Sidi Brahim Mosque
El-Ateuf, M’zab, Algeria
This mosque was built alongside Sheikh Sidi Brahim's tomb, hence its name. The site is in one of the oldest cemeteries in the valley, lying at the base of the southern slope of the El-Ateuf Qsar. It is a funerary mosque (known in French in Algeria as a funéraire de fraction) and meant for families who share common descendants. The small circular chamber is half underground and was formerly used for teaching the Qur'an. Set half-way up the walls is an upper room where the sheikh of the mosque spent most of his time. These two spaces are accessed from the prayer hall, whose shape and proportions have inspired several eminent architects, the most notable being Le Corbusier who based his chapel at Rondchamp on the mosque.
Outside is an area for prayer with various types of arcades. A wide claustra in the wall adjacent to Sidi Brahim's tomb opens on to the cemetery.
This monument was built from locally available materials; stone and lime mortar for load-bearing walls and pillars; palm trunks for beams and rafters; embedded palm branches for arches, giving each one a different shape. The whole structure is covered with a coating of lime mortar, applied using various techniques (by hand, or with palm fronds used as a trowel). The building is periodically re-whitewashed for weather protection and to make a brilliant white contrast with the ochre colour of the surroundings.
This mosque, lying at the base of the southern slope of the El-Ateuf Qsar, was built alongside Sheikh Sidi Brahim's tomb, hence its name. The prayer hall is flanked by two spaces. One, a sunken area, was the madrasa. The other, used by the sheikh of the mosque, boasts arcades of varying type which give onto the sahan, a wide claustra set in the wall leads onto the tomb. Local building materials were used.
Didillon, C. and Pierre D., Habiter le desert, les maisons mozabites, Brussels, 1986.
Rapport sur les sites et monuments de la vallée, OPU, Algiers, 1986.
Lakhdar Drias "Sidi Brahim Mosque" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;dz;Mon01;29;en
Prepared by: Lakhdar Drias
Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: David Ash
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: AL 38