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Places of Worship

Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque

Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque Is royal Islamic mosque built during the reign of the 28th Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien entitled Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien III. The mosque that is located in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of the Sultanate of Brunei, was built on February 4, 1954 and inaugurated on 26 September 1958.

The Modern Islamic Architecture of Mosque

Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque is designed by Booty and Edwards Chartered Architects according to designs by the Italian architect Cavaliere Rudolfo Nolli, while the contractors are done by the Sino Malayan Engineers. The mosque, which unites Mughal architecture and Italian styles, is built in an artificial lagoon on the banks of the Brunei River at Kampong Ayer.

The mosque that stands on 2 hectares of land area is equipped with the Park Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien located on the east side of the mosque. The park contains lush trees, gardens, and several fountains made as a symbol of heaven.

Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque can be reached through the bridge connecting the lagoon to Kampong Ayer. On the bridge was built a replica of a 16th Century Sultan Bolkiah ship between the years 1485-1524, which made of marble measuring 47.1 x 9.3 meters. The replica ship at certain moment is used to Qur'an reading competition or known as musabaqah.

The mosque has one main tower located in the north measuring 53 meters height or even the highest in Brunei Darussalam. From the bottom to the top, the tower shapes squares and an octagon-shaped dome found topped by a dome.

The mosque courtyard is lined with intricate patterned ceramics and equipped with a fountain at the eastern entrance. The floor of the fountain is made of typical Songket pattern ceramic of Brunei. While at the south entrance, there is a pool and a place to take an ablution. The floor is also made of typical Songket pattern ceramic of Brunei. The pool is not roofed but surrounded by Italian Romanesque style yard in the IX-XII century. It can be seen from the form of spiral-striped columns as cabling in close ranks and a Middle East Classical style broken curve on top of cabling.

The main prayer room’s size is 67.5 x 25.8 meters in rectangular shaped with the long side is located on the north-south line aligned to the direction of Qiblah equipped with eight towers at each end. Each spire forms small onion-shaped dome decorated with India Classic model. A spiral staircase is also found inside the tower headed to balcony that is located on the second floor. A maqsuro or a prayer place for the Sultan and royal relatives of the Sultanate is also found there. Besides maqsuro, on the back balcony is a room used especially by women for praying, which can accommodate up to 3,000 people.   

The mosque balcony is propped up by pillars (columns) of distance 2.4 meters surrounding the main prayer space on the left, right, and back sides. These columns shape squares measuring 60x60 cm, and coated with dark brown marble in contrast with the white wall of the mosque. Above each column is found a wall lamp and triangle-shaped curve, and on each side equipped with three arches. This shape is the characteristic of Islamic architecture of the XIII century used by the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. The main prayer room is also equipped with Byzantine style ceiling of the IV-XV century.

The mihrab (semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla) is identical to the form of Portico (colonnaded porch) in square-shaped sticks on the wall. In addition, each corner of mihrab is also equipped with small classic Indian dome.

The minbar or a pulpit in the mosque where the imam (leader of prayer) stands to deliver sermons is equipped with a staircase made of marble. Above the staircase found swivel pole and broken arch as well as found in the yard equipped with a pair of twin domes.

The main dome is located at 48 meters height altitude, which made of fiberglass covered in pure gold decorated with a replica of royal umbrella in a closed state and colorful stained glass as a lid and forms colorful light effects of sunlight. There in the mosque are also found some chandeliers that are designed by the Sultan Himself. The lighting is also available on each edge of pool made of colored crystal lightening the wall decorated with various verses of Qur'an calligraphy.

The ornament of flame is the most abundant in the mosque that has special characteristic of Brunei Darussalam. Most of the mosque Interior is made of imported materials, such as the marble from Italy, the crystal chandelier from the United Kingdom, the granite from Shanghai, and the carpets from Saudi Arabia.

Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque is one of the landmarks of Bandar Seri Begawan besides Kampung Ayer and Nurul Iman Palace. Taking line from all these landmarks will form a triangle that represents national philosophy of Brunei Darussalam, which is Melayu Islam Beraja (Malay Islamic Monarchy) or abbreviated as MIB. It is described as a blend of Malay language, culture and Malay customs, Islamic teachings and values, and the monarchy system which must be esteemed and practiced. Malay is symbolized by Kampong Ayer, Islam symbolized by Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Mosque, while Monarchy is symbolized by Nurul Iman Palace.

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