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The Islamic Influence
|by Ashish Nangia|
Though it had been the subject of marauding Muslim raids since the 8th century A.D., it was not until 1192 A.D. that Delhi got its first Muslim ruler - Qutb-ud-Din Aibak - the founder of the so-called Slave or Mamluk dynasty. A combination of superior tactics and weaponry and the infighting amongst the region's Hindu princedoms combined to make the forces of Islam irresistible, much like in the rest of the civilized world. It is also accepted that raids for land or booty were later 'translated' into more acceptable crusades for conversion of the infidel by many contemporary writers - and this could be one reason for the new Muslim rulers to feverishly start building activity as another sign of their missionary zeal.
Muslim building types
Throughout, Muslim rule was marked by spectacular monuments, many of which count as among the finest in the world. Islamic building types may be divided into two main categories:
To use a quote:
It is the pre-eminence of prayer that dominates much religious architecture in Islam. The Koran lays down a precise ritual wherein the prayer mat is on the axis (qibla) towards Mecca. Thus the principal public place of worship - the mosque or masjid - must provide for the considerable number of mats used as a community, especially at the Friday (juma) noon prayers.
Having conquered by war, the Muslims were very conscious of the need for strong fortifications - and these often reflect parallel developments in the West - influence being derived from the Holy Land - the Middle East. Gradually these defensive forts developed into cities in which a large number of other structures were built - wells, palaces, stables and halls of audience.
A fusion of cultures - Indo-Islamic Architecture
"Nothing could illustrate more graphically the religious and racial diversity, or emphasize more decisively the principles underlying the consciousness of each community, than the contrast between their respective places of worship, as represented by the mosque on the one hand, and the temple on the other…Compared with the clarity of the mosque, the temple is an abode of mystery; the courts of the former are open to light and air, with many doorways, inviting publicity, the latter encloses 'a phantasma of massive darkness', having somber passages leading to dim cells, jealously guarded and remote ... architecturally the mosque is wholly visible and intelligible, while the temple is not infrequently introspective, complex and indeterminate." 3
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