Big Mosques

I read the LA Times as often as I have time to do so.  In today’s LA Times, there’s a feature about the 10 least expensive cities in the world.  Number three is Islamabad, Pakistan. 

What I found interesting was the description of the mosque there — it’s “one of the largest mosques in the world, able to hold 300,000 people.”  So that makes me wonder — what is THE largest mosque in the world?  And what are the top 10?

Well, first, for context, here’s a picture of the mosque and how it dominates the skyline of Islamabad.

According to Wikipedia, the mosque is the sixth-largest in the world.

The Faisal Mosque in Islamabad is the largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the sixth largest mosque in the world. It was the largest mosque in the world from 1986 to 1993 when overtaken in size by the completion of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. Subsequent expansions of the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) of Mecca and the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Prophet’s Mosque) in Medina, Saudi Arabia during the 1990s relegated Faisal Mosque to fourth place in terms of size.

Faisal Mosque is conceived as the National Mosque of Pakistan. It has a covered area of 5,000 m2 (54,000 sq ft)[citation needed] and has a capacity to accommodate approximately 300,000 worshippers (100,000 in its main prayer hall, courtyard and porticoes and another 200,000 in its adjoining grounds).

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faisal_Mosque

When I clicked on the link for the largest mosques in the world, I learned that a mosque in Iran is number two, ahead of the mosque in Medina, which sort of surprised me (I assumed that the mosque in Mecca was number one).  Also surprising — to me, anyway — was that the mosque in Iran was initially built in the year 818.  I need to learn more about this mosque.

Some initial research about the Imam Reza Shrine (aka clicking on the link in the chart) told me some basics:

Imām Reza shrine (Persian: حرم امام رضا in Mashhad, Iran is a complex which contains the mausoleum of Imām Ridhā, the eighth Imām of Twelver Shi’ites. Also contained within the complex include: the Goharshad Mosque, a museum, a library, four seminaries,[1] a cemetery, the Razavi University of Islamic Sciences, a dining hall for pilgrims, vast prayer halls, and other buildings.

This complex is the center of tourism in Iran, visited by 15 to 20 million pilgrims every year.[2][3] The shrine itself covers an area of 267,079m2 while the seven courtyards which surround it cover an area of 331,578m2 – totaling 598,657 m2 (6,443,890 sq ft).

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imam_Reza_Shrine

So I’m now wanting to look this shrine up on Google Earth, which should be easy using the GPS coordinates provided by the Wikipedia article.  In another post, I will explore the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims.  But learning a little about the Imam Reza Shrine is a good thing for now.

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About Steve Goldberg

I teach U.S. History at Research Triangle High School, a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning.
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