The mosque, an emblematic building in Islam, while theoretically requiring nothing more than marking the direction of prayer, has developed a number of distinctive architectural forms. Local building traditions and differing social and cultural contexts have influenced the diversity of mosque architectures and methods in which mosques have been built.
The mosque has developed a number of architectural forms, including the “hypostyle”, the “four-iwan”, the “domed central space”, the “pavilion” and the “three-domed”. These forms have developed over the centuries and continue to be used and re-used to the present day. In the contemporary world, the practice of reverting to well-known mosque forms and the ease of use of the familiar over recent decades can be understood by Muslims everywhere to re-present themselves as Muslim. What has emerged is a pan-Islamic model, i.e. the use of domes and a minaret, a standard mosque architectural vocabulary that has no exact local reference point, but is increasingly read everywhere by Muslims and non-Muslims alike as “Muslim” places of worship. This is particularly the case in contexts where Muslims are a minority, such as Europe and North America.
The increasing standardisation of architectural vocabulary used in mosque construction presents challenges for maintaining the long-standing tradition Muslims have had in constructing architecturally diverse spaces of worship.