Encompassing a wide range of architecture styles, the most important structures of all are mosques. The collection of models at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, includes the most significant of these.
The Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca and its central feature, the Ka’aba, is the most sacred site in Islam. Since the beginning of Islam, the mosque has been the destination for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, required of all able-bodied Muslims who can afford the journey.
At the centre of the mosque is the Ka’aba, which means ‘square house’ in Arabic. It is towards the Ka’aba that all Muslims direct their prayers, regardless of where they are.
The Al-Nabawi mosque
Also known as the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina, it is considered the second holiest mosque in Islam. It was built by the Prophet Muhammad, and was to become his final resting place. The original structure of the mosque was built during the Prophet Muhammad’s time, with himself participating in its construction. Subsequent Islamic rulers continued to expand and decorate the mosque, though the most important feature remains the site of the green dome indicating the location of the Prophet’s tomb.
The Dome of the Rock
The mosque received its name through the belief that the rock below the centre of the dome was the spot from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to God in Heaven, accompanied by the angel Gabriel. Historically, the Dome of the Rock is revered by both the region’s different faiths.
Built in the 7th century AD, the eight-sided structure has Byzantine influences. It has stood witness to many important historical events as well as surviving most of them. The structure of the Dome of the Rock is essentially unchanged for more than thirteen centuries and remains among the world’s most enduring architectural treasures.
Art of the Mosque
The inside of the mosque is its most important aspect, and at the far end of the Architecture is a re-creation of this. Each mosque contains a place for ablution, a place for the cleaning of hands, feet, face and hair through orderly process. With that, follows the act of devotion, which is supplemented with the art of the mosque objects such as a prayer mat and Qur’an stand. The surroundings are vital for keeping a peaceful and harmonious setting for worship. This is helped by hanging glass lights and decorated doors and ceilings which are usually adorned with the Word of God in exquisite calligraphy, along with geometrical or floral motifs. Another important feature is the minbar, or pulpit, which serves as a seat for the imam or the head of the congregation to deliver his sermons.
The Standard Chartered Ottoman Room
A palatial feature at IAMM is the Standard Chartered Ottoman Room. Constructed in 1235 AH (1820 AD) it typifies a life of luxury in Ottoman Syria. The focus of the room is on an internal paradise, sumptuously decorated on every surface. The ceiling is as lavish as the walls. Red, green and gold predominate in a rococo effect that shows some of the European influence that reached the Ottoman empire during the 19th century. An impression of opulence is visible at any distance, with a profusion of painted flowers, fruit and architectural scenes. Hospitality has always been central to the Muslim way of life; a room such as this would have been intended for entertaining honoured guests.
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