4.614 | Fall 2002 | Undergraduate

Religious Architecture and Islamic Cultures


Note: For the full reading list, please see the readings section.

Part I: The Formative Period

SES # Topics Required Readings

  • Religious Architecture: Visual Impressions and Intellectual Contours.


  • Simple Origins and Influences of pre-Islamic Traditions.

Hourani, “The Making of a World,” 1-21.

  • The Life and Message of the Prophet.
  • The Mosque of the Prophet in Medina and other Early Mosques.

Ibn Batuta, Travels, vol. 1, chapter 3, pp. 163-75; chapter 4, pp. 188-208.

Allan and Creswell, Early Muslim Architecture, 3-10, 15-17.

Hoag, Introduction and Chapter 1: The Beginning of Islamic Architecture.

Ettinghausen and Grabar, The Art and Architecture of Islam, 17-25.


  • Rituals of Worship: The Vocabulary of Religious Architecture.

Dickie, “Allah and Eternity: Mosques, Madrasas, and Tombs,” in G. Michell, Architecture of the Islamic World, 65-79.

Prochazka, Mosques, 16-25. (pay attention to diagrams).

Hourani, “Ways of Islam,” 147-52;“The Articulation of Islam,” 59-79.

Part II: The Classical Period

SES # Topics Required Readings

  • The conquests and the adaptation of ancient motifs as assertive elements of a new faith.
  • The First Islamic monument: the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
  • Competing ideologies, myths, and world views.

Jeffery, “The Story of the Night Journey and the Ascencion,” 621-39.

Hourani, “The Formation of an Empire,” 22-37.

Ettinghausen and Grabar, 26-34.

Grabar, Formation, 45-67.

Allan and Creswell, 19-40.


  • First Caliphal Expressions: Umayyad Mosques (715-50).
  • Islamization of the Empire and Arabization of the State.

Ettinghausen and Grabar, 35-45.

Allan and Creswell, 43-88.

Hoag, Chapter 2. Umayyad architecture.

Grabar, Formation, 104-38, “Islamic Religious Art: The Mosque.”


  • The Splendors of the Abbasids at Baghdad and Samarra.
  • An Islamic Architectural Language: Monumentalizing the Hypostyle Type.

Ettinghausen and Grabar, 75-92.

Allan and Creswell, 359-76.

Hoag, Chapter 3.


  • Religious Monuments of the West: Ifriqiya and Spain.
  • Imperial versus Provincial Expressions of Power.

Ettinghausen and Grabar, 92-105, 127-40.

Allan and Creswell, 291-330, 391-406.

Hoag, Chapters 4 and 5.

Dodds, “The Great Mosque of Cordoba,” Al-Andalus, 11-25.


  • Fatimid Cairo: New Traditions and Old Forms.
  • Muqarnas: Decorative Purposes and Symbolic Meanings.

Wheeler Thackston, (trans.), Naser-e Khosraw’s book of travels (Safarnama). Behrens-Abouseif, Islamic Architecture of Cairo, 58-67.

Ettinghausen and Grabar, 167-86.

Hoag, Chapter 8.


  • Iran and Central Asia: Developments on the Eastern Frontier.
  • The Survival and Revival of pre-Islamic Modes of Construction and Expression.
  • The Introduction of the Mausoleum.

Allan and Creswell, 264-69, 345-51.

Ettinghausen and Grabar, 209-22.

Hoag, Chapter 10: The Early Islamic Architecture of Persia.

Kuban, Muslim Religious Architecture, 2: 27-33.

Part III: The Medieval Period

SES # Topics Required Readings

  • The Achitecture of the Great Seljuqs: The Four-Iwan Plan, Fom Palatial to Religious.

Hoag, Chapter 11: The Seljuks.

Ettinghausen and Grabar, 253-84.

Mohammad al-Asad, “Applications of Geometry,” in Frishman and Khan, The mosque, 55-75.


  • The Architecture of the Sunni Revival: Eastern Influences and Western Traditions.
  • The Introduction and Spread of the Madrasa and the Khanqah.

Hourani, “Ways of Islam,” 147-57, and “The Culture of the ‘Ulama,” 158-66.

Jeffery, A reader on Islam: “Sufism,” 640-66.

Hoag, Chapter 12: The Classic Islamic Architecture of Syria and Iraq.

Ettinghausen and Grabar, 294-97, 303-13.

Rogers, The Spread of Islam, 82-100.


  • Crusades and Counter Crusades.
  • The Articulation of the Idea of Jihad.
  • Ayyubid and Early Mamluk Religious Architecture.

Behrens-Abouseif, Islamic Architecture of Cairo, 85-110.

Blair and Bloom, 70-84.

Ibn Batuta, Travels, vol. 1, chapter 1, pp. 41-60 (Cairo).


  • The Mongol Invasions and Consequent Islamization.
  • The Mosques, Madrasas, and Mausolea of the Ilkhanids.

Hoag, Chapter 14: Ilkhanids and Timurids.

Rogers, The Spread of Islam, “Shrines and Mausolea,” 119-36.

Blair and Bloom, 5-15.


  • Religious Architecture of India under the Sultanates.

Ibn Batuta, Travels, vol. 3, chapter 11, pp. 619-28.

Hoag, Chapter 15: The Classical Islamic Architecture of India.

Ettinghausen and Grabar, 291-93.

Blair and Bloom, 149-60.

Hasan, “The Indian Subcontinent,” in Frishman and Khan, The mosque, 159-79.


  • Cairo: The Capital of Islam.
  • Mamluk Religious Architecture.

Behrens-Abouseif, Islamic Architecture of Cairo, 122-57.

Hoag, Chapter 9: The Later Classic Islamic Architecture of Egypt.

Blair and Bloom, 70-93.


  • Discussion: The Political and Social Roles of Religious Architecture.

Hourani, “Cities and Their Rulers,” 130-46.

Grabar, “The Architecture of the Middle Eastern City from Past to Present: The Case of the Mosque,” in Ira Lapidus, Middle Eastern Cities: A Symposium. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969): 26-46.

Ibn Khaldun, Kitab al-ibar. The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History. Chapter 4 of the abridgment: “Countries and Cities,” 263-95.

Part IV: The Age of the Gunpowder Empires

SES # Topics Required Readings

  • Timurid and Uzbek Architecture: A Tradition of Monumentality.

Thackston (trans.), A Century of Princes: Sources on Timurid History and Art, 63-100: Sharafuddin Ali Yazdi Zafarnama.

Hoag, Chapter 14: The Later Classic Islamic Architecture of Persia: Timurids.

Golombek and Wilber, The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan, 34-52.

Blair and Bloom, 37-50 and 199-207.


  • Anatolia: The Islamization of the Northern Frontiers.
  • From the Rum Seljuks to the Early Ottomans.

Hoag, Chapter 13: The Classic Islamic Architecture of Anatolia.

Ettinghausen and Grabar, 297-303, 313-27.

Blair and Bloom, 132-46.

Necipoglu, “Anatolia and the Ottoman Legacy,” in Frishman and Khan, The mosque, 141-53. Also check, Vogt, Mosquées: Grand Courants de l’architecture Islamique. 151-212, for her typological and formal comparisons.


  • Imperial Ottoman Mosques and Kulliyes.

Necipoglu, “The Suleymaniye Complex in Istanbul: An Interpretation,” Muqarnas, 3 (1985): 92-115.

Hoag, Chapter 16: The Architecture of the Ottoman Empire.

Blair and Bloom, 213-30.

Necipoglu, “Anatolia and the Ottoman Legacy,” in Frishman and Khan, The mosque, 153-57.


  • Discussion: Religion and the City.
  • Short film, The Islamic City.

Hourani, “The Life of Cities,” 109-29.

Grabar, The Great Mosque of Isfahan, 7-20.

Kostof, A History of Architecture, 453-68.


  • Imperial Safavid Mosques and Madrasas of Isfahan.
  • Short film, Isfahan.

Hoag, Chapter 17: The Architecture of the Safavid Empire.

Blair and Bloom, 183-92.


  • Mosques and Mausolea of the Great Mughals of India.

Hoag, Chapter 18: The Architecture of the Moghul Empire.

Lowry, “Humayun’s Tomb: Form, Function and Meaning in Early Mughal Architecture,” Muqarnas, 4 (1987): 133-48.

Blair and Bloom, 267-86.

Part V: The Modern Period

SES # Topics Required Readings

  • Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Mosques in Major Capitals.

Hourani, “The Age of European Empires,” 263-78.

Mohammad al-Asad, “The Mosque of al-Rifa’i in Cairo,” Muqarnas 10 (1993): 108-24.

Goodwin, A History of Ottoman Architecture. Chapter 10.


  • Historicism in Contemporary Religious Architecture: The Building of Mosques in the West.

Grabar, “The Mosque in Islamic Society Today”

Khan, “An Overview of Contemporary Mosques,” in Frishman and Khan, The mosque, 242-67.


  • Discussion: The Religious Image of Islam.
  • Some Contemporary Mosques and their Messages.

Burckhardt, Sacred Art in East and West, Foundations of Islamic Art, 101-19.

Thackston, “The Role of Calligraphy”

Arkoun, “The Metamorphosis of the Sacred,” in Frishman and Khan, The mosque, 43-53, 268-72.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2002
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