The Role of Dome in Centralization of the Architecture of Islamic Mosques

Document Type : Original Article


1 Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, Faculty of Art, University of Tarbiat Modares, Tehran, Iran.

2 M. A. in Architecture, Faculty of Art, University of Tarbiat Modares, Tehran, Iran.


Essence of unity in the Islamic architecture of Iran is the result of dynamism and flourishing of a special elixir that is the source of all the things. Unity is the first principle of the Islamicarchitecture and the most important base of Islam. A Muslim architect believes this, especially in formation of a prominent building like a mosque. Of all Muslim institutions, mosque is the most important place for the public expression of Islamic beliefs and communal identity. A mosque is a physical manifestation of the public presence of Muslims and serves as a point of convergence for Islamic social and intellectual activities. Arabic word for mosque is ‘masjid’, which means a “place of prostration” of God, a holy space which is the place for Muslims to worship God and revitalize their beliefs toward God. Here is where the importance of unity shows itself. In this regard, a question arises,“how does it change into a tangible factor?” Establishing centralization in a building is one of the solutions to bringing unity into architecture. One of the effective factors influenced by the concept of unity, in different ages, is the dome. A dome is an element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures, made of various materials, have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory. This element, which has a prominent role in the conceptual and symbolic centralizing of the mosque, shows it can play its role correctly. The spiritual importance of the vacuum space in the dome is one of the consequences of the deep and exact relationship between spiritualism and the metaphysical basis of Islam and the Islamic architecture. Unity in Islamic architecture is not only determined by the engineering frequency pivot, but also by the vacuum at a particular point such as the Kaaba or the fountain in the mosque’s nave. For the Islamic architecture (although it is not the only consequence of unity principle) vacuum is a symbol or sign that shows the superiority and presence of God in objects in unison. With regard to significance of this subject, it should be noted that if we don’t consider the unity and centralism factor, in other words, if we build a space without considering the faith indicators, there would be no differences between a Muslim and a non-Muslim individual. It means that both kinds of architecture just follow the same principles and rules. The subject coming up in Islam is that all of the elements should be associated with the reminiscent of God. Therefore, architecture should also play this role. If not, the architectural values would be under question. In this study, based upon the importance of unity in Islam, achieving and understanding the quality and conditional effect of this fact is the main objective of the Islamic architecture, for example, the role of the dome in forming the centralization in mosques. Thus, in order to conduct the study, descriptive-analytical method was used as the research method. Moreover, archival and surveying methods were used as the means of collecting data and analyzing the subject. Most of the study is done by visual observations. In fact, the present study is conducted through a logical method using an analytical technique to achieve the aims of the research. Besides studying the unity’s role in the Islamic architecture as one of the pronounced indicators in Muslim works, the role of dome architecture in forming the centralization of a mosque is investigated in practice (SheykhLotf-Allah mosque).Moreover, the indicators considered for the dome of this mosque are studied, and finally, all the tabulated indicators are evaluated for some other mosques. Through the defined frequencies, the principle role of the indicator in mosques’ building centralization was determined. The achievements of the present study show that unity is effective in building’s architecture, especially in mosques. This is the unity that gathers all of the architectural works together in a collection, in spite of the external and internal differences. Moreover, some features of the dome-like introversion such as, circle, point symmetry, vertical axis and spherical shape were studied, and by evaluating them in a few mosques, it was found out that each one of these features somehow play a role in the centrality of the dome (symbolic or conceptual factors). Therefore, it can be said that dome plays an effective role in centralizing the architecture of mosques. 


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