08 December, 2010

Grand Mosque of Damascus (Part 1)

“Inhabitants of Damascus, four things give you a marked superiority over the rest of the world; your climate, your water, your fruits and your baths. To these I wanted to add a fifth, this mosque.” al-Walid I ibn Abd-al-Malik.

The Ummayad Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Damascus (Arabic: جامع بني أمية الكب, transl. dschami bani umayyat-ul-kabiir), is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. Located in one of the holiest sites in the old city of Damascus, it is of great architectural importance. It is thought that the mosque had the largest golden mosaic in the world. In 1893 a fire damaged the mosque and many mosaics were lost. There is a shrine containing the body of St. John the Baptist. Also the head of Husayn ibn Ali, Mohamed’s grandson, is kept in this mosque. In 2001 Pope John Paul II visited the mosque, primarily to visit the relics of John the Baptist. It was the first time a pope paid a visit to a mosque. My attempt here is to study the history, religious and structural significance of the mosque. I fully depended on the books and articles, also not forgetting the fact of the bulk amount of pictures and information received from Internet. The outcome may not be perfectly scientific but the whole amount of information and study, I owe to the authors and books mentioned at the end of the write up.

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