Built after the liberation of Indonesia from the Netherlanders in 1945, the Istiqlal Mosque or Masjid Istiqlal, which translates to ‘Independence Mosque’ is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia with the highest capacity of housing 12,000 devotees at one time. It was built in Jakarta when the need for a national mosque was a growing concern, as Indonesia has the highest population of Muslims in the world. The mosque’s design proposed by a Christian architect, Frederich Silaban from North Sumatra, exhibits a more modern and minimalistic architecture compared with the traditional Javanese triple-roofed mosques. However, it is still a spiritually evocative structure with its theme of ‘Ketuhanan’ or Divinity. The location was carefully chosen to be in close proximity to the king’s palace and the most important square: Merdeka Palace. It was also situated near the Jakarta Cathedral and Immanuel Church, which, as in the Pancasila (the Five Pillars of Islam), promote religious harmony and tolerance. Although the foundation stone was laid in 1961, it took 17 years till completion, and it was finally opened on 22nd February 1978.
Almost every section or elevation and detailing portray significance to Islam or the independence of Indonesia. The seven gates to enter symbolise the seven heavens and are named as per the names of God in Islam. A central sphere dome spanning 45 metres in diametre was chosen to symbolise the year 1945, and it is adorned with stainless steel ornamentation in the form of a crescent and star while the secondary dome is adorned with the name of Allah in Arabic calligraphy. The 12 columns that support the dome represent the birthday of Muhammad the Islamic prophet in 12th Rabi al-awwal. The Pancasila are symbolised by the five floors of the structure, whilst the dome covering the main hall is 8 metres in diametre to represent the month of August, the month of Indonesian Independence. Similarly, almost every little detailing has some significance and the architect has paid close attention to finding connections and incorporating it into his design to create a masterpiece.
Any one of any religion is allowed to enter the impressive mosque, although non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the main sanctuary but can view the dome from the second floor balconies. The imposing domes and spacious, minimalistic environment create a peaceful sanctuary with a feeling of powerful spirituality imbuing the place. Take some time to reflect on your own life and whisper a small prayer and feel the divine spirit take control. There are enough options of quality Serviced Apartments Jakarta to choose from that offer the ideal substitute to accommodation at any of the Jakarta Hotel Apartments or rooms. The impressive interiors and facilities of the Citadines Rasuna Jakarta offer the best experience of Jakarta’s vibrant cultural attractions.
Angela Fernando is an impassioned travel writer who composes pieces under the pen name Sumaira Narayan. She loves writing about new and exciting places around the world and hopes to visit them all someday.