Mosques that host some of the world’s largest Eid congregations

An aerial night view of the majestic Grand Mosque in Makkah teeming with worshippers. (SPA)
Updated 07 June 2019
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Mosques that host some of the world’s largest Eid congregations

  • Muslims worldwide will gather this week in mosques and outdoor locations for Eid Al-Fitr prayers
  • Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah is the holiest mosque in Islam, being the site of the Hajj pilgrimage

DUBAI: Muslims will soon observe Eid Al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan. 

Eid Al-Fitr, which means Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, will see Muslims gather for the congregational prayer in mosques or special prayer grounds around the world. Preachers congratulate Muslims on the blessed occasion, pray to Allah Almighty to accept their fasting, charity and good deeds, and wish them good outcomes.  

MASJID AL-HARAM (GRAND MOSQUE)

Location: Makkah, Saudi Arabia

Capacity: 900,000 worshippers; 4 million during Hajj

An aerial night view of the majestic Grand Mosque in Makkah teeming with worshippers. (SPA)

History: Dates back to the era of Prophet Ibrahim, who built a smaller, simpler version with his son Ismael. The late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz launched a major extension project in 2007 to raise the masjid’s capacity to two million. After passing through the control of various caliphs, sultans and kings, the mosque is under the control of the King of Saudi Arabia in his capacity as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

Significance: The Grand Mosque is the holiest site in Islam, being the place of pilgrimage for the Hajj and also as the main phase for Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage. The masjid includes sites such as the Kaaba, the Zamzam Well, Maqam Ibrahim and the hills Safa and Marwa. 

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THE PROPHET'S MOSQUE

Location: Madinah, Saudi Arabia

The Prophet's Mosque in Madinah. (SPA file photo)

History: Built by Prophet Muhammad in 622 AD, the original mosque was an open-air building and served as a community center, a court and a religious school. The structure was expanded many times over the years in the reign of the caliphs and the Umayyad, Abbasid and Ottoman states. The largest expansion operation was undertaken by the Kingdom in 1994.

Significance: Many pilgrims who perform Hajj travel to Madinah to visit the Prophet’s Mosque due to its strong connection to the life of the Prophet. The masjid is home to the tomb of Prophet Muhammad. Every year tens of thousands of pilgrims perform the ritual of Itikaaf, involving seclusion and staying in the mosque with the intention of worshipping.

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FAISAL MOSQUE

Location: Islamabad, Pakistan

Capacity: 100,000 worshippers

Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Supplied photo)

History: Impetus for the masjid’s construction came from Saudi King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz. In 1969 an international competition was held in which architects from 17 countries submitted 43 proposals. The winning entry was that of Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay. Construction began in 1976 and ended in 1986. The design was conceptualized as the national mosque of the country and a symbol of the hopes and aspirations of Pakistan. It was dedicated to the memory of King Faisal, who bore the cost of the project as a gift to the Pakistani people.

Significance: The shape of Faisal Mosque is inspired by a desert bedouin’s tent and the Kaaba in Makkah, flanked by four unusual minarets inspired by Turkish architecture but lacking both the traditional domes and arches of most other mosques. The walls are adorned with golden calligraphy, with large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The ceiling itself is a piece of art, designed with sharp lines and grooves. The mausoleum of General Zia Ul-Haq is located adjacent to the mosque.

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SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE:

Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

Capacity: More than 40,000 worshippers and visitors

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. (Supplied photo)

History: Designed by Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky and constructed between 1996 and 2007, the project was launched by the late president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan. The architects were British, Italian and Emirati, and design inspiration came from Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, Egypt and other Islamic countries. More than 3,000 workers and 38 companies took part in the mosque’s construction.

Significance: Sheikh Zayed’s vision for the Grand Mosque was to incorporate architectural styles from different Muslim civilizations and celebrate cultural diversity. The largest mosque in the UAE, it is the key place of worship for daily prayers, Friday gathering and Eid prayers. The hollows of the domes are etched with verses from the Qur’an and painted with gold leaves in Naskh lettering.

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JAMA MASJID

Location: New Delhi, India

Capacity: 25,000 worshippers

The Jama Masjid in New Delhi, India. (Supplied photo)

History: Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan after he moved his capital from Agra to Delhi, the mosque’s construction began in 1644. The architect was Ustad Khalil, who used red standstone and white marble. The construction, involving 5,000 artisans, was completed by 1656. The masjid was inaugurated by a cleric from Bukhara, Uzbekistan, Sayed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari, on whom Shah Jahan bequeathed the title Shahi Imam. These days, the masjid is managed by the Delhi Waqf Board and the Jama Masjid Committee under the direction of the present Shahi Imam.

Significance: The mosque faces west toward Makkah and houses several relics of Islamic religious significance, including an age-old transcript of the Qur’an. Each year thousands of Muslims throng the masjid to offer special Eid prayers in the morning. Seven arched entrances are inlaid with inscriptions in black marble detailing the history of the mosque.

 

 

 

Disclaimer​ : An earlier version of the article had erroneously stated that "The Grand Mosque, which surrounds the Kaaba, has a Green Dome in the southeast corner. First painted green in 1837, the dome is built above the Prophet’s tomb and the tombs of Caliph Abu Bakr and Caliph Umar."


Pakistan ex-PM in custody of anti-graft body amid Qatar LNG case

Updated 19 July 2019
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Pakistan ex-PM in custody of anti-graft body amid Qatar LNG case

  • Last year, the NAB ordered an inquiry into Abbasi over the alleged misappropriation of funds
  • Pakistan is currently receiving a supply of 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was remanded in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for 13 days, a day after he was arrested in a case involving a multibillion-rupee liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract to Qatar.
Abbasi, who is also the vice president of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) party, was presented before Judge Bashir Ahmed of an accountability court on Friday morning. The case has been adjourned until Aug. 1.
Speaking to journalists before his appearance at the court, Abbasi called his arrest “an attack on democracy.”
Last year, the NAB ordered an inquiry into Abbasi over the alleged misappropriation of funds in the import of LNG that the agency says caused a loss of about $2 billion to the national exchequer. He is also being investigated for allegedly granting a 15-year contract for an LNG terminal to a “favored” company. Abbasi rejects the allegations.
PML-N Sen. Mushahid Ullah Khan said Pakistan was facing “the worst energy crisis of its kind” when his party came to power after the 2013 general election, and the LNG deal was quickly finalized with Qatar to overcome it.
“The industry was shutting down with thousands of people getting unemployed, but this LNG supply helped us reverse the tide,” he told Arab News.
Khan said Pakistan’s LNG contract with Qatar was “the cheapest possible deal” the country could have gotten, and rubbished allegations of corruption and kickbacks.
“If there is something wrong in the contract, why is this government not reviewing it?” Khan asked.
Pakistan is currently receiving a supply of 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar under a 15-year agreement at 13.37 percent of Brent crude price. It is a government-to-government agreement and the price can only be reviewed after 10 years of the contract.
“It is the worst example of political victimization by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government,” PML-N Chairman Raja Zafrul Haq said on Friday after the accountability court remanded Abbasi in NAB custody. “Shahid Khaqan served the nation with dignity and did not commit any wrongdoings,” Haq added.
Abbasi was arrested on his way to Lahore to address a news conference along with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday.
He served as federal minister for petroleum in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when he finalized an LNG import deal with Qatar. Abbasi then served for less than a year as prime minister following the resignation of Sharif in 2017.
On Thursday, Pakistan opened technical bids of four international companies for the supply of 400 million cubic feet per day of LNG for a period of 10 years to fulfil the country’s rising energy requirements.
Officials told Arab News that a Qatari delegation, led by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in June, resented that Islamabad had ignored its lowest offer of 11.05 percent of Brent for the fresh deal, and instead floated tenders seeking provision of LNG for 10 years from international companies.
The secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Energy said: “Yes, this is true. Qatar expressed its annoyance, but we are following our rules. Qatar has not submitted its bid to participate in the process.”
Khan won power last year vowing to root out corruption among what he describes as a venal political elite, and views the probes into veteran politicians — including Sharif and former President Asif Ali Zardari — as long overdue.
The NAB’s campaign has become a topic of fierce political debate in Pakistan, and its focus on the new government’s political foes has prompted accusations of a one-sided purge. The government denies targeting political opponents.
Commenting on Abbasi’s case, former NAB prosecutor Munir Sadiq said the anti-corruption watchdog would file a reference against Abbasi in an accountability court for prosecution, but only if it found irrefutable evidence against him.
“This case is now at the evidence-collection stage, and the NAB will file a reference in the court if it finds irrefutable corruption evidence against Abbasi during the investigation,” Sadiq said.
He added that any inquiry against Abbasi would be shelved after 90 days if corroborating evidence of corruption was not found.
“If a weak case will be filed against the accused, then he will surely receive support from the court,” Sadiq said.