Friday, January 31, 2014

Al Rajhi Mosque, Riyadh Saudi Arabia

            Often times as my driver would travel along Highway 65 near exit 15, I would admire the magnificence of the huge sandy brown structure that appears just as grand during the day as it is at night!  In a Muslim country, every city has a main or grand mosque. This work of art is called the Al Rajhi Mosque, which one of Riyadh’s largest. Prince Salman bin Addul Aziz Al-Saud, then the governor, had Al Rajhi’s grand opening on October 26, 2004.

            In December, several of us from work visited the Al Rajhi Mosque. We were very fortunate to have one of our co-workers prearrange our visit so as we would have an escort throughout the mosque.   We were asked to dress modestly. The men wore slacks and long-sleeve shirts and the women, their customary abaya with a scarf for our heads.  
 
            It was prayer time when we arrived at the mosque so we had to wait about thirty minutes before entering.  In the meantime, we took photos of the exterior of the mosque. One could not help but to take in the radiance of the main dome that can be seen from miles away!
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            Before we began the tour our guide presented a film of the many services that is offered by Al Rajhi. Several of the services included; forensic science services, community activities and teachings that invoke memorization of the Quran. The mosque has worshipping halls that can accommodate as many as 18,000 men and a separate place for women that can house 2,500 women. The sermon, which is held on Fridays, are in three languages; Urdu, Bengal and Indonesian with translation for the hearing impaired.

 
            We began the tour and were informed that photography was in fact permitted inside the mosque. Our first stop was the technical broadcasting room.  This is where the sermons and prayers are transmitted in the mosque, out into the community and on the mosque website.  

            Next we were escorted to the area where the deceased are prepared through washing, shrouding, praying and burying them. Service also include; hosting of the relatives, recording funerals and transportation to the cemetery. Forensic Science is available and taught at the mosque.

            The prayer hall was next. Before we entered, we had to take off our shoes and carry them along with us. As we walked through this immense area, worshippers were either involved in prayer or study of course materials. There was countless shelving which contained more Qurans than the eyes could see!  Silence was enforced as not to disturb any of the worshippers.

 
 
            From the prayer hall, we moved on to the library. The library, which contained 14,000 titles, 25,000 volumes and 35,000 electronic books, was reminiscent of that room in your house that you would call a “den” or family room. There were students present who were studying to become more proficient in the Quran so they could obtain licenses to recite this sacred Book of Allah.
 
 
 
            At the end of the tour, our group was offered Arabic coffee and dates. We also received a beautifully designed cloth box which contained literature pertaining to the Quran, a CD of the film we saw earlier and 3 metal statutes symbolizing  the Saudi culture. 
 
 
            The Al Rajhi Mosque; another sight worth seeing in Riyadh. It is located in the Al-Jazeera neighborhood on Eastern Ring Road, (near exit 15) Riyadh 14251, Saudi Arabia.
 
Signing off with Al-Fatiha 1.1

“In the Name of God,

 the Most Gracious,

the Most Merciful”

 
All the best,
GMarie

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