x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

House of worship built on modesty

Mosque built from from anonymous gift has become an important landmark to the broad range of people who pray there every day.

Volunteers and worshippers divide a Zakat meal in preperation for Iftar at a portacabin mosque.
Volunteers and worshippers divide a Zakat meal in preperation for Iftar at a portacabin mosque.

ABU DHABI //It is a modest structure, but for blue-collar workers in Khalifa City A it is one of the most important landmarks and a spiritual lifeline.

The mosque, which has stood there for five years, is a gift from an anonymous local company and plays host to between 50 and 100 worshippers a day.

It is made of three prefabricated units bolted together. There are two minarets on the front corners and a small dome in the centre.

Next to it is accommodation for the imam, the Bangladeshi national Hashem Rijia, and an ablutions unit.

"Many people who come here work as labourers," said Mr Rijia. "It is somewhere that they can pray. We have people of all nationalities."

On the first day of Ramadan yesterday, dozens of men gathered on the steps of the building to break their fasts.

They ate meals from aluminium bowls while sitting on a canvas sheet that had been laid out for the day. The food was provided as zakat by an unknown donor.

"Some people are rich, some of them are poor," said Sajjad Sayed, a driver from Pakistan who has been coming to the mosque for a year.

"If people give to others during this time, it means there is more blessings for them. I wish them a wonderful holy month."

A recording of the call to prayer was later sounded and a wide mix of nationalities gathered inside to pray.

The mosque is one of hundreds of prefabricated mosques around the country.

They come in a range of sizes and are able to accommodate at least 35 people. Most of these mosques are found on building sites.

Portacabin, a company in Sharjah, said it recently delivered 30 prefabricated mosques to Awqaf, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowment, in Abu Dhabi.

The mosques cost about Dh1.2 million to build and install, and with a space of 270 square metres have room inside for up to 300 people. They are the top of the range in prefabricated mosque design.

It is possible to make them cheaper by making them smaller or using inferior material, such as wood.

Ahmed Rabah, a project manager for Portacabin, said the mosques were being used in places where old mosques were undergoing renovation or new ones were being built.

Mr Rabah said his company tried to stay true to traditional mosque design: "They are a combination of ancient and modern designs."

The company has been making about 50 mosques a year for the past 35 years, and the buildings are in every emirate.

mcroucher@thenational.ae