Unknown Abu Dulaf Mosque (859)

According to the Quran, the mosque did not imply a religious function; there was no spatial code for the act of individual prayer. Rather, it called for a physical manifestation of the Islamic political ideology inherent in the concept of ummah: the community of the faithful. It was a political apparatus installed in new lands to mobilize, manage, and control territories. As a simple, expandable structure, it could provide basic necessities for the early Muslim communities.

The mosque was not just the center of the city, but the city itself. New settlements were constructed literally by laying out the mosque as a camp: a defined space, which served exclusively Muslim purposes.

The Mosque of Abu Dulaf, an example of architecture as an ideological vessel, followed almost the same model as the Great Mosque of Samarra, measuring 214 by 135 meters and set inside a nearby square enclosure of 358 by 347 meters. A double arcade of rectangular piers forms the courtyard portico, while the prayer hall has sixteen arcades oriented perpendiculary to the quibla wall, which looks out on two larger portico buildings to the east and west. Beyond lies a housing complex composed of a main courtyard with four iwan halls and one secondary courtyard. Around the main courtyard are eighteen more houses noticeable in the outer enclosure. The extensive number and structuring of dwelling-spaces affirms the integration of the idea of ideological borders, inhabitable walls, within the plans, while the abstraction of the space goes beyond the simplicity of early primitive mosques; it signifies an iconic representation of the Islamic philosophy of space.”

— Khosravi – The Political Theology of the Islamic City