Situated on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, Casablanca's Hassan ll Mosque is monumental and built on a grand scale. To give you an idea of the vastness of this mosque, consider that 25,000 worshippers can fit inside the mosque while another 75,000 can be accommodated in the immense outdoor courtyard. That is grand by anyone's reckoning.
It is unique in that it is accessible to non--Muslims. Entering the mosque, we removed our shoes and carried them with us in a green recyclable bag. Morocco has outlawed the use of plastic bags, which is commendable. Then we were astounded by the splendid chandeliers made from Murano glass and the beautiful, heated floor tiles.
The green colour featured in Morocco has specific meaning to Islam and is the colour of "forgiveness". The handcrafted wood, including in the magnificent ceilings, is hand painted in natural colours, such as pomegranate.
While putting on our shoes as we left the mosque, we had a chance encounter with a man who was visitng the mosque and showing it to a friend from Senegal. The man stated he was involved in building the mechanical infrastructure of the mosque. It was a truly serendipitous moment. The mosque has one particular remarkable and ingenious mechanical feature. The enormous wooden roof can open in a matter of a few minutes to reveal the open sky. To see the roof in person really reinforces the enormity of this feat of engineering.
As Rad told us, it also created basic issues surrounding the numerous pigeons around the mosque. Problem! When the roof opened, it provided a doorway for the pigeons to fly inside as well as causing other issues of a less pleasant nature. The solution involved placing a glass seal to allow the view to the sky while preventing the pigeons flying inside.
Oh, no, that wasn't the solution. It created another problem, still pigeon based. The pigeons landed on the glass ceiling and you can imagine the mess. The solution that resolved the new problem involved other bird life of a predatory nature. Eagles were the answer. The pigeons promptly vacated the airspace around the mosque. Unfortunately, this resulted in the loss of work for the people employed to clean-up after the pigeons.
Rad also took time to explain the tenets of Islam and the ethics of human behaviour as the foundation of Islam and a Muslim's beliefs. He detailed the ablutions required before undertaking prayers at the mosque in a special lower ground area adorned with gorgeous water fountains for washing in preparation for prayers.
That only scratches the surface of the information around the mosque, it's construction, symbolic nature and spiritual value. At least it gives you a notion about this magnificent building. The sheer scope of the Hassan ll Mosque is overwhelming.
As to the cost of the mosque? 700 million, which was funded through donations. And you can see it in every building, including the library and the religious school. Whether you are a believer or not, it is aspectacular achievement, indeed.