King Abdullah I Mosque: contemporary Levantine Islamic architecture

Where ‘the light of the heavens and earth’ intermingle

Mosque 1
King Abdullah I Mosque, in Amman's Al-Abdali neighborhood (Nayrouz/JNews)
AMMAN — Although Amman was excluded from Orientalist definitions of Islamic-Arab cities, King Abdullah I Mosque sets an example of contemporary Levantine Islamic architecture in the city.اضافة اعلان

Inspired from the Quranic Verse “Allah is the light of the heavens and earth,” the architectural concept of the internal arabesque of the mosque was constructed to embody the verse, where the mosque is the House of Allah wherein the light of the heavens and earth intermingle, with the turquoise blue dome of the mosque representing the planetarium and the red carpet made of ornamental textile directing the worshippers towards the qiblah (the direction that Muslims face when praying, towards the Great Mosque of Mecca) represents the fertile land.

Considered one of the most important and significant mosques in the kingdom, the distinguished edifice derives its social significance from its location in the heart of Amman in Al-Abdali neighborhood, the artery connecting all the city’s areas, hills and neighborhoods, surrounded by many churches, exemplifying the diversity of this city.

 The mosque was constructed through two phases in the period between 1982 and 1989 as a comprehensive Islamic Cultural Center, in commemoration of the late King Abdullah I, the founder of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The first phase of construction kicked off following an architectural competition won by the Dutch architect Jan Čejka. His majesty the late King Hussein laid down the foundation stone in a grand ceremony organized for the occasion.

Most of the basic utilities required for the mosque were completed during this phase, including the mosque’s nave (courtyard), library, dome, the Holy Quran House, the Royal Compartment, the first minaret, the imam and mauzin’s housing units, the conference halls, the reception salons, the administration rooms, women’s place of worship, the gallery and the parking lots.

The second phase covered the technical aspects related to the preparation and opening of the mosque, including paneling the internal nave with a wooden internal dome to control the echo inside and to give special spender thereon.

Another minaret and dome were constructed opposite the existing minaret and dome, and TV lighting and network was installed for live broadcast.

The symmetric octagonal Nave of the mosque is 1,615 meters squared, with a capacity of 3,000 worshippers, made of stone walls and set apart for not having pillars inside. The entire area is covered with a dome 31-meters high and 35-meters wide, while the Gallery is the open yard, with a capacity of 6,000 worshippers.

The 99 names of Allah are engraved with blue marble in Kufi font on the stone walls surrounding the neck of the mosque’s dome, creating a pleasing visual pattern and interesting shadows. The octagonal decussated marble tiles of the yard unit form lines directing worshippers outside to the qiblah.

Mohammad, a regular at the mosque since 2 008, describes the structure as “spiritual”, noting however the shift in atmosphere since the onset of the pandemic. “The number of the worshippers didn’t really decrease with the pandemic, however, regulations such as wearing masks, sanitizing and social distancing between the worshippers are casting a different atmosphere,” Mohammad told Jordan News, noting as well the absence of tourists at the mosque.

As the only mosque in Amman that openly welcomes non-Muslim visitors, the King Abdullah I Mosque was a tourist attraction before covid-19.

Religious, intellectual and social discussions are held in the conference halls throughout the year, in addition to conferences, and seminars, and a special competitions for memorizing the Quran are also held in the holy month of Ramadan.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Museum housed at the mosque has two main sections; the first includes King Abdullah I’s manuscripts and monuments, the second displays Islamic artifacts dating back to different eras of Jordan.

The entrance of the visitors goes through the Charity Bazaar that consists of ten stores and contains traditional items such as traditional women’s wear in Jordan, mosaics and handicrafts.

Salma Abu Awwad, who has been working at the Bazaar since June 2018 and as an English translator describes the scene in there before the pandemic as “full with tourists and visitors that are fascinated by the spirituality of the place, generosity of the Jordanians and of course, architecture,” adding that this was the joy of her job; meeting different people every day and learning a little bit of each language.