Archive for Arabesque

Masjid Makeover by Rahim’s Wood Gallery

Posted in Architecture, Art, Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2011 by irydhan

My friend, Rahim Akbar is a Naval architect and engineer by day and an inspired artist by night. He hails from a well known Mughal family that is endowed with a rich and rare history in architectural design, woodworking, iron smith and masonry. His outstanding works which are carved in wood, may be seen gracing ceilings, walls, doors, or as stand alone pieces that invite the viewer to step into the world of the written word… or simply remind one of the beauty and serene complexity of Islamic design.  As such, Rahim is reviving in the west the long lost art form of Islamic wood carving, or Naqashkari. He proudly yet humbly follows in the tall footsteps of his grandfather, whose exquisite work in the field may still be seen adorning stately mosques from Sadiqabad in the Punjab, to Sukkar in Sind.

His work can be seen at

One of his recent projects is a brand new Mihrab (Wall with a prayer niche) and Mimbar (stepped seat for sermons) at a small neighborhood mosque in North Carolina.

Check out the video of the installation and final product here:

For more information email Rahim at: or search for “Rahim’s Wood Gallery” on Facebook


Islamic influence on American Architecture (Article)

Posted in Architecture, Art, Islam, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2010 by irydhan






Frank Lloyd Wright's Islamically influenced Marin County Civic Center


Islamic influence on the Design of the World Trade Center

Spanish Moor (Islamic) Influence on the Alamo

Lately, there has been a lot of misinformation and hatred toward Islam and Muslims being spewed out by major media outlets, which in turn has caused a lot of fear in the minds of many Americans about Muslims and thus many mosque projects across the country from New York to Tennessee to California are being criticized and sometimes even attacked by arsonists and vandalism.  So it may be helpful to give a little background on Muslims in America, specifically from an Architectural perspective, to help dispel some of this misinformation and fear which some people may have.

First a little history: Before the discovery of North America, many Spanish explorers, who were influenced greatly by Arab and Muslim culture (since Spain was ruled by Muslims for over 700 years), brought with them Moorish (Muslim) style Architecture to the New World.  This very distinct Islamic style architecture can be seen in many of the Spanish Missions across the United States – the most notable one is “The Alamo” in San Antonio Texas.  The Alamo has an “Alfiz” – a rectangular overhang that frames the entire doorway.  This Alfiz was introduced in Spain in the 8th century via the Aljama Mosque.[1] The interior of the Alamo also had geometric patterns of flowers and pomegranates, which had been painted over by the US Army in the mid 1800’s, but were uncovered in 2000.  Bruce Winders, Alamo’s official historian, believed these frescoes resembled the geometric forms of Moorish (Muslim) art  and architecture.[2] Some other examples of Spanish Moor (Islamic) influenced Architecture in the United States include the Mission San Jose in San Antonio, Texas, the San Xavier del Bac in Tucson, Arizona and Mission San Carlos in Carmel, CA.

Islamic Architecture greatly influenced many of the great Architects of the United States, which can be seen in some of their most well known buildings. For example here in the S.F. Bay Area, there is the Marin County Civic Center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Wright designed the building after his trip to Baghdad in the 1950’s.  The Building has a dome, minaret-like antenna and arches. Although it is in San Rafael, the building was designed for natural air cooling similar to buildings in the Middle East.

Interesting to note, the Architect of the World Trade Center, Minoru Yamasaki was commissioned to design the Dhahran Airport in Saudi Arabia in 1961 and a few years later began design on the WTC in which he incorporated some elements of Islamic Architecture such as the pointed arch structural system at the base and an open courtyard flanked by tall towers (similar to the Mosque of the Ka’aba in Saudi Arabia with a large courtyard and tall minarets).

Today, some people do not want a Mosque to be built near “Ground Zero,” yet Ironically there was already a Muslim “prayer space” in the 17th floor of the South Tower[3] which was also destroyed along with many innocent Muslims who worked in the WTC on that tragic day of Sept. 11th, 2001.  Many Muslim First-Responders, Police officers and Firefighters also died that day trying to save their fellow Americans.

In conclusion , Muslims have been a part of America in one way or the other from it’s very beginning.  Historians have determined that as many as 30% of the African Slaves brought to America were originally Muslim.  One of the first recorded mosques in North American history was on Kent Island, Md started by former slave and Islamic Scholar Job Ben Solomon between 1731 and 1733.[4] Today there are more than 2,000 places of Muslim prayer, most of them mosques, in the United States.[5] Islam and Muslims in America are here to stay, and it is time we learn about each other to create a better understanding, rather than continue to spew ignorance and misinformation which only leads to fear and hatred of each other.

[1] Al’ America: Travels Through America’s Arab & Islamic Roots by Jonathan Curiel, pg. 10.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Muslims and Islam were part of Twin Tower’s Life” by Samuel Freedman in the NY Times, Sept. 10, 2010

[4] “Five Myths about Mosques” by Edward Curtis IV in the Washington Post, Aug. 29, 2010

[5] Ibid.

First Islamic Architecture Mosque Tour in the Bay Area

Posted in Architecture, Art, Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2009 by irydhan

The Islamic Society of the East Bay (ISEB) will host its first Islamic Architecture Mosque tour in Fremont, CA. The tour of the 10,000 square foot mosque and recently completed 13,000 square foot school building will be lead by Amin Adil Qazi, Architect,  AIA (American Institute of Architects), and Shakeel Ahmed, PE. The tour will also include a presentation about Islamic influences on American Architecture by Irfan Rydhan, Assoc. AIA.

“This event offers a unique opportunity for the Architectural community to see an example of Islamic architecture in the Bay Area and we invite the whole community to share in the Muslim community’s recently completed Mosque project,” said Irfan Rydhan, Assoc. AIA. He continued by saying,“Islamic Architecture is an important part of the development of Muslim communities in America, and can be enjoyed by the entire community, not just Muslims.”

WHAT:      Architectural Tour of ISEB Mosque
                        Presentation on Islamic influences on American Architecture
                        Observation of Islamic Friday Prayers
                        Complimentary Snacks
WHERE:    33330 Peace Terrace,
                         Fremont, CA 94555
WHEN:       Friday May 1st, 2009
                         1:00p.m. – 3:00p.m.

The tour is Free and open to the general public.  To confirm attendance, please RSVP to Ahsan Baig at
For more information, please visit:

ISEB Mosque Tour Flyer