A lot about this trip to Indonesia was out of my comfort zone. One of the most “out there” things I did was visit the Masjid Istiqlal, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and the third largest Sunni mosque in the world.
Forget size for a minute. I’m a born Southern Baptist turned Presbyterian from the deep South bible belt. I haven’t had a lot of interaction with Muslim people, other than occasionally with my job. I’ve certainly never been to a mosque. This trip gave me the opportunity to do both.
In Jakarta, most everyone is Muslim. One of the neat things about the new training center I mentioned in Chapter 1 is the prayer rooms they have on each floor. It makes it convenient for people to pray during the day.
Anyhoo, we were told the mosque welcomed visitors, so we went late one afternoon.
A nice guy gave a tour of the public areas to us and a few other visiting Americans.
Here is the main prayer area. We weren’t allowed in that area. Rather, we looked at it from the next level up. For scale, you can see a worshiper at the bottom center of the photo. The area is humongous.
This is the dome above the room, so large it was impossible to get a good photo of it from our vantage point:
The mosque serves as a place to stay for traveling faithful. You can see them on the floor in this photo. I don’t know how they manage to get any rest, since that is marble they are lying on.
They have this cool, enormous, ancient drum – and yes, we got to beat on it. 😉
A lot of the mosque is open to the outside. It has these beautiful lattice “walls”:
This photo is taken from a walkway on the second floor of the mosque. See those rectangles on the floor? (the horizontal lines are harder to see – look closely) Those are individual spaces where people can pray on the high holy days. On those days, the mosque can hold as many as 200,000 people. Incredible!
The visit to the Masjid Istiqlal is one of my favorite things we did on this trip.
So how is this relevant to you? Well, it may not be. But even if you belong to a snake-wielding
Baptist Pentacostal church (sorry, MaeMae, Neal made me write that) or you are a frozen chosen Presbyterian or what have you, definitely tour other houses of worship when you have the opportunity. Worst case scenario, you can learn something new!