Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia – Mosques
After a cold drink in the gorgeous restaurant we took the lift to the top floor, there we found a gallery all about Mosques.
Mecca dominated the huge space.
Mecca can hold around 900,000 people (I found a picture during prayers).
Sacred Mosque (Al Masjid Al Haram), Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 7th century: The Sacred Mosque is the holiest site in Islam. Situated in the Holy City of Mecca, Al Masjid Al Haram is the direction towards which Muslims face to perform their daily prayers. It is also the site where millions of pilgrims gather to circumambulate around the Holy Kaaba during the Hajj season It is the only mosque in the world that has neither a qibla wall nor mihrab.
(Mihrab is a semi-circular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla; that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying. The wall in which a mihrab appears is thus the "qibla wall").
Wiki says: The Kaaba ("The Cube") also referred as Al Kaaba Al Musharrafah (The Holy Kaaba), is a building at the centre of Islam's most sacred mosque. It is considered the "House of Allah" and has a similar role to the Tabernacle and Holy of Holies in Judaism. Wherever they are in the world, Muslims are expected to face the Kaaba when performing salat (prayer). From any point in the world, the direction facing the Kaaba is called the qibla.
One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim who is able to do so to perform the hajj pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Multiple parts of the hajj require pilgrims to make tawaf, the circumambulation seven times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction. Tawaf is also performed by pilgrims during the umrah (lesser pilgrimage). However, the most interesting times are during the hajj, when millions of pilgrims gather to circle the building within a 5-day period. In 2013, the number of pilgrims coming from outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform hajj was officially reported as 1,379,531.
Architecturally, it was during the reign of the second righteous caliph, Omar ibn al Kattab, that the Kaaba was enclosed with a wall, providing a confined space for pilgrims. Since then, the mosque has been constantly reconstructed and enlarged. Among the major reconstruction stages was that of the Ottoman Sultan Selim II, who commissioned chief architect Mimar Sinan to renovate and refurbish the mosque. Under the Saudi Kings, state-of-the-art technologies were employed to provide the utmost comfort to pilgrims. This model reflects the mosque’s architecture from the year 1998.
Tengkera Mosque, Malacca, Malaysia, 18th century: Constructed around 1728, the Tengkera mosque is one of the oldest surviving mosques in Malacca, commissioned by the Dutch during the colonial period. Its roof design and ornamentation utilises a blend of Malay with Javanese forms. It further incorporates a pagoda-shaped minaret that reflects the influence of Chinese architectural style, with ceramic tiles imported from the Qing Empire (1644 – 1799). Buried in the grounds of the mosque is Sultan Hussein Shah, the Johor and Singapore ruler of the 19th century, who signed over Singapore to Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1819.
The Art of the Mosque: The art of the mosque is infinite in variety, while at the same time exhibiting certain universal characteristics and functional units. Facing toward the Ka’ba in Mecca, an intricately carved mihrab marks the direction of prayer. The niche set into the wall is adorned with coiled foliate arabesque and bands of calligraphy. At the base of this mihrab lies a prayer rug and an unfolded rehal or wooden Quran stand, where the divine revelation can be recited. The mimbar, the pulpit from which the Imam delivers his sermon (khutbah) during Friday prayers, has evolved over time from a few modest steps, into an art form. The suspended mosque lamp illuminates a verse of the Quran: “Allah is the light of the skies and the universe”. From outside comes the resonating sound of the ‘azan, the rhythmic call to prayer.
Tucked around the corner we found a flat-screen Qur’an presentation. This recitation of the Qur’an by the celebrated Egyptian imam Muhammad Jebril had a black square moving along the English words and opposite on the Arabic. We stood for a while to listen to, in this case, the words of Yusuf ‘Ali. So harmonious and easy on the ear.
This Kiswa was in a different gallery but it fits better here.
The Kiswa. “The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings:” (The Qur’an, Surah Al-Imran, verse 96)
The Holy Ka’aba is located at the centre of the mosque known as Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, the important sanctuary for Muslims. The Ka’aba is known by several names, including al-Bait al Atiq (the ancient or liberated house) and Bait al-Haram (the sacred and honourable house).
The walls of the Ka’aba are covered with a curtain called the Kiswa. Today, it is made in Mecca of black silk with calligraphic verses in thuluth script inscribed in a zigzag pattern, black against black.
The cloth shown here is the door curtain of the Ka’aba, known as the Sitara or Burqu’. Fully embroidered with gold and silver calligraphic inscriptions, it draped the door of the Ka’aba in 1964, for the entire year. It is signed as the work of the Mecca factory of Abd al-Rahim Ami. The inscriptions are placed within compartments supplemented by floral motifs.
The Kiswa is finely embroidered in several stages. These start with the sewing of cotton cords onto the black silk cloth to form the curvature of the inscriptions and decorations. The process is completed when the gold-plated silver threads cover all the cotton cords.
Mamluk Inspired Fountain, marble mosaic, 19th century: The fountain reflects the Mamluk design and style, found in homes and palaces of Egypt and Syria (13th – 16th century). They were placed as a focal point of enclosed courtyard house gardens, or in a dominant room, called ‘Iwan’. Strategically situated, these fountains function as a source of air cooling as well as for decorating the main guest room.
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Complex, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 2007: In its design and construction, the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque unites the world, using artisans and materials from many countries, including Italy, Germany, Austria, Morocco, Turkey, Iran, China, the UK, New Zealand, Greece and the United Arab Emirates. Construction began in November 1996; the internal prayer halls were opened for worship at Eid Al Adha in 2007 and have remained so since then. The maximum capacity is approximately 41,000 people and the overall structure is 22,412 square metres. As one of the most visited buildings in the UAE, the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Complex was established in 2008 to manage the day-to-day operations, not only as a place of worship and Friday gathering, but also as a place of learning and discovery through its unique library, education and visitor programmes.
I saved our favourite until last.
Dome of the Rock (Qubbat Al-Sakhrah) Jerusalem, Palestine, 7th century: The Dome of the Rock is the oldest Islamic structure to have survived in its original form. It was constructed under the auspices of the Umayyad Caliph Abdul bin Marwan, utilising the expertise of non-Muslim craftsmen. The interior and exterior are decorated with glass mosaics reflecting geometric, vegetal and calligraphic design echoing the Quranic verses describing paradise. The octagonal ground plan of the shrine was modeled after Byzantine architecture and was a jewel amongst the Christian buildings that surrounded it. A portion of the shrine’s interior and exterior is lavishly decorated with coloured tiles fitted by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in 1582. In 1993, 80 kilograms of gold was donated by King Hussein of Jordan towards the refurbishment of the dome covering. We have been lucky enough to see this majestic building on our tour of the Holy Land.
We left this floor heading down one, several Mosques now on our list to visit.
ALL IN ALL STUNNING BEAUTY
INTERESTING TO LEARN A LITTLE