The opening of the Mosque of Granada in the summer of the year 2003 celebrates an historic reunion as it looks out in greeting towards the majestic silhouette of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada. The Great Mosque as the soul of the Alhambra promises to become a characteristic feature of the landscape of Granada.
The Mosque of Granada signals, after a hiatus of 500 years, the restoration of a missing link with a rich and fecund Islamic contribution to all spheres of human enterprise and activity.
The Mosque of Granada also reflects the undimmed vitality of the prophetic message encompassed in Islam and its immediate relevance to the current situation in Europe and the Western World. The renewed aspiration of European muslims today is to contribute to the amelioration of a world beset by intolerable dilemmas and every kind of injustice. The way of Islam offers natural and viable alternatives to the headlong and voracious impetus of the consumer capitalist system, which is destroying all human values and in consequence the humanity of the society in which we all share.
What is a mosque?
The word mosque originates from the Arabic word masjid which means ‘place of prostration’. Prostration is the most visible expression of submission to the Creator of the Universe. The muslim prostrates 5 times a day, at dawn, midday, mid afternoon, sunset and finally when the light of day has completely disappeared from the sky.
Anywhere on earth, which is not in some way polluted, can be a place of worship and prostration. Nevertheless clean and protected places have always been reserved by muslims at the centre of their cities since the beginning of Islam as places for the congregational prayer, these places are known as mosques.
The mosque is at the heart of the muslim community and is not only a place of prayer. It is also a place for study and the transmission of knowledge. Some mosques were even schools and universities. The first mosques were also sites for local governance where decisions upon the affairs of the local community were taken and were also places of public gathering.
A series of charitable institutions built themselves on to the great mosques of the Islamic world. Notable amongst these were hospitals, hostelry for travellers, dining areas for the poor, orphanages, schools, public baths and often rent free market places. These various institutions reflected the cellular structure of a caring and generous society built purely on the principle of pleasing the Creator.
What is the Mosque of Granada like?
The Mosque of Granada is composed of three main, contrasting elements. These are the garden, the prayer hall (which is properly speaking the mosque itself) and the Centre for Islamic Studies.
The Garden looks out over the valley of the River Darro towards a vista of the Alhambra standing on the Mount of Sabika, etched against the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. It has two fountains of classical andaluz mosaic surrounded by plants of local Mediterranean species, such as pine, olive, pomegranate, orange and lemon.
The Mihrab, prayer niche which indicates the direction towards Mecca, is an exact replica of the famous mihrab in the Mosque of Cordoba. Panels of cedar wood from the Atlas mountains carry a hand-engraved ayat of Qur’an listing some of the divine attributes. The multi-coloured marble tiles are identical to those of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The great ‘Qibla’ windows are replicas from the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. The mosaic fountain in the patio giving on to the prayer hall were manufactured according to a thousand year old andalusian design and technique by master craftsmen of Fez.
The Alminar – the minaret from which the call to prayer, the ‘adhan’, is given five times daily – is a tower designed and constructed in the original Albaicin style. Under the eaves it bears the Islamic declaration of faith in kufic lettering, ‘There is no god but Allah – Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’.
The Centre for Islamic Studies has a library with texts on Islam in arabic, spanish, english and other languages as well as audio visual aids. It has a conference hall with a seating capacity for 140 people along with an exhibition area. The main reception area is on the lower floor in the entrance foyer where a bookshop, craft items and souvenirs of the mosque are located.
What are the main activities generated by the mosque?
The five prescribed daily prayers are offered in the prayer hall of the Mosque at their allotted times. The congregational prayer ‘al Jumu’a’ is celebrated at midday on Fridays.
There is a daily programme of recitation and study of the Qur’an and Islamic jurisprudence for both adults and children throughout the year. There is also a continuous programme of conferences, arabic language classes, exhibitions and courses on subjects related to Islam and its legacy in Spain. All interested members of the public are welcome to attend.
There is also a point of contact for muslims in any kind of difficulty, offering assistence to the traveller.