Islamic and Christian Spheres: Interaction and Exchange of Religious Orders through Architecture

Erin Dalton

Abstract


As a Western society, we have the tendency to reflect and study our own struggles, victories, changes, and innovations--leaving our academic realms of Western and Eastern cultures polarized and the lenses of history biased. Nonetheless, architecture of the Medieval Ages presents actual evidence and traces of cross-interaction between the two spheres of Europe. The Crusades are frequently highlighted as a point of overlap as well as conflict between Islam and Christianity. Thus there is a habit to categorize history, meaning the timelines and their respective cultures are divided into their own “realms” of time. As a result, they seemingly cannot touch or interact except in forms of violence. This is simply not true, for in the case of Islam and Christianity the cultures were interacting and exchanging ideas. Despite their immediate differences, both Christianity and Islam stem from classical roots in architecture, and often utilize trends from each other. Their architecture provides visual dialog and societal markers of wealth and community. Available on hand are various documentations debating and commenting on these discords between Christianity and Islam. This study will also utilize documents written by the chroniclers from the time period, such as the Chronicles of Fredgar. Furthermore, the architecture speaks to shared purposes and techniques; for example, the Islamic Dome of the Rock and Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre are siblings in the Holy Land of Jerusalem. In previous studies Islam and Christianity have been analyzed together, yet from different perspectives and predispositions. This paper actively demonstrates the interchanging relation and gives equal status to Islam and Christianity.


Keywords


Christianity, Islam, Medieval, Architecture, Religion

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