Were the designers of the Taj Mahal Muslims?

Were the architects and builders who designed the Taj Mahal Muslims, or some other religion? I know it was built for a Mughal Muslim emperor.

I had a strange discussion with an Evangelical Christian today who denied that Muslims had any major accomplishments to their names, and I brought up the Taj Mahal, but had to admit I wasn’t sure the religion of those who designed it.


Perusing this article about the complex, I notice that the board of architects designing the place included Abd ul-Karim Ma’mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri and noting that article says Lahauri is the main one, I’d have to go with the designers being Muslim. IMHO, you don’t have to go that far back in time as there is no shortage of beautiful mosques. There also is no shortage of beautiful buildings designed by Muslim architects still alive today.

No need to limit major accomplishments to edifices, either. Muslims changed an earlier game and caused it to spread quite far. That game is Chess. That’s a pretty good accomplishment, again IMHO. Add to that some medical discoveries and, of course, algebra.

Your friend is repeating something he wishes were true, IMHO.

p.s. Don’t fall into the mistake (and I’m not saying you did) of assuming that there aren’t many Muslims in India. There are very many.

And if the Taj Mahal doesn’t do it for your ethnocentric friend, there’s the Great Mosque of Jenne which I’m *pretty *sure was built by Muslims. Or the Dome of the Rock, which some might describe as somewhat large-ish and mildly pretty if you’re into that sort of thing.

Slight nitpick - it was built for one of the Emperor’s wife (its a mausoleum).
Recognizing the Taj Mahal as a major accomplishment by the Muslims, one should also recognize the thousands of temples destroyed in India by the Muslims; many of them converted to mosques. I believe many Christian and Jewish sanctuaries in Palestine were also converted. Cite

If by “Muslim” the fellow meant “Arab” then he’s wronger than a very wrong person (unless he pooh-poohs the value of the zero, algebra, and soap). If by “Muslim” he ment “Muslim” then he’s even more wronger as that group includes a much, much broader scope of civilizations with even more significant contributions to civilization.

so you’re saying that they had zero accomplishments?

Granted Muslims were good traders and spread the game. But Chess is believed to have originated in Eastern India during the Gupta empire. And it spread to Persia before the muslims.

The concept of zero as a number and not merely a symbol or an empty space for separation is attributed to India

Just tell your buddy to LOOK at the thing. Those 4 tower thingies at the 4 corners? Those are minarets. As to the larger question, it shows your friends ignorance that he doesn’t know of any major accomplishments of the Muslims. During their golden age their accomplishments far, far outstripped Christian Europe. In fact, much of what we know of the ancient Greek culture and writings we know because of Islamic scholars.

But how do we know Lahauri was Muslim? Is his name enough alone? He seems obscure, but can we find a source which shares more information about him?

That Ahmad certainly seems like a strong hint, and he was from Persia. Given the locations, times, style, etc and unless you can find a link attributing a different religion to him I’ll go with muslim.


Philosophy, chemistry, algebra, medicine, geography, music theory

Also advances in plant grafting, paper-making (invention of the paper mill), the translation and preservation of ancient texts in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Chinese.

Aside from the decorative arts, and architecture . . .

I’m not well up on the differences between chaturanga and shatranj, but let’s give Europeans credit for a few innovations that made the game what it is today: the Bishop’s move (it was formerly a 2-square diagonal leap, which made it a very weak piece), the Queen’s move (formerly one square on the diagonal, oddly still stronger than the “bishop”), castling, the double pawn move, the counterbalancing en passant rule, and pawn promotion to other pieces.

My point is that Muslims, of whatever ethnicity/nationality, caused the game to spread throughout Europe. Kind of irrelevant how the game got to the Muslim lands in the first place when we’re discussing Muslim achievements. Now, a different group of folks caused the game to spread the other direction and to have a different set of rule changes.




Granted, these are both wiki links, but I think the second one shines some light on the first to answer your query.

Ustad Ahmad Lahauri



It is relevant in the sense that it is not a big achievement since the game existed before and was already spread to Persia before the Muslims forcefully converted the Persians to islam. And copied what the Persians/Indians had already done - so in that sense, to me just spreading it further to Europe is just being copy cats and not a big achievement.

Yes, yes, of course there’s astronomy, philosophy, chemistry, algebra, medicine, geography, music, and the papers and architecture, and the other things, but aside from all of that, what have the [del]Romans[/del]Muslims ever done for us?

Well, yeah, I guess so, if you want to discount that whole chess book writing thing.