The Symbolic Potential of the Transnational Mosque

Volume 48, Issue 3 :: Kishwar Rizvi

Editor’s note: This excerpt is from The Transnational Mosque: Architecture and Historical Memory in the Contemporary Middle East by Kishwar Rizvi, copyright 2015 by the University of North Carolina Press, used by the permission of the publisher ( The author is an architect and associate professor of the history of art at Yale University. Her other books include The Safavid Dynastic Shrine: Architecture, Religion and Power in Early Modern Iran (Tauris, 2011) and Modernism and the Middle East: Architecture and Politics in the Twentieth Century (University of Washington Press, 2008).

Muhammaed al-Amin Mosque

Muhammaed al-Amin Mosque, Beirut,
completed in 2008. Architect, Azmi Fakhouri. Photo: Kishwar Rizvi

The architectural design of contemporary mosques is an amalgam of forms, one that merges the past with the present, the traditional with the technological. It is an important resource for the study of social and religious expression and of how a culture defines itself through the act of building. In the medieval and early modern periods, monumental congregational mosques were built as symbols of a ruler’s power and imperial authority. In the past century, they have come to be viewed as representations of nationhood and the place of religion in modern society. National mosques are seen as symbols of a country’s history and its ideology; they are also meant to communicate the centrality of Islam in the public and private lives of the citizens. Mosques in the contemporary Middle East are built through both local and transnational patronage networks, and their architecture reflects the complex and heterogeneous nature of religious identity in the Islamic world today.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottoman (1299–1922) and Qajar (1785–1925) Empires in Turkey and Iran, respectively, came to an end, and toward the second half of the century, European colonialism in the Middle East and North Africa ended as well. The establishment of new nation-states in the region was often based on the ideals of secular government that aimed to install constitutions and parliamentary democracies. In the early years of statehood, governments turned to financial and educational institutions to represent their legitimacy and international standing. Thus banks, courthouses, and schools were built to express the nation and its aspirations. As the buildings make evident, the concept of the nation-state was viewed as equivalent to European- and American-style modernism, both through the types of buildings commissioned and through their architectural style. Foreign architects and planners were conscripted to help design cities and buildings in the emergent Middle East, as elsewhere in the postcolonial context, and the forms they brought with them were reminiscent of their own homelands farther west. When local idioms were incorporated, they were often fragmented and decontextualized through an “elementalist” approach that isolated architectural motifs and recombined them in sometimes incongruous ways. In the quest for modernity and nationhood (and recognizing the two as intrinsically linked), early-20th-century states sidelined and sometimes rejected religion, characterizing it as an artifact of the past. In Turkey, for example, constitutions were written up after European models and shari‘a courts were replaced by secular ones. In other countries, such as Iran, the sharia courts were maintained to adjudicate common law practices, such as marriages and inheritance.24 Religion was limited to the private realm, even as the majority of the population struggled to adjust to a new world in which traditional forms of knowledge were relegated to the domestic sphere or to institutions that were marginalized by the quest for modernity. Religious buildings, such as mosques, madrasas, and shrines, were not yet the focus of national attention in the early years of the 20th century. Instead, they were judged for their “age value” and, based on that appraisal, were either neglected or incorporated into the newly established heritage industry. 25 While ample attention was paid to ancient monuments, those from the more recent past—that is, from the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—were seldom included in the guidebooks and surveys that would come to define the heritage of the Middle East. 26 Very little scholarship has focused on religious buildings, as though the public practice of Islam is no longer relevant in the modern world. 27 Grand mosques, when given attention as iconic types of Islamic architecture, would represent the “classical” periods, serving as both the religious centers of the city and popular tourist destinations, mostly for foreign visitors. It is these very mosques, codified in the national imaginary as the epitome of a classical past, that would serve as inspiration for the transnational mosques studied here. 28

Depending on the country and its political leanings at the time, choosing the historical moment for architectural representation was a very self-conscious act. For example, in early-20th-century Iran, Islamic architecture was seldom given much attention; instead, monuments from the Achaemenid and Sasanian periods (that is, from the 6th century BCE to the 7th century CE) were studied and documented as inspiration for modern buildings (see page TK). Since the 1979 revolution, however, mosques and shrines from the Safavid period (1501–1722) especially have come under renewed interest (this period marks Iran’s conversion to Shi‘i Islam and is thus of significance to the current theocratic state). Another case of selective preservation is in Cairo, where Fatimid architecture is being renovated not just by governmental agencies, but also by Isma‘ili Shi‘i Muslims based in Mumbai and Geneva who recognize the monuments of this period as part of their own transnational heritage. 29 In both cases, architecture and religious identity are intertwined and provide historical foundations for issues of heritage and preservation and of contemporary design.

Foreign Ministry, Tehran, ca. 1930s.

Foreign Ministry, Tehran, ca. 1930s. Photo: Kishwar Rizvi

Without doubt, monumental mosques have continued to be built throughout the Islamic world over the course of the 20th century. They include imperial commissions modeled on historical precedent in terms of both form and patronage, as well as structures built to accommodate changing social norms, such as mosques built within universities and government agencies. A good example of the latter is the Parliament Mosque in Ankara, designed by Behruz and Can Çinici and completed in 1990, which is discreetly embedded in a vast parliament complex used by civil officials. A corollary from farther east is provided by the prayer hall of the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh (completed 1983), designed by the American architect Louis Kahn (see page TK). Both cases are rare examples of government-sponsored mosques that are modernist in their design. Their architecture makes a very conscious break from traditional forms, no doubt owing to the fact that they are part of larger complexes in which the overall design dictated the form of the mosques as well.

In the second half of the 20th century, state mosques began to appear as symbols of a nation’s links to its Islamic past. Soaring minarets and hemispherical domes dotted the landscape of modern capital cities, from Islamabad to Kuwait City. This period also coincided with the dissemination of state-sponsored mosques built for diasporic communities in Europe. Although mosques have been built in Western Europe since at least the 19th century, the idea of an ambassadorial monument denoted a new role for the mosque. Earlier, European governments had themselves sponsored the building of mosques. For example, the Paris Mosque, conceived in 1895 and realized in the 1920s, was “intended to emphasize the close ties that existed between France and its colonies in North Africa, namely Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.” 30 By contrast, the Islamic Center in Washington, DC, was built in 1957 through the patronage of a group of ambassadors from Muslim countries that came together for this project. In addition to serving the expatriate and immigrant Muslim communities in the American capital, the Islamic Center was meant to “promote a better understanding of Islam in a country where the Muslim religion was not well known and as a vehicle by which to improve relations between the United States and the Muslim world.” 31 Thus mosques were incorporated into the rhetoric of nationalism, representing countries as well as communities of belief.

The mosque’s status as an imperial symbol has often given way (as monarchies have been replaced by republican governments in the Middle East) to its role as a national emblem, where the ceremonies of state are performed. Weekly Friday prayers as well as important religious holidays are celebrated at the main congregational, or jami‘, mosques. In several countries today the sermon at the main congregational mosques is approved by and disseminated through a centralized bureaucracy that determines the appropriate content. For example, after particularly contentious international confrontations, the current Iranian government authorizes the sermons to comment on the political situation as well as give religious guidance. This is especially true in the Friday prayers, which until very recently had been held at the converted soccer field of the University of Tehran. 32 Merging the revolutionary ethos of the university, a key player in the mobilization of Iranian youth in the 1970s, with religious zeal, the Islamic Republic of Iran uses the space of the Friday mosque as an important arena for the enactment and establishment of political rhetoric. Whether overtly controlled by ministries of religion or more subtly guided by national legislation, state mosques are important conduits of political and religious ideology, both at home and abroad.

The Politics of Representation

Mosques participate in the rituals of statecraft by serving as cultural signs with varying vectors of signification. The Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai is a national symbol, adoring 500-dirham currency notes in the United Arab Emirates. Such a representation immediately situated the image of the mosque within the visual economy of nationhood. Similarly, the massive Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque in central Grozny, Chechnya, on October 16, 2008, was inaugurated not only by the president at the time, Ramzan Kadyrov, but more importantly by his Russian patron, Vladimir Putin, who at the time was Russia’s prime minister. The mosque had been commissioned by Kadyrov’s father, Akhmet (who was assassinated in 2004), and designed to imitate the Sultan Ahmet Mosque in Istanbul. Images of Putin and Kadyrov flooded the news, the backdrop of the mosque a constant feature of this diplomatic pas de deux. In a speech fascinating for its unintended irony, Putin is reported to have said, “I think that not only the Chechen people and the Muslims of Chechnya, but also all the Muslims of Russia can be proud of this mosque. This is really a big gift to the whole Muslim world.” 33 Despite the ongoing Islamic resistance to the Moscow-based Kadyrov government, the manner in which Putin asserted the presence of Islam in one of the most con- tested regions in Europe is remarkable. That this presence is actualized through the physical construction of what was then believed to be the largest mosque in Europe was not unproblematic.

The image of an Ottoman-style mosque on European soil has the potential to conjure up deep-seated fears and anxieties about Islamic expansionism. Although now framed in the language of xenophobia and right-wing conservatism, Europe’s relationships with Muslim empires such as the Ayyubids and Ottomans have their roots in the periods of the Crusades and the early modern Mediterranean world. 34 From travelogues to paintings, representations of the Middle East have both fascinated and terrified their audiences, and religion was central to the construction of difference that fed into them. 35 Ottoman presence in the Balkans and the Near East was made visible in the monumental mosques built throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. These buildings, the epitome of the architect Sinan’s inventiveness, were dispersed throughout the conquered territories, which include Belgrade and Budapest. 36 Although modest in size relative to those built in the capital, Istanbul, the mosques were important markers of the radical social and religious transformations wrought by Ottoman expansion.

It would be anachronistic to directly connect the early modern period with the present, or to suggest a continuous, unchanging antagonism between Europe and Turkey. Nonetheless, in the age of digital reproduction and the subsequent dispersal of images, the representation of the mosque has become a vital tool in the language of xenophobia. Recent cases of anti-Islamic protests center around the building of Muslim institutions, be they community centers or mosques. For example, in 2007, the right-wing Prö-Koeln Citizens’ Movement, an anti-immigrant right-wing organization, gathered thousands of signatures against the construction of the Cologne Central Mosque. Their emblem was the image of an Ottoman mosque within an interdiction circle, or Stop sign, with the mosque crossed out. Similarly, in 2010 a virulent debate raged in New York City over the construction of Park 51 Community Center, incorrectly labeled the “Ground Zero Mosque” by its detractors. 37 Even though the center had not yet been designed, cartoons began circulating on websites supported by groups such as Stop the Islamization of America that showed a traditional Ottoman mosque being constructed on Ground Zero. What is even more interesting in both the Cologne and New York cases is that the ultimate designs of the mosque and the cultural center were self-consciously modern. In the Cologne Central Mosque (completed in 2012), minarets and a dome are certainly present, but they are abstracted and bear little resemblance to any historical period. Similarly, the design proposal for the Park 51 Community Center shows a multistory high-rise building whose only reference to Islamic architecture is the manner in which an ornamental skin sheathes the façade.40 In purposefully avoiding any overt regional or temporal associations, both projects recognize the representational power of mosques, whether built or unrealized.

The political significance of the mosque is clear. As the architectural historian Nasser Rabbat describes it, “Like the agora, the mosque provided the space of the city where the male population exercised its political rights, particularly on Friday, when the community reconfirmed its allegiance to its leader or withdrew it in vocal responses to a formulaic oath included in the sermon.” 41 That role continues to be central to the transnational mosques considered in this study: in the context of nation and community, on the construction of transregional religious identities, and on the issue of individual practice. In addition, transnational mosques are at once foreign ambassadors and local institutions; they are meant to evoke a distant time and place, but also serve immediate political and communal needs.

National Assembly Building Prayer Hall, Dhaka

National Assembly Building Prayer Hall, Dhaka, completed in 1983. Architect, Louis Kahn. Courtesy Aga Khan Trust for Culture/Courtesy of architect/Mehmet Karakurt (photographer)

History as Source and Inspiration

The congregational mosques sponsored by national institutions always have a historical reference, often reaching back to particular classical periods of Islamic rule in the Middle East, such as the Umayyads in Syria or the Safavids in Iran. History in such cases is not limited to style, but representative of the deeply divided interpretations of Islam that I contend are at the heart of global politics today. As Nezar AlSayyad writes, “It is true that most fundamentalist movements invoke an invented history to justify their claims, but almost all nationalist movements have done the same. The only difference may be that fundamentalists always invoke an essentialist history based on belief in the inerrancy of a text or texts. Hence they justify a nation of God or a city of God by invoking scriptural truth, while the nation-state invokes only the apparent truth of its own modernity.”42 The study of transnational mosques demonstrates the tensions between political ideology and public belief, and the sometimes conflicting messages disseminated by governments trying to regulate both. Thus, for example, the Salafist kingdom of Saudi Arabia may eschew memorializing the dead, yet it sponsors mosques in the name of past rulers in foreign countries, such as the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, which was built to honor the late Saudi ruler Faisal bin Abdul Aziz (d. 1975). The tomb of the Pakistani president Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, a close ally of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is also located here. Similarly, recognizing the associations of domed shrines and memorials in Mecca and Medina (many of which have been destroyed by the government), the national mosque in the capital, Riyadh, makes little historical reference. Instead, the design relies on an abstracted idea of what local Najdi architecture may be; in this case, the mosque takes the form of a fortification. However, the mosques designed by the Egyptian architect Abdel-Wahed al-Wakil in Jeddah have domes and elaborate minarets—perhaps more in keeping with the Cairene mosques the architect was familiar with, a style more likely to be acceptable in the older, more cosmopolitan city, than in the capital.

Design, in the context of the most iconic type of Islamic architecture, is an active participant in the making of national culture in the contemporary Middle East, but transnational mosques are also important signifiers of where the fault lines of belief may lie—whether belief in the singularity of religious ideology or of the nationalist project. Indeed, the transnational mosques studied here serve to illustrate the complex and multivalent discourse that revolves around the concept of statehood itself. At the center of this discourse is the issue of historical memory. As the editors of a recent issue of Public Culture titled “The Public Life of History” have noted, “The performance of history in the present has suffused public life and the media, and it spills into legal debate and policy formation. In this regard, the role of representational art forms, various genres of performance, and nonacademic nonfiction writing is significant.”43 Architecture must be included in this list of representational art forms, both as an object of creative expression and as a space of inhabitation, wherein the performance of history is monumentalized and also, literally, enacted through civic and devotional rituals.

Transnational mosques are built with several temporalities in mind. Unlike political regimes and their nationalist rhetoric, which have relatively short lives (and which rely heavily on foundation narratives), these grand mosques often last longer than their patrons and designers. Thus while they are markers of a moment in time, namely, that of their construction, they hold within them the projection of a particular kind of future. This Janus-faced temporality, looking backward and forward simultaneously, describes well the condition of modernity in the contemporary Middle East. Movement between time zones (both synchronically and diachronically, in fact) is sometimes more easily achieved than movement across physical borders, where sovereignty is contested and, in some cases, unachievable. Thus when Paul Virilio writes about the insecurity of history, it has a particular resonance in this part of the world, where the past haunts and defines every fragment of existence: “Today, it is in the order of time that this turnaround is being accomplished (a reversal of values), as posteriority is primed to dominate anteriority. Hence the insecurity of history that now complements and completes the insecurity of territorial sovereignty now threatened on all sides—from above by its expansion, and from below, by its regional fragmentation.”44 Such a theorization may call into question the survival of the nation, yet it also affirms its centrality to the discourse of contemporary personhood. The transnational mosque, as one of the most potent connections between the citizen and her state, lays bare the paradoxes and discrepancies in how countries in the Middle East frame their identities.

Islam is central to the experience of statehood particularly in the Middle East, but also in other countries throughout Asia and Africa where a majority of the citizens are Muslim. Whether institutionalized within the laws of the country, as in the Islamic Republic of Iran, or tightly controlled by the state, as in Turkey, today religion has reclaimed its place in the public sphere to a degree unprecedented in the early years of the 20th century. The 1970s were a watershed moment in the history of the Islamic world, bringing the start of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the beginning of the Islamic revolution in Iran. The Iran-Iraq War occupied much of the following decade, which also saw the rise of the Welfare Party in Turkey.

The 1980s inaugurated a period of intensive mosque building throughout the Islamic world. For example, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the forceful leadership of King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, established a Mosques Project overseen by the Ministry of Hajj and Awqāf (the ministry overseeing the hajj and charitable endowments), “for the development of a contemporary traditional mosque architecture in Saudi Arabia.” 45 At this time the Kingdom also began its global sponsorship of mosques, as a way to expand its political influence and simultaneously disseminate Salafist religious goals. For example, in countries where the Kingdom has sponsored the mosques, the government also appoints the prayer leaders, or imams, and provides the fundamental educational literature (often read as “propaganda”). In such cases, the mosques are extensions of the donor country, sites for propagating ideology, and home to covert political machinations. In many cases the historical style serves as shorthand for ideology; it is a conscious decision undertaken by the builders and patrons of transnational mosques.

Postmodernity and Architectural Signification

The construction of grand state mosques and their ambassadorial counterparts in the 1980s coincided with the rise of postmodern trends in architecture, giving credibility to their historicist references. Although the term “postmodern” had been in use since at least the beginning of the 20th century, the concept was most closely associated with the architectural historicism of the latter part of the century, which sought to distinguish itself from the dogma of high modernism, with its overly abstracted and heroic formalism. Instead, proponents and practitioners of postmodern architecture—such as Robert Venturi, Robert A. M. Stern, and Michael Graves—positioned their work as an antidote to the mechanistic and impersonal architecture of their predecessors. These architects expressed their dissatisfaction with the failed experiments of modernism, and their work falls into “six main traditions that compose the large palette of postmodernism: historicism, straight revivalism, neo-vernacular, ad hoc urbanism, metaphor metaphysical and postmodern space.”46 A turn toward the cultural context of form, rooted in familiarity and traditionalism, also defined the discussions on postmodern architecture. The themes resonated with architects globally, and several of the designers whose work is studied in this book were either directly or indirectly influenced by postmodernism. Indeed, the prestigious annual Driehaus Prize, which “recognizes a leading practitioner of classical or traditional architecture,” was awarded in 2011 to Robert A. M. Stern for bringing “classicism into the mainstream.” 47 Two years earlier, in 2009, the same prize had been bestowed on Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil, the architect whose mosques for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are directly linked to the Mamluk architecture of El-Wakil’s native Egypt.The Driehaus jury praised el-Wakil for his “quest for indigenous architecture, using materials beneath his feet…based on traditional Arab designs and local craftsmanship. It is at once classical, beautiful and sustainable, honoring his heritage both in design and construction techniques, advancing that tradition through his own ideas and ideals.” 48 In this commendation, El-Wakil’s oeuvre seems at once traditional and timeless—a neo-Orientalist characterization that is no doubt unintentional but is telling nonetheless.

Historicism has been an important topic of discussion in architectural discourse, particularly with the rise of postmodernism. Three decades ago, Alan Colquhoun wrote of three interpretations of historicism as they pertain to architecture: “the theory that all sociocultural phenomena are historically determined and that all truths are relative; a concern for the institutions and traditions of the past; the use of historical forms. The word historicism therefore can be applied to three quite separate objects: the first is a theory of history; the second, an attitude; and third, an artistic practice.” 49 Criticizing the stylistic choices made by his peers, Colquhoun wrote, “When we revive the past now, we tend to express its most general and trivial connotations; it is merely the ‘pastness’ of the past that is evoked.” 50 Such criticism has also been applied to the revivalist tendencies of mosque architecture. Labeled kitsch, reactionary, and conservative, they are marginalized in architectural discourse and viewed as unworthy of intellectual engagement. Indeed, few scholars even acknowledge their existence, and the names of the architects are seldom known in elite circles (with the notable exception of El-Wakil).

Nostalgia and theological revivalism are the fundamental motivations for the historical turn in transnational mosques since the 1980s. 51 Historicism in Islamic architecture thus also comes at a time of deep social upheaval and economic possibility. At the same time that oil wealth began to empower the Gulf Arab states, religion was brought to the forefront of political activism, from Iran to Turkey, as mentioned earlier. Popular taste turned toward traditional forms of dress and spatiality. It would be incorrect to call this taste a move toward the “familiar,” as modern forms of architecture are a more likely context for many urban dwellers in the Middle East. Nonetheless, the broadened public sphere (with migrations from the countryside, as in Turkey) allowed for the revival of tradition to be a strong force in social change. This attitude is felt particularly keenly in the post-Soviet Republics, which have emerged from communism to reclaim their (perceived) Islamic heritage, a fact clearly exploited by all four nations studied in this book, whose ambassadorial mosques are being built from Ashgabat to Shymkent.

Alongside theories of postmodernism was that of critical regionalism, which held sway beginning with its introduction by Kenneth Frampton in the early 1980s.52 Frampton, like others of his generation, turned to architectural phenomenology as a mode of rethinking modernism by focusing on the tectonics and cultural context of architecture. His concepts were quickly appropriated by preservationists, such as the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (a philanthropic institution based in Geneva), even as his ideas were—often wrongly—diffused into a blanket acceptance of all things indigenous. The criticality of his earlier positions remains to be applied to works produced outside the Western hemisphere and is seldom applied to religious buildings, such as mosques.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture began administering the Aga Khan Award for Architecture at the end of the 1970s; the first set of awards was given in 1980. In that decade, several postmodernist architects, such as Robert Venturi and Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil, served on the master jury, and it was not surprising to see mosques in the list of finalists. Without exception, all the mosques were either self-consciously historicist or making heavy references to traditional forms of building. An equal emphasis was paid to historic preservation, a trend that has continued to the present. However, perhaps as a sign of the deeply polarized religious landscape of the Islamic world today, not a single mosque has made it to the final list since the 1995 cycle, which included Rassem Badran’s Great Mosque in Riyadh.53 Thus even while monumental transnational mosques are being built throughout the Middle East and its ever-expanding sphere of influence, the foremost organization devoted to contemporary architecture in the region scarcely acknowledges their existence. This negligence may be corrected when the cultural and architectural impact of these monuments is recognized. Transnational mosques are changing the social, political, and urban landscapes of the world; understanding the diverse motivations and patronage systems that influence this global phenomenon is crucial to understanding the Middle East today and to influencing its architectural future.

Architecture serves as both a symbol and a mediator between seemingly conflicting concepts, such as technology and traditionalism. Similarly, the monumental mosques studied here point to the tensions that may arise between local agencies and nationalist entities, as well as between individual designers and large corporations. Most interestingly, this book opens up a broader discussion about religion at the beginning of the 21st century and questions the idea of Islam as outside modernity. While the focus of the book is on historical memory, it is important to contemplate other modes for thinking about architecture and the place of mosques in contemporary society. Replacing historicism with issues of phenomenology and environmentalism may be equally productive, such that future mosque projects may display their own historical moment rather than evoking an imaginary, and ultimately unattainable, past.

24. The case in Iran has changed since the 1979 Revolution, in that shari‘a has been integrated into the civil law codes.

25. The issue of “age-value” was first introduced by the 19th-century art historian Alois Riegl. For a recent examination of his writings and their relationship to conservation, see Arrhenius, “The Cult of Age in Mass-Society.” There are several articles on the development of the heritage industry in the Middle East, notably, that by Altinyildiz, “The Architectural Heritage of Istanbul and the Ideology of Preservation”; see also Colla, Conflicted Antiquities.

26. The relative absence of late-18th- and 19th-century monuments is evidenced by general surveys of Islamic art, which tend to end with the advent of European colonialism.

27. Such ideation is not limited to the Islamic case alone; it can be seen in other cultural contexts as well. In surveys of modern architecture, church building is not recognized as a genre unto itself, but viewed as a digression or an aberration when undertaken by influential architects. Thus although architects such as Le Corbusier and Eero Saarinen built churches, these projects are often characterized as experimental or anomalous. Interestingly, a number of monographs were composed in the 19th century on the subject of “modern” churches, such as Tress, Modern Churches. More recent publications tend aggregate modern churches in survey, such as Yates, Liturgical Space. This also the case in the case of Qajar Iran, as seen in Ritter, Moscheen und Madrasabauten in Iran, 1785–1848.

28. The classical styles were codified in art historical texts, such as those by Arthur Upham Pope, A. C. Creswell, and others. See Isenstadt and Rizvi, Modernism and the Middle East, 9–12.

29. There are two branches of Isma‘ili Islam, both also known as “Sevener” Shi‘i (Nizari and Bohri), in distinction from the majority of Shi‘i, who are known as “Twelvers” because they venerate the 12 Shi‘i imams. Both sects recognize the authority of the sixth imam, Jaffer al-Sadiq, but they divide regarding veneration of his descendants. See Amir-Moezzi, “Shi‘ite Doctrine,” Encyclopedia Iranica, (accessed April 9, 2012).

30. Holod and Khan, Mosque and the Modern World, 228.

31. Ibid., 233.

32. Recently the Friday prayers have been held at the Khomeini Musallā, in Abbasabad. This massive prayer space is still under construction.

33. “Putin Visits Mammoth Grozny Mosque,” Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, October 16, 2008, Mosque/1330491.html (accessed August 6, 2013).

34. The literature on the subject of encounters is too vast to tabulate here. For a recent example, see Schülting, Müller, and Hertel, Early Modern Encounters with the Islamic East.

35. Rizvi, “Persian Pictures.”

36. On Sinan’s oeuvre, see Necipoğlu, Age of Sinan.

37. The project was conceived by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, an Egyptian-born cleric, and Sharif el-Gamal, an Egyptian-American real estate developer who wanted to build a community center in downtown Manhattan.

40. According to the architect who designed the proposal, Michel Abboud, the prayer area will be located in the basement area of the building and has not yet been designed.

41. Rabbat, “The Arab Revolution Takes Back the Public Space.”

42. AlSayyad, “The Fundamentalist City?,” 8.

43. Attwood, Chakrabarty, and Lomnitz, “The Public Life of History.”

44. Virilio, “The Insecurity of History,” 72.

45. Abd el-Wahed El-Wakil, “Report on the Nomination of the Mosques of Saudi Arabia,” (accessed June 25, 2012). See also Steele, “The New Traditionalists.”

46. Mallgrave and Goodman, “Postmodernism and Critical Regionalism,” 93.

47. Kamin, “Notre Dame Awards Classical Driehaus Prize to Robert A. M. Stern,” Chicago Tribune, December 14, 2010, /entertainment/chi-notre-dame-driehaus-architect-robert-stern-121410_1_richard-h-driehaus-prize-classical-architecture-pritzker-architecture-prize (accessed August 11, 2013).

48. “Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil,” Driehaus Prize website, (accessed August 11, 2013).

49. Colquhoun, “Three Kinds of Historicism,” 202.

50. Ibid., 208.

51. Architecturally, the movement echoes the Gothic Revivals of the 19th century in the United Kingdom, led by theorists and architects such as A. W. Pugin and John Ruskin. For the connections between them, see Hill, “Pugin and Ruskin.”

52. Frampton, “Prospects for a Critical Regionalism.” For a succinct explanation, see Otero-Pailos, “Architectural Phenomenology and the Rise of Postmodernism,” 147.

53. “Aga Khan Award for Architecture,” Aga Khan Development Network website, (accessed August 12, 2013).