The Shah Faisal Mosque, Pakistan

The Shah Faisal Mosque, Pakistan

The Shah Faisal Mosque is Pakistan’s biggest mosque, and it is situated in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay was responsible for the unique design of the mosque, with work being completed on it in 1986.

A Mosque That Can Be Seen For Miles Around

Having the appearance of a Bedouin’s tent, the Shah Faisal Mosque is also situated in a location of special significance. Built on elevated ground, the mosque is overlooked by the Margalla Hills. While the mosque can also be seen for miles away at any time of the day.

It was Saudi Arabian King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz who paid for the mosque to be built, and both the mosque and avenue (Faisal Avenue) where the mosque can be found were named in his honour. At the time of its construction, and up until 1993, the Shah Faisal Mosque was the largest mosque on Earth. It is currently the world’s fourth largest mosque, and visitors can enjoy both the interior and exterior of the mosque and the surrounding areas for free.

The Origins Of The Shah Faisal Mosque

In 1966 Pakistan’s government wanted to create a national mosque in Islamabad. The idea then received the financial backing of King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz. As a result, in 1969, a competition was arranged to attract designs for a new mosque from around the world. 43 designs were submitted from 17 countries, with Vedat Dalokay’s design ending up being the one chosen. Seven years later work began on building the mosque. Sadly, King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz never even saw building start on a project he had supported so strongly – he was assassinated in 1975, the year before building began.

What Makes The Shah Faisal Mosque Unique

The unique nature of Vedat Dalokay’s design was a radical departure from that of the traditional mosque, which would typically have domes and arches. The prayer hall of the Faisal Mosque is triangular in shape, and the four minarets are similar to those that can be seen at Turkish mosques. The 260 feet high minarets are also the tallest that can be found anywhere in South Asia. In the interior of the mosque, white marble, mosaics and calligraphy are all incorporated in the overall design. Another Turkish aspect of the mosque is a stunning chandelier. Building of the mosque was carried out by National Construction of Pakistan, with the work supervised by Azim Khan. The cost of the mosque’s construction was the equivalent of around $120m in today’s money.

Inside the Shah Faisal Mosque there is a library, museum, cafe and lecture hall. While there is room for 10,000 worshippers in the prayer hall – though many more visitors and worshippers can be accommodated in other areas in and around the mosque. The courtyard is capable of holding 40,000 people, and the adjoining grounds can hold around five times that number. But, before you visit Pakistan and this spectacular mosque, do remember to take out travel insurance for Pakistan.

Photo Credit: Ankara’s Kocatepe Mosque

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