Istiqlal Mosque, largest mosque in Indonesia and South East Asia
|Ownership||Indonesian State Secretary with Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Indonesian Republic|
|Dome dia. (outer)||45 metres|
|Minaret height||96.66 metres high; 66.66 metres marble coated structure, plus 30 metres stainless steel pinnacle|
|Materials||marble, stainless steel|
|General contractor||Republic of Indonesia|
|Construction cost||Rp 7 billion (US$ 12 million)|
Istiqlal Mosque, or Masjid Istiqlal, (Independence Mosque) in Jakarta, Indonesia is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and has the highest capacity. This national mosque of Indonesia was built to commemorate Indonesian independence and named "Istiqlal", an Arabic word for "independence". The mosque was opened to the public 22 February 1978. Within Jakarta, the mosque is positioned next to Merdeka Square and the Jakarta Cathedral.
After the Indonesian National Revolution 1945–1949, followed by the acknowledgement of Indonesian independence from The Netherlands in 1949, there was a growing idea to build a national mosque for the new republic, which had the largest Muslim population in the world. The idea of constructing a grand Indonesian national mosque was launched by Wahid Hasyim, Indonesia's first minister for religions affairs, and Anwar Cokroaminoto, later appointed as the chairman of the Masjid Istiqlal Foundation. The committee for the construction of the Istiqlal Mosque, led by Cokroaminoto, was founded in 1953. He proposed the idea of a national mosque to Indonesian President Sukarno, who welcomed the idea and later helped to supervise the mosque's construction. In 1954 the committee appointed Sukarno technical chief supervisor.:106
Several locations were proposed; Mohammad Hatta, Indonesian vice president, suggested that the mosque should be built near residential areas on Thamrin avenue, on a plot where Hotel Indonesia stands today. However, Sukarno insisted that a national mosque should be located near the most important square of the nation, near the Merdeka Palace. This is in accordance with the Javanese tradition that the kraton (king's palace) and masjid agung (grand mosque) should be located around the alun-alun (main Javanese city square), which means it must be near Merdeka Square. Sukarno also insisted that the national mosque should be built near Jakarta Cathedral and Immanuel Church, to symbolize religious harmony and tolerance as promoted in Pancasila, ( the Indonesian national philosophy and the five principles which constitute the philosophical foundation of Indonesian nationhood). It was later decided that the national mosque was going to be built in Wilhelmina park, in front of the Jakarta Cathedral. To make way for the mosque, the Citadel Prins Frederick, built in 1837, was demolished.
Sukarno actively followed the planning and construction of the mosque, including acting as the chairman of the jury for the mosque design competition held in 1955. The design submitted by Frederich Silaban, a Christian architect from North Sumatra, with the theme "Ketuhanan" (English: "Divinity") was chosen as the winner. The foundation stone was laid by Sukarno on 24 August 1961; the construction took 17 years. President Suharto inaugurated it as the national mosque on 22 February 1978. As of 2013[update] it is the largest mosque in the region of Southeast Asia, with a capacity of over 120,000.:65
There are seven gates to enter the mosque, each named after Al-Asmaul-Husna, the names of God in Islam. The number seven represents the Seven Heavens in Islamic cosmology. The wudu (ablution) fountains are on the ground floor, while the main prayer hall and main courtyard are on the first floor. The building consists of two connected rectangular structures: the main structure and the smaller secondary structure. The smaller one serves as main gate as well as stairs and prayer spaces. The rectangular main prayer hall building is covered by a 45-meter diameter central spherical dome; the number "45" symbolizes the 1945 Proclamation of Indonesian Independence. The main dome is adorned with a stainless steel ornamental pinnacle in the form of a crescent and star, the symbol of Islam. The smaller secondary dome is also adorned with a stainless steel pinnacle with the name of Allah (God) in Arabic calligraphy.
The dome is supported by twelve round columns, and the prayer hall is surrounded by rectangular piers carrying four levels of balconies. Twelve columns represent the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 12th Rabi' al-awwal. The main floor and the four levels of balconies make five floors in all; the number "5" represents the Five Pillars of Islam and also Pancasila,  Staircases at the corners of the building give access to all floors. The main hall is reached through an entrance covered by a dome 8 meters in diameter; the number 8 symbolizes August, the month of Indonesian Independence. The interior design is minimalist, simple and clean-cut, with a minimum of stainless steel geometric ornaments. The 12 columns are covered with stainless steel. On the main wall on qibla there is a mihrab and minbar in the center. On the main wall, there is a large metalwork in Arabic calligraphy, spelling the name of Allah on the right side and Muhammad on the left side, and also calligraphy of Surah Thaha 14th verse in the center. The metalworks, stainless steel covers and ornaments were imported from Germany. Originally, as in the National Monument nearby, the white marbles were planned to be imported from Italy. However to cut costs and support the local marble industry, it was later decided that the marbles would be from Tulungagung marble quarries in East Java instead.
The main structure is directly connected to the arcades that are spread around the large courtyard. The arcades connect the main building with a single minaret in the southern corner. Unlike many Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Indian mosques with multiple minarets, Istiqlal mosque has a single minaret to symbolize the divine oneness of God. It is 66.66 metres tall to symbolize 6,666 verses, the traditional perception of the numbers of verses in the Quran. The 30-metre-high stainless steel pinnacle on top of the minaret symbolizes the 30 juz' of the Quran. On the southern side near the minaret there is also a large bedug (large wooden drum made of cow skin). In common with the entire Islamic world, traditionally Muslims in Indonesia use the drum with the adhan (call to prayer). The mosque offices, function hall, and madrasah are on the ground floor. The mosque provides facilities for social and cultural activities.
In the southwestern corner of the garden surrounding the mosque, there is a large pool and a grand fountain that spouts water 45 meters high. The fountain only operates on Fridays during congregational salah and during Islamic holidays such as Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha. The river Ciliwung flows across the mosque complex along the eastern side of the mosque.
Some Muslims in Indonesia said Istiqlal's dome and minaret structure was much modern and Arabic in style. They regarded the architecture as being out of harmony with Islamic culture and architecture in Indonesia. In response, former president Suharto began an initiative to construct more mosques of the Javanese triple-roofed design.
Following US President Barack Obama and his wife's visit to the Istiqal Mosque in November 2010, about 20 foreign visitors have come to visit and tour the mosque. Among foreign dignitaries who have visited Istiqlal mosque are former US president Bill Clinton; President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi; Prince Charles of United Kingdom; Li Yuanchao, Vice President of the Communist Party of China; President of Chile Sebastián Piñera; Heinz Fischer, the President of Austria; Jens Stoltenberg, the Prime Minister of Norway, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2012.
There is one Grand Imam, one deputy of the Grand Imam, and seven imams in Istiqlal Mosque. As of 2013[update] the Grand Imam was Kyai al-Hajj Ali Musthafa Ya'qub, chairman of Darus Sunnah Hadis Research Institute in Ciputat, South Jakarta. His deputy was al-Hajj Syarifuddin Muhammad.
See also 
- Timeline of Islamic history
- Islamic architecture
- Islamic art
- List of mosques in Asia
- List of largest mosques
- Islam in Indonesia
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