide-islamic/a/introduction-to-mosque-architecture