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Musalla  

[Arab. muṣallā; Pers. ‛īdgāh]

Large open-air space where prayers are held on the occasion of the two major religious festivals in Islam, ‛Id al-Fitr and ‛Id al-Adha. In eastern Islamic lands, including Iran and the Indian subcontinent, the Arabic term muṣallā (‘place of prayer’) is often replaced by the Persian ‛īdgāh (‘place of the festival’). A muṣallā must be large enough to contain all the males of a city who are old enough to engage in prayer; it may be walled and equipped with a free-standing mihrab and minbar constructed of durable materials, but it need have no other significant architectural form. Not every Islamic city has an architecturally formalized muṣallā. Normally located outside a city or town, a muṣallā may occasionally be found within the walls of a city; in any event, the site of a city’s muṣallā generally reflected changes in urban development. Muṣallās are often placed next to cemeteries (which are usually outside the walls, too); for this reason, or because prayers for the dead were performed at the ...

Article

Susan Roaf

[Arab. bādahanj, malqaf; Pers. bādgīr]

Traditional form of natural ventilation and air-conditioning built on houses throughout the Middle East from North Africa to Pakistan. Constructed at least since the 2nd millennium bc in Egypt, wind catchers have also been used to cool caravanserais, water cisterns and mosques. Consisting of an open vent built on the roof facing into or away from the prevailing wind, wind catchers have shafts carrying the air down through the roof into the living area below, thereby ventilating and cooling the spaces. Wind catchers are generally placed above the summer rooms of courtyard houses. On the Iranian plateau, where the finest wind catchers are built, the vents are in the tops of brick towers which capture the faster airstreams above the general roof level. When there is little air movement, as on summer afternoons, the wind catcher acts as a chimney, drawing warm air up the shaft and through the living areas from the courtyard. In coastal settlements, towers generally face onshore winds. Most inland towers also face prevailing winds but in some desert settlements in the Yazd region of central Iran, where the prevailing wind is hot and dusty, vents similarly face away from the wind, and the preferred air from the courtyard is drawn through the summer rooms. In Iraq and central Iran, wind catchers are important in moderating the climate of the deep basements used as summer living rooms. In the Gulf and in Sind (the lower Indus region) wind catchers serve ground- and first-floor summer rooms....