Faisal Mosque, Islamabad, Pakistan

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Overview The eye-popping Shah Faisal Mosque, nestled at the foot of the Margalla Hills, is one of Asia's largest and reflects an eclecti...




Overview

The eye-popping Shah Faisal Mosque, nestled at the foot of the Margalla Hills, is one of Asia's largest and reflects an eclectic blend of ultramodern and traditional architectural design styles. Topped by sloping roofs (a stark contrast to the traditional domes found on most mosques), the main prayer hall and courtyard is said to hold around 100,000 people. Most of its cost (pegged at about US$120 million today) was a gift from King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

Designed by a Turkish architect, Vedat Dalokay, and built between 1976 and 1986, the mosque's geometric design (modelled on a desert tent) and clean lines make the impressive scale hard to discern until you are up close. The four 88m minarets (an old urban myth is that the ever-paranoid CIA demanded to inspect them, fearing they were missiles in disguise!) tower over the prayer hall. Inside, the ceiling soars to 40m and the air hums with muffled recitations. The mausoleum of the late President, Zia ul-Haq, is adjacent to the mosque.
Visitors are welcome, but non-Muslims are requested to avoid prayer times and Fridays. Leave your shoes at a counter before entering the courtyard and remember to dress conservatively (women should bring a head scarf). To get here, jump off an intercity bus at 8th Ave or catch a taxi (around Rs 80 from the Blue Area).

Introduction

The Faisal Mosque (Urdu: فیصل مسجد‎) is the largest mosque in Pakistan, located in the national capital city of Islamabad. Completed in 1986, it was designed by Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay, shaped like a desert Bedouin's tent, is an iconic symbol of Islamabad throughout the world.

It is situated at the north end of Faisal Avenue, putting it at the northernmost end of the city and at the foot of Margalla Hills, the westernmost foothills of the Himalayas. It is located on an elevated area of land against a picturesque backdrop of the Margalla Hills. This enviable location represents the mosque's great importance and allows it to be seen from miles around day and night.

The Faisal Mosque was conceived as the National Mosque of Pakistan and named after the late King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, who supported and financed the project.

The largest mosque in Pakistan, the Faisal Mosque was the largest mosque in the world from 1986 until 1993, when it was overtaken in size by the newly completed Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. Subsequent expansions of the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) of Mecca and the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) in Medina, Saudi Arabia, during the 1990s relegated Faisal Mosque to fourth place in terms of size and capacity (tied with Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia).

History



Shah Faisal Masjid from half way up hill
The impetus for the mosque began in 1966 when King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz supported the initiative of the Pakistani Government to build a national mosque in Islamabad during an official visit to Pakistan.
In 1969, an international competition was held in which architects from 17 countries submitted 43 proposals. The winning design was that of Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay. Construction of the mosque began in 1976 by National Construction of Pakistan, led by Azim Khan and was funded by the government of Saudi Arabia, at a cost of over 130 million Saudi riyals (approximately 120 million USD today). King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz was instrumental in the funding, and both the mosque and the road leading to it were named after him after his assassination in 1975. The mosque was completed in 1986, and used to house the International Islamic University. Many conservative Muslims criticised the design at first for its unconventional design and lack of a traditional dome structure, but most criticism ended when the completed mosque's scale, form, and setting against the Margalla Hills became evident.

Design


The Faisal Mosque is the work of Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay, who won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the project. The mosque's architecture is modern and unique, lacking both the traditional domes and arches of most other mosques around the world.

Shah Faisal Masjid, also known as Faisal Mosque, located in the start of Margala hill sector E-7 Islamabad Pakistan
The mosque's unusual design is a departure from the long history of South Asian Islamic architecture, fusing contemporary lines with the more traditional look of an Arab Bedouin's tent, with its large triangular prayer hall and four minarets. However, unlike traditional masjid design, it lacks a dome. The minarets borrow their design from Turkish tradition and are thin and pencil like.

Interior of Faisal Mosque
The shape of the Faisal Mosque is an eight-sided concrete shell inspired by a desert Beduoin's tent and the cubic Kaaba in Mecca, flanked by four unusual minarets inspired by Turkish architecture. The architect later explained his thinking to design school students:
Entrance is from the east, where the prayer hall is fronted by a courtyard with porticoes. The International Islamic University was housed under the main courtyard, but recently relocated to a new campus. The mosque still houses a library, lecture hall, museum and cafe. The interior of the main tent-shaped hall is covered in white marble and decorated with mosaics and calligraphy by the famous Pakistani artist Sadequain, and a spectacular Turkish-style chandelier. The mosaic pattern adorns the west wall, and has the kalimah written in early Kuficscript, repeated in mirror image pattern.
Nekka Phullai is the adjacent hill to the mosque in Margalla Hills.

Capacity

The Faisal Mosque has covered area of 5,000 m2 (54,000 sq ft). It can accommodate 10,000 worshipers in its main prayer hall, 24,000 in its porticoes, 40,000 in its courtyard,and another 200,000 in its adjoining grounds. Although its covered main prayer hall is smaller than that of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca (the world's third largest mosque), Faisal Mosque has the third largest capacity of accommodating worshipers in its adjoining grounds after the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) of Mecca, the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) in Medina. Each of the Mosque's four minarets are 80 m (260 ft) high (the tallest minarets in South Asia) and measure 10 x 10 m in circumference.

References in literature

The Faisal Mosque is described in the book The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini, and is frequently referenced in the work of Michael Muhammad Knight, who came to the mosque to study Islam as a teenager.

Gallery

Interior of the mosque.

Elevation view of the Shah Faisal Masjid

A view of Shah Faisal Mosque from adjoining yard.

Faisal Masjid From Damn e Koh(HD)

Faisal Masjid during 27th Ramadan(HD)

View before sunset

View from Southern Side

Faisal Masjid at night around prayers time

Night view of the Faisal Mosque and surrounding area


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Jama Masjid: Faisal Mosque, Islamabad, Pakistan
Faisal Mosque, Islamabad, Pakistan
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