What Are The Elements Of Islamic Architecture


Islamic architecture is a style of architecture based on a few basic principles, or elements, that are designed to be harmonious and pleasing to the eye. By incorporating geometric designs, artistry and Islamic symbols, Islamic architecture is one of the most popular forms of architecture in the world, especially in the Middle East. The focal point of Islamic architecture is providing the occupants with a feeling of peace and tranquility, along with indulging the senses. This article will explore the elements of Islamic architecture and discuss how they create an environment that is unique and distinct.

Geometric Designs

Geometric designs are one of the most important elements of Islamic architecture. Islamic design is overwhelmingly characterized by intricate geometric patterns and shapes. From mosques to furniture, these patterns are everywhere. There is also a deep spirituality behind them; the use of the patterns and shapes conveys the connectedness between mankind in the world and between mankind and the natural world.
Geometric designs usually start with one basic shape, and then get more complex from there. They often start with circular shapes like stars or hexagons and become increasingly intricate with each shape overlaid on top of the last. All of these are then unified through symmetry and proportion, creating a balanced and harmonious space. These patterns can be found in almost every corner of Islamic architecture, from the concrete walls of a building to tiny intricate details used to decorate a piece of furniture.


Calligraphy is an essential element of Islamic architecture, used to convey Islamic messages and to help beautify the architecture. Since sacred scriptures were not allowed to be used in Islamic artwork, calligraphy was used to fill the void. The Quran, the holy book of Islam, is full of beautiful calligraphic scripts, and they are often used in Islamic artwork too.
Calligraphy is used not only to convey a message but also to create a great visual impact on the viewer. Some of the more common styles of calligraphy found in Islamic architecture include Kufic, Muhaqqaq, and Ta’liq. These styles are used to spell out words of God, sacred phrases, and prayers. They are most commonly seen in mosques, on furniture, and in sculptures.

Symbols and Emblem

Symbols and emblems are often used in Islamic architecture as a way to express faith and devotion. Symbols like the crescent moon, palm trees, stars, and domes are often used. These symbols are believed to provide protection to the people inside the building and provide a calming, peaceful atmosphere.
Emblems, on the other hand, can portray a family crest or even a political statement. These are usually composed of items such as swords, stars, and other symbols. They represent strength and power and are used to express loyalty or faith. These symbols and emblems are often used in combination with calligraphic designs to create a greater visual impact.

Material used in Islamic Architecture

Most of the materials used in Islamic architecture are the same as used in other architectural styles, such as marble and stone. However, there are several materials that are typically associated with Islamic architecture. These include brick, stucco, wooden panels, and tiles.
The use of brick in Islamic architecture is commonplace and often used to create columns and arches. It is well known for its strength and resilience and is often used to build domes, arches, and other intricate structures. Stucco is a more malleable and lightweight material and is often used to embellish walls. Wooden panels are commonly used to highlight certain features and calligraphic designs and add an extra layer of decoration. Finally, tiles are used to decorate floors, walls and ceilings. These tiles are often elaborately decorated and can come in multiple colours to create an eye-catching design.

Lighting in Islamic Architecture

Lighting is a key element of Islamic architecture. Light is used to guide and fill in space, creating a relaxing, calming atmosphere for its occupants. Natural light is usually utilized and often enhanced by the use of light reflecting surfaces. Mosques typically incorporate the use of skylights, light-receiving domes, and other light-focusing techniques.
Light is also used to bring attention to certain areas of a building or room. In mosques, for example, light is often focused on areas of special importance, like the mihrab, which is located on one of the walls of the mosque. This focuses attention on the prayer direction and is often used to provide an extra layer of visual interest.

Islamic Decoration

Islamic decoration is yet another essential element of Islamic architecture. To create a unique atmosphere, decorations are often used to fill in spaces, adding texture and colour to a building. Decoration often comes in the form of geometric shapes, elaborate patterns, and Islamic calligraphy.
Islamic decoration is often used to create a relaxing, serene atmosphere and to also pay homage to Islamic symbolism. Traditional Islamic decoration often contains geometric shapes, such as stars and hexagons, as well as floral patterns and calligraphic script. Islamic decoration is usually composed of simple yet beautiful designs, and is used to create a peaceful and calming atmosphere for the occupants.

Architectural Impact of Islamic Architecture

The impact of Islamic architecture is deeply felt in the Islamic world today. Islamic architecture is one of the most iconic forms of architecture in the world and it has made a monumental impact on the way buildings are designed and built. Its influence can be seen in mosques, palaces and other buildings. The use of geometric patterns, calligraphy and decorations are all common features of Islamic architecture and directly adds to its impact.
Furthermore, its unique styles and techniques are being utilized in a more contemporary way, allowing both Islamic and non-Islamic architects to draw inspiration from its beauty and grandeur. Through this, Islamic architecture has been able to transcend cultural, social and economic backgrounds to become a widely used and accepted form of architecture.

Examples of Notable Islamic Architecture

There are many examples of impressive Islamic architecture all over the world, from the Grand Mosque of Bahrain to the Alhambra Palace in Spain. The Taj Mahal, located in India, is one of the most famous examples. This mausoleum was built in the early 1600s and is a testament to the remarkable skill of Islamic builders.
In addition, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is renowned for its intricate patterns and spectacular designs. This mosque is a prime example of Islamic architecture and incorporates many of the key elements, such as lighting and Islamic decorations. Another notable example is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, situated in Oman. This mosque dates back to the 17th century and it too is an excellent example of Islamic architecture.

Future of Islamic Architecture

The future of Islamic architecture is an exciting one. As it continues to evolve, more and more innovative designs are brought to the forefront. Islamic architecture is no longer just used for religious purposes, but is increasingly used in commercial and residential construction. This is allowing new forms of Islamic architecture to get established, something that could have a great impact on the way our urban landscapes look in the future.
Additionally, Islamic architecture is also being combined with modern elements. This is leading to the creation of new looks and styles that are unique and stand out from the more traditional forms of architecture. This could revolutionize the way we view Islamic architecture and make it an even more popular form of architecture in the years to come.

Aesthetic Impact of Islamic Architecture

The aesthetical impact of Islamic architecture is tremendous; often, its impact is far greater on viewers than merely accommodating the occupant’s needs. Islamic architecture has been inspiring generations of architects with its intricate designs and unique structures, often conveying a sense of peace and relaxation. Its elaborate geometric designs also bring a certain level of sophistication and depth to the construction, something that has been echoed in numerous modern projects.
In addition to its aesthetic appeal, Islamic architecture has also been celebrated for its eco-friendly qualities. Many of its techniques are designed to take advantage of natural light and to minimize environmental damage. Islamic architecture is known for its strong emphasis on sustainability, and its designs rely heavily on this concept. For example, materials such as shale, gypsum, and adobe are often chosen for construction, as these materials retain heat and provide warmth in the winter.

Conclusion of Islamic Architecture

Islamic architecture has been around for centuries. Its essence lies in its combination of design elements, resulting in a unique and distinct style of architecture. Its use of geometric designs, symbols, emblems, and calligraphy are all essential elements that make up Islamic architecture. Its materials, lighting elements, and decorations, all contribute to creating a calming and peaceful atmosphere for its occupants. Furthermore, its unique aesthetic and eco-friendly qualities have made it one of the most recognizable forms of architecture around the world. As Islamic architecture evolves, we can only expect this form of architecture to become even more popular and important in the years ahead.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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