Abstract: This study seeks to contribute to the clarification of our understanding of the concept of the traditional Mosque through an exploration of historical and theoretical developments in traditional mosque architecture, especially with respect to The Muslim's relationship with the Divine. I trace the way in which Islamic Religious Architecture is an expression of the Muslim way of life, a product of religious requirements, and the result of unique cultural and environmental factors. I emphasize how Mosque architecture is a sacred architecture that reflects the ideals of unification and solidarity within Muslim society.
While I do not seek a precise or definitive definition of the term traditional as it is applied to mosque architecture, I do seek to make a significant contribution to the literature insofar as I help to clarify or reify our understanding of what can correctly be seen as traditional in mosque architecture, vis-à-vis contemporary trends in the modern world. The central thrust of my thesis is that Islamic architectural tradition can indeed be defined, given form, and I seek to account for and explore the way in which tradition is of special importance to Islam, as compared with its sister religions in the West. I argue that fidelity to tradition, at least on some level, is imperative to the survival of mosque architecture, as we know it. I am especially concerned that this be done in such a way as to enhance the preservation of the unique identity and dignity of the Islamic architectural tradition.
I pay close attention to the concept of religious or sacred space, especially insofar as it is relevant to the Islamic Tradition and the way in which sacred architecture reflects a society's awareness of its relationship with the Divine. Through a comparison with Judaism and Christianity, Islam's sister Western religious traditions, especially the latter, I explore the various understandings of religious art and symbolism, as well as the unique historical realities that have shaped Muslim religious communities, and, subsequently, traditional mosque architecture. I also explore the diversity that is found in the architectural design of mosques and the key roles that mosques play in the definition of Islamic architecture in general. I have a special interest in and focus on the role of the mosque in traditional Moorish architectural styles in Morocco and Spain, as well as Ottoman styles in Turkey, which I see as especially salient examples of the artistic heights that tradition