The great mosque of Kairouan, Tunisia

North Africa in the 7th century was not an easy site to create a new metropolis. It required fighting the Byzantines, persuading the Berbers, North Africa’s indigenous inhabitants, to accept centralized Muslim administration, and compelling Middle Eastern merchants to relocate to North Africa. So, in 670 CE, conquering commander Sidi Okba built a Friday mosque in what was to become the gear mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia nowadays. On the Muslim holy day of Friday, a mosque is utilized for community prayers. The mosque was an essential addition because it communicated that Kairouan would become a cosmopolitan city under strong Muslim leadership, which was a significant distinction for the time and location.

The great or grand mosque of Kairouan is an early version of a hypostyle mosque that also demonstrates how pre-Islamic and eastern Islamic art and elements were blended into Islamic North African religious architecture. The aesthetics represented the great mosque and Kairouan, and therefore its sponsors, as significant as the religious institutions, towns, and kings of other civilizations in this area, and that Kairouan was part of the expanding Islamic world.

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