Bangladesh’s 201-dome mosque becomes center of attraction

The tiles of the mosque were imported from Italy, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland and China. (AN photo by Rafiqul Islam Trust)
Updated 15 June 2019

Bangladesh’s 201-dome mosque becomes center of attraction

  • Although the mosque can currently hold more than 15,000 devotees at a time, the organizers plan to double capacity to up to 30,000

DHAKA: A 201-dome mosque in Bangladesh has become the center of attraction for people all around the country. It is built on the bank of the Jhinai River in the Tangail district some 140 km from the capital Dhaka.
The 451-foot minaret of the mosque is the tallest concrete minaret in the world, recognized by Guinness World Records. The minaret is equivalent to the height of a 55-story building. The mosque will hold more than 15,000 devotees at a time. Among the 201 domes, the tallest one is 79-feet high and the surrounding ones are 42-feet high.
Construction work on the mosque began in January 2013 and took more than five years to complete. The organizers have spent about $13 million building the mosque.
The project began when Rafiqul Islam, from South Pathalia village, Gopalpur, Tangail, dreamed of building the mosque at his birthplace. Later he formed the Rafiqul Islam Trust to look after the construction of the mosque. Islam has donated some of his ancestral land for the building of the mosque. At the same time, some of the villagers helped to make Islam’s dream true. Finally the construction of the mosque started on 5 acres of land.
“My village South Pathalia was an unknown place to my countrymen. But now many people from home and abroad come here to witness the beauty of the 201-dome mosque and during every holiday around 10,000 people visit the mosque,” Islam told Arab News.
“It was a dream project for me, which I started with only $20,000. Later on, many of the philanthropists of the country extended support in building the mosque and the construction work was not stopped even for an hour due to lack of funds,” Islam said.
To make the mosque unique, Islam visited many world-famous mosques in the Middle East, from where he developed the primary idea. Later on he shared his experience with a Bangladeshi architect to visualize the design of the mosque.
The 201-dome mosque complex also has a helipad for the convenience of international tourists. In addition, organizers plan to run an orphanage, old people’s home and a charity hospital for women.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The 451-foot minaret is the tallest concrete minaret in the world, recognized by Guinness.

• The mosque complex has a helipad, old people’s home, orphanage and a charity hospital.

The tiles and marbles of the mosque were imported from Italy, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland and China.
“The main attraction of the mosque is 201 domes and the tallest minarets. The domes were designed in line with the sub-continental traditional base of Islamic structures,” said Mrinmoy Adhikary, the lead architect of the mosque.
“The south and north side of the mosque is kept open to have plenty of light and natural air. The design is made in such a way that the devotees can offer prayers even without an artificial air-conditioning system,” Adhikary said.

Sitting inside the mosque, devotees can recite all the verses of the holy Qur’an, which have been inscribed on brass and installed on the mosque wall.
“With the grace of the almighty Allah we have already completed construction work of the mosque. Now the 451-foot concrete minaret is in under construction and we are facing some technical difficulties in building this,” said Islam. “It would be a great support for us if we receive some assistance from any Muslim country for the completion of the minaret,” he said.
Although the mosque can currently hold more than 15,000 devotees at a time, the organizers plan to double capacity to up to 30,000.
Islam, who is also the founder chairman of the mosque trust, said that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will attend the inaugural ceremony of the mosque next January or February. The grand imam of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will also attend the inaugural ceremony and lead the first official prayer of the mosque.


Kashmir protesters defy restrictions, clash with security forces

Updated 23 August 2019

Kashmir protesters defy restrictions, clash with security forces

  • Paramilitary police tried to enter Soura, which has emerged as a center of the protests, as hundreds demonstrated against Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw autonomy
  • Posters appeared overnight in Srinagar, the Muslim-majority region’s main city, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan

SRINAGAR, India: Security forces used tear gas against stone-throwing local residents in Indian Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar on Friday, after a third straight week of protests in the restive Soura district despite the imposition of tight restrictions.
Paramilitary police tried to enter Soura, which has emerged as a center of the protests, as hundreds of locals staged a protest march against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir on Aug. 5.
Posters appeared overnight this week in Srinagar, the Muslim-majority region’s main city, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to protest against India’s decision.
This was the first such call by separatists seeking Kashmir’s secession from India. India’s move was accompanied by travel and communication restrictions in Kashmir that are still largely in place, although some landlines were restored last week.
The UNMOGIP was set up in 1949 after the first war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, a Himalayan region both countries claim in full but rule in part. The group monitors cease-fire violations along the border between the countries.
In a narrow lane of Soura, blocked like many others with rocks and sheets of metal, residents hurled stones at the paramilitary police to stop them moving into an area around the local mosque, Jinab Sahib, which had earlier been packed for Friday prayers.
The police responded with several rounds of tear gas and chili grenades but were beaten back by dozens of stone-pelting men. Some men suffered pellet injuries.
The locals said the security forces had been repeatedly trying to move into Soura, often using tear gas and pellets.
“We are neither safe at home, nor outside,” said Rouf, who declined to give his full name. He had rubbed salt into his face to counteract the effects of tear gas.
The afternoon had begun peacefully, with men and women streaming into Jinab Sahib for afternoon prayers. A cleric then raised a call for “Azadi” – Urdu for freedom – several times, and declared Kashmir’s allegiance to neighboring Pakistan.
“Long live Pakistan,” the cleric said, as worshippers roared back in approval.
US President Donald Trump plans to discuss Kashmir when he meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in France this weekend, a senior US administration official said on Thursday.
Trump, who has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, will press Modi on how he plans to calm regional tensions after the withdrawal of Kashmir’s autonomy, and stress the need for dialogue, the official said.
Some Indian media reports on Friday said “terrorists” were trying to enter India from Afghanistan, citing unnamed government officials.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan responded on Twitter on Friday that such claims were being made to “divert attention” away from what he called human rights violations in Kashmir.
“The Indian leadership will in all probability attempt a false flag operation to divert attention,” Khan said.
Khan’s comments came a day after United Nations experts called on the Indian government to “end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests” in Kashmir, saying it would increase regional tensions.
“The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offense,” they said in a statement.
At least 152 people have been hurt by teargas and pellets since security forces launched their crackdown, data from the Himalayan region’s two main hospitals shows.
Large swathes of Srinagar remain deserted with shops shut except for some provision stores with shutters half-down. Police vans patrolled some areas announcing a curfew and asking people to stay indoors.
On the Dal Lake, long rows of houseboats, normally packed with tourists at this time of year, floated closed and empty, as police patrolled its mirror-calm waters in boats.