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EDINBURGH University Press

Synagogues in the Islamic World

Architecture, Design and Identity

Edited by Mohammad Gharipour

Explores the design and development of synagogues in the Islamic world

This beautifully illustrated volume looks at the spaces created by and for Jews in areas under the political or religious control of Muslims. Covering regions as diverse as Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Spain, it asks how the architecture of synagogues responded to contextual issues and traditions, and how these contexts influenced the design and evolution of synagogues. As well as revealing how synagogues reflect the culture of the Jewish minority at macro and micro scales, from the city to the interior, the book also considers patterns of the development of synagogues in urban contexts and in connection with urban elements and monuments.

About the Author

 Mohammad Gharipour is Associate Professor at the School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. He obtained his Master’s in Architecture from the University of Tehran and a Ph.D. in Architecture and Landscape History from Georgia Institute of Technology. He has received several awards such as the Hamad Bin Khalifa Fellowship in Islamic Art, the Spiro Kostof Fellowship Award from the Society of Architectural Historians and the National Endowment in Humanities Faculty Award. His books include Persian Gardens and Pavilions: Reflections in Poetry, Arts and History and Bazaar in the Islamic City and Calligraphy and Architecture in the Muslim World (co-edited with Irvin Schick). He is the director and founding editor of the International Journal of Islamic Architecture.


 'The authors cover a remarkable geographic range and explain Sephardic Jewish architecture in its cultural contexts. Readers who think of Jews and their visual arts as primarily Ashkenazic will have much to learn from these essays, composed by Muslim, Christian and Jewish specialists in a spirit of inquiry and collaboration.'

Carol Herselle Krinsky, Department of Art History, New York University

Key Features:

  • Uniquely explores the elements and concepts applied in the design of synagogues in the Islamic world

  • Shows connections between Jewish and Islamic architecture and the collaboration among Muslims and Jews in the design and construction of synagogues

  • Takes an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach, providing a new setting for the analysis of Islamic architecture

  • Addresses historical, social, urban, and architectural aspects of synagogues throughout the Muslim world including Iraq, Afghanistan, Morocco, Egypt, Spain, Turkey, Tunisia, Iran, and India



  • Meltem Özkan Altınöz, Karabük University

  • Michelle Huntingford Craig, Getty Research Institute

  • Arlene Dallalfar, Lesley University

  • Reuven Firestone, Hebrew Union College (Los Angeles) and University of Southern California

  • Daniel Muñoz-Garrido, University of Granada

  • Anat Geva, Texas A&M University

  • Mohammad Gharipour, Morgan State University

  • Ulrike-Christiane Lintz, University of Amsterdam

  • Vivian B. Mann, Jewish Theological Seminary and The Jewish Museum

  • Nesrine Mansour, Texas A&M University

  • Susan Gilson Miller, University of California, Davis

  • Ann Shafer, State University of New York, Fashion Institute of Technology

  • Rabbi M. Mitchell Serels, Berkeley College

  • Jay A. Waronker, Academic and Architect

  • Ethel Sara Wolper, University of New Hampshire



 Introduction, Mohammad Gharipour

1. Architecture of Synagogues in the Islamic World: History and the Dilemma of Identity, Mohammad Gharipour
2. Prologue: Historic Relations Between Muslims and Jews, Reuven Firestone

I. Synagogue and the Urban Context

3. Shrines of the Prophets and Jewish Communities: Ancient Synagogues and Tombs in Medieval Iraq, Sara Ethel Wolper 
4. The Synagogues of Herat: A Jewish World of Religious Diversity and Pluralism in the Muslim World, Ulrike-Christiane Lintz
5. Synagogues of the Fez mellah: Constructing Sacred Spaces in 19th Century Morocco, Michelle Craig
6. Emotional Architecture: Cairo’s Sha’ar Hashamayim Synagogue and Iconography’s Global Reach, Ann Shafer

II. Synagogue and the Cultural Context

7. The Prevalence of Islamic Art amongst Jews of Christian Iberia: Two Fourteenth-Century Castilian Synagogues in Andalusian Attire, Daniel Muñoz Garrido
8. The Ottoman Jews of the 19th-century Istanbul and the Socio-cultural Foundations of the Yüksek Kaldırım Ashkenazi Synagogue, Meltem Özkan Altınöz
9. The Architecture and Décor of the Nahon and Bendrihen Synagogues of Tangier: Modernization and Internationalization of the Jewish Community, M. Mitchell Serels
10. Synagogues and Sacred Rituals in Tehran: An Ethnographic Analysis of Judeo-Persian Identities and Spaces, Arlene Dallalfar

III. Architecture and Interior Design

11. Decorating Synagogues in the Western Islamic World: The Role of Sephardi Traditionalism, Vivian Mann
12. Djerbian Culture and Climate As Expressed in A Historic Landmark: The Case of El Ghriba Synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia, Nesrine Mansour and Anat Geva
13. Synagogue Architecture in Kerala, India: Design Roots, Precedents, Tectonics, and Inspirations, Jay A. Waronker 
14. Immigrants’ Sacred Architecture: The Rabi Meir Baal-Hanes Synagogue in Eilat, Israel, Anat Geva 
15. Epilogue: Sensitive Ruins: On the Preservation of Jewish Religious Sites in the Muslim World, Susan Miller

Appendix 1: Captions
Appendix 2: Bibliographies
Appendix 3: Biographies

EDINBURGH University Press

448 pages

200 colour illustration(s), 3 b&w table(s)

Published June 2017 


Hardback: 9781474411714