Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the major central place of worship for the Sultanate. It is also a centre for the propagation of the Islamic religion, civilization, literature and culture. The instructions for building the largest mosque in the Sultanate were issued by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos ibn Said in 1412/1992. After having an international competition to select the best design for Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (in 1413/1993), construction took six years. It was inaugurated in May 2001.
The Grand Mosque is located in the capital Muscat, Wilayat (district) Baushar, South Ghubra, about 10 km from Seeb International Airport.
With its magnificent golden embossed dome and several notable archways, the Grand Mosque is visible along the highway attracting its visitors to interact with the spirit of Islam as a religion, science and civilisation. This mosque highlights its role as a scientific and intellectual source of knowledge across the Islamic world.
The developed part of the site, including the fully consolidated areas and landscaping, covers an area of 416,000 square metres, of which 40,000 square meters is the area of the mosque itself. The main square-shaped prayer hall has a capacity of over 6,600 worshipers and has a central dome which rises 50 metres above the floor. With the surrounding prayer areas the capacity is over 20,000 worshippers. The ladies prayer hall has a capacity of over 750 worshippers. With the outer sahn accommodating 8,000 and an additional capacity in the inner sahn and corridors (riwaqs), the overall figure increases to more than 20,000 worshippers.
|The Main Prayer Hall|
|The Ladies Prayer Hall|
There are 8 ablution halls on the periphery of the mosque. The outside of the mosque is marked by five impressive minarets, the central one towering over 90 meters high. The five minarets represent the five pillars of Islam.
The main approach to the mosque complex is from the south. The exterior of the mosque is heralded by almost two-dimensional screens, which give little hint of the spatial layout within. Three pedestrian passages lead from the arrival area to the podium. Behind these are the entrance courtyards leading to the arcaded corridors.
The corridors seem like a secure wall surrounding the mosque’s building and meet through the five minarets that delineate the borders of the mosque’s location.
The formal entrance courtyards sits on the cross axis with the minaret, which forms a free standing element in the middle of the north corridor wall.
Three elegant free-standing arches lead to the outer sahn, the external area forming courts around the two central blocks orientated east, and bounded to the north and south by corridors. These have been divided into halls, each containing a decoration from a specific Islamic culture. A canopy of domes crowns the top of the corridors. The northern and southern corridors constitute the boundary between the places of worship and the mosque’s other facilities.
The western qiblah wall is distinguished by the protruding mihrab niche capped by a semi cupola and two formal entrance vestibules. To the north, the Imam's entrance leads to the minbar and to the south, His Majesty's entrance.
Connecting the top of the mosque’s walls and the internal courtyard is a band inscribed with verses from the Koran in Thuluth script, with Islamic geometric frameworks filling the corridor archways. The placement of densely carved panels at the top end of the walls almost allows the majestic flow of the calligraphy to join the stones with the sky. The 99 beautiful names of Allah are inscribed in Diwani script on the corridors’ front walls.
The walls of the south corridor constitute a visible screen that houses the mosque’s various facilities, including a library that holds over 20,000 reference volumes in science, Islamic culture and humanity, in addition to the Institute of Islamic Sciences where young people learn the disciplines of religious knowledge, and a hall dedicated to meetings and seminars which accommodates 300 people. Here regular lectures are held on Islamic religion and culture, both in Arabic and in English.
|The Lectures' Hall|
The Grand Mosque also accommodates the Islamic Information Center which provides information and teaching on Islam and its practices in several languages. The center caters for re-converts to Islam and for non-Muslims as well.
The interior walls of the mosque’s main hall are entirely clad in off-white Bianco P and dark grey Bardiglio marble paneling clothed in cut tile work. These are decorated with murals of leafy patterns and geometrical designs. The room has an open plan with four main pillars carrying the internal dome. A corridor extends along both the north and south walls and opens into the mosque hall with its adorned arches. The dome is made up of spherical triangles within a structure of sides and marble columns, crossed with pointed arches and decorated with porcelain panels. Timber panels stretch in a fashion that reflects the architectural development of Omani ceilings.
Inscribed on the doors are Islamic embellishments topped by Quranic verses in the Thuluth script, while other doors have stained glass panels to emphasise the harmony and unity of the space dedicated to prayer. The selection of artwork in the halls reflects the evolution and multiple forms of architectural decoration and the culture that has spread its rich patterns from Spain to Central Asia.
The mosque’s prayer hall floor is topped with a single piece Persian carpet composed of 1,700 million knots, covering an area of 4,200 square metres, and weighing 21 tons. It took four years to produce the carpet. Fifteen months were spent in finalizing the designs, preparing the weaving materials and workshops, 27 months in weaving and five months to finish, clean and trim the 58 pieces. These were then joined and laid inside the main prayer hall by special weavers. This carpet is the largest carpet in the world.
Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the mosque every day, except Friday, from 8:30 until 11:00 am. Visitors are asked to dress modestly and in a way befitting places of worship. Women are also required to cover their hair.
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat Sultanate of Oman.
Your Guide to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, by Sultan Qaboos Center for Islamic Culture.
Ministry of tourism web site: http://www.omantourism.gov.om