To many, exploring new cities and travelling to distant places is often done in the summer, in a few free weeks that come sometime after May and before September. The increasing distance between Fajr and Maghrib speaks of long days and light-filled hours, and to some of us these hours turn into miles beneath our feet.
But where to go, this summer?
So far in 2015 a handful of destinations have risen above others in popularity. In those places you will find shops and beaches and restaurants of all kinds, and though you may spend hours upon hours enjoying exploring this new place, eventually, it’ll be time for prayer.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular travel destinations of 2015 so far, and at the mosques you will find there!
1. Hanoi, Vietnam
There’s plenty to see in this charming capital of Vietnam, Hanoi. Gardens, lakes, historical monuments and art exhibitions – any tourist looking to learn more about this country and its culture, will have plenty of opportunities to do so. But for many Muslim visitors, there is one place in particular that is of great interest.
In the Hoàn Kiem District of Hanoi, painted in green and white, stands the only mosque found in the city. Built in 1890, the architectural design of Al-Noor mosque is heavily influenced by the Indian subcontinent. The prayers held at the mosque are attended by approximately 200 Muslims, most of whom are expats from other countries.
This small mosque has become one of the most significant gathering places for Muslims in Hanoi, who are always ready to welcome any visitors with open arms.
Al-Noor mosque in Hanoi.
2. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The birthplace of tango and the shopping capital of Latin America, Buenos Aires has built quite a reputation. Famed for its bustling energy, vast variety of restaurants and rich culture, the city has become one of the most popular travel destinations in the world.
But what about its mosques?
In the neighbourhood of Palermo, you will find the largest mosque in South America: the King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center. Designed by Zuhair Faiz, a Saudi architect, the vast grounds of this impressive geometric complex cover 3.5 hectares in total.
It is a sight to be seen and the place to visit, though one may need to reserve a couple of extra hours to be able to fully explore this beautiful mosque.
The King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center in Buenos Aires.
3. Berlin, Germany
Though not as popular as it had been before, Berlin remains one of the most preferred travel destinations in Europe. Innovation, art, music, festivals – Germany’s flourishing capital is a global city of culture, politics, media and science, where you will find places and events that could entertain you for weeks.
Built in 2008, the Omar ibn Al Khattab mosque is a beautiful combination of modern architecture and traditional Islamic marble carvings. Topped by a glass dome and four small minarets, this mosque is part of a six-story complex and can hold around 1000 people at once.
Easy to find, this mosque is the ideal place for prayer while in Kreuzberg.
The Omar ibn Al Khattab mosque in Berlin.
4. Shanghai, China
The international metropolis that is Shangai, is drawing more and more attention from all over the world. Said to be the most influential economic, cultural, science and technology center in East China, Shangai has a lot to offer to any tourist planning on going there.
While there are quite a few mosques in Shanghai, the Songjiang Mosque is the oldest in the city.
The mosque complex was first built near the end of the Yuan dynasty, around 1365, and then rebuilt in 1391 during the Ming dynasty. The complex has been renovated several times since then, and though it has maintained the architectural style of Ming dynasty, the Minaret Tower rises above the area in a classic Arabic architecture style.
What an experience it must be, to pray in a mosque with such a long history!
The Songjiang mosque in Shanghai.
5. Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa.
Cape Town, the beautiful provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape, has been a popular travel destination for several years now. The scenic beaches, exquisite nature and vibrant culture are a combination that have won the hearts of many visitors.
In this lively and exciting city, you will be able to find several mosques. One of these is the Jumu’a Mosque of Cape Town that was founded by Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi. The building was gifted by the Bukhari Foundation, and has been well taken care of by the locals ever since.
Jumu’ah mosque in Cape Town.
Thinking of all these distant places and the mosques we can find in each one, is it not amazing how far is the reach of Islam?