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date: 13 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses a host of aesthetic leitmotifs that characterize Muslim religious architecture in the United States. It examines the taxonomy of images that define the American mosque, including modern-day themes, nostalgic features, and diaspora aesthetics. All of these sentiments deploy powerful visual and interpretive meanings. Stylistically the problems attendant upon interpretive meanings stand between three different ideologies of style: first, hybridity: a strict adherence to an aesthetic tradition containing disparate and mixed elements; second, simulacrum: an attempt to copy or replicate a popular cultural idea from an aesthetic tradition without experimentation but with a predominance of anachronism; and finally, contextualism: a faithful attempt to understand genius loci, modernity, tradition, and urbanism. Four case studies—The Islamic Center in Washington, DC (1957); Dar al-Islam Mosque in Abiquiu, New Mexico (1981); The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, Ohio (1983); and The Islamic Cultural Center of New York, City (1991)—all present a thought-provoking overview of how hybridity, simulacra, and contextualism can be further understood. Finally the chapter raises issues related to American mosque worship, including the question of gender and women’s space in communal worship.

Keywords: American mosque, religious architecture, hybridity, simulacra, contextualism, diaspora, gender, and aesthetics

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