of Mosque Architecture
Since the 7th century, mosques have been built around the
globe. While there are many different types of mosque architecture, three basic
forms can be defined.
I. The Hypostyle Mosque
It makes sense that the first place of worship for muslims, the house of the
Prophet Muhammad, inspired the earliest type of mosque - the hypostyle
mosque. This type spread widely throughout Islamic lands.
* Diagram reconstruction of the Prophet's House, Medina, Saudi Arabia
The Great Mosque of Kairouan, Tunisia, is an archetypal example of the
hypostyle mosque. The mosque was built in the ninth century by Ziyadat Allah,
the third ruler of the Aghlabid dynasty, an offshoot of the Abbasid Empire. It
is a large, rectangular stone mosque with a hypostyle (supported by columns)
hall and a large inner sahn (courtyard).
* Prayer hall, Great Mosque of Kairouan (photo: Citizen59, CC BY-SA 3.0)
The three-tiered minaret is in a style known as the Syrian
bell-tower, and may have originally been based on the form of ancient Roman
lighthouses. The interior of the mosque features the forest of columns that has
come to define the hypostyle type.