The global Covid-19 pandemic saw an unprecedented Ramadan in which the Haram lay empty with no pilgrims circling the Kaaba, and mosques across the world closed for congregational prayers. After two years of restrictions, this Ramadan many Muslims are once again be able to pray at the mosque. In appreciation of this, join Islamic Relief colleagues in a virtual tour of the mosques they know and love.
Mosques play a central role in the lives of individuals and communities, particularly during Ramadan. They provide not only a place to gather for prayer, but also a space to socialise and learn. Praying tarawih at the mosque is a core part of the spirit of the blessed month and is one of the things that makes Ramadan feel so unique and special.
Join us in exploring mosques in Mali, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Gaza.
Karim Bagayogo’s Mosque, Ouelessebougou, Mali
Karim Bagayogo’s Mosque was built in 2003 in the town of Ouelessebougou in southwestern Mali. Mahamane Ibrahim Toure, Islamic Relief’s Suboffice Coordinator for Ouelessebougou, is one of its attendees.
“I’ve been attending this mosque for 18 years and I often do the call to prayer if the main muezzin happens to be absent. The mosque was first given solar power by an attendee, another one bought the microphone and loudspeakers, and later someone else provided the electricity supply. Now we all contribute to paying the monthly water and electricity bills. It’s my wish that we can repaint the mosque by the 27th of next Ramadan, insha’Allah.
“The mosque’s community is small and includes both young and old people – there are more young people among the male worshippers and most of the women are older. Most of the attendees are retired military or civil servants, and the community is made up of locals as well as people who moved to Ouelessebougou for work.
“There has never been a disagreement or argument among attendees at the mosque. We always communicate peacefully about all matters and always come to an agreement with guidance from our imam.
“The imam is always there to lead us in prayer and, because of his dedication, all of us attendees decided to donate something – any amount one can afford – to him.”
Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque, Kabul, Afghanistan
“This mosque’s name translates to Mosque of the King of Two Swords. It was built on the site of 1 of the first mosques in Kabul and named in honour of a 7th-century Muslim king who died fighting Hindu forces.
“The yellow mosque in the centre of the city, just off the Kabul River, took 10 years to build, with construction starting in 1919 and ending in 1929.
“Unusually for Islamic religious architecture, the mosque includes Italian decorative stucco and has 2 storeys. It was modelled after the Ortakoy Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.
“Being in the city, the mosque is attended by people from different age groups. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the imam has advised those attending prayers on how to keep themselves safe.”
Putra Mosque, Putrajaya, Malaysia
“The Putra Mosque, named after the first Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj, is one of the major landmarks in the central city of Putrajaya.
“Construction of the massive rose granite structure began in 1997 and was completed just over 2 years later.
“The mosque can accommodate more than 10,000 worshippers and is attended by local residents as well as those who travel from further afield.
“Resting on the banks of the Putrajaya Lake and surrounded by parks, the mosque is known for its beauty and blend of Middle Eastern and Malay architectural features.
“Its position adjacent to the office of the prime minister is testament to the mosque’s importance as a symbol of Malaysia as a sovereign nation under Islam.
“When the Covid-19 pandemic reached Putrajaya, the mosque helped contribute essential items to those in need. It also donated clothes and other essential items to those affected by severe flooding in late 2021.”
Al-Omari Grand Mosque, Gaza City, Occupied Palestinian Territory
Al-Omari Grand Mosque is considered to be one of the most important Islamic monuments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Mohammed Ahmad Ghattas, a Child Welfare Officer with Islamic Relief Palestine, is an attendee.
“Al-Omari Grand Mosque is the largest and oldest mosque in the Gaza Strip, with a history that dates back more than 3,000 years and the site was once home to a pagan temple.
“The mosque is as immense in construction and archaeological value as it is beautiful in form and engineering. It is a space for worshippers to pray and teachers to study, and stands next to a library which has been full since ancient times.
“I have been attending this mosque since I was young, especially during religious occasions such as Ramadan to pray Taraweeh (extra night prayers). Sometimes I visit this mosque for Al Jummah prayers on Friday, or other times I pray Al Dohor or Al Asr prayers when I go shopping at the adjacent market.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the mosque closed temporarily in line with official instructions that people should pray at home to help combat the spread of the virus. When the mosque reopened, safety measures were in place including wearing a mask and asking worshippers to bring their own prayer mat.
“The mosque is in the heart of the old Gaza City, adjacent to the historic Qaysariyya market, which is famous for selling gold, silver and jewellery. It is surrounded by domed shops, and authentic smells of the past greet visitors as they arrive in the area. On the right, candies, coloured sweets, almonds and pistachio nuts are for sale in shops and not too far away, you can find delicious pickles that are abundant during Ramadan.
“The nicest thing about visiting a place as holy and sacred as this mosque is feeling ancient history all around you. You can smell the past, feel and imagine older generations and ancestors who had been there standing or sitting in the same place as you are.
“Another thing you can feel is the spirituality, which is a source of comfort and relaxation because a practising Muslim should always keep close to Allah, the creator, through sincere worshipping and praying.
“I would like to urge everyone to visit such holy places since they are a source of inspiration and positive energy. It makes us imagine our ancestors and ancient people; how they used to look and what their lives were like.”
Islamic Relief is a faith-inspired humanitarian aid and development agency working to save and transform the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Our Islamic values and insights influence all aspects of our work, and sit alongside our decades of development experience in helping to shape humanitarian and social justice approaches in the broader sector.
This Ramadan, Islamic Relief continues to reach those most in need, supporting some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Your Zakat is changing lives. Donate now.