The Faisal Mosque is the 2nd largest mosque in Pakistan, located in the national capital city of Islamabad. Completed in 1986, it was designed by Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay, shaped like a desert Bedouin’s tent, is an iconic symbol ofIslamabad throughout the world. It is situated at the north end of Faisal Avenue, putting it at the northernmost end of the city and at the foot of Margalla Hills, the westernmost foothills of the Himalayas. It is located on an elevated area of land against a picturesque backdrop of the Margalla Hills. This enviable location represents the mosque’s great importance and allows it to be seen from miles around day and night.
The Faisal Mosque was conceived as the National Mosque of Pakistan and named after the late King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, who supported and financed the project. The largest mosque in South Asia, the Faisal Mosque was the largest mosque in the world from 1986 until 1993, when it was overtaken in size by the newly completed 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.
The Faisal Mosque has covered area of 5,000 m2 (54,000 sq ft). It can accommodate 10,000 worshipers in its main prayer hall, 24,000 in its porticoes, 40,000 in its courtyard, and another 200,000 in its adjoining grounds. Although its covered main prayer hall is smaller than that of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca (the world’s third largest mosque), Faisal Mosque has the third largest capacity of accommodating worshipers in its adjoining grounds after the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) of Mecca, the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Prophet’s Mosque) in Medina. Each of the Mosque’s four minarets are 80 m (260 ft) high (the tallest minarets in South Asia) and measure 10 x 10 m in circumference.
References in literature
The Faisal Mosque is described in the book The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini, and is frequently referenced in the work of Michael Muhammad Knight, who came to the mosque to study Islam as a teenager.