Arwa Al Hashimi
Photos by Riyadh al Hinai
Oman is a land of treasures. It has so many charming places that were built hundreds of years ago and are still standing until today. Thankfully as well, many of the old villages had been renovated giving them back the life they lost due to degradation. The effort to preserve many of the country's heritage can be felt across the country and all of these are prodded by the fact that we would like them to be an exemplary way of showcasing what Oman has to offer on the cultural front.
Almazaraa mosque is located in a town named Alaqur in the wilayat of Nizwa. This ancient town is special for its unique architecture including houses, doors, forts, roofs and etc. The mosque is known to be one of the most ancient mosques in Oman built in the third century AH. It was a gathering point for people who visit it for different purposes like prayers, studying or even teaching different sciences.
The mosque is an embodiment of the religious, cultural and educational message of Nizwa that is known as a centre of knowledge back in the day and until now. The mosque hosted countless students and scholars who contributed to the knowledge progress in Oman. Those scholars made an honourable effort both locally and internationally. They excelled in different fields such as grammar, linguistics, jurisprudence, poetry and many other sciences. It is delightful to know that this mosque is still fulfilling its role as it is a destination for many to do their prayers and other religious duties.
Architecturally, the mosque includes a very vast yard that is surrounded by the wonderful scenes of the archaeological town of Alaqur, with its forts, castles, balconies, walls, gates, and orchards that surround it from different sides splendidly. Inside the mosque is a masterpiece where you can see the magnificent work of our ancestors that is made with very simple material, yet super incredible minds. In the front middle, there is the mihrab where some well-chosen verses of holy Quraan are carved. On its top, there is a line of stucco decorations of harmonious Islamic geometric patterns. There are also four round masts two of them have been covered with the cement after the rehabilitation while the other two are still standing with their unique writings and important documentation.
For the roof, it took the style of the old ceilings made of strong wood of different types. There are some documentations of the most significant times related to the mosque such as the first time it was rehabilitated in 1371 A.H in In the era of Imam Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Khalili.
The walls are full of prose and poetic writings and signatures some of which are unclear and date back to 3 centuries, including documentation of a massive fire that burned one of the town’s farms in 1105 A.H. The walls also document some death and other local news as if those walls are press release that people come by every day. As for the stairs, they lead to an area known as Alboomah, which is the small dome that serves as a minaret, it was renovated, replacing wood with iron, and fixing it with cement.
Although Al Mazraa mosque in Nizwa has a modest and austere mihrab, it is still very rich with writings, which became a source for Omani researchers, and presented personalities who might be forgotten forever with their efforts if not mentioned in the mosque’s walls. Such buildings represent the importance of Islam and Islamic architecture and show the big place it has in the Sultanate of Oman.