Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A woman designs the Istanbul Mosque


A woman is the architect of this Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. You can click on the picture to see a larger image. The link to more pictures is given below. We are attempting to find more information, if you have any, please share.

ISNA had sponsored a conference about designing Mosques of the future a few months ago. It is a whole new way of looking at Mosques. Insha Allah, ideas from the central house of Muslim congregational Worship, the Kaaba, will be incoporated in design of the future mosques.

Traditionally, there has been no distinction made between rich or poor, scholar or illeterate, Senior citizen or a child in a Mosque, every one has an equal opportunity to join the front row of the congregational prayers. However, when it came to women, most cultures separated men and women aisles and entrances. The new generation will not accept this age old cultural tradition and opt for gender neutral places of worship. It is a matter of time.

Dr. Amina Wadud led the gender neutral Friday congregational prayers a few years ago, and Asra Nomani led the struggle to bring gender equity to a mosque in Morgan town, VA. Indeed, there was a documentary on PBS about it a few weeks ago.

There is a Mosque in Chennai, India which was entirely built by Muslim women for women.

More pictures at:

# # # Added on July 17th

CNN Reports this on July 12th -

By Ivan Watson

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- There is a shiny addition among the Ottoman mosques and palaces that make up Istanbul's stunning skyline: the metallic, mirrored dome of the new Sakirin Mosque, a Muslim place of worship built with a woman's touch.

When sun reflects off Sakirin Mosque's dome, light can be seen across the Bosphorus Strait.

more photos » For what may be the first time in history, women have been at the forefront of the construction of a mosque in Turkey.

One of the project's leaders is Zeynep Fadillioglu, an interior decorator who has designed restaurants, hotels and luxury homes from New Delhi, India, to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and London, England.

She helped organize a team of traditional mosque artists specializing in Islamic calligraphy, along with craftsmen in glassworks, metal-casting and lighting who, like Fadillioglu, have built careers working in exclusively secular architecture and design.

"I want people to feel peaceful and be left with themselves as much as possible and yet have beautiful art and artistic symbolism around them," she said.

Istanbul has a venerable tradition of mosque architecture, dating back centuries to when Ottoman sultans declared themselves caliph, or spiritual leader of the Muslim world. Watch Zeynep Fadilioglu show off her work and inspirations »

The shores of the Bosporus Strait are studded with 16th century masterpieces such as the Suleymaniye Mosque, built by the Ottoman Empire's most famous architect, Mimar Sinan, and ornate, neo-Baroque jewels designed by the Armenian Balyan family in the 19th century. But Istanbul's most senior Muslim cleric laments that mosque design suffered a decline after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the wake of World War I.

"In the last 70, 80 years, we have built mosques that are copies of Ottoman architecture," said Mustafa Cagrici, the mufti of Istanbul. "This wasn't a good development, because the copy can never be as good as the original."

Fadillioglu and her team of artists are hoping to change that. Look at photos of the mosque »

The Sakirin Mosque was commissioned by a wealthy Turkish Arab family and built in one of Istanbul's oldest cemeteries.

The designers put a number of contemporary touches on the structure, giving it plate glass walls etched with gold-leaf verses from the Quran, framed by giant cast-iron grids.

Fact Box
"If we think about this place as a home of God, we can also say women will make this place much better."
Carpenter Metin Cekeroglu
The mihrab -- the alcove that points worshippers in the direction of Mecca -- is made of asymmetrical ovals, similar to a design used by Fadillioglu to decorate a restaurant in London. And the chandelier is a multi-layered series of metal and plexiglass rings, carrying Quranic inscriptions and dripping with scores of delicate glass teardrops.

"The glass chandelier brings the high dome down to the people," Fadillioglu explained. "So when they pray and kneel they don't feel lost with the light and it shelters them."

Many of the artists here never worked on a mosque before.

"It's special that a woman's hand is involved in this," said one of them, a male carpenter named Metin Cekeroglu. "If you think about it, a home is made by woman. And if we think about this place as a home of God, we can also say women will make this place much better."

Fadillioglu said one of her goals was to bring extra attention into the design of the women's section of the mosque, an area that she says is often neglected by architects. According to Islamic tradition, worshippers are segregated by gender at mosques.

"I have seen mosques where women have been pushed to the worst part of stairs, cramped area. Sort of as if (they are) unwanted in the mosque," she said. "That is not what Islam is about. ... Women are equal in Islam to men"

Five minutes' drive from the Sakirin Mosque stands the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, a 16th century structure built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in honor of his favorite daughter. Unfortunately, female worshippers do not get to enjoy its stunning stained glass windows the way the men do. They have to pray in a small women's section, hidden behind a bank of chest-high shelves that store shoes.

At the Sakirin Mosque, Fadillioglu said, she gave women praying on the balcony an unobstructed view of the dome, the ornate chandelier, and the area on the floor where the imam will lead prayers.

"I would like to come here to pray," said Elif Demir, an 18-year old art student with a funky, orange-dyed haircut who was working on the chandelier. "This mosque is completely different because of the light that's coming through the walls, through the glass."

Fadillioglu's role in the Sakirin Mosque is all the more surprising because she comes from a jet-set side of Turkish society not normally associated with Islam.

"It is unusual," she conceded, "because first of all not many modern people have been commissioned to design a mosque."

She spoke in a recent interview at Ulus 29, the expensive Istanbul hilltop restaurant and bar that is owned by her husband. Amid the Ottoman- and Selcuk-inspired flourishes she has sprinkled around the restaurant are echoes of designs seen at the Sakirin Mosque. A glass chandelier made of hundreds of crystal tear drops hangs above the bar, similar in style to the mosque's chandelier.

Fadillioglu said being a night club owner does not prevent her from also being a Muslim.

"You might be surprised in Turkey to find some very modern-looking people being very religious at the same time," she said.

Religion is a hot-button political issue in Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country with a strict secular system of government.

For the past eight years a fierce power struggle has been under way between an urban secular elite and a rising new class of religiously conservative Turks from the Anatolian heartlands. Unlike the wives of Turkey's Islamic-rooted president and prime minister, Fadillioglu does not wear the Islamic headscarf that is often seen as the symbol of this new class of Turks.

Fadillioglu said politics have polarized society.

"In my childhood ... you didn't differentiate between who was religious," she explained. "Whoever wants to worship or visit this mosque, its open, its ready for them."

On May 8, Turkey's prime minister attended an inauguration ceremony for the Sakirin Mosque.

Afterward, in an interview with CNN, the mufti of Istanbul called it the start of a new era of mosque design in Turkey.

"It is in Islamic tradition for women to commission mosques ... and now we have women who are building mosques as well," Cagrici said. "God willing, I hope the world will see more of these beautiful mosques, touched by women's hands."



  1. What is this world coming to when we start praising prostitutes for building masajid. Masjid such as that should be torn down. If she cannot understand the wisdom in hijab how can she understand the wisdom in building a masjid. We are alive to please Allah not the creation. it is sickening to see Islam on this earth so long and we follow the same paths of destruction like those before us. Even though we ask everyday not to go down the road of those who caused Allah's wrath we still go seeking to go down that road. Oh Allah let us die in the state of imaan.

  2. Salaam Yusuf Ali,

    The Muslims have an allowance for extremism; 1/100th of 1% of Muslims = 1.6 Million Muslims you are one of the 1.6 Million of them. Thank Allah, we will not see a number higher than that, who would subscribe to your language used in the comment above.

    Thank you for showing up, you are very welcome. If you have studied Islam, you would appreciate the great works of Hazrat Aisha and several other women who have contributed to building of socieities.

    Would you characterize your language that you have used to refer to the woman architect, to be that of the Language of a Muslim? If not, I would like you to be a Muslim in your language and your actions, would you?

    Jazak Allah Khair



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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.