Updated: Oct 14, 2021
- a modern apology of Islamic architecture
Istanbul, a fairytale in the Middle East, is rightfully called the city of mosques. According to official figures, at the beginning of 2014, there were 3,190 active mosques in Istanbul. Under the city’s architectural plans, the number of mosques in Istanbul will reach 3250.
Since Istanbul is home to many ancient mosques, modern Islamic architecture can hardly be considered a city attraction. However, Şakirin Mosque (pronounced Shakirin Mosque) is one of the pleasant exceptions. Mosques in Turkey usually follow the Byzantine or the Ottoman architectural design. However, the Şakirin Mosque is a modern interpretation of what Islamic architecture could be.
Şakirin Mosque (Şakirin Camii) is the most original Mosque in Turkey and the world. It is also one of the most carbon-neutral Mosques in Turkey. Its inauguration was in May 2009 in one of the most religious districts of Istanbul - Üsküdar.
The Şakirin Mosque (Şakirin Camii) was built in memory of Ibrahim and Semiha Shakir by their children Gazi, Ghada, and Gassan, who live in London. The Mosque’s name is a reflection of the surname, but it also has a different meaning. If you translate the word Shakirin, the literal meaning is “those who are thankful (to Allah swt)” in Arabic. The construction lasted for four to five years, and finally, in 2009, the Şakirin Mosque opened its hospitable doors to visitors. The architecture of the building is truly exclusive! Nevertheless, it has all the features inherent in Islamic architecture: courtyard, domes, minarets.
“ According to official figures, at the beginning of 2014, there were 3,190 active mosques in Istanbul. ”
The Mosque has two minarets towering to 35m in height. The Mosque’s exterior design is very sleek; a metallic and grey look gives it a modern vibe of contemporary architecture. Aluminum composite covers the dome following a “shell dome” style structure that leaves the Mosque glowing with blue light at night. The dome is based on a square structure, a geometric shape with all sides equal in perfect harmony with how everyone is equal in the eyes of Allah swt.
Zeynep Fadilioglu, the great-niece of Ibrahim and Semiha Şakir designed the interior of the Şakirin Mosque. She happens to be the first woman to ever design a mosque.
Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu is an interior designer for shops, restaurants, and luxury hotels. Zeynep graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in Computer Science. Later on, she continued to study Art, History & Design in London at Inchbald School of Design. She currently teaches at Istanbul Bilgi University in addition to running her design firm, ZF Design.
The Şakirin Mosque was her first project with a place of worship. Her attention to detail has been widely praised. When asked, this is what she said about the Mosque, “It might be the color, it might be the texture, it might be the form, but each and every piece I have designed in the Mosque has some connection with tradition.”
According to Zeyneb herself, the modesty you feel under the large dome, the peace of mind you feel under the low-hanging chandelier symbolizes that Islam is a religion of serenity and peace.
The main worship area comprises a single domed space with lots of natural light. The Mosque has windows on three sides instead of walls. The metalwork is done in such a way that it allows natural light to flood the space leaving the worshipper to feel caressed.
The Şakirin Mosque differs from other mosques in Istanbul, especially by its interior decoration. Here we see a golden turquoise mihrab, more like a seashell, and a minbar made of acrylic (not wood and stone), but with traditional steps for preaching. The acrylic minbar was created by Tayfun Erdoğmuş. A gracefully curved minbar gives both modern and historic atmospheres to the interior of the Mosque.
Being the first Mosque designed by a woman, the section for female worshippers is very exceptional. As a general rule, in Islam, women pray behind men or a curtain. In this Mosque, the women’s prayer section is on the first floor. Female worshippers can pray with the dazzling view of the chandelier.
The grandeur chandelier is another peculiarity of the Mosque. Designed by Nahide Büyükkaymakçı, the chandelier is in the shape of water drops, symbolizing the reflection of prayer, where Allah’s light would fall on the worshipper like rain. The rings of the chandelier are specially decorated with the 99 names of Allah swt.
The Şakirin Mosque symbolizes the past and the present, the connecting bridge of the East and the West, the balance between sleek modernism and traditional ornamentation. Despite its uniqueness, it does have one thing in common with every other place of worship: serenity.