Istiqlal Mosque – Indonesia
Istiqlal Mosque, or Masjid Istiqlal, (Independence Mosque) in Jakarta, Indonesia is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia in terms of capacity to accommodate people and building structure. This national mosque of Indonesia was built to commemorate Indonesian independence, as nation’s gratitude for God’s blessings; the independence of Indonesia. Therefore the national mosque of Indonesia was named “Istiqlal”, an Arabic word for “Independence”.
After the Indonesian National Revolution 1945–1949, followed by the acknowledgement of the independence Indonesia from The Netherlands in 1949, there was a growing idea to build a national mosque for this new republic, befitting for a country with the largest Muslim population in the world. The idea of constructing a grand Indonesian national mosque was launched by KH. Wahid Hasyim, Indonesia’s first minister for religions affairs, and Anwar Cokroaminoto, later appointed as the chairman of the Masjid Istiqlal Foundation. The committee for the construction of the Istiqlal Mosque, led by Anwar Cokroaminoto, was founded in 1953. Anwar proposed the idea of a national mosque to Indonesian President Sukarno, who welcomed the idea and later helped to supervise the construction of the mosque. In 1954, the committee appointed Sukarno technical chief supervisor.
Sukarno actively followed the planning and construction of the mosque, including acting as the chairman of the jury for the mosque design competition held in 1955. The design submitted by Frederich Silaban, a Christian architect, with the theme: “Ketuhanan” (Indonesian: Divinity) was chosen as the winner. The foundation stone was laid by Sukarno on 24 August 1961 and the construction took 17 years. Indonesian president Suharto inaugurated the Indonesian national mosque on 22 February 1978. It is still the largest mosque in the region: more than 120,000 people can congregate at the mosque at the same time.
There are seven gates to enter the mosque, each named after Al-Asmaul-Husna, the names of God in Islam. The number seven represent Seven Heavens in Islamic cosmology. The wudu (ablution) fountains located on ground floor, while the main prayer hall and main courtyard located on elevated first floor. The building consists of two connected rectangular structures; the main structure and the smaller secondary structure. The smaller one served as main gate as well as stairs and prayer spaces. The rectangular main prayer hall building is covered by a 45 meter diameter central spherical dome, the number “45” symbolize the year of Proclamation of Indonesian Independence in 1945. The main dome is adorned with stainless steel ornamental pinnacle that took form of a crescent and star, the symbol of Islam. The smaller secondary dome is also adorned with stainless steel pinnacle with Arabic calligraphy of Allah.
After president Barack Obama and his wife visited Istiqal Mosque in November 2010, about 20 foreign visitors came to see the mosque everyday. They mostly come from Europe. The foreign dignitaries that had visited Istiqlal mosque are; Bill Clinton President of United States in 1994, President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Prince Charles of United Kingdom, Li Yuanchao the vice chairman of Communist Party of China, President of Chile Sebastián Piñera, Heinz Fischer the President of Austria, Jens Stoltenberg the Prime Minister of Norway, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2012.