The primary aim of the thesis is the development of an
architectural framework for planning and designing mosques from the
orthodox Sunni Islamic perspective.
In the light of the present resurgence in Islamic thoughts
towards a return to the fundamental teachings of the Kur'an and the
Prophet Muhammad's Sunna, the role and design of mosques have been
questioned as to whether they fulfil the eternal values of Islam for
Muslims living in the modern world. A survey of the literature on
mosques suggests two different concerns about the idea of the mosque
and its purpose. One view, which is mostly held by the public at large
and professional architects supported by architectural historians,
maintains that the mosque is a house of God whose main function is to
cater for the performance of prayers. The other view, which is mostly
held by Muslim intellectuals, maintains that the mosque's main role
should be directed towards the development of the Muslim community
in all aspects of life.
The thesis adopts the approach that the design of mosques
must be based on its eternal idea interpreted within the constraints of the
needs of the modern Muslim society. The eternal idea of the mosque is
derived from an understanding of the Prophet's conception of the
mosque and the historical needs in his life time. The eternal idea of the
mosque is also based on the meanings of worship in Islam which
comprises the rituals associated with the mosque and the Muslim's
individual and social obligations.
The first part of the thesis presents the arguments that the
past and present works of architectural history concerning the
architecture of the mosque are of little value to the aims of the thesis.
The second part presents a reinterpretation of the Kur'an, the Al-Hadlth,
the meanings of the rituals and social responsibilities of the Muslims
related to the initial concept and the eternal idea of the mosque. The final
part contains proposals for architectural guidelines for planning and
designing mosques in the modern Sunni Muslim society.The final part of
the thesis also presents a criticism of present mosque designs within the
framework of the prescribed guidelines.