Muslims still overwhelmed by nation’s biggest mosqueBy Jeoffrey Maitem
COTABATO CITY—No matter how often they come here for prayer, Muslims are still overwhelmed by the largest mosque in the country—a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.
The glittering Grand Mosque, also known as Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid (Muslim center of worship), is located in the seaside village of Inawan. It is a five-hectare cultural complex constructed and funded by the Brunei government in 2008, on land donated by the family of former Maguindanao Rep. Didagen Dilangalen. It can accommodate 15,000 people.
The mosque, with gold-plated domes, is about eight kilometers away from the national highway. But the distance has not kept people from going there to pray, Grand Mosque executive director Ustads Norulam Abdullah told the Inquirer on the eve of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.
“Those who have no vehicles pay a P15 fare for the motorbike from the main road,” Abdullah said.
The construction of the mosque is covered by a cultural agreement between the Sultanate of Brunei and the Philippine government.
“At the back of the mosque, we are planning to build a grand function hall that can hold international activities,” he said.
Abdullah said the waterfront location is perfect, as the mosque can be viewed by those arriving by sea from the Moro Gulf in the east and those arriving by air through Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao.
Abdullah said the mosque was designed by architect Felino Palafox Jr.
It is equipped with closed circuit television and fire protection systems, with the design incorporating elements of Filipino, Asian and Islamic traditions.
The mosque was also constructed two meters from the ground. It can be accessed from three sides, with two front stairs, four side stairs and two pedestrian ramps.
Palafox, in an earlier interview, said he incorporated environmental concepts into the design, maximizing the sunlight for efficiency, reduction of electricity bills and low maintenance.
The mosque has four minarets (towers) rising 40 meters high.
Inside, there are two prayer rooms (for men and women) separated by an eight-meter-high partition. The prayer rooms are flanked by courtyards.
In their Friday prayer, Abdullah said Muslims emphasized the importance of the duration of the monthlong fasting, which starts today.
“We are praying for a peaceful Mindanao. We are happy that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government are talking peace,” he said.