I have been teaching Islamic architecture at MIT for the past twenty-one years. My classes have by and large attracted two types of students. There are those who see Islamic architecture as their heritage: Muslim students from abroad, Muslim-American students, and Arab-American non-Muslims. Then there are the students who imagine Islamic architecture as exotic, mysterious, and aesthetically curious, carrying the whiff of far-distant lands. They have seen it mostly in fiction (Arabian Nights for an earlier generation, Disney’s Aladdin for this one) and they are intrigued and somewhat titillated by that fiction. These two types of students are but a microcosmic – and perhaps faintly comical – reflection of the status of Islamic architecture within both academia and architectural practice today.

Read More: What is Islamic Architecture Anyway?, by Nasser Rabbat