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The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

On Friday, 4 May 2001, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Bausher, Muscat, was inaugurated by His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos bin Said who led the prayers for the opening of this spectacular, holy edifice.

Construction on the mosque started six years ago and the completed building is arguably the largest and most beautiful building in the whole of the Sultanate. Instructions for construction were issued by His Majesty, who proposed that the mosque would not only be a place to worship, but also a seat of Islamic learning, thought, literature and values.

In his opening speech, Sultan Qaboos stated that:

"Mosques are the houses of God who commanded us to mention His name and to worship Him through our prayers in the mosques. Prayer is the pillar of religion. In the mosque, we read the Holy Koran and recite the words of His Messenger. In the mosque, beneficial lessons are taught. They are the lessons that lead to truth and along the straight path.

"The Almighty God has commanded us to construct mosques to maintain them and worship Him in them.

"The mosques of God shall be visited and maintained by such as believe in God and the Last Day, establish regular prayers and practice regular charity.

"The mosque has played an important role since the Hijra of the Messenger, Peace Be Upon Him, to Medina.

"In the mosque, the early companions of the Prophet had their teachings of the ture religion and sure guidance and from there, they set themselves to lead people by the will of God from utter darkness to light.

"Mosques continued throughout the Islamic arena and through the different golden eras of Islam as the centre of learning and thought. Hence, it had its great effect upon the various aspects of life of the community. The mosque was not only a place of worship, but a grand school, distinguished, and a leading one in the spread of learning and culture. Upon this understanding and upon God's will and success, we have set ourselves to make this blessed Mosque a centre of culture and thought, to contribute in the rebirth of the Islamic heritage by the will of God, to highlight and project the civilised values of the Islamic nation and to update its means and ways of tackling its affairs and find solutions in a way that preserves its purity of origin and values. At the same time, to be in line with human development in different walks of life.

"As a first step along this long path that we should take in order to achieve our goal, some necessary prerequisites are needed for this emerging religious and cultural edifice. We think that we have put a strong foundation for this mosque to play its role in the community and no doubt the role will develop for the better in time. This will be achieved through intelligent awareness and renewed thought by the will of God.

"We ask the Almighty to assist us in achieving our ambitions and to pave the way and clear everything that may obstruct our deeds. We are determined by will, dedication and steadfastness. We ask Almighty God to bless this day on which we inaugurate this blessed mosque. It is, indeed, a historic day for the benefit of Oman and the entire Islamic nation."

His Majesty then offered up prayers for his people and the mosque:

"O my Lord, so order me that I may be grateful for Thy favours which thou has bestowed on me and on my parents that I may work the righteousness that will please Thee and admit me, by Thy Grace to the ranks of Thy righteous servants. Praise be to God who has shown us the straight way. Without His guidance, we may be wandering aimlessly."

The Sultan Qaboos Mosque is situated off the main highway to Seeb from Muscat. It covers a plot of 416,000m2 and is built on an elevated podium. The main prayer hall is square, with a central dome at 50m. The main hall can take up to 6000 worshippers, while the women's prayer hall has a capacity of 750. The outer sahn can take 8000, while the inner sahn can take around 6000, making a total capacity of over 20,000.

The boundaries of the site are delineated by four minarets, each rising to 45m high. The main minaret, which is situated within the north riwaq wall, facing the highway, stands at 91.5m.

One of the main internal features of the mosque is the carpet in the main prayer hall. This handmade Persian carpet took four years to knot and measures 70 x 60 metres. It comprises over 1700 million knots and 600 workers were involved in its manufacture.

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