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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Zehra Razavi: The woman behind the Sakirin Mosque

The modernist Sakirin Mosque, designed by Zeynep Fadillioglu, is the first mosque in Turkey designed by a female and comes at a time when Turkey remains deeply divided over the role of religion within society. In such an environment Fadillioglu hopes the mosque will become a symbol of unity.

The metal sphere of the Sakirin Mosque cuts into the city’s horizon, a sharp contrast to the otherwise uniform shapes set against the pale sky; specialists in Istanbul hand-crafted the enormous wrought -iron and glass façade, painstakingly etching verses from the Holy Qur’an into the interior glass. An asymmetrical bronze and Plexiglas chandelier constructed in China and made from thousands of individually crafted shards of glass, which mimic raindrops, appears to dangle precariously from the ceiling of the 130 foot diameter dome. The glass drops are inspired by a prayer which asks that Allah's light should fall upon the supplicant like rain. The mimbar, or pulpit, resembles a graceful white stairway, which one imagines will continue to the heavens, but stops short at a platform where the Imam will stand. And finally, the mihrab, a stylized niche designating the kibla, is tulip-shaped and a vibrant turquoise in color—“an opening to God," says the designer.

Along with her efforts to build a mosque which balanced the modern design elements with traditional ones, Fadillioglu grappled with another issue: Should women be allowed in a mosque's main hall or confined to separate quarters? Fadillioglu drew on her own experiences praying in mosques. "In the Prophet's time, men and women prayed next to each other," she said. "Lately, with the rise of political Islam everywhere, the women's sections have started to be covered up and boxed off. I've been in mosques like that, and I felt very uncomfortable." She decided to return to what she felt were the religion’s roots. Fadillioglu designed an expansive balcony overlooking the central hall and divided only by crisscrossed railings. The balcony has an airy, open feel and allows women to have an unobstructed view of the entire mosque.

More pictures here (the copy is in Turkish): LINK

And another article from NPR

Related NPR Stories
Oct. 11, 2007Two Mosques, Two Different Reactions In Germany
Sep. 28, 2007Future London Mosque Sparks Debate
July 16, 2007Istanbul's Tarlabasi Under Constant Transformation
Sep. 4, 2006San Francisco Mosque Removes Wall Between Sexes

[thanks SPA for the links]


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