Sharm El Sheikh’s Al Sahaba Mosque: a unique icon in contemporary Islamic architecture
On an area of approximately three thousand meters in the middle of The Old Market area in Sharm El Sheikh, "City of Peace" of the South Sinai Governorate, the Sahaba Mosque is located in a unique architectural style that combines antiquity, luxury and history. The mosque overlooks the coast of the Red Sea with a mountain behindit, as if it belongs to one of the old "One Thousand and One Nights" stories. It is considered a "unique icon" in contemporary Islamic architecture. Large numbers of tourists of different nationalities flock to it to ask questions about Islam, as it plays an important role in correcting misconceptions in the Islamic religion, changing the image that nationalities have of Islam, and reassuring the heart of everyone who visits Egypt.
The mosque’s design has different architectural styles, which at first seem confusing. Yet, behind this is an artistic philosophy believed by those who approved the form. From the Ottoman era, the mosque’s copper-colored domes were inspired by the mosque of Muhammad Ali in the citadel that bears his name in Cairo. Furthermore, the imprint of the Mamluk era is reflected in the “Muqarnas” that appears remarkable in the minaret of the Sahaba Mosque, as well as the use of golden color in the doors. Moreover, a touch from the beginning of the last century was manifested in the designation of one of the corridors in the mosque as “Al-Sahaba Alley”, in what seems to be a simulation of the “Al-Madaq Alley” area near Al-Hussein neighborhood in Fatimid Cairo.
Al Sahaba Mosque is located on an area of three thousand and three meters, and includes two minarets, each 76 meters high, and a large number of domes. As soon as it gets dark, and along the sides of the mosque, dozens of lighting "appliqué" made of pottery send their illumination to many of the names of the companions of our prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The pillars of the mosque were decorated with the companions' (sahaba) first names, with Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq coming first, followed by Omar bin Al-Khattab, Othman bin Affan, Ali bin Abi Talib, Ammar bin Yasser, and others, may Allah be pleased with them. The mosque accommodates more than three thousand worshipers. Its main courtyard is 36 meters high on an area of 1,800 meters and can accommodate 800 worshippers. Inside it is a corridor with two prayer umbrellas, and 36 toilets. This is next to the service buildings and commercial units that serve as a religious endowment for the mosque. The cost of its construction is estimated at between 35 and 40 million Egyptian pounds, and it varied between direct material donations and free work, as the architect Fouad Tawfik did, as well as government contributions. In addition, the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces ensured the completion of the final finishing work until it was opened eight months ago. Although the foundation stone was laid for the mosque on January 10, 2011, it was opened on March 24, 2017, to become the second largest mosque in Sharm El Sheikh and one of its tourist attractions.
Moreover, the mosque includes an international Islamic cultural center and a religious and cultural library in different languages. These places contain many books and publications in different languages that define the identity of the Islamic religion, the qualities, characteristics and morals of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)and the moderation of Islam. Tourists are accepted into the library, as they are allowed to read and take publications allocated by Al Azhar Islamic Research Academy, in addition to CDs in many languages on the interpretation of the Noble Qur’an.
A team has also been allocated to the mosque and the center, comprising of six imams, half of whom specialize in preaching in English and the other are fluent in French. All of them were selected in a specialized competition to fill that position out of 150 applicants from all over Egypt.
The mosque carries out its advocacy, educational and informative message through the Friday sermon, various weekly lessons, seminars, religious evenings, Quran memorization offices, in addition to Quran recitation lessons.
As soon as tourists enter the mosque, theyb respect the teachings of the Islamic religion. Women cover their hair. No member of the visiting delegation touches the Noble Qur’an without ablution. All these are rules that the tour guide tells them as they enter.