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TitleDictionary of Islamic Architecture
ISBN 139780203203873
File Size5.2 MB
Total Pages353
Table of Contents
                            Book Cover
The Mediterranean World showing principal historic cities and sites
The Middle  East and Central Asia showing principal historic cities and sites
Document Text Contents
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Page 176


Libiya (Libyan Arab People’s Socialist State)

been seen as the cause of North Africa’s
comparative backwardness in the Middle Ages.
More recently this view has been modified, but the
idea of the political weakness of the area cannot be
dispelled. During the twelfth century this weakness
was exploited by Roger, the Norman king of Sicily,
who established a Norman kingdom in Ifriqiya
which included the area of Libiya. After the
expulsion of the Normans the history of Libiya is
fragmented into successive dynasties controlling
individual cities. For a brief period in the early
sixteenth century part of Libiya was occupied by
the Spanish, but they were soon displaced by the
Ottomans who established naval bases on the coast
to harass European shipping in the Mediterranean.
During the eighteenth century Libiya was briefly
ruled by the semi-independent Qarahmanli
dynasty. In 1911 Libiya was again brought under
European rule when the Italians invaded and
established the country as an Italian colony.

The main building materials in Libiya are stone
and mud brick. Re-used Roman or Byzantine stone
has always been in plentiful supply so that many of
the older buildings in Tripoli, Adjdabiyah or
elsewhere use Roman columns and capitals. Mud

brick was employed as a cheap alternative when
dressed stone was not readily available, although
baked brick was also sometimes used. In the
southern desert areas where Roman material was not
so plentiful the main building material is roughly
hewn stones set within a mud mortar. This use of
material determined architectural forms, thus in the
Jabal Nafusa area tall triangular arches were used as
there was no suitable material for normal arch

With the exception of the occasional building in
the old Byzantine coastal cities, the first distinctive
Islamic architecture in Libiya dates from the Fatimid
period. During the later tenth century the Fatimids
were increasingly interested in Egypt and to this end
developed a number of garrison cities or staging
posts on the route between Mahdiya and Egypt.
Probably the best-known site is the garrison city of
Ajdabiya, south-west of Benghazi, which had both a
large mosque and a palace. The palace is a
rectangular stone-built structure with a central
courtyard flanked by suites of rooms. Directly
opposite the entrance is a monumental portico which
gives access to the principal rooms of the palace
which are arranged in a T-plan. The mosque was a
mud-brick building with stone used for the corners,
piers and jambs. The mosque had a main entrance
in the north-west side opposite the mihrab as well
as several lateral entrances. The aisles run at right
angles to the qibla wall, with the exception of the
transept adjacent to the qibla wall which runs parallel
(an arrangement frequent in Fatimid mosques). The
mosque is important for its early evidence of a
minaret which consists of a square base with an
octagonal shaft, a design which later became the basis
for the Mamluk minarets of Cairo.

Another early Fatimid site is the city of Madinah
Sultan (Surt or Sirt) which is approximately midway
between Benghazi and Tripoli. The city was enclosed
by a large oval-shaped town wall with at least three
gateways. One of the larger buildings uncovered
during excavations was the Friday mosque which is
oriented south-east (an incorrect qibla). The mosque
had four gates, the most prominent of which was
the monumental north gate which is of double width.
Monumental gateways are a characteristic feature of
Fatimid mosques and can also be seen at Mahdiya
in Tunisia and in Cairo. The Madinah Sultan Mosque
has a central aisle running at right angles to the qibla
wall, although unusually for North Africa the rest
of the aisles run parallel to the qibla wall. Some

Beirut house, Lebanon © Kerry Abbott

Page 177


Libiya (Libyan Arab People’s Socialist State)

remains of the original decorative scheme of the
mosque have been recovered including stucco frames
for coloured glass windows, red and green coloured
bricks. There are traces of a subsidiary mihrab in the
arcade facing the courtyard which may possibly be
the remains of an eighth-century mosque which was
rebuilt in 952 by the Fatimid caliph al-Muciz. Several
other Fatimid establishments are known but have not
yet been investigated in detail; one of the better known
examples is Qasr al-Hammam near the ancient site of
Leptis Magna.

Few early Islamic remains survive in Tripoli
although traces of the rebuilt Umayyad fortification
walls have been excavated. These were made of stone
and mortar and vary between 6 and 7 m in thickness.
The oldest mosque in Tripoli is the al-Naqah Mosque
which was probably built by the Fatimid caliph al-
Muciz in 973 although some suggest that it may be
older. The present shape of the mosque is irregular
indicating numerous alterations throughout history
although the basic plan consists of a rectangular
courtyard and a sanctuary or prayer hall covered
with forty-two brick domes. Although many of the
other mosques in Tripoli may have medieval origins
their remains mostly date from the Ottoman period.
Few important monuments of the post Fatimid
medieval period in Libiya have survived although
many small mosques may date to the medieval
period. At the oasis site of Ujlah (Awjlah) 200 km
to the south of Ajdabiya is a small twelfth-century
mosque built of stone and brick. The mosque
consists of at least twelve bays covered with pointed
conical domes, although the most interesting
feature of the building is the recessed minbar niche
to the side of the mihrab (this feature is also found
in East Africa and Arabia and may represent an
Ibadi tradition). South of Tripoli in the area of Jabal
Nafusa is a region with a high concentration of
ancient mosques, many of which date from before

the thirteenth century. Many of these mosques are
built partially underground giving them a low
profile and an organic feel accentuated by the
absence of minarets. The area is also characterized
by fortified store houses, known as qusur (plural
of qasr), which consist of agglomerations of barrel-
vaulted units contained within a defensive wall. The
barrel-vaulted units are often stacked one on top
of the other and are reached by ladder or ropes.
During peaceful times each qasr functions as a
central storage area and in times of attack the
population of the village retreats into the qasr where
it can withstand a long siege.

See also: Ajdabiya, Fatimids, Tripoli (Libiya)

Further reading:

A.Abdussaid, ‘Early Islamic monuments at Ajdabiyah’,
Libiya Antiqua 1: 115–19, 1964.

—— ‘An early mosque at Medina Sultan (Ancient Sort)’,
Libiya Antiqua 3–4 : 155–60, 1967.

—— ‘Barqa, modern al-Merj’, Libiya Antiqua 8: 121–8,

J.W.Allan, ‘Some mosques on the Jabal Nefusa’, Libiya
Antiqua 9–10 : 147–69, 1973.

J.M.Evans, ‘The traditional house in the Oasis of
Ghadames’, Libyan Studies 7: 31–40, 1976.

A.Hutt, ‘Survey of Islamic sites’, Libyan Studies 3: 5–6,

—— Islamic Architecture: North Africa, London 1977.
G.R.D.King, ‘Islamic archaeology in Libiya 1969–1989’,

Libyan Studies 20: 193–207, 1989.
N.M.Lowick, ‘The Arabic inscriptions on the mosque of

Abu Macruf at Sharwas (Jebel Nefusa)’, Libyan Studies,
5: 14–19, 1974.

A.M.Ramadan, Reflections on Islamic Architecture in Libiya,
Tripoli 1975.

M.Shagluf, ‘The Old Mosque of Ujlah’, Some Islamic Sites
in Libiya, Art and Archaeology Research Papers,
London 1976, 25–8.

H.Ziegert and A.Abdussalam, ‘The White Mosque at
Zuila’, Libiya Antiqua 9–10 : 221–2, 1973.

Page 352



Turkish Triangles, 208
Turkmenistan, 292–3
Turkoman dynasties, 121
Tutabeg Khatun tomb, Urgench, Uzbekistan 51 ill.
Tyre, 161

�Ubaid Allah, Mahdi, 168
al-�Ubbad mosque, Tlemcen, 284
Üç Serefeli Cami, Edirne 77 ill., 78, 190, 220, 256, 260
Uchch, 227
Udayya Gate, Rabat, 244
Udruh fortress, 88, 105, 141
Uighurs, 54
Ujlah, 166
Ukhaidhir, 139, 140, 147, 167, 294

palace of, 1, 89, 107, 252
al-�Ula, 253
ulu cami see under place names
Ulugh Beg, 283
Ulugh Beg madrassa, Samarkand, 38, 249
�Umar, caliph, 22, 135, 182
�Umar ibn al-Khattab, 254
al-Umari, 171–2
Umayyads, 1, 59, 120, 125, 135, 143, 295–7
Umm al-Jemal, 138
Umm al-Quwain, 297
Umm Haram, tomb of, Cyprus, 58
Umm Qeis, 138, 141
Unguja Ukuu, 316
Ungwana, 77, 145
United Arab Emirates, 297–9
United Kingdom see British; Great Britain
United States of America, 299–300
Upper Egypt, 70–80, 85
�Uqba ibn Nafi, 164, 192, 238–9, 288
Urgench, 293, 300, 301
Urumqui, 54
Üskudar, 128
Usqaf Bani Junayd, 296
Uthman, 182
Uzbekistan, 300–1
Uzbeks, 38, 111
al-Uzza, 142

Vakif Han, 224
Vakil Mosque, Shiraz, 123
Valide Bend dam, Belgrade forest, Istanbul, 62, 130
Vandals, 288
Varamin, Great Mosque, 115, 122
Venetians, 57, 101
Verria, 102
Via Nova Traiana, 138
Visigoths, 263, 266, 284
voussoirs, joggled, 137

Wa, 176, 305
Wadi Hadramat, 310, 311, 312
al-Wajh, 253
Walata see Oualata
al-Walid, 20, 22–4, 61, 135, 150, 180, 182, 186, 196, 237, 240,

251, 295, 302

al-Walid II, 140, 149, 197, 230
Wasit, 125, 186, 296, 302

Great Mosque, 240, 295
al-Wasiti, 29
Waterbury, Connecticut, Albanian mosque, 9
Wazir Khan mosque, Lahore 159, 228 ill.
West Africa, 302–9

architecture, 306–8
Fulbe areas 304
map minarets in, 190
principal Islamic sites 303 map

West Bank, 229
White Mosque, Ramla 244 ill., 245
White Palace, Shar-i Sabz, 258
William II, 258

Xian, Great Mosque, 54
Xinjiang, 53, 54

Yadudeh, 141
Yafurids, 310
Yakut, 316
Yambol bedestan, 40
Yang Chou, 52
Yangoro Mosque, Kano, 143
Ya�qub al-Mansur, 244
Yaqut of Dabul, 99
Yarhisar Cami, Istanbul, 129
Yarmouk, battle of, 138
Yasavi, Shrine of, Turkestan, 310
Yasi see Turkestan
Yathrib, 182, 252
Yayha al-Shabih, tomb of, at Fustat, 45
Yazd, 124

Great Mosque, 122
Yazdigrid, 120
Yazid, caliph, 57, 58
Yemen, 310–15
Yeni Kapilica, Bursa, 42
Yeni Valide complex, 223
Yenice-i Vardar, 102
Yesil Cami

Bursa, 41, 42, 78, 220, 280, 315
Iznik, 217, 219

Yidirim Cami, Edirne, 78
Yolo, 306
Yotvata, 107
Young Turks, 216
Yogyakarta palace, 132, 270
Yozgat, clock tower, 224
Yuan dynasty, 52, 53–4
Yunnan, 53
yurt, 290
Yusuf, 263, 264
Yusuf I mosque, Alhambra, 15
Yusuf ibn al-Hajjaj, 143, 295
Yusuf ibn Tashfin, 176–7

tomb of, Marakesh, 177
Yusuf Khan, 35

Zabid, Great Mosque 311, 312 ill.

Page 353



Zafar Khan, mosque of, Ghazi 34 ill.
al-Zahir, 24, 107
al-Zahir Baybars, mosque of, Cairo 47, 48 ill
al-Zahiriyyah madrassa, Aleppo, 12
Zaituna Mosque, Tunis, 287
Zal Mahmut Pasha complex, 222
Zamin, Imam, 242
Zamzam, well of, Mecca, 178, 180
Zands, 121, 123
Zangids, 12
Zanzibar, 73, 212, 316–17
Zanzibar town, 316–17
Zaragoza, 317–18
Zaranj, minaret at Sistan, 4
Zaria, 109, 143, 306
zaure, 109
Zavareh, mosque of, 122
Zaviye Cami, Plovdiv, 40

Zawara, mosque, 197
zawiya, 219, 318
Zawiyat al Hunud minaret, Cairo, 46
Zayidi Shida, 310
Zayidis, 310, 311
Zella, 168
Zerka, 138

Mamluk fort, 105
Zhara�, 167
ziarat, 144
zilij, 280, 318
Zirids, 15, 164
Ziyad, mosque of, Basra, 32
Ziyadat Allah, 271, 289
Ziza Palace, Sicily, 258
Zoroastrians, 26
Zubalah, 106
Zubayda, 106
Zumurrud Khatun Tomb, Baghdad, 29, 126

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