Mosque: Shrine of the Muslim world
The Larabanga Mosque
"Mecca of West Africa" is a nick name to the ancient mosque of Ghana, which fits well into the local architecture of Larabanga village.
The idea to create a place of worship came to architects at the beginning of the 15th century, the construction of the building which has eight meters in length and in width, was completed in 1421, though to this day the mosque has undergone many restorations. Only at the beginning of the 20th century it acquired present appearance. Now the two pyramidal towers are concentrated in the possession of the mosque, mihrab (a semicircular niche in the wall) and minaret, next to which there is the conical projecting wall, with details carved from wood.
According to legend, an Islamic trader named Ayuba was traveling through Africa, his business was quite successful. But there was no place where he could pray to God and thank the prophets for his success. Once Ayuba wandered into Larabanga village where he dreamed that he had to fulfill a sacred duty, that is to build a mosque on this very spot.
The merchant devoted all his life to the construction. It is believed that Ayuba's remains are buried under a baobab tree, next to the mosque. As for the shrine, it was constructed from a special building material called adobe, a mixture of mud and reeds. Adobe was considered the best material, able to withstand any onslaught - it was used in the construction of fortifications. Not surprisingly, this mosque has survived to the present day, however, modern architects have recommended to paint it white, so as not to stand out too much among buildings typical of the area. The World Monuments Fund (WMF) listed it as one of the 100 Most Endangered Sites. Careful attention to the shrine is not surprising: since 1650 its walls keep an old Quran.Photo needpix.com
Bobo-Dioulasso Grand Mosque in Burkina Faso
Another West African State famous for Islamic shrines is Burkina Faso. The biggest mosque in this country was built in 1880 in the city of Bobo Dioulasso. Its construction has left a significant mark in history. The legend has it, that two African Kings Sya and Kenedougou were at odds so long that lost their military force. Then Sya asked assistance from the Islamic religious leader Almamy Sidiki Sanou, and thanks to his army he managed to defeat Kenedougou. In gratitude for the favour, Sya built a mosque which is now admired by tourists and pilgrims. The monarch has taken care of the durability of the Islamic monuments and applied construction method preventing the roof from melting under heavy rains and drying up under the sun. Sudanese style of building assumed that the core is constructed of mahogany trunks, and the top is covered with clay and straw.
This mosque is famous not only for its military history, but for the unusual architecture. From the side it looks like a rather exotic image due to wooden "sticks" protruding from the walls. This conceptual idea was used not only to show uniqueness; it has a practical purpose: the logs make it easy for builders to climb up during repair work. Stepping inside, you will not see the rooms, but, if you raise your head, you notice a characteristic feature of the mosque - holes for air circulation. The corridors branches go straight from the main entrance; they are topped with giant pillars. Here is a praying hall for men, women pray up to sky literally since there is no roof in women's prayer hall.Photo wondermondo.com
The Huaisheng Mosque in Guangzhou
Famous Chinese mosque is located in Guangzhou and has several names, for all tastes - call it what you want. Name, imbued into history, sounds like Huaisheng, translated as Remember the Prophets. Among Europeans, this mosque founded in 672, is better known as the Lighthouse Mosque. High minaret, a tower with sharp tip is called the Guangta, which means the Pagoda of Light (another variant is the Plain Pagoda). As in the previous title, it implies a story about boats which sailed along the Pearl River and used this minaret as a beacon.
Only a few centuries after foundation had been built, the manuscripts appeared, testifying the existence of the mosque - according to writing of the 13th century, the temple was founded by the Prophet Muhammad's uncle, Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas. This fact is evidenced by burials of missionaries, who, according to Asian wisdom, were sent by Prophet Muhammad to the East to promote Islam. There is another version, supported by the historians, which sounds more realistic. According to it, the mosque was built by representatives of the Chinese imperial Tang Dynasty, and it happened at the beginning of the 10th century.
This sacred place is interesting not only for its antique history, but also for interweaving of cultures. So, the architecture of Huaisheng mosque exquisitely combines incongruous features of Chinese and Arabic styles.Photo theislamicmonthly.com
Blue Mosque in Istanbul
Sultan Ahmet went down in history as the ruler, successfully defending rights of his country both at the level of foreign policy, and in the course of military battles. His spectacular "brainchild" the Blue Mosque (the Ahmadiyya) is considered the most beautiful historical monument located in Istanbul.
...Constantinople of the 17th century was torn by political contradictions. Nineteen-year-old Sultan Ahmet took the reins and made several actions that caused the rapid popular indignation. In particular, Ahmet concluded peace with the authorities of the Austrian Empire, and it was rumoured among the common people that the ruler betrayed Islam. To cool down national excitement, Ahmed ordered the construction of the Blue Mosque, thus proving his loyalty to the religion. For the construction of the mosque they had to sacrifice a lot of palaces of the Byzantine period - the place where they were located was deemed the most appropriate location for the temple.
Sultan has not stinted on the decoration of the mosque: ceramic tiles for decoration were brought from the city of Iznik. There they produced the most complex shapes, painted using technique of seven colours, the tiles were fired twice. In order to make original solutions in architecture unrepeatable, the Sultan forbade artists working with ceramics, to perform any other orders during seven years when construction of the mosque was in progress. After that Ahmet instructed the faithful to weave silk carpets, and then sent messengers to different countries, so that they brought the lamps, thus combining many cultures in the space of a mosque...Photo istanbulwelcomecard.com
Another interesting fact related to the mosque is story of the number of minarets in the Blue Mosque. According to folklore, an architect misheard the Sultan's request for "altın minareler" (gold minarets) as "altı minare" (six minarets). When the mosque was built, the entire Muslim world considered it a "slap in the face" of public opinion: even in Mecca mosque had five minarets. When criticized for his presumption, the Sultan then ordered a seventh minaret to be built at the Mecca mosque, thereby recognizing the supremacy of the shrine.
Until today, tourists are impressed by coloured flamboyant decor, dominated by blue paint. Tiles make a mosaic with floral designs, woven into lines from the Quran, stained glass windows with intricate designs admit natural light. As the sun sets, the mosque is brilliantly illuminated by coloured floodlights, inside the adherents of Islam feel the warmth, telling about a particular state during a prayer resembling the divine presence.
Cover photo my.asiatatler.com