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The Most Amazing Masjid Complex Built in the Western Hemisphere

Hena Zuberi

Published

By Hena Zuberi

After a 5-year wait, the Diyanet Center of America, also known as the Turkish American Community Center, is ready for worshipers and for visitors of all faiths.

A true majestic wonder- it is something made from a hundred million prayers. May Allah bless this gift to the people of the United States from the Turkish nation.

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The photography is by Salam Aref of New Dream Designs, an upcoming architect, artist and designer based in Maryland.

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The center of the masjid is designated as the sacred sanctuary

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The Mihrab is made of marble and gold leaf technique which was applied by artisans from Turkey. The upper part of the side of the mihrab is decorated with tiles imported from Turkey. On the pediment of the mihrab is a figure of the tree of life which symbolizes the 99 names of God.

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The ornate, marble mimbar is used for special occasions such as the Eid salah. It was designed and made in Turkey

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The kursi, where the imam gives dars, is composed entirely of wood and was made in Turkey. The kündekari technique of woodworking (the tongue-and-groove paneling of polygons and stars set in a strap work skeleton), which is the traditional art of wood decoration, and inlaid with mother-of-pearl. As the characteristic of kundekari technique, no nails, screws, glue, or fasteners were used in the panels

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Over the area of the sanctuary, there is a main dome on each side of which are five small domes. In order to provide  light inside the mosque, there are windows around the rim of the main dome. This dome is adorned with Arabic calligraphy, one of the traditional decorative arts of Islam. The large and small domes are supported by arches, in conformity with traditional architecture. Four marble columns were brought in from the Turkish provinces of Istanbul, Eskişehir, Afyonkarahisar, and Tokat, which are famous for marble.

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An intricately carved rehal holding a large Quran

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The central dome is inscribed with Surah al Ikhlas.

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A tree of life motif is centered, complete with the 99 names of Allah.

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“The Million Dollar Door”

The door of the main masjid is a brilliant piece of art made with the Kündekâri technique, This woodworking technique was developed in Anatolia during the era of the Seljuks. “Masters involved in the art of kündekâri, known as kündekârs, state that the starting point of this art is patience. They also complain about the lack of patience and interest among the younger generations concerning this traditional art form. In practice, say the masters, if you overlook a deviation even on the order of millimeters, you will lose control and fail to assemble the kündekâri. The technique produces pieces that are known to last for seven to eight centuries easily if not subjected to the negative effects of such things as earthquakes, fire, and excessive humidity.” From AnadoluJet magazine.

The mosque has six wood doors which open to three areas of the sanctuary and three areas of the courtyard.

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The central courtyard is anchored by a marble fountain. Copper taps are used keep an old world aesthetic.

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The windows in the outdoor courtyard

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This is the only masjid in America that has two minarets

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The mahfil, the area reserved for women covers about 1300 square feet. The ceiling
of the mahfil is covered with five small-scale domes. The domes are decorated with geometric designs.

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Chandeliers in the domes of the main hall of the masjid

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A 220-seat auditorium is a part of the multi-purpose cultural center. This includes a  conference room equipped with an advanced sound system and simultaneous translation rooms.

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Tiles adorning the cultural center at DCA

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She leads the DC office of the human rights organization, Justice For All, focusing on stopping the genocide of the Rohingya under Burma Task Force, advocacy for the Uighur people with the Save Uighur Campaign and Free Kashmir Action. She was a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. hena.z@muslimmatters.org Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Amatullah

    September 10, 2015 at 2:07 AM

    I loved the magnificence!! SubhanAllah! But, what exactly is this about – http://cdn.muslimmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/Turkish-Mosque-21.jpg

    I see deers,peacocks and horses. I guess it is a part of the auditorium.

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      September 10, 2015 at 4:35 PM

      Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh!

      SubhanAllah! yes sister i was thinking the same :s
      i was like..what?! did i just see those peacocks, horses and dears!
      *confused*
      Im happy they made the masjid and i ask AllahSWT to reward everyone involved in its building…but im concerned about these images in the House of AllahSWT.

      Dear MuslimMatters team, I kindly request you to notify people involved in this blessed project about these images and i hope they will be able to make changes without hardship.

      JazakAllahu Khair!

      • Hena Zuberi

        Hena Zuberi

        September 11, 2015 at 1:35 AM

        Wa alaykummassalam wa rahmatulah,

        I believe that wall of tiles is not a part of the actual masjid, but of one of the many other buildings in the complex.

      • Avatar

        Tahir Gündoğan

        January 2, 2017 at 4:41 PM

        This is not attached to the masjid but it is in the hall where they hold events.

  2. Pingback: Comment on The Most Amazing Masjid Complex Built in the Western Hemisphere by Amatullah | Souqhub | Blog

    • Avatar

      Ali

      January 24, 2016 at 7:20 PM

      I believe that the masjid in Chicago on the south side in Hyde Park also have two minarets since the middle nineties.

    • Avatar

      Rukshana

      February 5, 2016 at 10:39 PM

      Masallah!! What a beautiful masterpiece in the name of Allah. The architect must be commended for his amazing work. Nice to bring all exotic touches of Turkey how magnificent.

  3. Avatar

    farun

    September 10, 2015 at 5:44 AM

    It’s beautiful mansha allaah let us always be clean and strong heart and fear of allah what most important thing in our lives and let us thank him coz he is the only one alxmdulilaah

    • Avatar

      M.Mahmud

      September 11, 2015 at 2:26 PM

      Ameen to the dua.

      I think this masjid is possibly a sign of the hour that Muslims decorate masjids and adorn their mushafs.

      It is come closer every moment.

  4. Avatar

    fritz

    September 12, 2015 at 3:24 AM

    Beautiful mosque with splendid architecture.

    As a side point (and not a critical one) it would be interesting to see Western mosques that are built with the resemblences of western architecture. Too often I think we see an IndoPak style building with the “big green dome from Hyderabad” implanted into a residential district with little thought for the surrounding area. One of the interesting aspects of mosques in the past has been how well the Islamic ideas of minbar/minaret/arches and open spaces have blended with the local style of the time and place but added their unique additional affect (witness the different appearances of Turkish/Arab/Malaysian masjids). I think the new centre in Cambridge UK was trying to specifically do this but does anyone know of any other interesting examples?

  5. Avatar

    Yousaf

    September 12, 2015 at 8:56 PM

    As Salaam U Alaykum, just want to clarify something, this Masjid is not the only one with 2 minarets. Darussalaam Foundation in Lombard, Illinois has 2 minarets as well.

  6. Avatar

    Anees

    September 13, 2015 at 2:41 AM

    Ma’sha’allah it’s so stunning. Congratulations to the local community there in Maryland. Should be a great asset to the entire American Muslim Experience.

  7. Avatar

    abuj

    September 18, 2015 at 10:35 AM

    Alhamdhulillah. JazakumAllahu khairan to the Turkish government and its people for financing this new masjid. But e have to understand our places of worship, masjid, should be moderate like everything else. A simple building, nice, quality and simple. Not beautufied as we see nowadays like museums. Extravegant, costs millions. This is indeed one of the signs before the Last Day….No doubt it will distruct worshippers with its beauty. The money could be better spent elsewhere.

    • Avatar

      Rasheedah

      February 4, 2016 at 11:05 PM

      Ameen I so agree. The prophet pbuh masjid was a simple mosque he didn’t do these extravagant things and if there was anyone to do this he surely could have. There are many people indeed in our own communities that need help and the money could be better spent. These are indeed some of the signs of the last days. I don’t see why Allah’s house of worship needs to be adorned in Gold etc. We are there to worship Allah not the building. Its all about the intention and Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Mohammed

      February 6, 2016 at 8:34 PM

      Absolutely Correct Comments: “The money could be better spent elsewhere.” & “We are there to worship Allah not the building. Its all about the intention and Allah knows best.”

    • Avatar

      Suleyman

      February 20, 2016 at 4:44 PM

      Assalaamu Alaykum;
      This is exactly what’s wrong with some Muslims!
      A lot people like talking and complaining but never doing anything to improve the conditions and image of the Muslims in the world. Turkish government poured a lot of money and efforts into this project and it shows. People, Muslim or not, appreciate the beauty and attention to details. Well designed and built aesthetic structures like these last centuries. It gives inspiration to people and communities, not just here in the US but around the globe to do more. May Allah (swt) reward those who have been instrumental in bringing this project to fruition. Ameen.

      • Avatar

        Mustafa K

        April 7, 2016 at 6:22 AM

        I agree with you , given the vast negative media coverage of Islam, we need these kind of things as well

  8. Avatar

    Hamza al-Turki

    January 23, 2016 at 5:47 PM

    There is no extravagance in goodness, and no goodness in extravagance! If you think building a masjid is good, you will accept this beauty and aesthetic as an investment for the future of American Muslims. Valuable people of Muslim Americans deserve such a great place. One must not build a house like this though! Seems a little too much. There must be a compromising way in between.

    ps: Images are aesthetic but they are NOT in the best place to be! Diyanet should remove them.

    All in all, I can’t wait to pray there.

    Salams from Hampshire, UK.

    • Avatar

      Rasheedah

      February 4, 2016 at 11:14 PM

      Allah swt will be questioning everyone on the day of judgment of how they have spent their wealth. Allah knows best and knows the intentions in everyones heart

    • Avatar

      Rasheedah

      February 4, 2016 at 11:38 PM

      Ameen I so agree. The prophet pbuh masjid was a simple mosque he didn’t do these extravagant things and if there was anyone to do this he surely could have. There are many people indeed in our own communities that need help and the money could be better spent. These are indeed some of the signs of the last days. I don’t see why Allah’s house of worship needs to be adorned in Gold etc. We are there to worship Allah not the building. Its all about the intention and Allah knows best. The place I am eager to pray in is Masjid Al Aqsa, The prophet,s Mosque and the grand mosque in Mecca

  9. Avatar

    Bülent

    January 23, 2016 at 8:22 PM

    Salam to All,

    Please give some credits to Diyanet’s knowledge and refrain from criticising of animal figures. They’re most likely in other parts as there are other halls for cultural, social activities. We never make masjeed only complex. Life revolves around masjeed in Turkish towns, so the social life, commerce and schools!

    With regards to beauty, it’s Turks tradition to show off towards West and most humble towards East… There’s a Hiqmat behind it…same as the biggest masjeed built in Ottoman which is Selimiye masjeed in Edirne…

    In the end, US has just seen the culture of Islam!!

    • Avatar

      Az

      February 3, 2016 at 12:20 AM

      There is no hikma behind going against the Hadiths and adding images Muslim mosques, houses and buildings!!!! It’s very odd to have images in a mosque!! If you are a practicing Muslim this would never have happened. The prophet destroyed a (beautiful) mosque that was built by the hypocrites ( because the hypocrites built it for their mischievous purposes ). The prophet mosque still did not have a roof 30 years after the death of the prophet when they have already conquered all of Arabia, Persia, Egypt, Irak, Syria, parts if Europe etc (Umar Ibn Kattab ordered his army not to go further so has to focus on where they were already, they told him they can easily conquer other places).

      • Avatar

        Zahid

        February 3, 2016 at 9:40 AM

        I agree with your statement regarding images. We should not deviate from what is prescribed. What purpose does the animal images serve anyway?

    • Avatar

      Rasheedah

      February 4, 2016 at 11:31 PM

      There is nothing wrong with building a beautiful mosque but Allah talks about being extravagant in the quran. Allah loves beauty because Allah is the most Beautiful above His creation. Allah swt dislikes extravagant. Sorry this money could have been spent helping the many refugees coming to Turkey and America. What is the purpose of building this extravagant mosque when so many of our brothers and sisters are suffering in the world. When will we truly want for our brothers and sisters what we want for our selves. Again there is nothing wrong with beauty but there is everything wrong with extravagant and this is extravagant. This is not about hating and criticizing this is about speaking up when you see something that is not right. Allah is who I worship and don’t need a extravagant building to worship Allah. Are we trying to please Allah or people?

  10. Avatar

    Yazan

    January 29, 2016 at 12:42 PM

    Assalam Alaykum,
    I just wanted to point out to the Muslim Matters team that some of the designs incorporate pictures of animals and one design seems to even incorporate a jewish star as part of the design. But other than that of course the mosque is beautiful mash’Allah. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is beautiful and he loves beauty; this mosque is loved by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Jazzakum Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala khayr

    • Avatar

      Gvm40

      March 30, 2016 at 12:05 PM

      That star isn’t exclusively Jewish. It is Prophet Dawood’s symbol and it was used throughout the Muslim world in the medieval ages as decoration. Some Turkish Muslim states (Karamanids, Jandarids) even used it in their flag.

  11. Avatar

    Zahid

    February 2, 2016 at 9:40 PM

    MashaALLAH , AlhamduliLLAH , JazakALLAH. very beautiful , eye soothing and Blessing from the Creator of the universe. let’s glorify THE ALLMIGHTY and say, ALLAHUMMA salle ala MUHAMMAD (PBUH) . He endured so much hardship so we ( his UMMAH ) will have all the good things in life. AlhamduliLLAH. we should do good deeds and serve ALLAH SWT and be the guiding light for the people who are still in the Darkness of Shaitan. Salam to all my Bothhers and sisters around the world.

  12. Avatar

    Zahid

    February 5, 2016 at 8:55 PM

    This is one of the Masterpieces of Islamic Art. JazakALLAH to all the brothers and sister who put so much effort into it. just imagine how beautiful place JANNAH is. far beyond human imaginations.

  13. Avatar

    Abubakar

    February 5, 2016 at 10:57 PM

    MashaALLAH , AlhamduliLLAH , JazakALLAH. May Allah reward those participated in the building of this beautiful Mosque. Aameen.

  14. Avatar

    Surly Curmudgen

    March 29, 2016 at 3:42 PM

    When congress finally does it’s job and removes the word religion from the description of Islam, the building can be used as a museum where people can learn of the savagery and barbarism of Islam and why it is forever banned from the US.

    If not a museum then convert it to a church or synagogue. Considering the large numbers of churches and synagogues destroyed or used as mosques it would be a tiny portion of payback.

  15. Avatar

    Cemil Birkan Aylanc

    March 30, 2016 at 11:58 AM

    As a pride muslim from Turkey, i am very happy to hear that the project is finally finished. Thank Allah!

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  17. Avatar

    Ahmet

    April 5, 2016 at 12:29 PM

    Assalamualeykum Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    please chill out. The tiles with animal motifs on them are not located inside the masjid of the complex. They decorate the walls of the cultural center, which is one of the many units of the complex, kulliyya, that has been serving the American Muslim community for a year now. The animal motifs are based on common motifs used by the Seljuks and the Ayyubids on their civil architecture, not their places of worship. It would be very nice if the author of the article or the editor could put a caption below those pictures to indicate that they are in the cultural center and not in or on the masjid of the complex. That way our brothers and sisters could also direct their well-meaning fervor to other issues. Please come and do visit the masjid and the complex and bring friends, the center has very beneficial programming every week that attract our brothers/sisters in faith from a wide array of cultural backgrounds.

    Best regards, and fi Amanillah.

  18. Avatar

    Mustafa K

    April 7, 2016 at 6:26 AM

    it’s astonishing to see this project came alive, May Subhan Allah reward those -who participated this- here and after.

  19. Avatar

    sam

    September 11, 2016 at 5:07 AM

    I wonder about those that brought about the issue of extravagance whether they themselves live in extravagant homes, drive extravagant cars, dress extravagantly and live lavish lifestyles. The beloved Prophet,upon Him peace and blessings, lived a simple live in all and every aspect of his blessed life.

  20. Avatar

    Mohammad

    May 15, 2017 at 3:23 PM

    Seeing that some brothers focusing on figures etc , it is painful to witness this, Is this all you see ? Is this all you care ?

    I would like to have a mosque like this built by American Muslims, not by a foreign government.

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