Monday, November 2, 2009

The "Blue Mosque" of Malaysia

While working in Malaysia, I took advantage of local holidays, along with Sundays to get and about to see the country. One memorable trip was to visit the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. In addition to visiting the sights in the city, we made excursions to the surrounding areas.

We drove south west of KL to the Malaysian state of Selangor Darul Ehasan. In the capital city of Selangor, Shah Alam, is the magnificent Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque commonly and widely referred to as "The Blue Mosque"

The Blue Mosque is a modern structure which was completed on March 11, 1988 after 6 years of construction. The minarets of the mosque are 460 feet tall making them the second tallest in the world. They had been the tallest in the world for a period of time, but a mosque in Morocco has now eclipsed them for the title as well as national glory.

The dome is 170 feet in diameter and 350 feet tall at its apex. The dome is built using ceramic glazed aluminum panels. The use of paintings and pictures for decoration is not allowed so the dome is covered and decorated with geometric patterns and Arabic calligraphy of the verses from the Holy Quran (Koran). I have read that the mosque has the capacity for 16,000 and 24,000 worshippers. I don't know. At the time that we went there, there were no worshippers. Because we were not Muslims we were not allowed inside so that I could have made a personal estimate of the capacity. There are some days when non-Muslims are allowed inside but our day was not one of them.

The mosque complex also has a park called the Garden of Islamic Arts which is inspired by the Quran's Garden of Paradise. It was a very peaceful and beautiful park with many flowers and plants. In the park we encountered many families with small children.

Although the weather was very hot as well as humid, our visit to the Blue Mosque was a very good experience as well as inspiring and well worth any temporary discomfort.

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