Mosque Manifesto offers a repertoire of ways in which creative forms of Islamic representation may foster better understanding between cultures, and generate a critical response. Narrated in the form of a manifesto, this monograph brings together a unique range of mosque-themed projects created by artist and architectural historian Azra Akšamija.
What the conflicts over the newly planned mosques in countries such as France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Italy, and the United States have in common is the attitude that it is acceptable to build a new mosque, as long as it does not look like one. Notwithstanding the fact that Muslim citizens in these countries have a legal right to build their places of worship, the widely established understanding of the mosque as a specific building type very much goes against its fluid spatial definition and its multifaceted formal possibilities. Ongoing debates over cultural and religious pluralism in the wake of a growing public visibility of Muslims in Western Europe and the United States reveal the xenophobic and orientalist thinking that often informs these discussions. By what creative means might one integrate Muslim diasporas in the “West” into these discussions? Can art and architecture empower alienated Muslim communities and inspire cross-cultural understanding?
Mosque Manifesto offers a repertoire of ways in which creative forms of Islamic representation may generate empathy across cultures and counter polarization of our global society. The monograph brings together a range of unique and multidisciplinary projects created by the artist and architectural historian Dr. Azra Akšamija, who has been exploring the theoretical, historical, socio-political and architectural dimensions of the mosque for more than ten years. The book presents a new theory of the mosque in form of a manifesto, exemplified through the lens of ten projects by Akšamija. Redefined through a set of conceptual generative principles, the mosque is not to be understood as a specific building type, as Akšamija claims and makes evident through her generic and personal, wearable and portable mosque designs. The mosque can also be thought of as an ephemeral, educational and performative space that can facilitate both religious and secular programs. As such, it can express spiritual, socio-cultural, and emotional needs of its community and postulate a space for a dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims. Overall, the book questions the notion of agency in art and architecture in providing a critical response to societal polarization around Islam.