Cover image for Deconstructing the American mosque : space, gender, and aesthetics
Deconstructing the American mosque : space, gender, and aesthetics
Kahera, Akel Ismail, 1951-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Austin : University of Texas Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiii, 194 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NA5212 .K34 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



From the avant-garde design of the Islamic Cultural Center in New York City to the simplicity of the Dar al-Islam Mosque in Abiquiu, New Mexico, the American mosque takes many forms of visual and architectural expression. The absence of a single, authoritative model and the plurality of design nuances reflect the heterogeneity of the American Muslim community itself, which embodies a whole spectrum of ethnic origins, traditions, and religious practices.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Contemporary American Religion As architect Akel Ismail Kahera notes in the introduction to Deconstructing the American Mosque: Space, Gender, and Aesthetics, "there is virtually no literature on the history of American mosques," so this theoretical volume makes a real contribution. It's clearly academic; on the opening page, for example, Kahera cites but does not explain Derrida's philosophy of deconstruction. But informed readers will be delighted by this sophisticated book, which posits some important questions about sacred space: Since many U.S. Muslims come from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, is there such a thing as an authentically "American" Muslim architecture? What are American mosques doing to enhance the status of women in worship? How much more symbolically important is the mosque to Muslims in America than in majority-Muslim countries? Generously illustrated and provocatively written, this thoughtful treatise will do much to increase understanding of Muslim aesthetics and religious practice in America. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Kahera (Islamic studies, Univ. of Texas at Austin) has provided the first book-length analysis of Islamic architecture in the American context. His book does not purport to be a comprehensive survey or catalog, although he does cover a wide range of examples. Rather, he sets out to ask important questions about the peculiarities of the mosque in the American context. He opens with the evolving relationship between textual imperatives that have traditionally shaped Islamic ritual spaces and how those imperatives have been implanted and transformed in the American landscape. He then moves to a discussion of the tensions resulting from the intersection of traditional Islamic architecture and modernity. The final chapter takes these spaces and sets them in motion, asking questions about social politics and urban space. Although the book is at times burdened with theoretical language that does little to clarify the author's argument, libraries with collections in American architecture and Islamic studies in particular and architectural history and religious studies in general will find this volume a welcome addition. It provides an important foundation on which--one hopes--numerous other studies of this much-neglected topic will depend. Graduate students through professionals. L. P. Nelson University of Virignia

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Polemics of Deconstruction
Chapter 1 Aesthetic Origins and End Conditions
Chapter 2 Interpretations of Image, Text, and Form
Chapter 3 Space, Place, and Public Gathering
Conclusion: Reversible Space and Linear Time