Old mosque in Nizwa tells fascinating tales of the past

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The ash-Shawadina mosque of al Aqr District in Nizwa is amongst the oldest mosques in Oman. Its different features have a lot to tell about history through its architectural structure, script, motifs and the decorative pieces used in the focal point – its mihrab.
According to the National Museum of Oman, it was built in 1st c AH/7th c CE, and then rebuilt during the Nabahina Period in the year 936 AH/ 1529 CE as indicated by an inscription in its niche (mihrab).
The mosque represents the traditional architectural style of Oman — rectangular in shape, simple in terms of exterior styling and is raised on a high base containing a courtyard (as-sarh), which has an abolition room and a small recess in the wall.
Unlike the designs of the mosques built in recent years, the ash-Shawadina mosque does not have a dome or minarets. Instead, it has a small semi-circular structure containing a simple slot connected to the roof called al-bumah.
The dominant features of the interior are the number of columns and porticos, arches and a very fine mihrab. The mihrab was made by master Issa bin Abdullah bin Yousuf, according to the National Museum of Oman.
The mihrab has the inscription of manifestation of faith (ash-shahadatan) in Kufic script, which is defined by Britannica’s as a calligraphy, an “earliest extant Islamic style of handwritten alphabet that was used by early Muslims to record the Quran. This angular, slow-moving, dignified script was also used on tombstones and coins as well as for inscriptions on buildings. Some experts distinguish Kūfi proper from Meccan and Medinese scripts, which were also used to copy the Quran.”
The script was called Kūfi because it was thought to have been developed at Kufah in Iraq—an early Islamic centre of culture. Simple Kūfi was developed early in the Islamic era; the earliest surviving copies of the Quran—from the 8th to the 10th century—were copied in it.”
The mihrab also informs the visitors about the date of construction and the names of those who have funded the construction and this is in al-Naskh script, yet another major script that was popularly used for administrative documents and copying Quran because of its legibility. The mihrab is also delicately decorated with geometric and floral motifs, and the highlights are the Chinese ceramic plates.
The most fascinating part of the mosque is that it continues its functions just like it did in the olden days and remains in its original state it was re-built.

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