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Post partition of India in 1947, the Pakistan wanted to have its’ own dominant mosque. Faisal Mosque was a part of an initiative by the Pakistan Government to build a National Mosque. In 1966, when Saudi Arabian King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz was visiting Pakistan, the idea of building a National Mosque was discussed and the King gave a grant of 120 million USD for its’ construction. The mosque was thus named after King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz to honour him after its’ completion in 1986.
Around 1969, an international competition was held to select a design for the Mosque. The architects of 17 countries participated in the competition and submitted 43 proposals. The design submitted by the Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay was liked and finally selected. Vedat Dalokay wanted to portray the geometry, proportion and the spirit of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (Kabba) in the mosque and thus the structure of Faisal Mosque if viewed from a specific angle represents the cubic shape of Kaaba. Later, Vedat Dalokay also received an Agha Khan Architectural Award for his impressive illustration leading to the construction of one of the most famous Mosques of Islamic world.
The construction of the Mosque started in 1976 under the supervision of Azim Borejurdi by the National Construction Limited of Pakistan and it took 10 years to complete the Mosque.
Tourists from all over the world flock to this architectural marvel to get a sense of tranquillity and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Faisal Mosque is a mixture of contemporary and traditional architecture. The conventional design of South Asian Islamic architecture which includes a dome was not chosen. Instead, it is geometrically shaped like a desert Bedouin tent and is surrounded by four minarets. There are hints of Turkish architecture in the minarets (owing to the Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay) as they are thinly designed. They stand 80 metres tall making them the tallest minarets in South Asia, while the main prayer hall is 40 metres high.
The mosque consists of library, museum, lecture hall and café as it used to house an International Islamic University before the latter moved to a new campus. The entry to the Mosque is from the east where a courtyard has a small pond and introductory plaque. Stairs accessed from there lead to the main courtyard and another larger pond. The ablution place is located next this pond where the worshippers purify themselves by performing wudu (a ritual washing of hands, feet and face). The mosque is carpeted with enchanting blue and red coloured carpets.
The main prayer hall which is made up from white marble contains Sadequain’s (a famous Pakistani artist) calligraphy. Kalimah (phrases) is written beautifully on the west wall in Kufic script. This wall also has charming mosaic patterns which makes it a true masterpiece. The main hall also has a huge Turkish style chandelier with 1000 bulbs and weighing 7.5 tons at its centre.
An adjoining ground which is in east of the mosque consists of the mausoleum of Pakistan’s former president General Zia-ul-Haq.
Faisal mosque is the sixth largest mosque in the world with the covered area of 5000 square meter (54,000 square feet). It can accommodate about 300,000 worshippers in its main prayer hall, porticoes, courtyard and adjoining grounds, the third largest in capacity of accommodation only after Al-Masjid Al-Haram Mosque in Macca and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina. During Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Zuha, Faisal Mosque gets worshippers from the farthest of places. Muslims from all over the world pray in the main prayer hall, courtyards, porticoes and its adjoining grounds during these special occasions.
The main courtyard of building presents a beautiful picturesque view of Margla Hills. The visitors can visit all areas of building and take photographs except the main hall. There are no charges to enter the Mosque, but the visitors can donate the money to the Mosque.
·About 200 to 700 years old, 100 rare and antique copies of Holy Quran is being displayed at Faisal Mosque.
·It is believed that the missile shaped minarets of Faisal Mosque intrigued the Central Intelligence Agency of America (CIA), who then demanded to inspect them.
·Faisal Mosque is featured in the famous historical fiction novel The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini.
·The Mosque was also featured in the works of Michael Muhammad Knight (an American writer) who studied Islam as a teenager in the mosque.
·It was the fourth largest mosque from 1986 to 1993, until it was overtaken by mosques in the region of MENA.
·The location of the mosque is such that it can be viewed from miles throughout the day.
The daily Namaaz (prayer) is performed five times a day in accordance to Islamic traditions.
The nearest airport to Faisal Mosque is Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad which is 24 KM away. Islamabad being the capital of Pakistan, does not have any lack of hotels. One can visit Faisal Mosque during any time of the year, but the weather is comparatively better from November to April. There are various eateries both for vegetarians and non-vegetarians in the city.
Faisal mosque is open on all days for both Muslims and non-Muslims. But non-Muslims can’t visit the main hall because they are not allowed in the main hall during prayer hours and the main hall only gets opened during the prayer timings. So, it becomes impossible for non-Muslims visitors to see the main hall. The visitors can roam around the building at any time or on any day, but the main hall gets accessible only to Muslims during prayer hours. Also, during prayers, women are not allowed in the main hall, but the women's gallery is opened for them to pray. The women's gallery is a balcony set above the main hall and one can easily view the beautiful chandelier and every activity inside the main hall from there.