The Baitul Mukarram: Bangladesh’s 40,000-capacity national mosque

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The renowned Baitul Mukarram is Bangladesh’s National Mosque. The mosque is located in Dhaka, which is the bustling capital city of Bangladesh. Dhaka is also the country’s largest city and it is home to approximately eleven million people. The city is known globally as one of the most populous cities in the world. Baitul Mukarram has an enormous capacity, totalling forty thousand. In the 1950s, the increase in the capital city’s population called for a new large mosque to be built.

An architect named Abdulhusein M. Thariani designed the mosque complex. The decision to build the mosque came in 1959 when Haji Abdul Latif Bawany, owner of the Bawany Jute Mills, raised a proposal to Major General Omrao Khan, the then military administrator of East Pakistan. Khan accepted the proposal and decided to help. Following this, the Baitul Mukarram Mosque Committee was established to oversee the mosque project.

Approximately eight acres of land that was located between New Dhaka and Old Dhaka was selected for the construction, which is near the city’s business district. A sizeable pond, named Paltan Pond, was in the location of where Baitul Mukarram was to be built. During the construction works in 1960, the Palton Pond was filled in order to allow for the mosque to be assembled, and the assembly was inaugurated by the president of Pakistan at the time – Ayub Khan.

The first ever prayer in Baitul Mukarram was welcomed on Friday 25th January 1963. The mosque project included the building of shops, offices and libraries.

The mosque is raised on an exceptionally tall platform. The building is made up of eight stories and is 99 feet tall. The main prayer hall measures an impressive 26,517 square feet, with another level to the east which measures 1,840 square feet. Ablution spaces are accommodated for on both the north and south wings of the mosque.

The architecture of Baitul Mukarram is made up of various contemporary features as well as other more traditional Mughal features. There are two patios which bring light and fresh air into the prayer areas. A key feature of the mosque is that, in keeping with the modern aspects, a huge amount of decoration or ornament was not involved.

Verandas surround the mosque’s prayer hall, on three of the buildings sides. The mosque gardens are comparable to Mughal-style gardens, and there are rows of fountains in the gardens.

The design of the mosque is similar to the Ka’ba. This shape is different to the majority of renown mosques in Bangladesh.

The first ever Imam of the mosque was Moulana Abdur Rahman Bekhud, an Islamic Scholar. He served as the Imam between the years 1963-1971. The Imam who served the mosque for the longest duration was Ubaidul Haq, who remained the Imam of the mosque until his death in 2007.

The Saudi Arabian government financed the extension of Baitul Mukarram in the year 2008.