Muslim Calendar

Based on the lunar year, the Muslim calendar dates from the migration (Hegira) of the Prophet Mohammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. According to this calendar, the actual beginning of a month depends upon the physical sighting of the moon and not merely on astronomical calculations. If the sky is overcast, and the new moon is not visible within a territory, the previous month is allowed to run to 30 days instead of the usual 29 days. Because of the inconsistencies in the number of days in a month, annual holidays fall on different dates in different years.

The names of the months of the Muslim calendar take roots in pre-Islamic times and possibly originate from the beliefs of the pagan Arabs. These months include: Moharram - "the sacred month" Safar - "the void month" Rabi al-Avval - "the first spring" Rabi al-Thani - "the second spring" Jumada al-Avval - "the first month of darkness"

Jumada al-Thaniya - "the second month of darkness" Rajab - "the revered month" Shaban - "the month of division" Ramadan - "the month of great heat" Shavval - "the month of hunting" Dhu al-Qadah - "the month of rest" Dhu al-Hajjah - "the month of pilgrimage"

Karbala Madina Paintings

The painting "Oh, Water-Bearer of Karbala " by Hossein Qollar Aqasi depicts Abulfazl Abbas, Imam Hossein's stepbrother, who was brutally murdered while delivering water to the fighters of Karbala.

The painting "Oh, Water-Bearer of Karbala " by Hossein Qollar Aqasi depicts Abulfazl Abbas, Imam Hossein's stepbrother, who was brutally murdered while delivering water to the fighters of Karbala.

Axe Bozorge KarbalaKashan MinaretteIftar MashhadIftar Mashhad

Mausoleum of Imam Reza in Mashhad is the magnificent architectural complex that marks the grave of the Eighth Shiite Imam (photo by Naser Mizbani).

the birth of Imam Mahdi, and the wedding of Ali and Fatemeh. Two weeks after this, the great fast of Ramazan begins. The fast must start at early dawn and continue until the dusk. Abstinence from all food, smoking, drinking water, and from all sensual indulgence is required. A purgatorial efficacy is attached to this ritual in the popular mind. Other circumstances add much to the solemnity of the fast among the Shiites, the most important being the assassi-

Carrying nakhl is part of the nation of

Moharram ceremonies peculiar to Imam All On several places in Iran, including

Abianeh, where it is held with Ramazan particular pomp. 21. The last ten days of Ramazan are particularly holy; the 23rd is most often presumed to be Lailat al-Qadr, the night of the descent of the Koran. The month ends with special festivities on Eid-e Fetr, the Day of Feasting. The next important day is Eid-e Qorban, the Festival of Sacrifice, on Dhu al-Hajjah 10. It was instituted in the memory of the great day of Atonement but is connected with Abraham's offering of Ishmael, not Isaac. The remainder of the month is marked with Eid-e Ghadir-e Khom, the festival commemorating Prophet Mohammad's declaration that Imam Ali was to be his successor.

Moharram

According to Shiite beliefs, Imam Ali ought to have succeeded Prophet Mohammad as the first Imam. However, he was deprived of authority by three caliphs whom the Shiites consider usurpers. Eventually, Imam Ali was mur dered, and his son Hasan poisoned. Ali's other son, Hossein, was on the way to Kufa to receive the caliphate when he was intercepted by order of Yazid, his rival, and cut down on the plains of Karbala, together with his family and followers. Imam Hossein is particularly dear to the Persians and is held by them in the great esteem. He is believed to have married the daughter of the last Sasanid king of Persia. Every year, Iranians commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hossein with various ceremonies. A frequent ritual during the first ten days of Passion plays are staged as part

Moharram is of the Moharram mourning rituals.

a procession of people through the streets. Men wearing black chain themselves and shout in unison. No visitor who has been in an Iranian city during this ritual can forget the dirge-like laments "Hossein! Hossein!" and the accompanying dull thud, as the mourners beat their breasts in sign of impassioned grief. Both men and women shed profound tears because they believe that every tear dropped in remembrance of Imam Hossein washes away many sins. In the evenings, taziyeh (literally "consolation") are staged to reenact the story of the martyrdom of Ali's descendants. Some plays are satirical, directed against wrongdoers, but most form a set of tragedies, performed on the ten successive days of Moharram. Since the Safavid rule, when the Shiite faith has become the official religion of Iran, the Moharram ceremonies have

Intricately inlaid animals and birds constitute the decorations of a/am, the huge standard, which is the distinctive sign of Moharram rituals.

Religious Institutions The mosque (masjed in Arabic and Persian, literally "a place of prostration") is the most important religious institution in Iran. Larger congregational mosques (Masjed Jamé) are intended for Friday prayers. The first mosque was copied from the house of the Prophet Mohammad at Medina and had a very simple and austere design O. This mosque was an enclosure surrounded by mud-brick walls. It was covered by a flat wooden or reed mat roof resting on mud or brick supporting pillars on the qibla side (the side facing Mecca), and occasionally on other sides as well. Throughout the Islamic world, which stretched from Spain to India, the structure of the mosque was influenced by local materials and architectural traditions. Within

Ornate Islamic
Every mosque has a mihrab (an ornate niche that marks the direction of Mecca) and a minbar (a lofty pulpit usually standing by the mihrab). The minbar is used by the imam when he delivers the Friday sermon.

Iran, a distinctive mosque type, laid on the foundations of its Sasanid predecessors, has been developed. This mosque consisted of large prayer halls arranged around a courtyard and entered through eivans (porches). In the first mosques, which were converted from Sasanid fire temples, usually one eivan was built Q. It marked the qibla side and highlighted the sanctuary of the former fire temple. Soon afterwards, the opposite, northern wall of the mosque's courtyard was also emphasized by the eivan 0. The Iranian mosque took its final form in the 12th century with the four-eivan structure O. The Congregational

Congregational Mosque Isfahan

Eivan is a porch on either side of the mosque's courtyard. Its presence originally indicated qibla (the direction of Mecca) to the faithful, but eivans were later added to the other three sides of the courtyard to create the compositional axes. The four-eivan design is an architectural basis not only for all important Iranian mosques, but for other buildings as well, including shrines, caravanserais, and theological colleges.

Eivan is a porch on either side of the mosque's courtyard. Its presence originally indicated qibla (the direction of Mecca) to the faithful, but eivans were later added to the other three sides of the courtyard to create the compositional axes. The four-eivan design is an architectural basis not only for all important Iranian mosques, but for other buildings as well, including shrines, caravanserais, and theological colleges.

Mosque of Zavareh {p211) is the first mosque of this peculiar Iranian type. Although the mosque has undergone many architectural changes, it essentially remains an open space, generally roofed over, containing a mihrab and a minbar, with a minaret sometimes added to it. An ablutions pool, containing running water, is usually attached to the mosque but may be separated from it. Each mosque is built with one of its walls facing Mecca. In the decorative treatment of Iranian mosques, glazed tiling with floral and geometric motifs has become the specific feature. The prolific use of calligraphy, brick bonding patterns, moqarnas, and stucco work are the other most important elements of architectural ornamentation.

Mosque Architectural Ornamentation

Moqarnas (stalactite-like adornment) is the most splendid decorative feature of Iranian mosques. It can be laid with bricks, coated with plaster, or encrusted with tiles.

Moqarnas (stalactite-like adornment) is the most splendid decorative feature of Iranian mosques. It can be laid with bricks, coated with plaster, or encrusted with tiles.

Kashan Decorated TileKashan Decorated TileKashan Decorated Tile Kashan Decorated Tile

Historical evolution of Iranian mosque

Persian Mosaic Design

The interior of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Esfahan exhibits genuine mosaic tiles called moarraq. Each tile piece has its own color, and small tile pieces are arranged to form a panel, often covering the en tire surface of the walls.

Persian Mosaic Tiles

Starting from the Safavid period, mosaic tiles were often replaced with polychrome faience, as seen in the Aqa Bozorg Mosque and Madreseh in Kashan. In polychrome tiles, various colors are applied to a single, often quadrangular brick.

Two types of tiles are used in Iranian buildings.

The interior of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Esfahan exhibits genuine mosaic tiles called moarraq. Each tile piece has its own color, and small tile pieces are arranged to form a panel, often covering the en tire surface of the walls.

Starting from the Safavid period, mosaic tiles were often replaced with polychrome faience, as seen in the Aqa Bozorg Mosque and Madreseh in Kashan. In polychrome tiles, various colors are applied to a single, often quadrangular brick.

classrooms; frequently one of the three remaining eivans forms the main entrance to the college. Other major religious institutions in Iran are shrines. Pilgrim shrines and mausoleums are built on top of the graves of Imams or Imamzadehs (1the descendants of Imams), or other saintly persons. There are an uncountable number of shrines that vary from tumbledown sites associated with local saints to imposing mausoleums, such as

Another significant religious institution in Iran is the hosseiniyeh. It traditionally serves as a site for recitals commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, especially during the month of Moharram, as well as for other public gatherings. Tekiyeh generally has the same function.

The madreseh, or seminary, is an institution providing religious education. Students, known as talabeh, usually study a minimum of seven years, to become a low-level preacher, or mullah. Higher ranked clergymen include Hojjat al-Islam and Mojtahed for Ayatollah). The Shiite clergy in Iran usually wear a white turban and an aba, a loose, sleeveless brown or black cloak, open in front. If a clergyman is a seyed, descendant of Mohammad, he wears a black turban. In theological colleges, the main eivan is usually the entrance to the domed chamber or else leads directly to the prayer room. Depending on the situation of the college, the other eivans are used as

Kashan Decorated Tile

The minaret was originally designed to summon the worshippers for prayer. However, later minarets became completely optional and were used mostly for decorative purposes, like in the Imamzadeh Yahya in Sabzevar (photo by Naser Mizbani).

The minaret was originally designed to summon the worshippers for prayer. However, later minarets became completely optional and were used mostly for decorative purposes, like in the Imamzadeh Yahya in Sabzevar (photo by Naser Mizbani).

those of Imam Reza in Mashhad and his sister Masumeh in Qom. The buildings sometimes take the

Qom Shrine Hazrat Masumeh

The Shrine of Hazrat-e Masumeh, daughter of Imam Musa al-Kazem, in Qom is a magnificent mausoleum, rivalling in splendor only the mausoleum of her brother, Imam Reza, in Mashhad (photo by Naser Mizbani).

form of a square structure surmounted by a dome, but usually the base structure is an octagon in which case the dome is pyramidal or conical in shape. In proportion to the importance of the site, it is often provided with auxiliary buildings on all sides. Important pilgrim shrines, beside numerous outbuildings, have multiple courtyards lying in various directions in relation to the main building. Less important shrines are constructed in the form of a solitary, kiosk-like building in the center of an enclosure. The other traditional religious institutions are khaneqahs, dervishes' cloisters, many of which still exist in Iran.

Non-Muslim Minorities

Christians

Christianity had already found a foothold in Iran by the 1st century, when St. Thaddeus's Church was built in c. 68 AD in Western Azerbaijan. The 3rd-century church on the Khark Island still survives. Persian Christians are known to have gone to China as missionaries as early as the 7th century. Modern missions by Roman Catholic monks began in Iran in the 16th century. They preached mainly

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  • caramella
    What colors do the indian and persian mosaics use?
    5 years ago

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