Islamic architecture is recognizable from Spain to India. It was all part of Muslim rule over one-half the known world that they achieved after Muhammads death. Dr. John D. Hoag makes an interesting statement early in his concise history of Islamic architecture. When Muhammad redirected his prayers from the Temple at Jerusalem to the Kaaba at Mecca, the ancient Arabian center of pagan pilgrimage, he turned Islam into a national Arab movement.
Muslim civilization concentrated their architectural efforts around 2 types of buildings: The mosque and the palace. The mosque is a shelter and a refuge from the turbulent life of the crowded city. Each Muslim is involved in his own salvation each wrapped in an inner calm that is unknown to a Westerner.
The palace, on the other hand, uses every resource of architectural symbolism to emphasize the power and authority of the ruler. At times, Dr. Hoags writings are lyrical in his understanding of the methods and goals of various architectural changes.
During the first 40 pages, Hoag tells readers what is unique about what they will see in the succeeding pages. Then, he shows extraordinary examples of Islamic architecture. I found it helpful to go back-and-forth between the text and the photos.
I was surprised to see how much I learned in less than 140 pages. Dr. Hoag added something important to the usual photos he gave a floor plan and sometimes drawings to show how the finished building fit into the whole. I dont know much about architecture but these additions added much to my understanding.
Dr John D. Hoag was a graduate of Harvard and worked as chief librarian at Yale. Later, he taught at the U of Colorado, Boulder.
Incredibly, Hoag mastered Mayan, Aztec, Egyptian, Islamic art and architecture and it shows in his ability to cover concisely 1300+ years of the Muslims urge to convey the centrality of God in his life through architecture.
4.5 stars because of b/w photos