This building is a marvel of modern design to achieve an age old purpose – sitting majestically on its own expanse of land on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It was built to commemorate the former king’s 60th birthday in 1993, and is the 3rd largest Mosque in the world. It can hold 25,000 people inside and 80,000 in the open spaces around it.
The building can not only hold this many people but also allow for parking (underground), ritual ablutions and venting the space – the entire roof can open to the sky. It has used the best of materials – most sourced locally, including cedar and marble from the Altas Mountains. The tours of the building allow us to few its wonders in between the five periods of prayer held each day.
Our heavily pregnant tour guide responded to the ‘western’ questions of how much did it cost and who paid, but gently reminded us that the Moroccan question was rather – “who cleans it” – 200 people are employed to clean and guard it and keep it open. The tours help to make it self sustaining and to pay these people, and to keep it open as a house of prayer.
One can only imagine what it was like here just a few days ago during Ramadan. I was reminded a lot of Gaudi’s Cathedral in Barcelona – majestic, evocative, no expense spared, drawing the eye and heart to God.