Naguib, Saphinaz-Amal: Mosques in Norway
The Creation and Iconography of Sacred Space
The present book is about the creation of Muslim spaces in the non-Islamic environment of Norway, particularly in the capital, Oslo. The type of space it focusses upon is built, enclosed and public. It is also a gendered space where men and women, although being part of the same entity and sharing the same faith, stand apart. The novelty of this study is that, rather than following the chronological and regional developments of Islamic visual arts and architecture, it concentrates on recent times, more precisely on the last thirty years. Instead of analyzing masterpieces, it presents common anonymous buildings and religious commodities and discusses how the 'spirit' of Islam is reproduced visually with the know-how, means and materials available in Norway, i.e. how form, content and function sanctify a place. Thus, this study is synchronic and it examines a contemporary material culture from a present-day perspective. It discusses an ongoing process and treats questions related to material culture and the conceptualization of an ideal Islamic architecture caught between tradition and innovation. One of its concerns is explore the relationship between material culture and the contexts in which they take form, the ways by which the character of religious communities can be disclosed by a few physical details. The analysis of the mosque revolves around three fundamental Islamic concepts. These are tawhid (unity), the 'umma (the community of believers), and the qibla (orientation).
Saphinaz-Amal Naguib, dr.philos., is professor of Culture History at the University of Oslo, Faculty of Arts. Her main fields of research are Ancient Egyptian religion, Coptic and Copto-Arabic hagiographies, Islamic art and cultural heritage and museology. Among her major works are Le clergé féminin d'Amon thébain à la 21e dynastie (1990), Miroirs du passé (1993) and The The Era of Martyrs: Texts and Contexts of Religious Memory (1997).
The Institute for Comparative Research Human Culture, Oslo