Observations – Masjid Universiti Sabah Malaysia

You might have recalled I had to travel to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia for my final exams….and already in a months and a few days time I will be sitting for yet another final exam! How time flies by, especially considering the menace of work and studies and assignments keep weighing me down, sometimes it makes you wish there is more than 24 hours in a day…

Anyway, since I am attending an online Islamic university, so naturally the exams had to be held at a local (well, local as in on the same island as my country, anyways) Islamic university. Therefore, as an Islamic University, an on campus mosque is a standard, and there is where I had my exams.

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The mosque is aptly called Masjid Universiti Sabah Malaysia, and it is situated on top of a hill overlooking the whole campus.  The mosque style is a good example of a Post Modern Revivalist mosque . It does not conform to the traditional mosque floor plan (we actually got lost trying to access the main prayer hall, where the Islamic Studies department were) but traditional Islamic ornamentation and architectural designs were very much used – the hallmark of Post Modern Revivalism.

16082013618the whole building is in a pinkish hue, giving it the look of adobe clad building. The window grilles or Mashrabias in the traditional Islamic art vocabulary, is made of concrete, and favours the repetition of the ten pointed stars. This minaret have tall windows with ten pointed concrete stars lining down the building…

16082013617…as well as the rest of the main building. This large arch, which sits atop the mosque’s foyer staircase leading up to the main prayer hall, is decorated with a grill of ten pointed stars, again, in concrete. The Masrabia is strategically placed that the play of light and shadow in this area, coupled with the view of the whole campus and subsequently the city of Kota Kinabalu is simply brilliant.

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The main prayer hall is very large and tall – it can perhaps hold a few thousand devotees at one time. The hall is three stories tall, some gives access to the several different departments of the university. The Mihrab wall is decorated with what looks like a wooden decorated facade or a concrete carvings painted brown.  Again, the light play of this hall is magnificent and the natural light flowing into the mosque draws the eyes towards the sky and gives the lofty hall an even taller impression. There are gigantic calligraphy installed under the cornice of the dome on the mihrab wall. I couldnt read it because it was too dark, and the calligraphy looks like it was burnt on big pieces of even darker wood.

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The Mihrab of the mosque is unique. as you can see from the picture there is a floor fan in front of it, so you can actually imagine how tall it was – the marble dado is not as tall as your normal chair-rail dado. The Mihrab is framed with a peculiar design of eight pointed stars (I smell a Deconstruction post!) and an arch of diamond pattern design. There are seven eight-pointed stars made from glass set into the curved wall of the Mihrab. Under the sunlight, the stars glows blue, giving it an ethereal light in the generally dark hall.

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Turning back to exit the hall, These delicate Mashrabia of wood and glass greets you.  The natural light from the outside creates a fantastic shadow for these doors, and the polished floors give it double impressions. The Mashrabias favours the slightly modified eight pointed stars features on the Mihrab.

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A closeup of the gates shows the same blue glass panels similar to the ones set into the Mihrab

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