Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Istiqlal Mosque

Click on the photos for a larger view with captions.
This is the most amazing place to visit. We went on a Sunday morning and there was hardly any one there. We all dressed in long pants and had no problems getting in. Our driver came in with us to organze a guide. A nice young man with excellent English took us on a tour and explained all about the architecture with the symbolism of dates bulit into the proportions. Unfortunatley I cannot remember all the relevant detail and can't find them in English on the web.

Istiqlal is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and the third largest in the world, capable of holding up to 175,000 people. The building of this mosque began on August 24th, 1961, and was finished in 1967 or 1975(depending on which web site you believe) but its official opening did not occur until 1978.The mosque was designed by a Christian architect, Frederick Silaban, to symbolize religious harmony in Indonesia
It is located opposite to the Roman Catholic Cathedral (built 1901)
The area of the mosque takes a surface of 9 and half hectares. The main building is 5 stories high. There is a large drum in an outer corner which was made in Borneo. The opposite ends are covered in a male and female cow skin and is used in Friday prayers
The rectangular main prayer hall building is covered by a 45 meter diameter central spherical dome. The dome is supported by twelve round columns and the prayer hall lined by rectangular piers carrying four levels of balcony. Staircases at the corners of the building give access to all floors. The main hall is reached through an entrance covered by a dome 10 meters in diameter. The latter structure is directly connected to the arcades which run around the large courtyard. The walls, walkways and floors are almost entirely covered with marble from Tulungagung, East Java. Stainless steel is used for the fret work. The mosque is completely open, no windows just large balconies to keep out the weather. The interior is cool from this ventilation.
Wachid Hasyim – Indonesia’s first Minister of Religion and the father of Indonesia’s fourth president, Abdurrahman Wahid – is the pioneer of this mosque. He wanted Indonesia to have something to commemorate its independence. That’s why the name Istiqlal was chosen, because Istiqlal is an Arabic word means ‘liberty’.
The floor tiles have all been laid so as to face towards Mecca. The size of the floor tiles in the main hall is the right size for one person. From memory it is 1 x 1.6 m. In the outer areas the floor tiles are colored and are the same size and also pointing towards Mecca.
All the dimensions of the building have a special significance, the heights, widths etc all are important dates in Indonesian history, predominantly the date of Independence -17th August 1945.
Next time I go back I will take a note pad and pencil to get down all the facts; it was amazing how all the details had a special significance. Our guide mentioned that the mosque is usually filled to capacity twice a year. It would be fascinating to see the mosque so full and to hear the prayers.
This is a great place to visit; I would highly recommend it to any one visiting Jakarta. It has a lovely cool serenity and is a great insight to Islam.
We all wore long pants and I wore a long sleeve top, dressing modestly is important as is cleanliness; you must bathe before visiting and wash your hands, face and feet on entering. You also have to remove your shoes. I took a scarf to cover my hair, but didn’t need to use it.

2 comments:

Laurel Wreath said...

Great pics, but yucky that you got sick. Sorry to hear that.

Adele said...

great photos as always. Have you thought about going to Borobudur Buddhist temple in Java