A piece of Turkey is located in Midrand, South Africa; the Nizamiye Mosque. From its exterior, it seems too astonishing to engage with. Its beauty holds its own, too delicate to touch. I have admired her from far, too scared to understand her striking gaze. Built with a subtle yet complex elegance, she crowns Midrand with her presence.
The Nizamiye Mosque Complex is the largest mosque complex in the southern hemisphere. Housing a mosque, boarding school, exhibition hall, bookstore, market, clinic and cemetery. She is a scaled replica of the iconic Selimiye Mosque found in the city of Edirne, Turkey. A historical Turkish Islamic mosque built in 1566 – 1574, in the era of Ottoman Empire. During such time, Islamic architecture developed into inclusive design, where the mosque became more than a space of worship but rather a community of believers. Its architectural response was softer and organic while keeping its sacred geometry.
Upon arrival, she smiles softly, welcoming her community into her warm embrace. Like a mother’s touch, she gently guides you towards her. Stunned by the reception, curiosity encouraged contact. Large is her demeanour, her neck extents into the sky: as will yours trying to find her ends. Still surprisingly unyielding to her softness, her doors open to all.
Here is a spacious courtyard surrounded by the various programs. Once inside, there is a silence that speaks the loudest spiritual vibrations. Unable to see the world, she encloses me into her sanctuary. Polished white marbles are the tiled floors, striking blue hand painted artistry are the walls, gold are the capitals of the elongated columns. She is the first breathe and last, overwhelming and peaceful.
There is more to her than her embrace, along the same line of entry, the doors of worship stay open. How heavenly she is with volumes that seem unreal, she houses you in her dome. Each column, wall and enclosure decorated with vibrant reds, golds, blues and pearl white patterns. Clothed in sacred delicate arabic messaging, a space of enlightenment and awakening is born.
The Nizamiye Mosque Complex is not only spiritually enlightening but culturally informative. With a market space that drives you into a little portion of Turkish customs. There is a restaurant that over looks the mosque, while indulging Turkish pide and homemade lemonade (A must), the experience was more than I asked for. She was more than I could imagine, the striking beauty was reflective.
In a time of stronger international relations, I questioned our representation abroad. Would you feel at home in a South African Embassy? Is there a piece of us somewhere in the world, if not why not.
Penny for your thoughts.