Faisal mosque Islamabad
The impetus for the mosque began in 1966 when King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz supported the initiative of the Pakistani Government to build a national mosque in Islamabad during an official visit to Pakistan with his wife, Dr Bibi Farid. It was opened on April 13, 1968, by then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and a crowd of approximately 1 million people turned out for it. Over the next years, the mosque grew from 50,000 square feet to over one million square feet.
The structure of Faisal Mughal’s mosque is made of bricks, which are the main component of the structure, but it also has two minarets that have been carved into stone and used as decoration. Its name means “Eminence of Peace” referring to the fact that in this mosque “the Lord of all religions is the first religion of Islam”. Some scholars had suggested that the architecture of the mosque was inspired by the Taj Mahal and other historical buildings in India. But there were some allegations about how similar the design was to the structures of Islamic art and culture. In response to such claims and criticisms, a number of protests took place to halt construction for nearly 40 years at the site of the former royal residence where Mohan Singh Qadri (1899-1946), the king who died last month, laid down some important documents pertaining to the building of the city's most prominent historical monument.
Islamabad Capital City
The original plan of the mosque was to be constructed between two areas that were initially intended to be named Jati Umrah and Asr Minah. However, after the death of the former prime minister Mr Zulfikar, the government decided to rename these two areas as Islamabad Capital City, Islamabad Cantonments, Islamabad Town Centre and Islamabad Square respectively.
The first area of the new name given to the area where Mohan Qadri placed his grave has now become the Faisal Mosque. Other changes include adding another nave into the existing structure as well as making use of the space in front of the main gate to increase seating capacity. This new mosque serves both locals and visitors equally, and its surroundings were redeveloped after the Second World War to cater to the needs of military service members stationed in the region. After the completion of the war, the Faisal Mosque served as part of Lahore Port and currently forms part of Peshawar Fort. On October 16, 2017, the Faisal Mosque was handed over to Pakistan by the federal capital under the Presidential Agreement signed by President Arif Alvi and Defence Secretary Mohammad Tarin in 2015 for the purpose of enhancing security in the country by providing additional protection to the people of the city. According to sources, the agreement will see an increased focus on securing the location of the mosque which has been declared sensitive, due to mounting terrorism threats in the country with hundreds of attacks taking place every day. Due to the public uproar regarding the change, the federal government decided to backtrack and re-conceptualize the idea of having the mosque in a specific area and shifted Islamabad’s major security establishment to Faisal Mughal’s tomb. Under Pakistan’s constitution, the president is allowed to shift the headquarters of a provincial or federal government.
Faisal Mughal’s Tomb
The structure of the compound which houses the coffin of Sheikh Muhammad Hassan Gani Wali, the founder of the Faisal Dynasty, is completely built around the mosque and is expected to be completed within three months of the demise of Sheikh Muhammad Hassan. However, it will take almost double the period that it took to complete the first mosque given the additional precautions required to ensure safety and cleanliness for Muslims and their guests in the vicinity of the cemetery. The opening of Faisal Mughal’s Tomb also provides more room at present to hold religious meetings and address general gatherings. Both locations would be open to tourists in order to allow them to enjoy the view of the graves of eminent personalities including Sheikh Amin ul Haq, Sheikh Hamid Gul, Sheikh Waseem Akhtar and Sheikh Ahmed Gohtay. There will also be an option for tourists to tour the graveyard and experience the history of Islamic Architecture of the past which could create interest among future generations.
This mosque will serve to host many functions including prayers, concerts, sports events, family gatherings, cultural activities, social gatherings, and the general public for general awareness-raising. Furthermore, with its location near the famous green hills of Islamabad, Faisal Mughal’s Tomb provides a better opportunity for tourism in this location than any other historical monument in the historic city. Since Faisal Mughal’s tomb is located on the top of one of the highest mountains in Islamabad, it offers numerous opportunities for recreational activities like skiing and mountaineering. Moreover, since it is a cenotaph of the founder of the Faisal Dynasty, a lot can be learned about the early days of the empire. Therefore, the shrine and tombs which will display various artefacts related to the conquest of foreign lands by Faisal Mughal can offer great insights into Pakistan’s rich history and culture.
Islamic Art and Culture
The Faisal Mosque will continue to operate as a museum of Islamic Art and Culture in Islamabad with separate sections dedicated to research and studies that explore the influence of Islam on ancient civilizations, political systems and architectural culture all over the world. At present, many sculptures that look somewhat like sculptures of animals, birds and elephants, have been discovered by archaeologists, resulting in further discoveries of artwork in the past. A special section of the museum contains valuable collections that include objects found or looted by British troops before they were destroyed during the First World War. Similarly, a collection of artefacts from Ancient Greek and Roman empires and Asian cultures and their associated traditions and practices, along with items from medieval warfare, weaponry and weapons, has been displayed here along with several paintings ranging from Medieval manuscripts to Buddhist ones. There will be an exhibition based on the life and works of iconic artists and architects across North America to explore their contributions. Also, the museum includes the work of renowned artist Rafiq Khokhar who painted murals about the life of Muslim women, which has served as an inspiration to him. One particular painting is of Lady Nur of Sufism, who was known as Sirulat bai. She represented the beauty of Islam’s fifth pillar as she was covered in jewels. Another mural that depicts Prophet Muhammad holding a sword and representing peace is of Malik bai Shabbar and that of Ghaznavi. Lastly, there will also be a few murals depicting historical figures of the reign, which will offer insight into the society and culture of different parts of the world in the 19th Century and the 20th Century. These works were created by Bahria Hashim who is working with the Karachi Museum to exhibit a range of sculptures and arts. As for the future, much remains unknown despite being the largest museum dedicated to Islamic art and culture in an international capital. Faisal Mughal’s Tomb is definitely the biggest addition to Islamabad’s cultural heritage and will bring great prestige to the city and the Faisal dynasty.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Murtaza Ali