Friday, September 2, 2011

...the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

My friends and I had been wanting to visit the Grand Mosque and decided to go before the end of Ramadan and the Eid celebration began.  The exact date for Eid was still to be determined, but we decided to go on Monday the 29th of July, in case Eid began the next day (which it did).  Jo and I were able to climb the steps to the mosque dressed in our capris, but Katherine's were just a bit short.  We had to go up and get an abaya and shayla for her before she could go in.

What an absolutely beautiful place!  Visit this website to learn more. Their explanation is much more complete than mine would ever be, and I'm sure their vocabulary is more extensive than "Wow! Gorgeous!  Awesome!  Breathtaking!"
 The flowers in these pillars (about 100 of them!) are all inlaid semi-precious stones.  My head scarf wouldn't stay put, and our guide reminded us all to keep our heads covered.  (Oops!)
We were split into three groups for the tour.  The first few minutes were outside in the corridor area. It was cooler in the shade than out in the open, but not by much.  There were tourists from all over the world visiting.
Our guide had us go out into the courtyard and feel the difference in temperature between the white marble and the green stone used for the leaves.  It was amazing how much cooler the marble was!
What a welcome relief to step inside to the rush of AC!  Here, our guide is pointing out details in the ceiling.  There was so much to see that it was hard to take it all in.  The carpet was made in one piece then cut into three (or was it four?) sections to enable them to bring it inside.  Master carpet weavers then came and pieced it back together.
We were among the last ones to leave because we stayed and asked our guide questions.  She was a delightful young woman who spoke English very well.  She is from Yemen and is here going to University, studying urban planning.  She works at the mosque part-time. 
I took this picture to show perspective.  It's difficult to tell how large the flowers on the walls are from a distance. My hand span is about 8".
Since we were among the last to leave I was able to snap this picture of one of the empty prayer halls.  The flower above is on this wall.

I could easily visit again and look forward to having visitors--this will definitely be on our list of places to go and things to do!  From a purely architectural/artistic point of view, it is phenomenal.  And, much like in the cathedrals we visited in Italy years ago, there was a sense of reverence.  Everyone spoke in hushed tones and there were no children running about.  I would like to experience the mosque during prayer, but as I remember we were told that non-Muslims may not visit at that time.

4 comments:

Leslie Morgan said...

What an utterly beautiful place, and I completely agree and GET your sense of being in a holy place. I've been in a few such places that calmed and quieted me, and I'm not in any way religious. I'm drawn by the Oriental, foreign flavor of the architecture and decor. One knows immediately that she is not in Kansas any more.

OK, honestly: you in abayla and shayla stirs all kinds of things in me, a little anxiety, a little reminding myself to embrace all differences. I'll get there. I just have so many preconceived notions and experiences.

Good to see you post again - you're prolific in Abu Dhabi. And I'm glad (it appears) your Blogger woes are remedied.

Arlene said...

WOW, how can you not be continually awestruck? I can't wait to see the mosque.

Doozyanner said...

Les, I think my Catholic background is helping me here with the abayas and shaylas. I glance up and think a nun is coming towards me, and then, the other evening it was "no really, it IS a nun!" When we were in Italy in 2000 we were told to cover shoulders and knees (and sometimes heads) before entering a church of any kind. To me, it's just respect for how things are done, and not something I have to take up.

Arlene, your vocabulary, upon seeing it for the first time, will be as limited as mine was. How many times can one say, "beautiful! wow! incredible!"?

Leslie Morgan said...

You are better evolved than I am at this very moment. But I am only a work in progress, and I can improve. Bless you! You're my hero(ine) of the moment.