6 - The Early Monumental Mosques of Ifriqiya and Al-Andalus (670-1000)


Ifriqiya: Present day Libya, Tunisia, and most of Algeria.

Al-Andalus: Southern Spain, but used in Arabic sources to designate all of Islamic Spain.

Ribat: Originally designated a building type that was both military and religious in character. It was a fortified barrack for those volunteers (murabitun) whose piety led them to devote themselves to guarding the frontiers of the Islamic state.

Qayrawan the Islamic capital of Ifriqiya, founded by Uqba ibn Nafi' in 664. He built in it a dar al-imara (palace of the governor) and the congregational mosque which carries his name (the Mosque of Sidi Uqba).

The Aghlabids: A dynasty that ruled Ifriqiya and Sicily between 800 and 909. Their capital was at Qayrawan, and they paid tribute to the Abbasids.

The Umayyads of Spain (756-1031): After the fall of the Umayyad dynasty in 750, a scion of the family, Abd al-Rahman I, fled to Spain and established a principality in Cordoba independent of the Abbasids. His great grandson, Abd al-Rahman III (912-961) declared a new Umayyad caliphate with its capital in Cordoba

Main Features of North African Mosques:
  • Hypostyle plan with arcaded porticoes on the three sides of the courtyard
  • T shaped plan of prayer hall (axial nave and transverse arcade in front of mihrab), with aisles perpendicular to the qibla wall.
  • Dome above the mihrab.
  • Square-based tower as minarets.


The Great Mosque of Qayrawan

The Mosque of Muhammad ibn Khairun at Qayrawan


The Ribat of Susa, Tunisia






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