That is pretty much the only word that will sum up my experience of this mosque in one word. It was absolutely amazing!
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the biggest mosque in the United Arab Emirates.
It is the 8th biggest mosque in the world.
It holds 41,000 worshippers which makes it the 3rd biggest mosque in the world for capacity!
This all translates to “bloody huge”!!!!
I don’t really even know where to start. I have random facts that I remember. I think that I am just going to list them because there is now way to make this flow otherwise… well, that is what I think at the moment, anyway!
**** NB: These ‘factoids’ are correct to my memory. They may not be 100% accurate. I am not a tour guide, not an encyclopedia!!****
Factoid #1 – Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is buried here. He is the founder of the United Arab Emirates and was the first President. I discovered that they really don’t like you taking pictures of the area he is buried in… after I took the picture! Oops!
Factoid #2 – there are separate prayer rooms for men and women. Women are not encouraged to come to the mosque, but the men are expected to. If you are unable to attend, you may pray wherever you are. If you are injured and unable to move, you must just pray with your mind, foregoing all the up and down-ness of the prayer ritual.
Factoid #3 – there are male and female washrooms in all mosques so that the abolutions may be performed before prayer. This is a cleansing ritual and must be carried out each time you pray. You wash your hands and arms, your feet and ankles, you face and your head. This cleans you of any dirt. You also must rinse out your mouth. This cleans away any bad words that you have used. Once this has been completed, you are deemed cleansed and ready to present yourself to God for prayer. As a side bar, this can be done with sand if you are in the desert but they suggest not to try to clean your mouth with it!
Factoid #4 – the carpet in the mosque is 61,000 square feet and weighs approximately 35 tonnes. It is the biggest hand stitched/knotted carpet in the world. All the materials were bought to the mosque and then put together so it was custom-made on site. I would like to repeat this part in case you missed it… this carpet is stitched by hand. Insane!
Factoid #5 – the carpet has lines woven into it to indicate where the worshippers should stand for prayer.
Factoid #6 – in prayer, a muslim should stand shoulder to shoulder, foot to foot with the person next to them, and actions should be performed in perfect synchrony. This is to make sure that the devil can not pass in between them.
Factoid #7 – the ceiling in the non-domed prayer room is a direct reflection of the pattern of the carpet.
Factoid #8 – until Doha muscled in, the mosque was home to the worlds largest chandelier! It measures approximately 10 meters wide, and 15 meters long. It is Swarovski crystals and is very pretty indeed!
Factoid #9 – there is no air-conditioning! The air is kept constantly moving by large fans which are ‘hidden’ in the middle of 4 columns. They are designed to dray the hot air out. It keeps the mosque at a constant temperature all year round.
Factoid #10 – there is one main wall that you must face to pray. It is called the Qiblah. It runs perpendicular to Mecca.
Factoid #11 – there is a section in the middle of the Qiblah that is decorated with the 99 names of God. You are allowed to use any of these names to name your child, but you must have the word “Al” in front of it. “Al” translates to “of, therefore you are calling your child “of God”.
Factoid #12 – there is a semi-circular section in the middle of the names of God called the Mirab. It is made of white marble and decorated with white and yellow gold. This is the gateway to heaven and depicts the milk and honey river that runs through there.
Factoid #13 – if it looks gold, it is. If it looks silver, it is white gold.
Factoid #14 – The main ‘door’ into the prayer area is pictured below. It is not a great shot for colour, but gives you a great indiction of how big these doors are! They weigh approximately 2.5 tonnes, and are decorated in gold leaf. Each of the different colours are a separate piece of glass, and put together by hand. The same goes for all the windows. All of the glass in used is hand-picked and from Venice.
Factoid #15 – The walls, and the floors inside and outside of the main building, are made of white Italian marble. Each different colour that you see is a separate tile. The patterns that the colours make are all put together by hand.
Factoid #16 – There are prayer clocks everywhere. They will tell you what time prayers are each day. The times on the clock are: Farjar – Sunrise, Shoroq – morning, Dhuhr – noon, Asr – afternoon, Marqrib – sunset and Isha – night.
Factoid #17 – Before each prayer time, two calls are made. One is approximately 15 minutes before and one is approximately 5 minutes before prayer time. Each mosque has speakers outside the building so that people can hear. The speakers at this mosque are numerous and hidden in tall statues, which also house the lights so that the mosque can be clearly seen at night.
Factoid #18 – There are lots of Minarets in the design of the mosque. This is another place where speakers are situated so that you can hear call to prayer.
I think that is it really. I have been writing this over a couple of days so that I can remember everything, but there is nothing else now! I will definitely be going back again at some point, so if there is anything that I have missed out, I will let you know!!