The World's Ten Largest Mosques
In English the word mosque, refers to any building designated as a place of worship for people of the Islamic faith.
In Arabic however, the language of the Islamic holy book the Qoran, there are two words that define their places of worship.
The smaller Masajid, which is the local neighbourhood mosque that is intended for the regular, daily five prayer meetings and the larger Masjid, that is intended for the larger congregations of the five Friday prayer meetings. These latter mosques are the types in this article and are large complexes with large open courtyards.
Mosques are not just places of worship, but can also serve as a place of education and teaching, some may even contain museums, libraries and mausoleums.
Most contain elaborate prayer halls and galleries, which are richly decorated with Islamic art of all types, including fine, handmade rugs, crystal chandeliers and brass and gold ornamentation.
Most mosques sport an impressive array of domes of all sizes and minarets, some of which reach colossal heights.
A mosque is led by an Imam,someone who is the leader of prayer meetings and who can also be the leader of the local community and settler of disputes.
Below I have listed the world's ten largest mosques, some of which are enormous and all of which are elegant and highly decorated architectural works of art.
AL MASJID AL - HARAM, MECCA, SAUDI ARABIA.
( The sacred mosque )
This enormous mosque is not only the world's largest mosque, it is also the holiest site in all of Islam.
The mosque surrounds the holy Kaaba ( The black cube ), the place which Muslims turn to whilst offering prayer, where ever they may be in the world.
The floor space of this mosque is over 4 million square metres ( 900 acres), with a capacity for 900, 000 people, which increases to four million during the Hajj - the Islamic pilgrimage - the largest annual gathering on earth.
The building sports nine minarets that reach a height of 89 metres high.
AL MASJID AL - NABAWI, MEDINA, SAUDI ARABIA.
( Mosque of the prophet)
The second largest and second most holiest mosque in the world, this vast building houses the tomb of the prophet Mohammed.
This mosque has the capacity to hold over 600,000 people increasing to over a million during the Hajj.
The building sports ten minarets which reach to over 105 metres high and the Green Dome, which covers the tomb and shrine of prophet Mohammed's final resting place.
IMAM RIDHA MOSQUE, MASHAD, IRAN.
This vast complex is Iran's largest mosque and the world's largest mosque dedicated to the Shi'ite denomination of Islam.
Dedicated to Imam Ridha, the 8th imam of the Twelver Shi'ites whose shrine is also situated here.
This site also contains a smaller mosque, a museum,a university of Islamic studies, several prayer rooms and a massive dining hall for use by the 20 million pilgrims who visit the site every year.
The complex has an area of 598,657 square metres with a capacity for 700,000 people.
ISTIQLAL MOSQUE, JAKARTA, INDONESIA.
( Independence mosque)
This modern mosque situated in the Indonesian capital, has a capacity for 120,000 people.
It sports 1 large dome and 1 minaret which is 210 metres high.
Completed in 1979, the mosque was built to herald the end of Indonesia's national revolution and independence from the Netherlands in 1945.
The mosque was built right next to Jakarta's Roman Catholic Cathedral a symbolic jesture to emphasise Indonesia's tolerance of all races and religions.
HASSAN II MOSQUE, CASABLANCA, MOROCCO.
This beautiful, modern, sandstone mosque was completed in 1993 and is built on a promontory of reclaimed land overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Named after the country's king, it was his wish that the mosque be positioned out to sea, along with a glass floor so as worshippers could view the sea beneath them when they knelt in prayer.
The building, which is Morocco's largest mosque, also sports a dome and the world's tallest minaret at 210 metres high.
KING FAISAL MOSQUE, ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN.
This ultra modern building is named after King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia who financed this $ 20 million building project.
Situated in Pakistan's capital of Islamabad it is now Pakistan's largest mosque, with an overall floorspace of 5,000 metres and capacity for 300,000 people.
The building houses 4 minarets which reach over 90 metres in height.
BADSHAHI MOSQUE, LAHORE, PAKISTAN.
Pakistan's second largest mosque and the world's 7th largest, it is situated on a site that was first consecrated in 1671.
This beautiful sandstone mosque has a capacity for 110, 000 people and sports 3 domes and 4 minarets which attain a height of over 53 metres.
JAMA MASJID, DELHI, INDIA.
( Friday mosque)
This beautiful old mosque situated in India's capital, Delhi, was built by Emperor Shah Jehan,builder of the Taj Mahal, in 1650.
The building has a capacity for 85,000 people and is India's largest mosque.
Outside, this elegant building houses 3 domes and 3 minarets which attain a height of 41 metres.
SHEIK ZAYAD MOSQUE, ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
The Sheik Zayad mosque is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and is named after the founder of the Emirates who is also buried here.
The mosque was completed in 2007 and is an architectural fusion of Arab, Moorish and Moghul styles.
The building has a capacity for 40,000 worshippers and sports no less than 82 domes, all of differing sizes and 4 minarets which are 107 metres high.
Inside the mosque houses the world's largest carpet at 5,627 square metres in size and the world's largest chandelier at an amazing 10 metres by 15 metres.
BAITUL MUKARRAM, DHAKA, BANGLADESH.
( The holy house)
This mosque which is situated in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka was completed in 1960.
Designed by architect Abdul Hussain Thiarani, it was built to resemble the Kaaba in Mecca, giving it a unique square appearance, which is like no other in Bangladesh.
It has a capacity for 30,000 people, although it regularly sees more than 40,000 people passing through it's portals during the holy month of Ramadam.
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© D.B.Bellamy. July 2010.
All images courtesy of wikimedia commons.