The mosque, Masjid in Arabic, is the Muslim gathering place for prayer. Like many other religious structures throughout the world, mosques so often act as emblems of a city’s cultural identity and geography. Over the years, many rulers, kings, and heads of states have had grand mosques built. Some are architectural marvels, some have rich historic significance and others are simply magnificent in their grandeur. With facades dressed in mosaics, glowing marble, crowning domes, and spiralling towers, mosques are awe-strikingly stunning from the outside. In off-prayer hours, wander inside these magnificent structures and you’ll find exquisite prayer halls accentuated by gorgeous Persian carpets or valleys of chandeliers. In this series Mosques Featured on Banknotes, we will explore the beautiful history of breathtaking Mosques around the world.
The first mosque is the one in Mecca, meaning the area that surrounded the Ka’ba, the holiest shrine. But the model of early mosques was the courtyard of Muhammed’s house in Madina, which was constructed in 622 AD. This was organized with a Qibla (the direction of prayer), first facing in the direction of Jerusalem. There were three entrances to the courtyard. An area of the courtyard was roofed and here prayer was performed. After a year the Qibla was changed so that it faced Mecca.
Most early mosques, as well as the majority of later mosques in Arab lands, follow this general layout. The inside of a mosque always includes an open space for worship. Rugs or mats may cover the floor. A nook in one wall, called a mihrab, shows the direction of Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. To the right of the mihrab is a platform or small tower, called a minbar. Religious leaders climb steps up to the minbar, where they speak to the worshippers. Every mosque must also have a source of running water for washing (Wudu- Muslims are required to wash before prayer). Outside most mosques is a tall tower, called a minaret. From the minaret, a crier, or muezzin, calls Muslims to prayer. Here is a list of four Beautiful Mosques Featured on Banknotes. Their mesmerizing mosaics and historical impacts will leave you stunned.
Masjid-e-Haram printed on 500 Riyal Banknote
The Haram Sharif is the Holiest and largest Mosque for Muslims around the world and is situated in the Holy city of Makkah. Millions of faithful followers gather at Al Masjid Al Haram every year for prayers and to perform Tawaf, the ritual circling of the Kaaba. The Kaaba predates the Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime; Muslims believe it was built by the Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ishmael as a house of worship to one God.
Wearing special Ihram clothing pilgrims from across the Muslim world flow through the mosque’s multitude of gates to fulfil the fifth pillar of Islam. The world’s largest mosque never sleeps. At all hours of the day and night, disciples can be seen walking counter-clockwise around the Kaaba and praying.
The mosque has been expanded, rebuilt and renovated over its long history. Construction began in the 7th century (Gregorian calendar) under Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab. To accommodate a growing number of pilgrims, he demolished buildings around the Kaaba and erected a wall. In 777, Abbasid Caliph Al Mahdi had the original mosque torn down, along with surrounding structures. In their place, he built a larger mosque based on a grid plan. Many of today’s buildings date to an extensive renovation that was done in 1571.
The heart of the Islamic pilgrimages depicted on a 500 Riyal Banknote issued in 2017.
Masjid-e-Nabwi printed on 100 Riyal Banknote
Masjid-e-Nabwi was established by the Prophet Muhammad upon his migration (Hijrat) to Madinah. It is the second most revered masjid in Islam after Masjid al-Haram in Makkah. The Prophet’s Mosque is a place Muslims from around the world visit while performing Hajj and Umrah, or simply to pray (performing the salat) and visit Prophet Muhammad’s tomb.
This Mosque underwent several expansions throughout its history, starting with the days of the Caliphs, followed by the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Ottomans, and finally, the Saudi era. It is the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad. It was built by the Prophet himself, next to the house where he settled after his migration to Medina in 622 AD. It was an open-air building with a raised platform for the reading of the Quran.
One of the most notable features of the site is the Green Dome in the south-east corner of the mosque, originally Aisha’s house, where the tomb of Muhammad is located. The beautiful green dome and minaret of Al-Masjid al-Nabawi printed on a 100 Riyal banknote.
Masjid-e-Aqsa on 50 Riyal Banknote
Masjid al-Aqsa has a rich history. Located in the Old City of Jerusalem in Palestine, it is intimately linked with Prophetic history, not of one but numerous prophets. It was first built by the Prophet Ibrahim years after he built the Ka‘aba with his first son Ismail.
When Prophet Muhammad received the command from God to lead the Muslim community in five daily prayers, their prayers were directed towards the holy city of Jerusalem. For Muslims, the city of Jerusalem is an important site. As the home of numerous prophets of Islam such as Dawud (David), Sulayman (Solomon), and ‘Isa (Jesus), the city was a symbol of Islam’s past prophets.
Masjid al-Aqsa holds immense significance in Islamic religious tradition as well as history. It is known as the first qibla of Muslims—the direction toward which Muslims face to offer their salat—as well as the third holiest site in Islam.
One of the Mosques Featured on Banknotes is Masjid-e-Aqsa which is depicted on a 50 Riyal Banknote issued by Saudi Arabia 2016.
Saparmurat Hajji Mosque featured on 10,000 Manat Banknote
One of the most beautiful buildings in Turkmenistan, The Saparmurat Hajji Mosque was built on the orders of the first President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov. It was erected in memory of the soldiers and defenders of the Fortress Gokedepe.
This mosque is a prominent landmark of Turkmenistan. Its main characteristics are its sky-blue dome surrounded by four lower blue half domes. The four minarets here are 63 meters high to represent the age at which the Prophet Muhammad died.
The mosque subsequently became something of a national symbol for the country’s struggles and adorned the reverse of one of Turkmenistan’s 10,000 Manat notes until a new series of currency was introduced in 2005. It is an incredible specimen in Mosques Featured on Banknotes series.
Beautiful Sultan Ahmed Mosque on 500 Turkish Lira Banknote
Blue Mosque also known as the Sultan Ahmet Camii (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), this breathtaking building is one of the most majestic Ottoman mosques in all Turkey.
The Blue Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616, by the architect Mehmet Aga, instructed by Sultan Ahmet I. It was designed as an imperial show of strength to complement the imposing Hagia Sophia, which faces it across Sultanahmet Square.
Unlike the Hagia Sophia, however, it is supported by four ‘elephant foot’ pillars and the central dome (23.5m in diameter and 43m high) is flanked by four semi-domes, making it nearly a square in shape. It is dubbed the Blue Mosque because of over 20,000 handmade ceramic Iznik tiles that decorate the interior, featuring many different tulips, rose, carnation, and lily designs, well lit by 260 windows.
The above shown 500 Lira Banknote picturing the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the colour of which alludes to its popular name, the Blue Mosque. It was issued in 1962.
The world houses a huge number of mosques which are not only beautiful from the outside but also from the inside. From compelling golden domes to halls with kaleidoscopic colours, the beauty and rich history of these sacred places continue to motivate visitors to come and explore them in large numbers from all over the world. Banknotes around the world feature many of the marvellous wonders to showcase their pride of culture and advanced science behind the monuments. Please wait for our next blog to know more about other charming Mosques Featured on Banknotes.