Friday, May 30, 2008

Sibu's Oldest Mosque

A twin set of minarets adorn an ancient mosque.

An unique wooden (belian) roof distinguishes the Sibu Mosque fromothers. The Wooden three storeyed minaret was equally unique but it was unfortunately demolished for road expansion. I often wonder if any one could rebuild such a unique minaret again. The old Malay craftsmen and their craftsmanship are probably gone.

As a young child I would enjoy walking along the unpaved Kampong Nyabor Road and having a look at the nice wooden minaret . the call for prayers was so comforting and gave one a peaceful feeling.
I like looking at buildings. The other building in Sibu I liked to look was the old Masland Church which held its own beauty with its coloured windows, the solid black timber pews and the lovely low fans. The church gave cool comfort.
The Mosque at Kampong Nyabor was not a place for non Muslims to visit. But from outside I could see that the minaret was beautiful and unique. There was a bathing place for the Muslims to wash before they prayed.
although most mosques inthe world had round domes for their roofs, the Sibu Mosque is rather unique because it has a square roof made from belian tiles. This could be the only one in the world with this kind of roof and Sibu should be very proud of it.
According to Wikipedia, in 630C.E. the Prophet Muhammad's army reconquered the city of Mecca from the Banu Quraish tribe. The sanctuary of Ka'ba was rebuilt and re-dedicated to Islam, the reconstruction being carried out before the prophet Muhammad's death in 632C.E. by a shipwrecked Abyssinian carpenter in his native style. This sanctuary was amongst the first major works of Islamic architecture. Later doctrines of Islam dating from the eighth century and originating from the Hadith, forbade the use of humans and animals.[1] in architectural design,in order to obey God's command (and thou shalt not make for thyself an image or idol of God..)and also (thou shalt have no god before me)From ten commandments and similar Islamic teachings.For jews and muslims veneration violates these commandments.They read these commandments as prohibiting the use of idols and images during worship in any way.
In the 7th century, Muslim armies conquered a huge expanse of land. Once the Muslims had taken control of a region, their first need was for somewhere to worship - a mosque. The simple layout provided elements that were to be incorporated into all mosques and the early Muslims put up simple buildings based on the model of the Prophet's house or adapted existing buildings for their own use.
Recently discoveries have shown that quasicrystal patterns were first employed in the girih tiles found in medieval Islamic architecture dating back over five centuries ago. In 2007, Professor Peter Lu of Harvard University and Professor Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University published a paper in the journal Science suggesting that girih tilings possessed properties consistent with self-similar fractal quasicrystalline tilings such as the Penrose tilings, predating them by five centuries
Influences and styles

Arabic Calligraphy on large pishtaq of the Taj Mahal
A specifically recognisable Islamic architectural style developed soon after the time of the Prophet Muhammad, developing from Roman, Egyptian, Byzantine, and Persian/Sassanid models. An early example may be identified as early as 691 AD with the completion of the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhrah) in Jerusalem. It featured interior vaulted spaces, a circular dome, and the use of stylized repeating decorative patterns (arabesque).
The Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq, completed in 847 AD, combined the hypostyle architecture of rows of columns supporting a flat base above which a huge spiraling minaret was constructed.
The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul also influenced Islamic architecture. When the Ottomans captured the city from the Byzantines, they converted the basilica to a mosque (now a museum) and incorporated Byzantine architectural elements into their own work (e.g. domes). The Hagia Sophia also served as model for many of the Ottoman mosques such as the Shehzade Mosque, the Suleiman Mosque, and the Rüstem Pasha Mosque.
Distinguishing motifs of Islamic architecture have always been ordered repetition, radiating structures, and rhythmic, metric patterns. In this respect, fractal geometry has been a key utility, especially for mosques and palaces. Other significant features employed as motifs include columns, piers and arches, organized and interwoven with alternating sequences of niches and colonnettes.The role of domes in Islamic architecture has been considerable. Its usage spans centuries, first appearing in 691 with the construction of the Dome of the Rock mosque, and recurring even up until the 17th century with the Taj Mahal. And as late as the 19th century, Islamic domes had been incorporated into Western architecture
Minarets or towers (these were originally used as torch-lit watchtowers, as seen in the Great Mosque of Damascus; hence the derivation of the word from the Arabic nur, meaning "light").
A four-iwan plan, with three subordinate halls and one principal one that faces toward Mecca
Mihrab or prayer niche on an inside wall indicating the direction to Mecca. This may have been derived from previous uses of niches for the setting of the torah scrolls in Jewish synagogues or the haikal of Coptic churches.
Domes and Cupolas.
Iwans to intermediate between different sections.
The use of geometric shapes and repetitive art (arabesque).
The use of decorative Islamic calligraphy instead of pictures which were haram (forbidden) in mosque architecture. Note that in secular architecture, human and animal representation was indeed present.
Central fountains used for ablutions (once used as a wudu area for Muslims).
The use of bright color.
Focus both on the interior space of a building and the exterior.
One of the most beautiful mosques in the world has recently been built and has attracted thousands of tourists. Do you know what it is? Where it is?

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