The exterior of the Adlah Mohammed Abdulrahman Al-Bahar Mosque reveals the building’s segmentation into five stone masses and its alignment to the qibla and the site. -- Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat
The exterior of the Adlah Mohammed Abdulrahman Al-Bahar Mosque reveals the building’s segmentation into five stone masses and its alignment to the qibla and the site. -- Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Mamluki Lancet Mosque: An exquisite interplay of historical and modern architecture

Inspired by the traditional Islamic architecture of Egypt, the Mamluki Lancet Mosque (Adlah Mohammed Abdulrahman Al-Bahar Mosque) reflects a unique mélange of historical and modern architecture that honors Arab heritage while embracing the present. Located within the heart of a residential neighborhood in Masayel in Kuwait, the mosque offers a spiritual and functional worship space for the local community.

Kuwait Times joined the designer of the mosque, architect Jassim Al-Saddah, on an exclusive architectural journey to explore this magnificent work of art which took him three years to bring to fruition. At first glance, the exterior of the mosque reveals the building’s segmentation into five stone masses stacked and rotated in alignment to the qibla (prayer direction towards the Kaaba in Makkah) and the site.

The choice of five wasn’t made randomly, but because it is considered a sacred number in Islam. “The fractal relationship between the five different masses is intended to symbolize the five pillars of Islam,” Saddah pointed out, referring to the core beliefs that form the foundation of a Muslim’s life.

Inspired by the historic era of the Mamluk Empire, the color palette of the mosque embraces a modern approach through the harmonious blending of gray stone and white clay that adorn both the interior and exterior, along with enriched ornate detailing. The building replicates a series of lancet arches that are applied in different aspects, such as in the shapes of windows, doors and other structural elements. “The repetition of pattern gives a sense of unity, which is a reminder of Divine unity,” Saddah said, adding “unity gives a distinctive identity to worship places as it creates synchronicity among the design elements, adding an aesthetic touch to it.”

The main entrance of the mosque is made of a grand wooden door inviting worshippers into the sacred space. The door’s shape and design automatically direct one’s attention to one of the most significant elements of mosques — the dome — which lies behind the door. Domes in Islamic architecture represent a form of worship and connection to the sky. Unlike traditional mosques, the dome here is constructed as a half dome, featuring the symbolic Islamic moon inside it. Embodying the mosques’ essence, a stately minaret stands tall, descending to the indoor mihrab area to seamlessly unite the exterior and interior elements.

Stepping inside the mosque, one finds a clear and unobstructed interior that is devoid of any pillars or unneeded embellishments to provide an unhindered open space for prayers. The minimal and calm interior gives a sense of familiarity and belongness with the place, “Places of worship should be simply designed and structured to radiate peace and tranquility, as these features reflect the purity of Islam,” Saddah said.

The place is naturally illuminated by sunlight penetrating through the roof. According to Saddah, this light symbolizes the power of God’s light. The interior walls complement the minimalistic design of the mosque, with engraved Quranic phrases in calligraphic strokes that are elongated to give a modern relief effect.

The mosque’s design embodies a solid structure that perfectly integrates all its parts in a seamless manner, reflecting meaningful messages. Saddah said finding the perfect balance between traditional and modern elements of design was the most challenging part of building this mosque. But he is proud of the unique structure that came into being. He believes in the world of architecture, it’s very crucial to get back to your roots before creating any design, because the richness and deepness of Arab heritage makes it a great source of inspiration for all architects out there.

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