If you live in Kuwait (or any other Muslim country), you are probably familiar with being woken up by the early call to prayer bellowing across the air as it fills your home and the surrounding neighbourhood with sound. You may have also noticed people entering and leaving different mosques at various times of the day. For the average person, even one living in the Gulf, mosques are an unexplored territory; imposing and enigmatic structures holding secrets that only Muslims are privy to. You want to go in but you don’t know how to dress… you don’t know what time you can go in… you don’t know if your presence would be welcome or if you would be chased away… and can you even snap a picture of the impressive dome from the outside? It’s a conundrum of questions and you end up dragging your eyes away and going off on your daily business.
The Grand Mosque in Kuwait offers free guided tours at certain times of day (so as to not disrupt prayers) and I HIGHLY recommend doing one of these tours. You will learn SO much about Islam, Islamic culture, history and architecture.
Upon arrival at the Grand Mosque you are given appropriate clothing to wear (abaya & headscarf for the ladies), and before entering the mosque you are expected to remove your shoes (so in the approaching winter months, take a pair of socks with you).
Now as you enter be prepared to have your breath taken away….it is truly magnificent! You are overcome by the striking effect of the blue and gold carpets, the intricate geometric mosaics lining the impressive walls and the gorgeous Arabic calligraphy along the various surfaces. There is so much of beauty in this room, drawing your eyes from the soft carpets to the ornate carvings on the walls and up to the artwork underneath the picturesque dome.
The chandeliers hanging across the ceiling enrich the elaborate patterns on the wall. The dome was especially inspiring where the 99 names of Allah are displayed on the concave surface.
There is a side room that is reserved for the Emir and his guests when he comes to worship, and after worship uses this space to entertain his guests or greet other worshippers during Eid. The most extraordinary part of the room is the hand-carved gypsum ceilings, the attention to detail is simply amazing. Also in this area, is a copy of a handwritten Quran in Kufic script. It’s a page-by-page copy of one of the earliest hand printed Quraans, an example of which is now in Istanbul at Topkappi Palace.
The Grand Mosque of Kuwait is situated between the political and financial institutions of the city in downtown Kuwait City. It opened in 1986 and the main worship hall can house over 10,000 men and the women’s prayer room up to 950 on regular days of worship. It really is a worthwhile hour and a half filled with thought-provoking information and exquisite sights.
The ruling family in Kuwait has spared no expense in creating this remarkable and dazzling place of worship and it is apparent in every element at the Mosque. The architecture and design has Iranian, Moroccan and Persian influences making it a visual feast for the eyes….you’d be crazy not to visit whilst you’re here in Kuwait!