Mosques have been a landmark of Muslim communities around the world throughout the history of Islam. The architectural elements of every mosque often reflects the culture of the country it is located in and the history of the times it has survived. Here are 15 mosques around the world that are proof that Islam embraces all cultures, and in fact are testament to the diversity of the ummah!
1. Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, Cyprus
Originally St. Nicholas' Cathedral, this gorgeous example of pure Gothic architecture was transformed into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest in 1571.
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Although human figurines and frescoes were removed and plastered over, the Gothic tracery remains preserved, giving the mosque an atypical, yet stunning exterior that tell of its history as a former cathedral ?
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However, while the mosque's facades boast intricate designs, the interiors are quite the opposite! With carpeted floors, high ceilings and bare stonework, its simplicity lends itself to a serenity that's common in all houses of worship ?
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2. Meczet Kruszyniany in Kruszyniany, Poland
Reminiscent of old Christian timber churches, this rustic mosque was built by Muslim Tartars in the late 17th Century.
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The mosque is separated into 2 rooms - the male and female prayer spaces. The walls in the main prayer hall are adorned with verses from the Qur'an, with a small recess in the wall dedicated as the mihrab (pointing to the direction of Mecca). Doesn't it look cozy and warm? ?
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Having only the Polish architecture in the village as reference for the mosque's design, the Tartars went ahead to embrace the culture and built the mosque with similar exteriors. Now, the mosque remains well-kept and open for tourists and locals to visit within the village ?
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3. Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran (مسجد نصیر الملک)
Also known as the Pink Mosque, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque comes alive with a kaleidoscope of colours when the sun rises. As you explore the exteriors, you'll find yourself marveling at the intricate details and vibrancy of its design - truly a spectacle like no other!
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But be prepared to have your senses heightened as you enter the mosque for worship! Designed with stained glass, the sunlight creates a breathtaking splash of colours across the mosque's interiors. ?
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Built in the 19th century, this fairly new mosque intertwines both classic and modern elements of Islamic art.
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4. The Islamic Center of Rijeka in Rijeka, Croatia (Islamski Kulturni Centar Rijeka)
The Islamic Center of Rijeka was built in 2013 - the first mosque to be built in the Adriatic since the Ottoman conquest left 500 years ago. It is thus dubbed "the mosque on the Adriatic"!
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This intriguing design was the work of prominent Croatian sculptor Dušan Džamonja, who was well-known for his abstract works of art. The result of it was an entirely functional space for Muslims in Rijeka to worship in, giving mosques a whole new image and showing that Islam can come in different structures - just like how Islam transcends culture and ethnicity! ?
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The modern complex consists also of a kindergarten, teaching room, library and other offices, making it a multi-functional center for Muslims.
5. Cologne Central Mosque in Cologne, Germany
Here's a mosque that's relatively newer than the rest! The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) opened the Cologne Central Mosque in 2017 after long years of conflict and controversy. Upon its completion, it is with much relief that Cologne's Muslim community now has a place for worship and gatherings. ?
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The spacious, open concept of this mosque combines oriental elements with contemporary Islam! The Arabic inscriptions you see on the ceiling are the names of prophets who are all instrumental in Jewish, Islamic and Christian history.
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The openness of the mosque and its cross-cultural elements will always be a good reminder for bridging the gaps between different cultures! After all, though we differ in culture, we are united in faith.
6. Mosquée de la Divinité in Dakar, Senegal
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Mosquée de la Divinité (or Mosque of the Divinity) has a fascinating story behind it. Situated in Africa's west coast, Mohamed Gorgui Seyni Guèye saw the mosque in his dream, which led him to the beach in which it is now located.
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There, he received an order from Allah S.W.T to build the mosque, and so what is also known as the Great Mosque of Ouakam became a reality.
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From then on, a long flight of staircase was constructed for easier access to the beach and mosque, and the building became an important site for Dakar's Muslim community to worship and congregate. ?
7. Lala Tulpan Mosque in Ufa, Russia
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Lala Tulpan means 'Tulip in Bloom' in Russian, aptly named so as its design is reminiscent of the flower petals when it is about to bloom. ?
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The mosque's unique name also alludes to the growth and blossoming of Russia's religious activity in 2001! On the same year, President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Muslim clerics in the mosque.
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8. Great Mosque of Djenné in Djenné, Mali
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You might be wondering what this mosque is made up of. Well, it's actually made of mud! Like many of the mosques in Djenne, the Great Mosque was built with bricks made from mud and straw.
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Built in 1907, this UNESCO-heritage-listed mosque isn't actually resistant to rain, humidity and temperature. That is why the nation's mud masons regularly come together to repair the mosque and prevent it from falling apart, Alhamdulillah! ?
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9. Glasgow Central Mosque in Glasgow, Scotland
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The Glasgow Central Mosque was built in 1983, and designed by an architect who travelled to Turkey and Jeddah in order to meet the preferred architectural design.
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Now, the mosque stands with an Islamic Centre - an institution not only for the Muslim community, but which also provides services to non-Muslim visitors. The Glasgow Central Mosque is also the biggest mosque in Scotland!
10. Larabanga Mosque in Larabanga, Ghana
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Much like the Great Mosque of Djenne, the Larabanga Mosque is built with mud and reeds. It is also the oldest mosque in Ghana and houses an old Quran which was said to have been gifted from heaven to Yidan Barimah Bramah, their imam in the year of 1650.
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Once listed as one of the 100 Most Endangered Sites, it has since been pivotal in the knowledge of mud-plaster maintenance.
11. Masjid Dimaukom in Maguindanao, Philippines
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Masjid Dimaukom, or the Pink Mosque, was actually painted in such striking colours to symbolize peace, love, unity and brotherhood!
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Indeed, doesn't just the sight of it make you feel cheerful?
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12. Mother Mosque of America in Iowa, USA
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The Mother Mosque of America is aptly named so as the first mosque to have ever been built in America!
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As one of the oldest surviving Islamic house of worship, the mosque stands as an important icon of America's immigration history and the beginning of Islam as an established religion in the United States.
13. Grand Mosque of West Sumatra in Padang, Indonesia (Masjid Raya Sumatera Barat)
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Doesn't this mosque's structure remind you of something you've seen in pictures (or real life)? Yes, it takes on the shape of the roofs on traditional Minangkabau vernacular houses!
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This majestic mosque took 7 years to build due to the budget problems and Sumatran earthquake which struck in 2009. Presently, it stands as the largest mosque in West Sumatra!
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14. Niujie Mosque in Beijing, China (牛街禮拜寺)
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On first sight, you'd probably think you're seeing a temple, but look closely and you'll realize it's actually a mosque! ?
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Built in 996 AD, this is one of the oldest and most important mosques in China. Its mix of Chinese and Arabic design elements is certainly intriguing and incredibly fascinating - making it one of the must-visits when you're travelling to Beijing!
15. Al Bidya Mosque in Fujairah, UAE (مسجد البدية)
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Yet another mosque built with mud and bricks, the Al Bidya Mosque holds onto secrets that even its official in-charge doesn't know of. With no historical records or books on the history of this mosque, its builder and foundations remain a mystery to all ?
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But here's what researchers do know - the mosque was built in 1446 and 'till today, retains all of its original mid-15th century appearance, only with the addition of air-conditioning and flourescent lights.
So there you have it - mosques from all over the world, built in countries of varied cultures and serving as bridges to the gaps between the Muslim and non-Muslim community! Be sure to add these mosques into your itinerary when you travel to these countries. After all, a stop will be the perfect opportunity to connect with fellow Muslims from another part of the world ?