Sheik Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

The Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is an architectural marvel and incredibly special place. There are so many spectacular, unique structures in Abu Dhabi, so superlatives begin to fail.  I am not an expert in the area of Islam but will share a little information so you can appreciate things on a deeper level. If I am in error, apologies and please let me know. I hope you enjoy. Oh…and for a couple years in a row it was votes second favorite landmark in the world to visit on Trip Advisor.
A wonderful aspect of the mosque is that entry is free for everybody. It used to be very comfortable to visit, but security has been heightened and it is slightly less accessible than before. Still sensational!

The mosque took approximately 11 years to build, being completed in 2007. It’s main axis is aligned with the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The project was launched by the late president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the country.
When arriving in the parking lot one is a bit awestruck by the scale and beauty on display. In the daytime, the brilliant white of the mosque can be ethereal and in the night with lighting, magical. Both times are fantastic, but heat may be an issue.

There are five pillars of Islam which cover the core beliefs and practices.

1. Profession of Faith (shahada). The belief that “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God” is central to Islam. One becomes a Muslim by reciting this phrase with conviction.

2. Prayer (salat). Muslims pray facing Mecca five times a day ( will address this later)

3.Alms (Zakat). Muslims must give a certain proportion of their wealth to those in need. This is a very visible activity in the community.

4. Fasting (sawm). During the daylight hours of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, all healthy adult Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink. This topic is lengthy, but I will say the discipline required to accomplish this is impressive. Many people suffer the first days without coffee or cigarettes, but they are very accustomed to the practice. The month of Ramadan moves back…11 days per year I believe as it is dictated by the moon.

5.Pilgrimage (hajj). Every Muslim whose health and finances permit it must make at least one visit to the holy city of Mecca, in present-day Saudi Arabia. Since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, believers from all over the world have gathered around the Ka’ba in Mecca on the eighth and twelfth days of the final month of the Islamic calendar.

Lots to keep track of! I encourage you to read up on this fascinating religion if interested.
My twins love water
The carpet, which weighs 35 tons is said to be the largest in the world. The chandeliers, which are breathtaking are quite large as well. For those interested, the materials list for the mosque is an impressive array of natural materials from around the world.
The pools along the arcade reflect at night off the building, but that can’t be seen in this shot.
Before performing prayer, one must perform ablution, which cleanses one of impurities. There are specifics for this practice, but you will see hands, feet and mouth being cleansed. You will see stacks of shoes/sandals outside the prayer area.
Love the geometry and alignment
There are four large minarets surrounding the courtyard which is considered the largest marble mosaic in the world. The mosque has a capacity of 40,000 worshippers, with 7000 fitting in the main prayer hall.
One of the impressive things to me living in the Middle East is the practice of praying five times per day. Muslims are called to prayer five times per day by the imam of the mosque. Prayer times change as does the moon. People use their cell phones to send them reminders. Prayer rooms are found in most buildings, schools and malls. Men typically have a prayer rug in their office that they can use. From an observer’s perspective it appeared the fellowship was very much enjoyed. The timing of the prayers are as follows:

(Salat means prayer)

Salat al-fajr: dawn, before sunrise.

Salat al-zuhr: midday, after the sun passes its highest.

Salat al-‘asr: the late part of the afternoon.

Salat al-maghrib: just after sunset.

Salat al-‘isha: between sunset and midnight.

I often wondered how the frequent praying was related to the extremely low rate of crime. I figured you were never too far away from your next talk with Allah.
When entering the mosque, visiting females must wear an abaya, which is provided. My wife, her mother and father pictured here in front of the ornately decorated columns.
Children welcome
This was a new structure added more recently
My wife blended in well with locals

In ending, I barely scratched the surface of this magnificent place and religion.

Published by jimboyce44

World Traveler, Educator, Father, Husband, Son

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