Vol. 2    Issue 7   01-15 August 2007
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IOS Minaret Vol-1, No.1 (March 2007)
Bill Gate
Single Parent Family

Mihrab of the mosque of Sokullu Mehmed Pasha in Turkey, built by the celebrated architect Sinan in 1571. Sinan (1491-1588) was a central figure in 16th century Ottoman architecture. He was elevated as Chief Architect of the Ottoman Empire and was responsible for the construction of over a hundred mosques, madrasas, caravanserais and hospitals.  See full-size image

The space surrounding the mihrab (which is built in white marble) is covered with blue Iznik ceramic tiles on which floral decorations and beautiful Quranic calligraphy are engraved.

Muslim scientists and astronomers devised sophisticated observational and computational instruments such as astrolabes, quadrants and armillaries of various types. The astrolabe (shown above), though of Greek origin, was perfected by Muslim scientists and astronomers. The astrolabe was used to ascertain the hour of prayer, to determine the direction of the qibla and to measure altitude. The astrolabe was used for measurement as well as computation. The computational tables in the development of the astrolabe were based on the extensive use of trigonometry and projection geometry. The use of the astrolabe for nautical observations continued in Europe until the 17th century.  See full-size image

A significant feature of the pervasive and enduring impact of Islamic civilization on other cultures is the influence of Arabic on other languages. This influence is particularly reflected in vocabulary and script. More than a hundred languages in different parts of the world adopted the Arabic script. In India, for example, Muslim communities who spoke Tamil and Malayalam adopted the Arabic script for these languages.

The above photograph shows the translation of some verses of the Holy Quran in Aljamiada. Aljamiada—derived from the Arabic word Al-Ajamiya, meaning a foreign language—refers to Spanish written in the Arabic script. Aljamiada was developed by the Mudejar, a group of Muslims who had remained in Spain after the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula.  
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Remains of a large madrasa at Bidar in Karnataka (India), established by Mahmud Gawan, the prime minister of king Muhammad Shah III (ruled 1463-1482). Gawan was a great patron of scholars, poets and men of letters and was himself an accomplished writer. The madrasa measured 205 feet in length and 180 feet in width. A mosque was built in the spacious courtyard of the madrasa. A splendid library was attached to the madrasa. The madrasa had residential quarters for teachers and students. The expenses of the madrasa were met from large endowments set up by Mahmud Gawan.  See full-size image

This photograph was taken by the renowned Islamic scholar, Dr Muhammad Hamidullah.

The craft of carpet weaving was perfected by Muslim craftsmen in Turkey, Persia and India. This splendid carpet was crafted in Kashan (Iran) in the 16th century. It is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The massive carpet is made of more than thirty million minute knots. The intricacy of floral and geometric designs is incredibly superb.

In the Middle Ages, Europe was greatly fascinated by carpets made in Muslim lands. European craftsmen learned the craft of carpet weaving from Muslim craftsmen. Even today machine-made carpets in Europe exhibit Oriental designs and motifs.  See full-size image

One of the most magnificent architectural monuments of Islamic Spain is the Alhambra palace complex in Granada, which has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. The construction of the complex began in 1248 during the reign of Muhammad ibn Yusuf alias Ahmar. The Alhambra complex is located on a plateau and spread over a large area which measures 2430 feet in length and 674 in width. The complex is surrounded on all four sides by verdant woods and flowering plants. It is enclosed by a strongly fortified wall, which is flanked by 13 towers. The entire structure has been constructed with bricks of fine gravel and clay and richly carved wood. The gardens are filled with the sound of running water from several fountains and cascades. Spanish poets described Alhambra as “a pearl set in emeralds.”  See full-size image

The photograph above shows the Court of the Lions at Alhambra.

Large bronze basin designed to serve water to devotees visiting the shrine of the Sufi saint Ahmad Yasavi in Central Asia. It was executed by the orders of Timur in 1399. Beautiful calligraphy in Thuluth and Kufi styles adorns the top and middle parts of the basin.  See full-size image

The famed Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. Built by the legendary Turkish architect Sinan in 1550-57, the mosque represents the zenith of Ottoman architecture. Its huge dome, which dominates the Golden Horn, is supported on four square piers. It has four minarets, two flanking the entrance and two at the fore-court.  See full-size image

Mosque of Bab Mardum at Toledo, Spain, built in the 10th century. Toledo was the centre of Islamic learning in Spain. The schools of Toledo attracted students and scholars from all over the world.

Interlaced and horseshoe arches of the mosque reflect the distinctive architectural style of Muslim Spain. The mosque was later converted into a church.  See full-size image

Gur-i-Amir, the tomb of Timur in Samarqand (Uzbekistan). The architecture of the tomb exhibits a remarkable combination of geometric patterns and stylized Kufi calligraphy executed on glazed tiles.  See full-size image

Social Justice in Islam
The Challenges of Globalization and the Muslim World
Inter-Cultural Dialogue in a Globalizing World
Inter-Cultural Dialogue in a Globalizing World
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