Rain started to fall from the sky just when I arrived at the visitor entrance of the National Mosque, or Masjid Negara. Anyway, it would open in 45 minutes, and I decided to take shelter somewhere, and came back when it opened again. The complex that is the Masjid Negara is built in such a way that you don't immediately realize how big it actually is. There is a square with a fountain at the lowest point, with a word in Arabic calligraphy in steel. Reflective pools and gardens surround the mosque. It is when I reach the first floor, with its wide, open corridors where welcome fresh air blows through, that the dimensions of the Masjid Negara starts to sink in. There is a lecture hall on the left, and down the main corridor, a hall with tombs inside, below the high ceiling: the late presidents of independent Malaysia. This modern structure has been built right after independence, and opened in 1965 - but still looks modern.
The hall under which the tombs stand, is white and yellow; when I walk back on my way to the main prayer hall, and see people approaching, I realize that just this corridor could hold hundreds of people on its shiny, clean floor. I cross yet more pools with fountains, and reach the main floor, where I find the heart of the Masjid Negara: the prayer hall. After walking around the outside prayer space, with thin, square columns leading to a lighted ceiling, I am about to enter the prayer hall, but it turns out that even during visiting hours, this is not possible. Moreover, a woman approaches me, and introduces herself as a volunteer. She starts to tell me about the principles of Islam, the architecture of mosques, before I am allowed a glimpse into the prayer hall.
A huge space, of course, in the Masjid Negara: the largest mosque of Malaysia; moreover, the words Allah and Mohammed in blue, green and white stained glass windows in triangular spaces high up near the ceiling. Except for the Friday afternoon prayer, women can pray on the main floor, too; my guide takes me up to the first floor where women are supposed to pray when the ground floor is full. Despite the high wooden barrier, with more glass decorations, the views are better here. Moreover, we are closer to the stained glass windows. While I look around me, and below, the woman does not stop to talk about Islam; when she asks if I have any questions, I decide not to pose the many I have, because they might embarrass her, or put her in an awkward position. Instead, I politely listen. Before leaving, she gives me a handful of brochures for more information about the religion that had arrived here many centuries ago, with Arab traders on their hunt for spices in the East.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Masjid Negara (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Masjid Negara.
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