Malaya gained its independence from Britain on 31 August 1957. Later, in July that year, at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council, an idea was put forward to build a National Mosque as a symbol of the country’s independence. When completed, it was named Masjid Negara as a thanksgiving for the country’s peaceful independence without bloodshed.
Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country. This National Mosque was built in 1967 on land that was appropriated by the Malaysian government from a Brethren Gospel Hall which had stood in this place since 1922.
The architecture of the mosque is a modern design built of reinforced concrete. The roof is a 16-pointed star – reminiscent of an open umbrella. When the mosque was opened on Friday, 27 August 1965, it had a pink roof. During major renovations in 1987, the roof was covered in green and blue tiles.
Non Muslim visitors can only enter the mosque when prayers are over and they must be appropriately dressed. That means no sleeveless shirts, shorts or skimpy clothing. But, if you have come ill-prepared, as we did, headscarves and robes can be borrowed from the desk at the entrance gate to the mosque.
The girls looked pretty impressive.
The men didn’t get away Scott free. Even though we all wore shorts that covered our knees, we had to wear gowns as well. And, of course, we all had bare feet.
There are reflecting pools and fountains throughout the compound.
The central feature of the Mosque is a 73-metre-high minaret.It’s one of the earliest characteristics of Islamic architecture and is the place from where the muezzin chants the call for prayer five times a day.
Another pool, more fountains and spouts.
We could still read the time even though the clock had Arabic numerals.
I found the place very sterile without any representation of living things to be seen, only geometric patterns and lots of wide covered spaces.
These supporting columns, like the ones at the National Memorial, had gold mosaic-tiled bases. They give a feeling that the pillars are floating on the highly polished floors.
The pillars rose up to an unusual geometric ceiling.
The large gathering hall required a creative solution to hold the huge ceiling span. The folded plates of the concrete main roof answered that need.
Devotees pray in the main mosque. Non-Muslims are not allowed on any carpeted areas. We could only observe the inside from the doorway.
Only geometric patterns and Arabic script decorate the building. No images or depictions of living things are permitted. It was all so very different from the Buddhist Temples we had visited in Penang. There was a clinical coolness here as opposed to a warm feeling of life and gentleness in the Temples with their statues, flowers and various offerings.
Very intricate, beautifully crafted mosaic work was the only embellishment. We were to travel through Muslim areas for the next week, so it would be interesting to learn more of this religion and culture. Learning is one reason for travel, is it not? More anon.
All photographs copyright © DY of jtdytravels
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