OFFBEAT AL NOOR MOSQUE IN SHARJAH IS ALSO CLOSE TO DUBAI- NON MUSLIMS CAN ENJOY FREE DAY TOUR!

OFFBEAT AL NOOR MOSQUE IN SHARJAH IS ALSO CLOSE TO DUBAI- NON MUSLIMS CAN ENJOY FREE DAY TOUR!

This blog is about my visit to the offbeat Al Noor Mosque in Sharjah. It is also close to Dubai and the best part is that it is one of the few mosques non Muslims can enter and avail an hour long free tour! It is also one of the free things to do in Sharjah.

Turkish Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai

The interiors of Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah has Turkish architecture. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

AL NOOR MOSQUE OF SHARJAH LOOKS LIKE THE SULTAN AHMED BLUE MOSQUE OF ISTANBUL.

I have not been to the blue mosque aka Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. But I have seen it in pictures and documentaries. The moment our cab halted at the famous Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah, me and my co-travelers from media collectively gasped, “It looks so much like the Blue Mosque of Turkey!” We unanimously agreed. Our guess was validated when we were told by Shada, our guide from Turkmenistan that its architecture is indeed inspired by Sultan Ahmed Blue Mosque of Istanbul. We walked for a bit, past the kettle shaped shop and curb area, the December breeze making it comfortable for us to venture out in the day time. The last time I was in Dubai was June. It was unbearably hot and I somehow managed to do sightseeing in the noon. I realized December was a great time to be in U.A.E. It is neither chilly nor hot. Just the right temperature.

Offbeat Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai

Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah has Turkish architecture and resembles the Blue Mosque of Istanbul, Turkey. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

AL NOOR MOSQUE- ONE OF THE FREE THINGS TO DO IN SHARJAH!

The glass and metal skyscrapers juxtaposed against the traditional Turkish architecture made for an interesting visual. It also served as a metaphor of the complex relationship of the conservative Gulf nation with modernity. Sharjah has more than 700 mosques, some are open only to the royal Emiratis and others are open to Muslims. Al Noor Mosque is the only mosque which is open to visitors from all faiths. The construction of the Al Noor Mosque began in 2003 and it was completed in 2005. It was built by the order of the wife of Sharjah’s ruler, her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed al Qassimi. It is centrally located next to the Al Noor Island and Khaled Lagoon (at Buhaira Corniche). You will pass this mosque many times while you commute through the city.

Chandelier Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai (2)

Interiors of Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah. Notice the Chandelier and the Turkish architecture. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

JOIN THE ONE HOUR LONG TOUR AT THE AL NOOR MOSQUE:

When we were content admiring the architectural beauty of Al Noor Mosque from the outside, we ventured inside.  The women in our group were told to wear a burqa while men could go inside as long as our legs were covered. The burqa was available free of cost at the reception. After we deposited our shoes on a rack at the entrance, the local lady guide ushered us towards the Mehrab area. Chairs were arranged in front of a designated area where props associated with Islam and Emirati culture were on display.

Day Tour Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai

Our local lady guide educating us on the local life and Islam. Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah has Turkish architecture. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Once we were seated, we were asked to roll out the dice one by one. Depending on which number we got, the guide would ask us a question such as, “Are you a coffee or a tea person?” Once everyone was done, the tone of the session turned serious as the erudite guide briefed us about the mosque, Islam and the Emirati lifestyle. Of course, the session was peppered with humorous touches.

Batoola Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai

Batoola or the face mask. This is my shot of a poster I saw in a museum in Heart Of Sharjah. Women of United Arab Emirates

INTRODUCTION TO TRADITIONAL DRESSES OF EMIRATIS:

Through pictures and props, the guide showed us the lifestyle of Emiratis before U.A.E. became what it is today. In much of urban and rural parts of U.A.E., the locals still follow these traditions. Ahmed from our media delegate volunteered to dress up like an Emirati on the request of the guide.  Another volunteer Surabhi wore the Golden face mask which many women wear in U.A.E. It is fashioned to look like the head of an eagle and women in Bedouin nomadic tribes wear it to show that they are married or engaged. Young urban Emirati women do not wear it unless they want to make a fashion statement. It is mostly popular in rural areas and amongst older women. The traditional face mask is called batoola also spelled as  battoulah. Apart from U.A.E., it is also worn by women in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain etc.

Traditional vessel. Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai

The traditional coffee kettle at Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

THE TOUR TO AL NOOR MOSQUE IS FREE AND YOU GET COMPLIMENTARY DATES AND COFFEE TOO:

We were told about the coffee culture, nomadic lifestyles, rituals and customs, women’s status, the interiors of the mosque etc. The session was open to questions from the visitors. Many of us asked questions and were answered satisfactorily by the guide. The tour ended with complimentary Arabic coffee and dates offered by the guide.  The tour is operated by the non profit Sharjah Centre For Cultural Communication. There is no admission fee and registration required and the tour is free of cost. Photography inside and outside the mosque is allowed.

Chandelier Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai

The biggest chandelier at the Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

WHAT THE AL NOOR MOSQUE IS LIKE FROM INSIDE?

Our necks were permanently craned as we stepped inside the gorgeous Al Noor Mosque. The first things which won my attention as I entered the mosque were the huge chandeliers that adorn the ceilings. Personally chosen by her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed al Qassimi, the chandelier appears like a flower. Inspired by the Turkish Ottoman architecture, the interiors of the Al Noor Mosque is stunning and is decorated in floral, geometric and interlaced patterns.

Mehrab and Minbar Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai

The Minbar and the Mehrab of Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

THE MINBAR AND MEHRAB OF AL NOOR MOSQUE

As is usual in Islamic architecture, the Minbar was located next to the Mehrab. Minbar is the raised platform, fenced by wooden structure. It is used by the emam to deliver the sermon at the Friday (jumma)prayer. Mehrab is the roofed niche built in the direction of Ka’aba, the sacred building in Mecca. This is also the direction in which Muslims pray across the globe.

Kuran aka Koran Quran

Copies of Quran in Arabic. The holy book of Islam. Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah has Turkish architecture. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

WHAT ELSE ATTRACTED MY ATTENTION IN THE AL NOOR MOSQUE

The Al Noor Mosques had many open shelves running across its walls. The shelves contained the books on theology, law, philosophy and of course many copies of the Quran, the holy book of Muslims. Most of the books were in Arabic language.

Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai (2)

Interiors. Notice the book shelves. Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah has Turkish architecture. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Smile escaped her lips, when our guide told us that many local Muslims come to the Al Noor Mosque regularly and even leave bookmarks in the books so that they know from where to start. They unofficially own that book till they are finished reading. It is considered blasphemous to keep Quran on the ground, therefore, rihal/tawla is given to the worshippers. These are wooden book holders which the worshippers use while reading. I realized it is also common in Hinduism to use wooden book holders.

Rihal tawla Quran Kuran

The wooden rihal aka tawla holds the Quran. Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

ARE WOMEN ALLOWED TO PRAY IN THE AL NOOR MOSQUE?

Yes, women are allowed to pray in Al Noor Mosque. When one of the media delegates asked this question, the lady guide told us that women can pray in a different chamber which also has a separate entry. However, for convenience, many women prefer praying at home. Women in U.A.E. must always be accompanied by a male family member when they go out. This is not always possible. Also, in a patriarchal society, the responsibility of most of the housework and childcare lies with the women. Therefore, women prefer offering prayers in their homes.

Chandelier Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai (2)

So many chandeliers. Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah has Turkish architecture. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

RESPONSIBLE TOURISM WHEN IN AL NOOR MOSQUE:

  • Please dress conservatively
  • Please do not talk loudly inside the mosque
  • Please keep your footwear outside
  • The Arabic coffee and dates are complimentary. That doesn’t mean you can hog.
  • Please be attentive when the guide speaks. You will have plenty of time for photography.
Night view of Khaled lagoon Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai

Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah by the night. As seen from Khaled lagoon. Notice the domes, minarets and the Turkish architecture. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Top Tips for Al Noor Mosque, Sharjah:

  1. Public visit is allowed every Monday at 10 a.m. (except public holidays)
  2. The beautiful Al Noor Island, butterfly garden and Khaled Lagoon is at walking distance from the Al Noor Mosque. Do not miss it.
  3. The Al Noor Mosque looks gorgeous during night.

The view from my #SoulWindow is mashallah!

Inside Al Noor Mosque Sharjah Dubai

Black and white details of one of the inside walls of Al Noor Mosque of Sharjah. It is near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry to host the writers and bloggers for reviews and media reports, I was also invited on the press trip to cover it. However, my views are not influenced by the sponsorship. It is my responsibility to give truthful information to my readers on my blog and I have adhered to that personal policy while writing this blog.

This particular trip was supported by Sharjah Tourism in association with Outbound Konnections Reps Pvt. Ltd. Outbounds Konnections can be reached at salesdelhi@outboundkonnections.in

IMG_9006

Al Noor Mosque, Al Noor Island and skyscrapers as seen from Khaled lagoon, Sharjah. United Arab Emirates

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IMG_8687

F1H2O UIM World Championship Powerboat racing in the backdrop of Al Noor Mosque. Khaled lagoon, Sharjah.

 

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18 thoughts on “OFFBEAT AL NOOR MOSQUE IN SHARJAH IS ALSO CLOSE TO DUBAI- NON MUSLIMS CAN ENJOY FREE DAY TOUR!

  1. What a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. The architecture of the Al Noor Mosque is magnificent. I love all the history of it as well as all the books that as displayed. The night view of the Al Noor Mosque is splendid.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an amazing experience. We haven’t had the opportunity to visit a Mosque yet so we’ll have to add this one to our list. And to have a tour with a local guide to see it from the female perspective which is obviously so different from the male’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Al Noor mosque looks exquisitely beautiful! It reminds me of Sheikh Zayed mosque we visited on our trip to Abu Dhabi a couple of years back. I wish I knew about Al Noor at that time. I would have love to explore its beauty and architecture. I like the the Turkish architecture and the chandelier of the mosque. The night view is absolutely stunning! Thanks for sharing these lovely pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I must admit that I have never been to a mosque before and found your post very interesting and its something that I would love to do also the photo’s you took of the mosque are beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If I would ever consider visiting this country I think I would visit these places. But considering how women are treated, I still don’t think it will be a place I will go any time soon. Nice to know that you liked it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mosques are so beautiful in detail. It’s interesting to see them and I haven’t had the chance to explore many of them. This one seems like a great one to see and I can tell you enjoyed your time. Perhaps we find ourselves there some day. I like that they give coffee during the visit!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have been to Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abudhabi and it was stunning. But I really never heard of Al Noor mosque, though I live in Dubai. But this mosque is worth-visting. Al Noor mosque is so grand and beautiful. You have listed all useful tips to visit this mosque. I will keep in mind about Monday for free entry to visitors.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your photos of the mosques are beautiful! My fiance is Muslim, so I really appreciate that you included a mention of someone teaching others about the ways of Islam. I own quite a few traditional dresses, which I absolutely adore. Definitely love that you included mosque visits for non-Muslims, a great way to learn firsthand about a culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As someone who is innately more into budget trips, I’m just happy to see that this is a free thing to do!
    Batoola is very intriguing. I’m gonna try to find out more about it.
    The attention to detail in the interiors is just impeccable!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. No way! This mosque looks beautiful. Good to know it is accessible for non-muslims. Other than few mosques, you usually never know which one you can visit. It looks so beautiful at night, would like to spend a bit more time in Sharjah to explore now!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Al Noor Mosque is indeed a masterpiece in marble. The architecture is really remarkable and its resemblance to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul uncanny and intentional. I think this was indeed one of the highlights of the Sharjah visit.

    Liked by 1 person

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