God is beautiful and He loves beauty

Technical Glossary




See Wikala




A very important institution in the history of Islamic architecture. For the upkeep of religious buildings and charitable foundations a system had to be instituted to guarantee that their functions will not come to a halt once the founder had died. The revenues generated from allotted plots of land or other institutions were dedicated to the upkeep of a mosque, madrasa, khanqa or complex. Usually the patron would stipulate in the endowment deed that what he draws up from his property will be dedicated for this cause and he appoints someone to overlook the occurrence of his stipulations, which include the conditions of administration and upkeep, including the cost of maintenance and salaries. The person appointed was usually a descendant of the patron. The deed itself had to be legally authenticated and kept with a qadi (judge). Some waqfiyyas were carved on the exterior or interior walls of the buildings. It was not only lands that were endowed to buildings, but Qur’ans as well and their deed was usually inscribed on either the first or last page of the Qur’an. Curses called down on anyone who alters any of the waqfiyya’s conditions are often encountered in them. Waqfiyyas are important documents for the study of the social history of Islamic architecture as it thoroughly describes the building, what goes on inside and the relation of the building with its surroundings.  


The deed where the waqf is written. The alternative name in Persian is waqfnamah.  


Mythical talking tree. 


In Mamluk architecture, it referred to a dado usually made of marble.  


Arabic for minister or vizier.  


The Egyptian caravanserai. Like the khan, the basic plan consisted of an open court surrounded by rooms for storing merchants’ goods and for their display as well. Annexed there is usually an area that would function as a stable for housing the animals of the merchants, mostly horses. The upper floors of a khan are the accommodation areas, with single rooms, duplexes or triplexes for the travelers.  


Ablution required to make the believer ritually pure. It is obligatory before prayer, and is composed of washing hands, mouth, face, arms, head and feet.