A masjid (mosque) is a place unlike any other house of worship I’ve frequented. What I like about masjids especially larger ones is the mix of social and sacred life. Enter any time of day and you are almost sure to find someone doing namaaz (prayers), even if in the times between those five ordained auqaat. Children will be studying the Koran. Perhaps in one of the covered halls that surround the wide open courtyard a qawwal will be running his fingers up and down the keyboard of a harmonium, singing a quiet hymn to himself or a few understudies.
In the courtyard itself, kids run about while their parents gossip. Bunches of women, some in burqas, some not, cradle infants and giggle. Tired workers come in to lie down before heading home. The atmosphere is tranquil. The sun sets as the moon rises above a minar bringing any of hundred couplets of poetry to mind.
I have made thousands of pictures in mosques and I share but three in this post.
The top was taken in Pindi (don’t ask me which mosque, memory fades with the years). While many mosques are places to find elaborate painted pieces of art, in the form of stylised calligraphy and floral scenes, there is something about the simplicity, nearly austere, lines of the masjid and its compound, that is very attractive. And this picture seems to capture some of that.
Namaaz the five-times-daily prayers of the Muslim is the main reason people come to masjid. These two women were at Delhi’s Jama’a Masjid in the early morning. I tried more than a dozen shots to capture their devotion but was not happy with any of them. This one comes closest as it catches a bit of the beautiful movement involved in namaaz.
This picture on the other hand I’ve always been pretty happy with. A labourer prepares of his evening namaaz in Rawalpindi. His colleagues stretch out in the background.