Mosques of the World – Debunking Misconceptions of Islamic Art

Masjids of the World

For this piece, I created a data visualization, to illustrate a central point of Islamic Architecture being defined by local cultural contexts to enrich the subjects of debate between various scholars and critics of Islamic art. In the visualization, I map the geographic locations of various Masjids, by no means comprehensive, but my goal was to take a rather diverse sampling from them (in terms of style and geography).

 

By displaying the geographic spread of mosques around the world, I put into conversation the viewpoints of scholars such as Nasr, Faruqi, and Necipoglu. Here I will focus on Faruqi’s rebuttal to architecture scholar K.A.C. Creswell in Misconceptions of the Nature of Islamic Art and how it actually supplements Nasr’s consideration of geopolitical context for considering Islam. Contrary to Creswell’s belief that there is only a “Muslim architecture”, Faruqi rebuts that Islamic architecture as a category does exist (Faruqi 33). Through this aggregation of mosque locations, I show Faruqi’s point that Islamic architecture is defined by its unity across believers despite the wide geographic spread of Islam. The architecture, while stylistically regional and diverse, is nonetheless a feature of spreading Islamic influence reinforced by its architecture. Even though Islamic architecture rose out of regional diffusion and mixing with local architecture styles, it should not be ruled out as its own class of architecture simply because of its borrowing from local cultural contexts.

 

Furthermore, below the map, I created a panel that displays mosque details when their location dots are clicked. By displaying the mosque visuals as well, I invite the viewer to judge and find the patterns between the various mosques themselves. Here are a few to start. Can you see historical patterns emerge in the architecture? Which mosques have minarets? What about the particularly shaped domes distinctive of Persian influence?

My mosque image sources for this project are from Frishmann and Khan’s The Mosque.

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