Mosque of the Righteous
Looking at pictures alone does not do justice when appreciating the Ash-Shaliheen Mosque's artistic designs. When I heard that the new mosque is described "as an art piece within itself", I decided to visit the mosque personally.
With high expectations and crazy imaginations, I was surprised about how beautiful Ash-Shaliheen Mosque was. As I move closer to the mosque's entrance I forgot that I was in Brunei. The mosaics give you the vibe of being in a Middle Eastern country. The ambience, the pastel colours just pulled me in asking me to take a closer look to each and every inch of the beautiful mosque's designs.
As I stepped in, the interior of the Ash-Shaliheen reminded me of the feeling that I had when I visited Taj Mahal years ago on a hot sunny day. The Italian marble was so cooling and comforting that it cools the whole body. Looking around the mosque I could not notice anything out of place. Each structure, each mosaic, each design just wanted attention.
The fountain in the centre of the mosque is one of the first things you will notice. The white marble fountain with a star-shaped mosaic pool around it just took my breath away. The lighting in the water and the surrounding mosaic tiles accentuating the oasis on the sides is just immaculate.
I couldn't believe it when I saw the ablution area. Colourful mosaics accentuating the water taps and the distance of the marble seats from the taps were well thought out. And as I got closer to the water taps I noticed they were made of brass! Engraved brass! I enjoyed my ablution and went straight to the male prayers' hall.
Stepping into the hall, the first thing I noticed was how it resembles the Masjid Al-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque). The arches were designed in the same style as the Prophet's Mosque but in different colours though. I also noticed the colours of the Ash-Shaliheen's interior were different from the outside, red carpeting, brown pillars and white ceilings with red accents ... the colour combination feels so striking. It welcomes you to remember where you're from, what you were made of and where you will go. It also feels like stepping into another dimension. I was like a little kid in a candy shop, I just wanted to look at everything!
Looking up I noticed the Syrian-looking chandeliers, to the side I could see Indian-inspired patterns embossed on the walls and on the low ceilings and looking straight ahead, I noticed the centrepiece where the Imam would lead a congregation. A tall white marble semi-circle wall lit up with warm colored spotlights in the floor, it just looks heavenly. Traditionally, before the existence of microphones, speakers and amplifiers, the centrepiece would be built to bounce off the Imam's voice so the congregation behind him would be able to hear his voice clearly. The Mimbar, where the Imam would stand to give out talks and khutbahs is made of dark brown wood and topped off with its own mini turquoise dome. There were also two wooden grandfather clocks to tell time, placed in front of a mosaic wall with verses extracted from the Al-Quran. The prayer hall was an eye opener.
There were more to see around the Ash-Shaliheen Mosque. The women's prayer hall is separated from the men's and the mosque also houses a multi-purpose room where the staff or the congregation can hold mass sungkai or meetings. The mosque is also designed to attract the youth by assigning two young Imams in hopes that the younger generations would feel more comfortable to open up to someone in a similar age group.
On the other side of the mosque, you will find another white marble water fountain surrounded by a star shaped mosaic pool, but this one has it's water streaming down towards an area where the proposed museum will be developed sometime in the future.
The feel of this mosque is just different compared to the other mosques in the Sultanate. It is modestly designed but details tell you that it is professionally done. The walls on the outside might look flat but looking closer you will notice textures that make it more beautiful. The turquoise-coloured dome also contributes to the structure of the mosque.
The Ash-Shaliheen Mosque is not only a beautiful mosque, but it is also the most high tech in Brunei, especially with the motorised retractable roof.
The Ash-Shaliheen Mosque was designed by the celebrated Egyptian architect, Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil. Abdel-Wahed has designed over 15 mosques in Saudi Arabia and is considered by many as the foremost contemporary authority in Islamic architecture. He is renowned for designing and building a house by the beach of Agamy near Alexandria. The Halawa house at Agamy made use of the abundant limestone within the area introducing the first indigenous Egyptian architecture in a resort that began with a pseudo French Riviera style and finished with pseudo Modern. The Agamy Beach house won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1980.
Abdel-Wahed was responsible in designing grand mosques in Jeddah such as the Suleiman mosque, Harithy mosque, Azizeyah mosque, Jufalli mosque and the monumental King Saud Mosque.
The Brunei Times
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Mosque of the Righteous
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