Photos by Mohammed Al Mashari
The entry of Islam into Oman not only transformed the lives of its people but also ushered in a new era of building design not just in residential houses but including monumental buildings like mosques.
The Al Hamouda Mosque located in the Wilayat of Jaalan Bani Bu Ali is one of the most famous ancient historical structures that demonstrates the early influence of Islamic architecture in the Sultanate of Oman. Built almost 500 years ago, Al Hamouda has become renowned for its domes and the geometric shapes and decors that spread across the whole expanse of the whole building. Comprising of 52 domes, not only is it a unique engineering feat but also establishes itself as an icon and over time, the locals eventually call it Al Qibab mosque or the Mosque of Domes.
The mosque is located in the Al Daher area near the old Friday market and with a strong foundation, continues to witness active commercial movements within the souq where people from surrounding wilayats come to sell and buy various goods, including household items and traditional handicrafts.
The date of construction of the mosque dates back to the 17th century. Shoufani al Maamari, the architect who supervised the renovation of the mosque in 1411 AH noted that the mosque was designed in the traditional Islamic architectural style. The surrounding area of the mosque is abound with ancient archaeological buildings that show the legacy and authenticity of Oman’s history. It is also surrounded by an old falaj, which is the only falaj that is found inside the mosque and was used for ablution in the past.
The mosque consists of three entrances and two service rooms and was built out of stone and plaster. The ceiling of the mosque is characterised by wooden carvings made wonderfully from palm fronds. The area of the mosque is more than 2000 meters and can accommodate more than 700 worshippers. All five prayers, Friday prayers and religious lectures are held in the mosque. It is also the centre for learning, studying and memorisation of the Holy Qur’an.
The domes of the mosque are not only exceptional for their Islamic architecture they also have openings called mabariq, which are not only allowing the entry of natural light and air into the mosque in an impressive way but also hold unique aesthetic and decorative forms of design.
Even though the mosque is very old, it still retains its grandeur, reflecting the capabilities of the ancient Omanis in architecture. Inside the mosque, there are 24 cylinders, five corridors, and a large number of arches.
Al Hamouda Mosque attracts many visitors and tourists from inside and outside the Sultanate of Oman. People visit as it is an Islamic and tourist destination and a religious landmark and it is here where they come to learn about the mosque and its ancient history, which is rich in touches and ancient Omani engineering works.
The Mosque is one of the mosques that received the government’s attention. It was restored twice, back in 1992 and 2010. These restorations did not include dramatic changes. The developers knew that it was important to preserve its general and basic shape.