Beyond the tour, the people posturing for perfect photography, and the nagging desire to constantly tug a shayla (headscarf) tight around my face, it remains impossible to miss the calm and worshipful atmosphere at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Like floating through a manic airport or hearing my footsteps in my empty high school gymnasium, this modern architectural wonder emboldens me to remember how small my individual physical frame is within the the vast gentle grandeur of the structure. The place compels me to humbly turning inward; recognizing how sacred the soul of my being remains as part of God's Creation.
A place of Islamic worship, anyone is invited to visit this Mosque. People of all cultures, religions, and geographical locales use the space as a place for quiet reflection. Tours peruse the grounds several times each day while a guide introduces the group to the Mosque's history, design, and construction - along with a brief explanation about several of the pillars of Islam. The interior prayer hall is adorned with the world's largest (Swarovski Crystal) chandelier suspended above visitors who walk barefoot across the expanse of the world's largest (handwoven) carpet from Iran.
Eighty-two white marble domes cap the Mosque - their curves contributing to the soothing and restful ambiance and providing a perfect backdrop for a visit any time of day. Most inspiring, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque creates a magnificent atmosphere at sunset when the Call to Prayer ushers in evening – the sky darkens and artful lights reflect the moon's cycle to illuminate the Mosque's impressive silhouette.
Visit www.szgmc.gov.ae/en for more information and check out their designated free tour timings. The evening tour finished before sunset so you can wander through the pillars on your own to snap beautiful photographs as the light changes or enjoy a coffee at The Coffee Club and pick up a few postcards at the shop to send home. Note that hours are limited on Fridays and may vary during Ramadan and other Muslim holidays.
© 2016 Andrea Rip | The Earth Ink. All Rights Reserved Unless Specified.
Originally posted on 23 October 2016 at theearthink.blogspot.com