Thursday, August 6, 2009
my visit to Al-Amin Mosque in Beirut
One day when I was in Lebanon we went to Beirut
One of the things we did that day was visit the Al-Amin Mosque in the centre of Beirut. This Ottoman style mosque was built by Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister who was assassinated in 2005. It was finished in 2005 but opened in 2008 due to troubles.
You can easily find the mosque as it is huge and its blue dome and minarets dominate the sky. It is also close to the old Roman ruins, which run along Saint George's Maronite Cathedral and Solidaire, a well-known pedestrian centre with much to see and do.
Of course, to enter the mosque, all women must wear hijab. This time I got a black polyester outfit; at the Taynal Mosque I was given a bright pink slippery one to wear. Either way, with slippery straight hair such as mine, constant vigilance must be kept up to prevent the slipping down of the scarf or hood, as the case may be. This time it was a scarf, separate from the dress. I am 2nd from the right. I am standing with my neice and on my other side, my friend, Rita, and her daughter, Mira. Rita lives in Canada, but is visiting her family in Beirut this summer. You can see the Qiblah wall behind us, with the Minbar and Mihrab.
The mosque is stunningly beautiful.
The detail is dazzling.
The underneath side of the blue dome.
The central chandelier is the size of a crystal spaceship.
Everywhere you look you are awed. The architecture of mosques and the designs within are scientific / artistic means that create a space between earth and heaven.
The Minbar is the platform used on Fridays for the khutba, the Friday sermon.
Midpoint of the wall facing Qiblah is the mihrab, a niche. The mihrab of the Al-Amin Mosque is, like all mihrabs, very beautifully decorated. The Qiblah shows the direction that one should face to pray, as it indicates the direction of the Kaaba, the focal point of prayer for Muslims.
Getting down to ground level, the carpet is huge! The spots to pray are built into the design. The carpet was custom made in Turkey, and made of one piece, I was told. It seems unbelievable. How did they make such a huge carpet? How did they get it here? How could such a huge musallah (the prayer hall) be covered with a carpet that is one piece?
On the outside of the Mosque is the Martyr's Square. When I went to take some photos of the monument at Martyr's Square there was a group of skateboarders, looking very goth, hanging about by the monument.
Martyr's Square in 1982, the year Israel invaded Lebanon. 17,000 people in Lebanon were killed during the war. It was also the year my first son was born. My husband and I watched the horrors of the war on the tv every day. I remind my oldest son every now and then that 17,000 people were killed in his father's birth country the year he was born. Such is our chance in life that some give birth while others die.
Those bombed out buildings behind the Martyr's Square were torn down and re-built by Hariri. The new buildings retain their original look. It's Solidaire and it is beautiful.