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The controversial dome of the National assembly as seen at night

Is the ‘NASS’ complex dome really tied to Islam?

There has been many arguments and counter arguments as to the religious implications of the large dome on the National Assembly Complex. One school of thought holds that sentiment was involved while the NASS complex was been erected. Some Nigerians claim the dome has strings of Islam tied around it. But is that really the case?

A dome has multiple advantages: structurally, it’s an efficient way of supporting a large structure (which is why eggs have the shape they do), while practically and psychologically it focuses attention on the central part (look at the Globe theatre in England, for example, with the audience part-surrounding the stage: an efficient way of getting as many people as possible as close as possible to the focal point, the stage).

Globe theatre London

Globe theatre London

The British House of Commons is rectangular, with benches facing each other – with the result whoever is standing up at the dispatch box has his or her back to half the people present, as well as being way off to one side of most. A circular or semi-circular arrangement (which would lead to a domed roof, unless the roof was flat) would avoid this.

Parliament house of the Great Britain called the British commons

For most other buildings, a rectangular layout is easier to subdivide and use efficiently: large rounded structures will tend to be government ones or sporting stadium or similar.

Before I lay bare my argument, let’s take a historical trip to the dome’s existence:

The technology of arches, vaults and domes was among the great innovations of Roman architecture. And these methods were the only means of creating a large interior space. It is worth noting that the Pantheon, with its unparalleled dome is the only structure in ancient Rome to survive intact. But the dome’s cultural significance, I suspect, followed a line from the Byzantine domed structures built in Italy that then influenced Italian medieval cathedrals that often employ domes, unlike elsewhere in Europe.

Although domes are a feature of Islamic Architecture, they are not synonymous with mosques. In fact, it is a cardinal feature of Byzantine Architecture which is a form of early Roman Architecture. That is why, till this day, most orthodox cathedrals in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean regions have domes.

The birth of the Byzantine empire. Its building architecture is now adopted worldwide

The birth of the Byzantine empire. Its building architecture is now adopted worldwide

If the capitol which the National assembly was modeled after has a dome as one of the most captivating features of the building and yet America is not an Islamic country or anywhere close to been one then why should ours be any different? As a matter of fact, the dome on the National assembly makes the national assembly one of the best architectural landmarks in the country. Apart from our senators who are either throwing chairs on one another or walking out of the complex in protest, the dome is another salient feature that draws attention to the National Assembly complex. However, some Nigerians believe that the dome on the National Assembly Complex has got Islamic affiliations because the dome is present in almost all the mosque around.

Did you know that the National assembly complex was modelled after US Capitol?

Did you know that the National assembly complex was modelled after US Capitol?

Seriously, if the Dome of the National Assembly complex really is of Islamic bearings then “The Maria Assumpta Cathedral” in Owerri should be renamed Assumpta “Mosque” Owerri because it also has a dome on it. Albeit, the Assumpta, Owerri is not alone even the Vatican and most basilicas or cathedrals also have domes! Moreover the Assumpta is a roman catholic church, therefore it goes in line with the architectural trends in roman history
Aside sentiments, genuinely does it not even look lovely to see domes on buildings whether Islamic or not, who cares?

The Maria Assumpta Cathedral in Owerri should be named the Maria Assumta mosque if the dome is really associated to Islam

The Maria Assumpta Cathedral in Owerri should be named the Maria Assumpta mosque if the dome is really associated to Islam

Though domes are considered an achievement of the Islamic empires, it has been widely adopted in many developed countries of the world for centuries. Dome Of The Rock, Jerusalem, Israel, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia, Florence Cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore), Florence, Italy, United States Capitol, Washington DC, and Taj Mahal, Agra, India; one of the world’s wondrous buildings which attracts more than 3 million visitors annually, are notable examples. And if these countries with their choice of architecture had sinister motives at the back of their mind while these buildings were erected then they should have been Islamized by now.

Southern view of the Taj Mahal - widely recognized as the jewel of muslim art in India

Southern view of the Taj Mahal – widely recognized as the jewel of muslim art in India

Again, if the dome of the rock in Jerusalem – originally an Islamic building erected during the Islamic uprising after Christ’s death with the hope to unify other religious tenets, was not remodeled when the Christians took possession of the building years later then why should anyone raise any religious misgivings as to which building should house a dome?

Also the dome’s architecture and mosaics were even patterned after nearby Byzantine churches and palaces to compete with them yet it was built by Muslims.

So, if the dome exists in Jerusalem, the Christian capital of the world, why should it represent Islam here in Nigeria?

The dome of the rock; now one of the oldest piece of Islamic architecture - Jerusalem's most recognizable landmark

The dome of the rock; now one of the oldest piece of Islamic architecture – Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmark

In summary, the domes are architectural works which since ancient times have always aroused great admiration and give great importance to the complexity of the architectural buildings of this type. One of the most famous is the dome by Brunelleschi in Florence, this is still the largest masonry dome ever built and provides coverage to cruise the most important cathedral of Florence in Italy. Even today, many experts study its structure to understand the secrets of this fantastic building and its only ignorance that will make someone say that the dome of the National assembly is hideous because it’s a architectural design that can be tied to Islam.

What sayest thou?

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