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Contemporary Mosque Architecture in Turkey

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Samaa Moustafa Ahmed Moustafa


Early in the twentieth century in a quest for national identity and a need for

modernity –both are products of the west - Turkey among many other Islamic countries

embarked on a massive building project as part of its broader process of modernization.

While new forms and styles were incorporated to mirror the modern and civilized vision

of the new nation-state, the architecture of the mosque remained conservative with a few

exceptions which started to appear only in the last quarter of the same century. The

architecture of the medieval mosque has enriched our minds with knowledge about

Islamic religious values, social cultures, local architectural traditions and craftsmanship.

Today, the architecture of the contemporary mosque confronts us with stirring debates

between binary opposing perspectives such as modernity versus tradition, nationalism

versus religion and state versus society.

As a case study Turkey has a strong history of nationalism. Its westernization

began in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and its modernization in the first half of

the twentieth century. There have been two national revivals in its architectural culture.

It is perhaps Turkey more than any other country that can shed light on how

secularization brought about a profound effect on the role of religion and the mosque as

evident from the ongoing controversies regarding the design, the location and even the

number of mosques.

Other than religion, social and architectural cultures are other important areas

where change and transformation as the impact of modernization is greatly manifested. 

The new architecture and city planning changed the built environment; the mosque as one

of its many other elements was affected by the change. Furthermore new institutions

emerged and took over the social and educational role of the mosque and its place in

public social life.

Were all these changes expressed in the architecture of modern mosques? What

kind of approach has been taken in the design of modern mosques? What is the role that

the strong Ottoman architectural tradition came to play in the architecture of modern

mosques? What kind of religious, social and political implications do the new examples

yield? Have the new examples expressed the spirit of Islam since the mosque’s primary

function is a place of worship? Equally important have they expressed the spirit of the


It is within the inseparable political, social, and cultural contexts that this research

seeks to study and analysis the architecture of the modern mosque - “the most Islamic

building par excellence” - in Turkey. 



Samaa Moustafa Ahmed Moustafa

The American University in Cairo