By Mohammad Ali Haqshenas

Why you cannot afford to miss Jakarta’s Istiqlal Mosque

November 9, 2019

JAKARTA (MNA) – Sure there are many must-see destinations in Indonesia but one special mosque in Jakarta is a visit that will never be forgotten.

Back in the 1950s, Indonesian leaders were seeking to build a monument to both mark their revolution and their national motto which is tolerance among different religions. A brilliant idea led to the construction of one of the biggest mosques in the world, the Istiqlal Mosque.

President Sukarno led the efforts to build the Istiqlal (meaning ‘independence’) mosque in a garden near the Presidential palace, Jakarta Cathedral, and Immanuel Church. A competition was held to obtain the best designs and against all the odds, a Christian architecture named Friedrich Silaban (from Indonesia) was announced the winner.

The construction began in August 1961 and it took some 17 years before Sukarno inaugurated the national mosque in 1978.

The architecture has some unique features that you may hardly find anywhere else. There are many symbolic numbers, both related to Islam and Indonesian Independence, fitly-included in the design that will make you admire the architecture’s work. Symbols such as the year of the Indonesian Independence Proclamation (the diameter of the dome is 45m to mark 1945), the oneness of Allah (with building just one Minaret), number of Quran Juz (30-meter high stainless steel pinnacle on top of the Minaret to mark 30 Juz), and many others.

The five-floor mosque can host some 200,000 people which makes it the biggest of its kind in the Southeast Asian region. Istiqlal mosque only hosts this huge Muslim crowd from across the country during the month of Ramadan every year when all the guests of Allah are welcomed by Iftar.

After some forty years of its inauguration and for the first time, the mosque is being renovated. Personnel are working 24/7 to polish the marbles and steels and make the mosque ready by March, before the arrival of the next Ramadan.

Due to the renovation project, some parts of the mosque are out of service right now but this doesn’t affect its grandeur. Entering the ground floor, you cannot have the same feeling you had outside. The glory of the high dome and ceiling offers a special calmness to all, even to non-Muslims. Many foreign tourists visit the site every day as they know skipping this visit will make them feel regret in the very near future.

Just like Indonesian people, the public relations staff of the mosque are very friendly and eager to help and show different parts of the mosque to visitors in case a guide is needed.

Union and tolerance of different religions here can be a great role model for all other countries. One truly feels peace when coming out of the mosque and see others attending a church on the opposite side with no stress and in full harmony.

AFM/

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