Faisal Mosque is the biggest mosque in south Asia and it’s the biggest mosque in Pakistan. It is on forward rank on the planet after Masjid Haraam , Khaana Kaaba (Grand Mosque) in Mecca, Masjid-e-Nabvi in Medina, the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca It is situated in the North end of Faisal Avenue in the F-8 sector in Islamabad near the Margalla Hills. It is located in the national capital city of Islamabad. Its construction was completed in 1986. It was designed by Turkish Architect Vedat Dalokay.
Basically the structural concept of this mosque was like Desert Bedoiuns Tent with four tall minarets. Faisal Mosque is considered to be the national mosque of Pakistan.It was named subsequent to King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudia Arabia.The king gave Financial help in the building of the Holy Mosque. Faisal Mosque was the biggest mosque in the world from 1986 till 1993 when it was overtaken in size and capacity by the newly completed Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, which is situated in Morocco. There were also different changes in Masjid Haraam, Masjid Nabvi in the late 90’s that ranked Faisal mosque to forth in terms of size and capacity.
History of Shah Faisal Masjid :-
The idea of the mosque was started in 1966, when the late King of Saudia Arabia King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz came to Pakistan. He supported the government of Pakistan to build a national mosque in the capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad. He came to Pakistan on an official tour. In 1969, there was a conference in which architects from 17 countries around the whole world were gathered and they submitted 43 proposals. The proposal of a Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay was selected and he was appointed for the construction of the Mosque. He won the Agha Khan Award for architecture The Construction Of the mosque was started in 1976.
The Construction was started by National Construction Of Pakistan. The Construction was led by Azim Khan . Government Of Saudi Arabia funded in the construction of the mosque. The Government of Saudi Arabia gave 130 million Saudi Riyals as a fund for the construction cost of Mosque. The mosque and the road which was leading towards the mosque were named after the Kinfg Faisal bin Abdul Aziz. The construction of the mosque was completed in 1986. The mosque was used to house the Islamic International University of Islamabad. It is also known as Shah Faisal Masjid.
Design of Faisal Masjid
The architecture of Faisal Mosque is unique and modern. It is not like the other traditional mosques of the world as it lacks the traditional domes and arches. The structure of the mosque is like bedouin desert tent with four tall minarets. It had an unusual design. Most of the Islamic architectural mosques have a dome shaped structure while it resembles the Arabic culture and architecture as it resemble a Bedouin desert tent. Many Muslims criticized the design due to the unconventional design of the mosque and lacking of domes in the mosque, but majority of the criticism was ended as soon as the mosque was completed. It has a large prayer hall with four tall minarets. The minarets are structured on Turkish architect and traditions and they are thin like pencil.
- Structure of Faisal Mosque :-
The shape of Shah Faisal Mosque is eight sided concrete shell. This was made as an inspiration from cubic shape of Khaana Kaaba. The mosque is surrounded by four unusual minarets. These minarets are made as inspiration from Turkish architecture and traditions.
- Entrance of Faisal Mosque :-
The entrance of Faisal Masjid is from east, while there is a prayer hall in the front of courtyard. The Islamic International University was housed under main courtyard but nowadays its campus is relocated to a different place. Faisal mosque still has a library, cafe, lecture hall and a museum. The interior of main tent shaped area has white marble and it is decorated with mosaics. The interior of Faisal Masjid is decorated with beautiful calligraphy by famous artist of Pakistan, Sadequain. There is a beautiful Turkish-style chandelier in the center of the mosque. The Mosaic pattern has kalima written on it that repeats in mirror image pattern.
- Capacity of Faisal Masjid :-
The area of Faisal masjid is 5000m2 which is 54000 square feet. It can accommodate more then 2,50,000 worshipers. In the main prayer hall, it can accommodate 10,000 worshipers. 24000 worshipers can worship in the main courtyard, 40000 in the later courtyard. It can also easily accommodate more then 2,00,000 worshipers in the adjoining grounds.
As far as the main prayer hall is concerned, the main prayer hall of Shah Faisal Mosque is smaller then the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, Morocco; which is the third largest mosque in the world. Faisal masjid is on third rank after Masjid Haraam in Mecca and Masjid-e-Nabvi in Medina in accommodating the worshipers. Each of the mosque four minarets are 80m (260 feet ) high. These are the tallest minarets in the South Asia and each minaret measures 10×10 in circumference.
- References in Literature-
It is described as the best mosques in various literature books. It is described in the book “The Kite Runner” which is written by well known writer Khalid Hosseini. Moreover, Shah Faisal Masjid is also referenced in the book of Michael Muhammad Knight. Michael Muhammad Knight was a scholar who came to Shah Faisal Masjid for the purpose and study of Islam.