Islamic art refers to the art created by the Islamic people, in the regions occupied by them. Although one notices a few common trends and patterns, Islamic art is highly diverse since it has drawn much from regional artistic traditions, over the years. However, there are a few components that permeate most Islamic art – like calligraphy, elaborate tiling work, majestic domes and engraved vegetal and geometric patterns. These components decorate most of the mosques too, no matter where in the world they are located. These grandiose elements speak of wealth and a keen aesthetic taste, but at the same time, they also point towards supreme artistic skill and an overwhelming desire to please the Divine. These mosques, which serve as shining examples of human skill, ironically remind us as much of the greatness of man, as it does of the greatness of God. Here’s looking at some of the grandest, greatest mosques from around the world.
Al Haram Mosque – Mecca, Saudi Arabia
The sheer size of this mosque is enough to make you gasp in wonder. It is holds the esteemed tile of being the largest mosque in the world. The tales of its expansion are just as awe-inspiring. Successive caliphs and kings have invested huge sums of money to construct, expand and beautify this mosque. It is said that, at a time, this mosque can accommodate up to 4 million worshippers. The structure looks ethereal when lit up in the night.
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Blue Mosque – Istanbul, Turkey
This mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a veritable architectural masterpiece. Its six needle-like minarets stand as unmissable landmarks in the Turkish horizon and its five main domes and eight secondary domes are just as striking. The most famous aspect of this mosque however, is the gorgeous handmade and hand-painted blue Iznik tiles that decorate the inner space of the main prayer hall. The tiles are adorned with intricate designs of fruits, flowers and cypresses. 200 beautiful stained glass windows illuminate the interiors during the day and a majestic chandelier dispels light after sunset.
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Masjid Kristal – Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Moving away from marble walls and tiled, engraved domes, the Masjid Kristal gives traditional Islamic art a contemporary spin. This spiritual wonder officially opened in February 2008 and is made entirely of steel, glass and crystal. Along with flaunting these very modern elements, the mosque also displays Moorish and Gothic elements. The highlight of this mosque however is its tech savviness, with the mosque having built-in IT infrastructure and Wi-Fi access to read the e-Quran!
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Grande Mosque Hassan II – Casablanca, Morocco
This is a rather interesting mosque and another one that will amaze you with the way it makes use of technology. Possessing the tallest minaret in the world, the minaret is fixed with a laser that has its beam directed towards Mecca. The roof of the mosque is equally magical for it is a retractable one. Made of gorgeous emerald-green tiles, this roof, once retracted, transforms the prayer hall into a sun-bathed courtyard. Built mostly by Moroccan artisans, one gets to see fine examples of Moroccan art.
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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi, UAE
The mosque, named after the man who envisioned it, who also happens to be the first president of the United Arab Emirates, is a marble paradise. The mosque features 82 marble domes and is made up of 30 different types of marble, sourced from lands as far away as China and Italy. The 183,000 sq. ft. marble courtyard is inlaid with engraved flowers. The mosque is also famous for possessing the largest hand-knotted carpet, one that is supposed to be the largest in the world. The main prayer hall features 96 gleaming columns, all inlaid with mother-of-pearl and a gigantic chandelier made of Italian glass and decorated with Swarovski crystals.
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