Onion domes

The NYT has a story on the conversion of a disused church into a mosque in a small Lancashire town. The reader can make up her own mind about the reporting and the social and cultural impact this mosque might have.

I am more interested in the end of the article. Sheraz Arshad, who had led the campaign to build a mosque in the town, says of the proposed changes to the church:

“We don’t want a dome […] That looks pretty in Egypt and Turkey, but in a market town in England it looks like a big onion. There will be no external call to prayer. What matters is what goes on inside.”

At last, a Muslim (other than me) who doesn’t want a dome on a mosque where there is no need for one.

I am a fan of mosques in Britain not looking like something from Cairo or Lahore. Rather, Muslims could engage in some form of cultural assimilation (I use that word deliberately) through the architecture of mosques. This includes looking at building materials used in mosque building projects. No more of the 1980s red-brick municipal office look (complete with green dome and gold trimmings), please! Other Muslims have been doing engaging in so for generations. No reason why we in Britain cannot. But this will mean overcoming both the internalisaiton of certain ‘orientalist’ themes, and the arrogance of certain particularist traditions that dominate British Islam.

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1 Response to “Onion domes”


  1. 1 Luqman June 11, 2007 at 3:28 am

    You know what? I actually think that’s a really cool idea. Muslims have always had different styles of architecture, when you go to Africa, you see mosques made out of sand etc. Why not have British mosques that look distinctively British?


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