I heard 'Uthman bin 'Affan saying, when people argued too much about
his intention to reconstruct the mosque of Allah's Apostle, “You have talked too much.
I heard the Prophet saying, ‘Whoever built a mosque, Allah would build for him
a similar place in Paradise’.”
[Sahih Bukhari, Hadith no. 441, narrated by Ubdaidullah Al-Khaulani]
|Al Farooq Mosque|
I watched the four pencil-shaped columns rise over the past year. From far they looked like spaceships ready to blast off. Last week I found out they were the minarets of a new mosque, built and offered to the city of Dubai by business leader Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor.
|Driving up to the new mosque|
|The stained glass windows sparkle in the sun|
Al Farooq Mosque, which can hold at least 2,000 worshipers, is one of the most modern in the region. It is the largest in Dubai and the third to open its doors to nonMuslims after the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque in Abu Dhabi and the Jumeirah Grand Mosque in Dubai.
|Shehab, the helpful security guard, lent me an abaya|
I have always valued the sensation in prayer houses. And the call to prayer is one of the sounds from the region I missed most when living in London. Somehow there is no rhythm to the day without the five calls to prayer.
While growing up in Tunis, my mom Vicky and I used to walk to the closest mosque to home in La Marsa, a suburb of the capital, to hear the maghrib (evening) prayers. We’d sit on one of the benches in the square in front of La Marsa Mosque and follow the adhan.
At the time, the muezzin’s call to prayer was live from the minaret, which along with the dome is a characteristic form of Islamic architecture. But with the mushrooming of cities, the muezzin now calls the adhan from the prayer hall by means of microphones fixed to the minarets.
The mosque is named after one of the companions of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), who was widely recognized for his justice and fairness. Omar, the second Caliph after the Prophet’s death, succeeded Abu Bakr in 634. Also known for his legislative competence and firm political and administrative leadership, the Islamic empire expanded greatly under his caliphate.
The mosque itself is split into the main prayer hall for men and one for women on the first floor (with elevator). Four smaller ones surround the central dome while mini-domes crown the exterior walls.
|The long prayer hall reserved for women|
|Peering at the men prayer hall through the upstairs windows|
The Islamic Center consists of a library for research and reading and a lecture hall or classroom boasting state-of-the-art equipment. It will offer courses to study the Qur’an. The complex houses the Imam’s, the muezzin’s and the ablution facilities. I didn’t go into these buildings because some were closed due to the hour of day and others are still being completed.
|Al Farooq Mosque's main worship area|
|The domes in the main worship area|
The thick, new carpets were specially made in Germany; a new method of air-conditioning was adopted; and bronze chandeliers hanging from the mosque’s ceiling, rising to about 30 meters, add beauty and awe to the atmosphere.
|Al Farooq Mosque can accommodate at least 2,000 worshipers|
Built by Ahmed I between 1609 and 1616, Istanbul’s Blue Mosque was controversial when it was revealed it would have six minarets, the same number as the Al-Haram Mosque housing the Ka’aba in Mecca. To overcome the problem Ahmed I sent his architects to build a seventh minaret at the Mecca mosque.
|Khalaf Al Habtoor (via Facebook)|
It is unusual to see four minarets, like at Al Farooq Mosque. The majestic Sheikh Zayed Mosque has four and the Jumeirah Grand Mosque has two. Most other mosques have one or two.
Minarets have been described as stairways to heaven. They also remind of the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, alif – a straight vertical line. The basic form of a minaret includes a base, shaft, and gallery. Styles vary regionally and by period. The minarets at Al Farooq Mosque have two shafts and the pointed gallery is of course blue.
Mosques were first built without minarets. According to hadiths (narrations of sayings of the Prophet) the community of Madina gave the call to prayer from the roof of the Prophet’s house, which doubled as a prayer place. Around 80 years after the Prophet’s death, the first known minarets appeared.
|The minaret in Kairouan (via Wikipedia)|
I walked around Dubai’s Blue Al Farooq Mosque for more than an hour, and kept discovering inscriptions, patterns, designs, mosaics and other little wonders. As it starts to write its own history, I like to think that in the centuries to come, in the entries about the Al Farooq Mosque, I played a minuscule role in treading its new carpets.