The Shah Faisal Mosque: Turkish Architecture Inspired by Bedouin’s Marquee

The Shah Faisal Mosque: Turkish Architecture Inspired by Bedouin’s Marquee
By Ahmad Amirali

Since the past 1400 years, Muslim societies have always been keen on building landmarks or distinct ideas and designs. The inspiration came from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself when he created the very first landmark of Islamic; The Mosque in Medina (Yathrib). The Prophet’s Mosque or Masjid al-Nabwi was first made out of mud, olive tree trunks and leaves. Over time, the architecture evolved with the use of modern tools and ideas resulting in more elaborate and detail architectural designs. The modern architectural designs allow more space for visitors without compromising the majestic and elegant structure of the mosque. Marbled-domes, eclectic arches, minarets along with the crescent-moon are the cyphers of Muslim diversity. However, there is one mosque, which was built differently without many of these traditional elements. The Mosque of Shah Faisal in Islamabad, Pakistan is an attractive architectural achievement with a modern outlook.

The traditional Bedouin’s tent enthuses the modern architecture piece of Shah Faisal mosque. Bedouins are the nomadic societies in the context of Arabia. The construction of Shah Faisal Mosque was initiated and funded by the Faisal bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia in 1976 and completed in 1986. The mosque was designed by a Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay whose design won an international competition held in 1969 in which 43 design proposals from 17 countries were submitted. It is believed that, initially, many conventional Muslims criticised the design for its unconventional design and lack of a traditional Dome structure.

The Mosque of Shah Faisal erected at the base of Margalla Hills Islamabad. The first prayer hall is cover by the tent-shaped which is decorated with marble and mosaics. The Mosque of Shah Faisal can house 10,000 worshippers inside alone. Combined with the courtyard and lawns, more than 250,000 worshippers can be accommodated at the mosque. The main mosque building contains a library, a lecture hall, a museum and a café. Previously, the mosque used to be the old campus of the International Islamic University.

The exceptional and soul inspiring design of Shah Faisal Mosque complements the worshipper’s connection with the Almighty. The Shah Faisal Mosque is the symbol of pride and respect between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Moreover, it is a popular site for international and national tourism.

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