Monday, September 13, 2010

Mosques and the Modern Day Church

Mosques and Churches both are representations of the House of Allah or God.

The Blue Mosque of Istanbul / Sultan Ahmed I Mosque

The Blue Mosque of Istanbul construction began in 1609 and was completed in 1616, with opening ceremonies in 1617. The design of the mosque is a combination of two spectacular empires, the Ottoman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. The mosque includes some Byzantine elements but keeps with the Islam traditional architecture and aesthetics. The exterior of the mosque was designed as cascading domes that tapper down to earth from the main center dome.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque came by its second name The Blue Mosque of Istanbul due to the over 20 thousand blue tiles that line the interior of the structure and the primary blue paint that decorated the inner upper parts of the mosque.

Blue is one of the sacred colors of Islam; it is the color of protection and used in many of the mosques built around the world. Staying true to Islam traditions, the walls and ceilings are decorated with precise geometric shapes, arabesque designs and calligraphy; incorporating sections of the Qur`an and Allah in the design.

With immediate comparison to a modern day church, two things are very apparent to me. In this beautiful mosque, there is no iconography (the use of icons) of God (Allah) and no depictions of Prophets and Saints and there stories on display. Second in comparison, you can immediately tell that one is a place of worship.

The Church used to be unmistakable; there was an immediate representation of God or Jesus on the face of the building, leaving anyone no doubt after passing that this was a house of God. The faces of Saints and Prophets lined the walls and stories from the bible are depicted in detail on the stain glass windows or in portraits lining the surrounding walls. Once you enter a church, normally the first icon you see is the figure of Jesus Christ on his crucifix.

Now seeing a Church you turn and second guess yourself, since the building you are looking at looks very similar to a doctor or business office. Even the sign out from has gone from being a proud display of religion to a subtle advertisement. After comparing the Mosque of Istanbul and a modern day church, I have come to realize that the differences are far from what my short description has touched upon.

The Islam culture and the mosque have not changed in centuries however, our culture of churches and places of worship seem to be de-evolving into hidden building in plane sight.

References Sites:
Photo Reference Sites:
Photo of Common Yard of the Blue Mosque of Istanbul
Photographer: "zoutedrop"
Photo of interior shot of The Blue Mosque of Istanbul

Photographer: "Janet"
Photo of close shot of caligraphy and tile works in the Blue Mosque of Istanbul

Photographer: "Colorado Ben"
Photo's(2 exterior and 1 interior) of St. Johns Catholic Church in Central Omaha, Nebraska
Photographer: Nigel Cox
Photo of Upton Lea: Catholic Church of the Holy Redeemer near to Slough, Great Britain

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