Essential Architecture-  Pakistan

Faisal Mosque


Vedat Dalokay


Islamabad, Pakistan






Construction cost $120 million Capacity 100,000 (hall and courtyard), 200,000 (grounds)


  Shah Faisal Masjid
  Faisal Masjid during evening.
  Roads leading to Faisal Mosque.
The Shah Faisal Masjid (Urdu: شاه فيصل مسجد) in Islamabad, Pakistan, is one of the largest mosques in the world. It is a state National Mosque. It is a popular masjid in the Islamic world, and is renowned for both its immense size and its architecture. It holds the title for being one of the largest mosques in the world, in terms of area.

The impetus for the mosque began in 1966 when the late King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia suggested it during a visit to Islamabad. In 1969, an international competition was held in which architects from 17 countries submitted 43 proposals. After four days of deliberation, Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay's design was chosen. Construction of the mosque began in 1976 by National Construction of Pakistan, led by Azim Borujerdi, and was funded by the government of Saudi Arabia, at a cost of over 130 million Saudi riyals (approximately $120 million USD today). King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz was instrumental in the funding, and both the mosque and the road leading to it were named after him after his assassination in 1975. The mosque was completed in 1986, and used to house the International Islamic University. The mausoleum of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, whose 1988 funeral at the site was the largest in the history of Pakistan, is located adjacent to the mosque. Many conservative Muslims criticised the design at first for its non-conventional design and lack of the traditional dome structure, but virtually all criticism was eventually silenced by the mosque's scale, form, and setting against the Margalla Hills upon completion.

It is located at the end of Shaharah-e-Islamabad, putting it at one end of the city and in front of a magnificent backdrop provided by the Margalla Hills. It is a focal point of Islamabad, and likely the most famous and recognized icon of the city.


The masjid has an area of 5,000 square meters and can hold about 300,000 worshippers, including those in the adjacent grounds. It is one of the largest mosques in the world, its relatively unusual design fuses contemporary lines with the more traditional look of an Arab Bedouin's tent, with its large triangular prayer hall and four minarets. However, unlike traditional masjid design, it lacks a dome, and like a tent, the weight of the main prayer hall in the center is supported by the four minarets. The minarets borrow their design from Turkish tradition and are thin pencil like. The interior of this prayer hall holds a very large chandelier and its walls are decorated with mosaics and calligraphy by the famous Pakistani artist Sadeqain. The mosaic pattern adorns the west wall, and has the 'kalima' writtern in early kufic script, repeated in mirror image pattern.

The masjid's architecture is a departure from the long history of south Asian muslim architecture, however in some ways it makes a bridge between Arabic, Turkish and Pakistani Muslim architectural traditions.

References in literature
The Shah Faisal Masjid is described in the book "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini.[1]