The world is a wonderful place to live in. We are surrounded by nature, impressive man-made structures and specimens of historic importance. Among those, are spiritual and religious sites that have played a very important part in how the local culture have blossomed over the years. Historically, many cultures are closely intertwined with religious traditions. So as Malaysians where Islam is pretty central to the evolution of our culture, it’s really interesting to go to other Muslim countries around the world. Naturally, mosques there are important and some stand out as emblems. In this list, we look at particularly beautiful mosques around the world. It’s interesting to see other communities that have similarities to ours, but are at the same time ever so different. So these places are good pins to add to your bucket-list, as a Muslim traveller on a spiritual journey, or any traveller interested to learn about foreign cultures wrapped around Islam. Or just admire the stunning architecture!
1. Al Nabawi Mosque in Medina: The beautiful green dome
CC0 / omeng
Known to be the burial ground of Prophet Mohammed, this beautiful mosque is situated in the well-known city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. It is believed to have been built by the respected Prophet himself soon after he moved to Medina from Mecca. A quick look at it will make it clear that it is one of the largest mosques in the world. Having been improvised and renovated a few times over the years, its dome was first coloured green in the year 1837. This striking green dome at the mosque’s centre marks the Prophet’s burial site.
If you plan a trip keeping the weather in mind, the best time to visit Medina is between mid-October to May for a pleasant stint.
2. Sulemaniye Mosque in Istanbul: Inscription of Suleiman the magnificent
CC0 / Engin_Akyurt
The Sulemaniye Mosque is the most prominent structures of the Golden Horn. This beautiful mosque was built during the 1550’s and boasts of lush gardens, beautiful fountains and remarkable interiors. As the name suggests, it was built on Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent’s orders. It is clearly not the biggest, but the most gorgeous of the Ottoman mosques. Its courtyard, stone columns, pillars, gleaming archways and note-worthy entrance add to the beauty of the structure.
A visit to Istanbul, and the Golden Horn, in particular, is incomplete without admiring the beauty of this radiant mosque.
3. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Brunei: Fusion of Italian and Mughal architecture
CC / Bernard Spragg
A surreal blend of two remarkable styles of architecture, this mosque can easily be called the best mosque in the world. When in Brunei, make sure you halt near the city centre or book a hotel like The Brunei Hotel that is close to many places of interest. When you head to the Village in the Water, you must visit this beautiful mosque that lies on the Brunei Riverbank. You will notice how the intricate models of Italian architecture meet the Mughal era. Constructed in 1958, it showcases a contemporary tint of Muslim architecture.
4. Zahir Mosque in Malaysia: Quran reading competition
CC / Phalinn Ooi
Talking of magnificent architecture with Islamic style influences, there is a mosque in Malaysia that makes it to the list of beautiful mosques around the world, namely – the Zahir Mosque. Situated in Kedah, its grandeur leaves one awestruck. What makes it particularly interesting is the Quran reading competition, an annual event held within its premises.
5. Wazir Khan Mosque in Pakistan: Adorned with fresco paintings
CC / Guilhem Vellut
This magnanimous 17th-century structure showcases delicate fresco paintings on its walls. Located in Pakistan’s Lahore district, its construction was considered complete in the year 1641. Its embellishments, delicate pillars and walls, and the prayer hall are much talked about. A panoramic view of the regal mosque highlights the tiled dome, brilliantly-carved minarets and magnificent archways. Arabian calligraphy beautifies the glimmering tiles, and vivid frescoes adorn the prayer chamber.
When in Lahore, vest your trust in renowned hotels like the Hilton Suites for a comfortable and refreshing layover. Chalk out your itinerary in advance and keep enough time aside to admire the beauty of its magnificent monuments.
6. Bayt-al-Mukaddas in Jerusalem: The journey of Prophet Mohammad
The famous Temple Mount houses the Bayt-al-Mukaddas. It could be translated to the farthest mosque. It lies in proximity to the Dome of the Rock. Owing to their location, some people mix it up to be the same. It is believed that Prophet Muhammad had been transported to this mosque from Mecca in the dark of the night. Also referred to as Al Aqsa, its silver dome exudes sheer brilliance making it a beautiful mosque that can leave you amazed. White marbles, stones, Arabian calligraphy, floral motifs and elaborate woodwork adorn the length and breadth of the mosque. This surreal fusion makes it one of the most beautiful mosques in the world.
Every mosque of the world is beautiful in its own intricate way. Whether it is the one in Istanbul, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, grand mosques are worth noting and adding to your travel bucket list. Make a bee-line to admire the hard work and detailing that has gone into the architecture of these icons, and appreciate the community that has grown around it with little nuances that make each one a little different.
Feature Image: CC0 / Astryd_MAD