19 October, 2011

Masjid: Mosques of the Maldives

A short distance from Sri Lanka and the south-western tip of India. Stretching over 970 kilometers (600 miles) covering an area of about 90,000 sq. km. (35,000 sq.miles) in the Indian Ocean, made of nearly 1,200 islands of which only about 200 are inhabited, is a country like no other: of all countries in the world, it has the lowest elevation - it has an average height of just one-and-a-half meters (about five feet) above sea level. Maldives is also one of the most, stunningly, beautiful countries on Earth. And almost all the 400,000 or so Maldivians are Muslims. Since being introduced to the islands over 800 years ago, Islam has grown and is now the main driving force on the islands. Be it the Friday congregational or the daily five times prayers, all are well attended by most Maldivians.  On every inhabited island, there is a mosque or several mosques.

Masjid-al-Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu-al-A'z'am
Arab traders, including the Hadharem, introduced Islam to these extraordinarily, beautiful country. And it's they who helped in building the first mosques here.
Masjid-al-Sultan Islamic Center
Male, the capital city of the islands and the most inhabited - has many mosques. The largest and most well known mosque on Male, is one of the finest and biggest mosques in Southern Asia: the Sultan Mosque.
Masjid-al-Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu-al-A'z'am
It is the largest mosque in the country and can accommodate about 5,000 worshipers at a time. Its most prominent features, are its golden dome and its almost 200 feet minaret. 
Masjid-al-Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu-al-A'z'am
Very close to the jetty, this grand mosque, is one of the main attractions of the city. It also has a large Islamic center which was opened in 1984, which has a library and a conference hall. It was built, mainly with donations and assistance from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, Malaysia and other Muslim countries.
Hukuru Miskiiy, Male
Above: Hukuru Miskiiy, in Male, built in the mid 17th century - is the oldest mosque in the country. Although it might look unattractive from the outside, inside is beautiful and it has elaborate lacquered, wood carvings.
On any of the islands or atolls where there are Maldivians, there is a mosque.
Kudahuvadhoo, is the capital of the Nilande Atoll. It has several mosques, some very old.
Thuraakunu, in Haa Alif Atoll, one of the northern-most islands in the country. Many of the mosques on the islands are small and only for a few worshipers.
Maldives, Meemu
On the Meemu Atoll (Malaku Atoll), there are several mosques - some very old.
Small Masjid and graves
Some of the mosques in the Maldives are very small. Many mosques, have graveyards adjacent to them.
Many mosques too, are built in very simple, Maldivain ways. And maintained and kept clean, in a very Maldivian spirit.
Old Masjid
In many of the Atolls and islands, some mosques are simple houses turned into mosques.
Of the five or so inhabited islands in the Faafu Atoll, Nilandhoo is the capital. It has several mosques. Reportedly the second oldest mosque in the Maldives, was built here.
Old Mosque
There are many other old mosques in many of the other atolls and islands.
One of the most beautiful islands in a nation of stunningly beautiful islands, is Veligandu in North Ari Atoll. Mosques here, are in a most lush setting. Below:  in Male, one of the newer mosques on the reclaimed land of Hulhumale. 
The legendary Moroccan traveler, explorer and adventurer - Ibn Batutta - not only visited these exotic, turquoise atolls in the 14th Century, but, within a few months, he had become a qadhi on the Island and had married four wives. Due to political circumstances, he was forced to leave flee the islands. Little did he know that, very small and remote as it is, the Maldives, with time, will one day become one of the few fully democratic, Muslim, countries. And a country wholly of Muslims and of many mosques.  

+ Islamic Finder - Prayer Times in the Maldives
+ Flickr - Mosques
+ Maldives - on Google Maps
+ Wikitravel - Maldives