Mosques have been a beacon of Muslim communities all around the world throughout the history of Islam. The unique architectural elements of every mosque usually reflects the culture and the tradition of the country it is in. Here we will introduction 5 different mosques that shows how Islam embraces all culture, and these important architecture is a testament to the diversity of the Ummah. Though we differ in culture, we are united in faith.
1. The Islamic Centre of Rijeka, Croatia
Built in 2013, the Rijeka Islamic Centre has become a landmark of Croatia’s busiest port. A spiritual rather than a formal Islamic expression had been intended, hence traditional decor was avoided. This showed the flexibility and willingness of the Islamic community to establish itself as part of a modern, cohesive community. The mosque consists of six domes and semi-domes in reinforced concrete.
The mosque’s captivating design - almost like an igloo - was the work of prominent Croatian sculptor Dušan Džamonja, who was famous for his abstract works of art. It is an entirely functional space for Muslims in the city to worship in, giving mosques a whole new image and showing that Islam can come in different structures - similar to how Islam transcends culture and ethnicity.
2. Cologne Central Mosque, Germany
In Cologne, Germany the Cologne Central Mosque is the largest mosque in the country. The mosque exhibits elements of an Ottoman architectural style with a concrete and glass dome with two minarets. On the upper floors of the building, there is a prayer space and a library. Gottfried Böhm and his son Paul Böhm, who specialized in building churches, were responsible for the mosque’s construction and design.
According to spokespersons, the mosque also has glass walls which allow visitors to feel an impression of openness. The secular areas of the mosque such as the restaurant, event spaces and shops, are open to persons of any faith.
The Arabic inscriptions on the ceiling are the names of the Prophets who are instrumental in Jewish, Islamic and Christian history. The openness of the mosque, as well as its cross-cultural elements serve as a good reminder in bridging gaps between different cultures, especially in a European country.
3. Kul Sharif Mosque, Russia
The construction of Kul Sharif Mosque started in 1996, and the architects and builders aimed to recreate the ancient mosque of the Kazan Khanate. During the storming of Kazan in 1552, the traditional mosque with many minarets was destroyed by troops. The building of the mosque is seen as a symbol of the revival of the cultural as well as spiritual heritage of the Tatar people, an ethnic Muslim minority in Russia.
The mosque interior widely uses wood engravings, leather patchwork, embroidery and other kinds of artistic decoration - continuing the rich culture of arts of the Tatar people.
4. Grand Mosque of West Sumatra, Padang Indonesia (Masjid Raya Sumatera Barat)
The Grand Mosque of West Sumatra is an incredible and striking infrastructure. The mosque uses a lot of local traditional architecture style, as opposed to common dome-shaped styles. Rizal Muslimin, the architect who designed the mosque, was inspired by three important symbols in the Minangkabau culture: the water spring, crescent moon and Rumah Gadang.
Accordingly, they all portray the history of Islam in Minangkabau and Islamic traditions. In addition, the overall shape of the building resembles the stretch of cloth used to carry the Hajar Aswad, the sacred stone in Mecca.
The beautiful mosque has attracted the attention of tourists worldwide, both Muslims or non-Muslims alike. It is a strong reflection of the Minangkabau culture, intertwined with the elements of Islam as well.
5. Niujie Mosque in Beijing, China
At first sight, you probably think you’re looking at a temple - but look closely and you’ll realise it is actually a mosque. The Niujie Mosque is an ancient mosque, thought to be among the oldest and most important mosques in China. It is the largest mosque in Beijing and is an important building for the Muslim community there.
The design style of both Arabic and Chinese architecture and traditions make the mosque a unique building. The blank white tiles and fixtures look Muslim, but the intricately and richly colored Chinese roofs and designs adds a Chinese look. Many fences and walls are painted bright red while dark green girders contrast sharply with bronze red pillars.
So there you have it - just 5 different mosques around the world, built in countries of varies cultures and serving as a bridging gap between the Muslim and non-Muslim community. These infrastructures prove that in Islam, there is a diverse Ummah from different ethnicities, each adopting different elements from their cultures and intertwining it with their faith.