Calligraphy Beyond Pen and Paper: Sultan Alauddin Mosque

Sultan Alauddin is a Mosque which is built in Jugra, Malaysia and is recognised as one of the most influential colonial mosques in Malaysia (image 1) [1]. The Mosque was strategically built near the Sultans palace and is now known as the royal mosque [1]. The mosque was constructed in the year 1918 and completed in 1925 under the orders of Sultan Alauddin [1]. Although today the mosque is 93 years old, it remains steady and intact [2]. The Sultan Alauddin Mosque contains calligraphic carvings that are inscribed along across the mosque which plays a prime role in the in the visual organisation of the building. This blog will explain the relationship between Islamic Architecture and the visually prominent calligraphic designs used in the Sultan Alauddin Mosque [2].

Image 1: Sultan Alauddin Mosque [1]
The mosque uses a traditional Islamic architectural design with the plan of the mosque being divided into three spaces (image 2). A main prayer hall is located in the centre of the mosque with two chambers that are large in scale set aside of this square area and used as an outdoor payer hall [3]. The mosque is designed to be symmetrical along with a single minaret and mihrab located at the opposite end of the entrance door in the main prayer hall (image 3) [4]. At each corner and side of the mosque there is also 6 smaller doomed towers [2]. Above the 12 arches in the main prayer hall there are numerous wood carvings and ornamentations as well as on the wooden mimbar which is recognised as one of the most essential elements in the mosques architecture as the carvings were performed by Sultan Alauddin himself [2]. The inscriptions written throughout the mosque are all in calligraphy using the calligraphic style of thulth and kufic [4].

Image 2: Mosque Floor Plan [2]
Image 3: Minerat and Entrance Door [3]
The calligraphy that has been written using the thulth style are located in the 12 arches in the prayer hall [4]. Ten scripts are carved in the arches with three that illustrate to the worshipper statements from Prophet Mohammad that express the importance of praying in a mosque instead of at home (image 4)[3].  The other seven scripts are also written using calligraphy but state verses from the quran from different Surahs (Ibrahim, Al-Hajj, Al-Qasas, Al-Bagharah,Al-Nur) (image 5)[3].  The verses from the Quran are inscribed to make a connection with the worshipper as it invites and encourages the worshipper to pray and to be compassionate to others [3].

Image 4:Prophet Mohammad Statement about Prayer [4]
Image 5: Surah From the Quran Inscribed on the Wall using Calligraphy [5]
In the Mihrab of the Mosque there is also a Quranic verse inscribed, however using a different style of calligraphy called kufic (image 6)[2]. Furthermore, on the ceiling of the prayer hall are five solitary wood caving calligraphic panels [2]. One of them is the Islamic Shahada (there is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet) while the other four are the names of the fourth Caliphs (Abubakar, Omar, Othman and Ali) (image 7)[2].

Image 6: Mihrab Wall Calligraphy [6]
Image 7: Caliphs Names Inscribed using Calligraphy on Dome of Prayer Hall [7]

I believe that the calligraphy in the Sultan Alauddin Mosque not only plays an essential role in the aesthesis, especially using a wood carving technique but rather the messages it holds. In the case of the Sultan Alauddin Mosque the calligraphic carvings invite the Muslims to the mosque to pray as well using verses from the Quran which state the reward that Allah gives a worshipper who prays [2]. Moreover, other sentences used from Prophet Mohamad teaching and verses from the Quran remind the worshipper about being kind to there parents as well as thinking about there actions and the consequences of their deeds in this life and the afterlife [2]




[1] Niazi, Ghulam Sarwar Khan. The life and works of Sultan Alauddin Khalji. Atlantic               Publishers & Dist, 1992.

[2] Saberi, Ahmadreza, Esmawee Endut, and Sabarinah Sh Ahmada. “Analysis of calligraphy             wood   carving ornamentations used in Sultan Alauddin Mosque, Jugra, Klang.”

[3] Masjid Sultan Alauddin”. 2018. Islamic Tourism Centre.     

[4] Saberi, Ahmadreza, Shervin Motamedi, Shahaboddin Shamshirband, Cecilia Lewis Kausel,    Dalibor Petković, Esmawee Endut, Sabarinah Sh Ahmad, Roslan Hashim, and   Chandrabhushan Roy. “Evaluating the legibility of decorative arabic scripts for Sultan          Alauddin mosque using an enhanced soft-computing hybrid algorithm.” Computers   in Human Behavior 55 (2016): 127-144.

Image References

[1] Masjid Sultan Alauddin. 2018. Image.

[2] The Sultan Alauddin Mosque Plan. 2018. Image.

[3] A View From Front Entrance. 2018. Image.              carvin g_orname

[4] A Sample Of Prophet’S Muhammad Statement In Sultan Alauddin Mosque DemonstratedIn Wood Carving Meaning. 2018. Image.

 [5] A Sample Of Quranic Verse (Hajj-77) Applied As Wood Carving Ornamentation In SultanAlauddin Mosque Meaning:. 2018. Image.

[6]The Calligraphy Woodcarving Placed On Mihrab Wall.. 2018. Image.

[7] Calligraphy Woodcarving Placed On Ceiling. 2018. Image.