Mosques of Qatar: Beyond Places of Worship
A mosque, or masjid, is the building where Muslims perform their five daily prayers. However, many people do not know that mosques are much more than just places for prayers—mosques are at the heart of Muslim societies. Though the Islamic culture urges modesty of architecture and interior furnishing for mosques, they nevertheless are amazing places that show the “beauty of simplicity.” Mosques are great spots to visit and self-reflect; to just be in them and focus on your spiritual side as a human being.
Here in Qatar, you will not find a neighborhood without a mosque. Though all mosques have the same central role in the community, you still may notice that some mosques are special in their beauty, community engagement, and lifelong learning opportunities.
As a librarian, it was noticeable to me that there is not one book in English about the mosques of Qatar as of 2021. I remember when I was trying to help a patron find English resources on this topic and how this was a challenge for both of us. The English resources on this topic currently are newspaper articles and translations of some documentaries, so I still hope to have an English book published about the mosques of Qatar.
For the following article, I referred to the Arabic book The Mosques of Qatar: Their History and Architecture, by Dr. Mahmoud Ramadan, in addition to some newspaper articles and my personal experience.
Through Generations: Old Mosques of Qatar
We can assume that mosques were built in Qatar as early as the 7th century, when Islam entered the region, but here I chose two old mosques that still stand as remarkable historical buildings in Qatar.
Al Shoyoukh Mosque
Al Shoyoukh Mosque used to also be known as the “Grand Mosque.” It was built in 1913 – 1914 by Sheikh Abdulla bin Jassim, the ruler of Qatar at that time, along with the ruler’s palace of Qatar, which is now known as the “Amiri Diwan.”
This mosque was originally built from the basic building materials of that time—mud, stone and wood—but it was renovated in 1959. After renovation, it kept its unique architecture with added beauty and more sustainable materials, as well as a green octagonal minaret standing high in the sky.
Now, Al Shoyoukh Mosque is easily noticeable from the area of the Amiri Diwan, Souq Waqif and the Corniche.
Bu Legbaib Mosque (The Mosque of Domes)
This ancient building is remarkable not only for its architectural beauty, but also for being built by the founder of Qatar, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, in 1878. Since that time, the mosque has undergone reconstruction, expansion and development along with the surrounding area. It stands as an archaeological, historical and religious beacon in the heart of Doha, next to Souq Waqif and the Corniche.
Historical observers mentioned that this building reached a level of perfection both in terms of building materials and building skills, as well as the ability to endure and adapt to nature. They said that even when it rained heavily and their mud houses crumbled and fell, they could not find a single refuge in Doha that would protect everyone from the rain except this mosque! Bu Legbaib has proudly resisted the harsh factors of nature for more than 100 years without the need for major restorations.
The large number of domes is obvious in the building, but this is not its only attractive characteristic. The beautiful windows of the mosque also worked as a natural ventilation and cooling system and gave the building extra advantages.
To see a rich and interesting collection of photos of old Qatari mosques, I recommend searching Qatar National Library’s Digital Repository by visiting this link.
Special Mosques in Qatar
All mosques are built initially for the purpose of performing congregational prayers. However, there are many reasons to consider a mosque special—for example, unique architecture, learning opportunities, or community engagement. Sometimes you can find all these in one mosque. Here I will try to spotlight the most important mosques in Qatar:
Education City Mosque
Being a librarian at Qatar National Library gives me a wonderful starting view to my workday: the combined beauty of the Library and the Education City Mosque. Some days I am lucky enough to see this view while listening to the beautiful Athan (call to prayer) coming from the mosque. We’ll talk more about the Athan a little bit later.
This fascinating mosque is located in Education City and housed within the Minaretein building, which means “The Two Minarets.” It is part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and includes the HBKU Library and the Faculty of Islamic Studies.
As you can see in the photos, the two mosque’s two minarets are tilted to show people outside the building the direction to the Holy Kaaba, which Muslims must face during their prayers. You may also notice the five pillars on which the mosque stands, with a verse from the Holy Qur’an on each to represent the five pillars of Islam.
The Education City Mosque is a renowned building, having been honored by regional and international architecture organizations. It also has significant personal meaning to me. Every time I visit this Mosque, I feel like I want to stay more and use every single second to enjoy the feeling of peace and the sight of its beauty.
The Education City Mosque offers many activities that engage the community and these are not just related to Islam. For example, it offers courses in Arabic calligraphy and other lifelong learning opportunities.
I know that there is nothing like a real visit to the place, but this video may help you imagine the experience:
For more interesting information and photos about the Education City Mosque, please check the following links:
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO TOMORROW..
Ahmad is an Information Services librarian at Qatar National Library, specialized in Islamic Jurisprudence and its foundation. Ahmad looks to the Library as a place for learning, exploring, and engagement.
#QatariLitMonth is curated by Abeer S. Al-Kuwari
Abeer works as director of Research and Learning Services at the newly established Qatar National Library (QNL). Abeer’s work focuses on engaging library researchers in the Qatari community to explore archival and libraries as memory institutions and documentary heritage.