A newly built avant-garde mosque in the heart of Tehran is causing some controversy within Iran’s conservative establishment. According to the Associated Press, “The architects behind the Vali-e-Asr mosque dispensed with the traditional rounded domes and towering minarets, opting instead for a modern design of undulating waves of gray stone and concrete, which they say complements the surrounding architecture and evokes the austerity of early Islam.” The conservative Mashregh News called the mosque “an insulting, postmodern design” that is “empty of any meaning.”
Reza Daneshmir and his co-designer, Catherine Spiridonoff, both make the point that mosques come in many shapes and sizes, and that the first mosque ever built, at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, was a simple structure without domes or minarets. “A mosque is a place for worship, and the Qur’an doesn’t dictate a special structure for it. It’s what it contains that is important,” says Mr. Daneshmir.
18 year old local student Nima Borzouie approves of this notion. “The spiritual aspect of a mosque is more important than its architecture. It’s no big deal if it does not follow the stereotypical architecture of mosques that have domes or minarets. It is a place of worship.”