Observations – Masjid Ash-Saliheen

I am not really sure about the actual Romanization of the mosque’s name, but in Arabic it is مسجد الصالحين

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I went out for a little short excursion around the city. I always wanted to come to this mosque, because I knew that it was decorated with Moroccan or Andalusian theme which means…Zellige!

A bit of history of the mosque first – The mosque first open in July 2012. It was built in an area of 2,100 square meters, near government offices complex in the capital. It is much smaller than other grander mosques in Brunei but when it lacks in size it makes up in the decoration. it was built in the Moroccan and Andalusian style with decorations flown in specially from Morocco. when it was officiated, the presses claimed that the mosque was ‘a sight to behold’

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A sight to behold indeed, it was. At the gate, you can clearly see the petite mosque across the green fields. The road leading to it is decorated with wrought iron lamps stylized with filigrees similar to Moroccan ones. As you can see here, it has two tall minarets, flanking the main prayer hall, with an azure dome in the middle.The whole building were made to look like it is constructed out of adobe, however it is not, considering Brunei is a tropical country and rain is in abundance, if it is constructed out of adobe it might wash away the building. Instead it is made of modern concrete.

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This is the view of the southern minaret, seen from the parking space. The minaret looks more Turkish with its conical roof and sided body, which is different from the main building style. If it follows the Moroccan/Andalusian style it would be a tall, square structure with a small, shorter balcony tower on top. Also, there would be only one minaret.

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Inside is a real life oasis. In the middle of the courtyard stands a marble fountain with authentic Zellige decoration, bathed in an abundance of sunlight, thanks to the retractable, clear roof above. the fountain is surrounded with palms and other desert plants, as well as large vases, invoking the spirit of North African mosques. Brass lamps sits next to the pillars, and more of them are hung across the ceiling perimeter around the courtyard, which is made out of trellis. The late afternoon sun shone through the trellis ceiling, giving a Mashrabia effect, light and shadow playing perfectly on the marble floor.

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Every aspect, every room of the mosque were given the Moroccan treatment. Here we see the ablution room, where the walls are lined with Zellige in soothing, earthy colours, and even the taps were made of carved, hammered bronze taps! For your information, there are two ablution rooms (not counting the female ablutions, where I don’t think I was allowed in) and each of the rooms are given different coloured Zellige tiles ; the South ablution room is decorated with green hued zellige, while the northern one were given blue hued tiles.

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This is the view of the Main Prayer hall itself. Clearly no expenses were hold while building this mosque. The Zellige tiles were hand made and flown in from Morocco. Al Quran verses were painted on a brown border  above the Zellige panels. The lamps, hanging from the tall, lofty ceiling are large, bronze lamps decorated with Arabesques. The shelves holding copies of the Holy Qur’an were made of wood with trellis design and arches. the Pillars are huge cylindrical slabs of marble, supporting arches of red and white – an apparent tribute to the Mosque of Cordoba. To be honest, this is the closest I get to Zellige tilework, and it was an awesome sight to behold.

 

Observations – KL Visit – Islamic Art Museum – The Conclusion

I have actually finished the KL Visit – Islamic Art Museum series of articles after a year (the first article was posted on the 24th of February 2012) and honestly saying, I thought I would take longer than that. So what did  I learn from this experience? My first time in Kuala Lumpur, the Metropolitan city of Malaysia, and my first time visiting a museum, fully dedicated to Islamic art and Architecture, all while successfully dragging my not-appreciating-art family to it?

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An Arabic themed restaurant in the Museum of Islamic Art and Architecture Compound

My first thought is – I want to return to Kuala Lumpur.

Unlike many (or most, if not all) Bruneians travelling to KL, I was more interested in cultural aspect of a vacation. People in Brunei are usually into shopping ; and lots of it, giving that things there are much more cheaper than back in hometown. My own family (my parents and my oldest brother) were more keen to go to shopping malls and avenues, which, may be interesting, spells a tiring, uninteresting day for me. And that is mostly the reason Bruneians come to Kuala Lumpur again and again.

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Decorative headscarf pins on sale in an open air shop somewhere in the Jalan Masid India Avenue

I am eager to return to KL not because of the cheap, cheap stuffs and sale, sale, sale, but for the museums and other places I haven’t been able to visit during my vacation with my family. I wanted to revisit the museum with a better camera, naturally. Even if the museum to be honest, not as large as I expected, I wanted to see more. When I was there I was only floating by the exhibits for the fear of losing sight of my parents, who, again did not really share the same artistic interests as I do. I wanted to examine each and every artifact, to see closer the manuscripts and ceramics and armours and fabrics. I know I have more to learn from there.

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A newer mosque at one end of the Jalan Masid India Avenue.

I also wanted to visit the mosques especially the older ones. I did not have the chance to visit any mosques since our days were mostly filled with excursions to the shopping malls. I only had a glimpse of the mosques around Kuala Lumpur which mostly obscured with large trees or more commonly, tall, tall buildings.

Perhaps, one day I can visit Kuala Lumpur again, and if that day comes, I am hoping to be able to visit the sites with Islamic cultural and religious significance.

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Peek-a-boo!