Islam isn't black and white: Check out Iran's kaleidoscope mosque!

Published April 13th, 2015 - 20:35 GMT

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Every morning something magical happens inside the walls of a 19th century mosque in southwestern Iran.  

When the rays of the rising sun reach the building (tiled in seven colors!) and pass through its magnificent stained glass windows, the interior of Nasīr al-Mulk is transformed into a mesmerizing kaleidoscope.

Stained glass windows are de rigeur in Christian churches and are frequently used in modern Jewish temples, but only appear in a handful of the world's mosques. According to photographer Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil, they are standard in Iranian architecture and also common in Iranian mosques, used to beautify interiors and also protect against flying insects. Seeing the spectacular effects they produce, it's surprising they aren't standard issue in mosques everywhere! Continue reading below »

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Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil, the Iranian photographer behind these images, told Al Bawaba, “Many locals believe that this is the most exquisite mosque in the world, and I have never seen anything like it.' Located in the southern city of Shiraz, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is a hidden treasure in the Islamic Republic.
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Image 1 of 10:  1 / 10Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil, the Iranian photographer behind these images, told Al Bawaba, “Many locals believe that this is the most exquisite mosque in the world, and I have never seen anything like it." Located in the southern city of Shiraz, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is a hidden treasure in the Islamic Republic.

Enlarge
Designed by Muhammad Hasan-e-Memar and Muhammad Reza Kashi Paz-e-Shirazi, the mosque was built between 1876 and 1888. It is one of very few mosques that feature expansive and brilliantly colored stained glass windows.
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Image 2 of 10:  2 / 10Designed by Muhammad Hasan-e-Memar and Muhammad Reza Kashi Paz-e-Shirazi, the mosque was built between 1876 and 1888. It is one of very few mosques that feature expansive and brilliantly colored stained glass windows.

Enlarge
The mosque has a traditional layout with vaulted ceilings and walls covered with polychromatic tiles. Pink stone is the predominant building material, earning the structure the nickname 'The Pink Mosque.'
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Image 3 of 10:  3 / 10The mosque has a traditional layout with vaulted ceilings and walls covered with polychromatic tiles. Pink stone is the predominant building material, earning the structure the nickname "The Pink Mosque."

Enlarge
Construction on the spectacle began in 1876 and took 12 years to complete. Muhammad Hasan-e-Memar and Muhammad Reza Kashi Paz-e-Shirazi designed the building, the only mosque attributed to them.
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Image 4 of 10:  4 / 10Construction on the spectacle began in 1876 and took 12 years to complete. Muhammad Hasan-e-Memar and Muhammad Reza Kashi Paz-e-Shirazi designed the building, the only mosque attributed to them.

Enlarge
The traditional exterior belies the magic show that repeats on a daily basis inside its highly reflective ceramic-tiled walls, ceilings and floors. By midday, when the sun has fully risen, the interiors can be seen in their true colors.
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Image 5 of 10:  5 / 10The traditional exterior belies the magic show that repeats on a daily basis inside its highly reflective ceramic-tiled walls, ceilings and floors. By midday, when the sun has fully risen, the interiors can be seen in their true colors.

Enlarge
The mosque displays other traditional Islamic design elements such as panj kaseh-i (five concaves), vaulted ceilings, column-supported arches and geometric tile patterns.
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Image 6 of 10:  6 / 10The mosque displays other traditional Islamic design elements such as panj kaseh-i (five concaves), vaulted ceilings, column-supported arches and geometric tile patterns.

Enlarge
The century-old mosque was built during the Qajar era, and is under protection by Nasir al-Mulk's Endowment Foundation. It has undergone continual refurbishment and remains in active use today.
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Image 7 of 10:  7 / 10The century-old mosque was built during the Qajar era, and is under protection by Nasir al-Mulk's Endowment Foundation. It has undergone continual refurbishment and remains in active use today.

Enlarge
“Seeing the mosque in different lights can completely change the rooms' appearance. The light tends to reflect off the mosaic tiles. It’s simply beautiful,” said photographer Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil. Iranian photographers often pursue documenting the mosque's splendor to show a side of the country foreigners rarely see.
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Image 8 of 10:  8 / 10“Seeing the mosque in different lights can completely change the rooms' appearance. The light tends to reflect off the mosaic tiles. It’s simply beautiful,” said photographer Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil. Iranian photographers often pursue documenting the mosque's splendor to show a side of the country foreigners rarely see.

Enlarge
He told Al Bawaba, 'One day I began to discover the world around myself from inside my camera viewfinder, and it transformed the way I saw this Mosque. It is a wonderland full of color and light and also full of beautiful Iranian architectural details.'
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Image 9 of 10:  9 / 10He told Al Bawaba, "One day I began to discover the world around myself from inside my camera viewfinder, and it transformed the way I saw this Mosque. It is a wonderland full of color and light and also full of beautiful Iranian architectural details."

Enlarge
Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil spent years photographing the mosque, capturing it in different seasons, and at different times of day. His 'Mosque of Colors' collection of images was photographed over two years, from January 2013 to January 2015.
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Image 10 of 10:  10 / 10Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil spent years photographing the mosque, capturing it in different seasons, and at different times of day. His "Mosque of Colors" collection of images was photographed over two years, from January 2013 to January 2015.

Enlarge

1

Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil, the Iranian photographer behind these images, told Al Bawaba, “Many locals believe that this is the most exquisite mosque in the world, and I have never seen anything like it.' Located in the southern city of Shiraz, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is a hidden treasure in the Islamic Republic.

Image 1 of 10Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil, the Iranian photographer behind these images, told Al Bawaba, “Many locals believe that this is the most exquisite mosque in the world, and I have never seen anything like it." Located in the southern city of Shiraz, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is a hidden treasure in the Islamic Republic.

2

Designed by Muhammad Hasan-e-Memar and Muhammad Reza Kashi Paz-e-Shirazi, the mosque was built between 1876 and 1888. It is one of very few mosques that feature expansive and brilliantly colored stained glass windows.

Image 2 of 10Designed by Muhammad Hasan-e-Memar and Muhammad Reza Kashi Paz-e-Shirazi, the mosque was built between 1876 and 1888. It is one of very few mosques that feature expansive and brilliantly colored stained glass windows.

3

The mosque has a traditional layout with vaulted ceilings and walls covered with polychromatic tiles. Pink stone is the predominant building material, earning the structure the nickname 'The Pink Mosque.'

Image 3 of 10The mosque has a traditional layout with vaulted ceilings and walls covered with polychromatic tiles. Pink stone is the predominant building material, earning the structure the nickname "The Pink Mosque."

4

Construction on the spectacle began in 1876 and took 12 years to complete. Muhammad Hasan-e-Memar and Muhammad Reza Kashi Paz-e-Shirazi designed the building, the only mosque attributed to them.

Image 4 of 10Construction on the spectacle began in 1876 and took 12 years to complete. Muhammad Hasan-e-Memar and Muhammad Reza Kashi Paz-e-Shirazi designed the building, the only mosque attributed to them.

5

The traditional exterior belies the magic show that repeats on a daily basis inside its highly reflective ceramic-tiled walls, ceilings and floors. By midday, when the sun has fully risen, the interiors can be seen in their true colors.

Image 5 of 10The traditional exterior belies the magic show that repeats on a daily basis inside its highly reflective ceramic-tiled walls, ceilings and floors. By midday, when the sun has fully risen, the interiors can be seen in their true colors.

6

The mosque displays other traditional Islamic design elements such as panj kaseh-i (five concaves), vaulted ceilings, column-supported arches and geometric tile patterns.

Image 6 of 10The mosque displays other traditional Islamic design elements such as panj kaseh-i (five concaves), vaulted ceilings, column-supported arches and geometric tile patterns.

7

The century-old mosque was built during the Qajar era, and is under protection by Nasir al-Mulk's Endowment Foundation. It has undergone continual refurbishment and remains in active use today.

Image 7 of 10The century-old mosque was built during the Qajar era, and is under protection by Nasir al-Mulk's Endowment Foundation. It has undergone continual refurbishment and remains in active use today.

8

“Seeing the mosque in different lights can completely change the rooms' appearance. The light tends to reflect off the mosaic tiles. It’s simply beautiful,” said photographer Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil. Iranian photographers often pursue documenting the mosque's splendor to show a side of the country foreigners rarely see.

Image 8 of 10“Seeing the mosque in different lights can completely change the rooms' appearance. The light tends to reflect off the mosaic tiles. It’s simply beautiful,” said photographer Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil. Iranian photographers often pursue documenting the mosque's splendor to show a side of the country foreigners rarely see.

9

He told Al Bawaba, 'One day I began to discover the world around myself from inside my camera viewfinder, and it transformed the way I saw this Mosque. It is a wonderland full of color and light and also full of beautiful Iranian architectural details.'

Image 9 of 10He told Al Bawaba, "One day I began to discover the world around myself from inside my camera viewfinder, and it transformed the way I saw this Mosque. It is a wonderland full of color and light and also full of beautiful Iranian architectural details."

10

Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil spent years photographing the mosque, capturing it in different seasons, and at different times of day. His 'Mosque of Colors' collection of images was photographed over two years, from January 2013 to January 2015.

Image 10 of 10Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil spent years photographing the mosque, capturing it in different seasons, and at different times of day. His "Mosque of Colors" collection of images was photographed over two years, from January 2013 to January 2015.

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Photographer Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil grew up in Shiraz, in the shadow of this spectacular building. He began shooting it five years ago, attracted by the symmetry of the mosque's architecture, and the wild color play among its intricately tiled arches and spires, decorated walls, and richly patterned carpets.

“Seeing the mosque in different lights can completely change the appearance of the rooms. The light tends to reflect off the mosaic tiles. It’s simply beautiful,” said the 30-year old photographer.

If you can’t make it to this place known as The Pink Mosque at sunrise, experience it now through Ramin’s glorious pictures.  All images are courtesy of Ramin Rahmani Nejad Asil, and you can contact him or follow his work via his Facebook page (link here).

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