x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

New Dubai mosque draws 2,000 for first Friday sermon

The mosque and Islamic centre is one of the largest in the UAE.

DUBAI // More than 2,000 men, women and children packed the first Friday prayers at Dubai's Al Farooq Omar Ibn Al Khattab Mosque yesterday.

The mosque and Islamic centre was officially inaugurated yesterday in the presence of worshippers and dignitaries.

"A mosque is not only a place for prayer and worship," said Dr Omar Mohammad Khateeb, the deputy director of the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities department in Dubai. "This mosque represents the full 360-degree functionality of a mosque including classrooms, lecture halls [and] a library to spread the righteous words of Islam."

Funded by businessman Khalaf Al Habtoor, the mosque and Islamic centre is one of the largest mosques in the UAE.

The main prayer and worship area is topped with domes decorated with Quranic verses and Islamic calligraphy designed by a team of craftsmen from Morocco.

According to the mosque's designer, Mohammad Anwar, the Ottoman-styled inscriptions used were inspired by Istanbul's Blue Mosque and created with an Andalusian touch.

"Andalusian art is an Islamic art and human heritage that must be preserved, these inscriptions were sculpted by hand by craftsmen from the city of Fez in Morocco, which is the stronghold of the Andalusian heritage," he said.

Chandeliers hanging from the mosque's ceiling rise to about 30 metres adding beauty and awe to the atmosphere.

"I am very impressed with the grandeur of the mosque and its beauty," said Abdullah Solmoro, a Filipino worshipper at the new mosque.

The Mihrab, the semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the direction towards the Kaaba, is designed with a combination of shattered marble and mosaics, Mr Anwar said.

"Design of the mosque was set in two months and implemented in 10," he said.

In addition to the interior work to the mosque the exterior design has a modern touch.

Handicap parking spaces were placed near the doorsteps of the mosque and signs were posted around the building instructing visitors on the appropriate dress codes and mannerisms while in a mosque.

Al Farooq mosque is the third in the country to open its doors to non-Muslims after the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and the Grand Mosque in Jumeirah.

"Our mission is to promote to the public the compassion, leniency and tolerance of Islam with a focus on human rights and Arabic culture and heritage," said Abdel Malek Abdel Khalek, the manager of the Al Farooq Mosque's Islamic Centre.

"In addition to the lectures we will provide and programmes at the Islamic Centre, we will be exchanging tours with Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Mosque," he said.

The Friday prayers were performed yesterday by Sheikh Mushari Rashid Al Kharaz Imam of the Grand Mosque in Kuwait.

A number of lectures will also be conducted during the holy month by scholars from Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt and other countries.

amustafa@thenational.ae