MF | The Banten Journal | Tangerang | Sat, June 15, 2013
Situated in between a vast paddy field and a modest kampong, from afar Nurul Yaqin Grand Mosque looks much like an abandoned brick battle fort.
The appearance of the four-story mosque does not match the idea of a mosque as a representation of Islamic architecture — a cultural landmark with majestic pillars and bulbous domes that dominate the skyline at dusk.
Nurul Yaqin is just an unfinished, neglected building, though it is topped with three small domes.
Locals call it Mesjid Seribu Pintu or the mosque with one thousand doors.
Situated on a one-hectare property in Bayur village, Jatiuwung district, Tangerang, the western and northern walls of the mosque border with paddy fields, while the southern and eastern walls face a residential area.
Visitors are not permitted to enter the mosque without a member of the Mosque Welfare Council (DKM) guiding them because the dark, meandering passageways are not predictable and it is easy to get lost.
On the first floor there are many small doors leading to narrow rooms and corridors.
“No one knows how many doors and windows the mosque has all together. Since there are too many doors, the people call it Mesjid Pintu 1000,” mosque caretaker Ahmad Supandi told The Banten Journal recently.
The supporting columns are irregular in size and spaced unevenly throughout the building.
A tradesman might view the mosque as a waste of good building materials as there are numerous rooms and passageways that have no apparent function.
Dust collects on the floors of most rooms and it is quite dark as only as dusk falls do the mosque’s lights come on. Passages from the koran are painted on interior walls in black. In places, the words are lost beneath drips and splatters.
Of the mosque’s numerous rooms, only two are routinely used for prayers: the Tasbih room on the first floor, which can accommodate 20 people and an open hall on the second floor that seats 250.
Supandi said the mosque was built in 1978. Muslims from Java, Bali, Sumatra and as far away as Singapore travel to the mosque for communal prayer sessions, which are held for nine days at a stretch, three times a year.
He said members of the congregation would first visit the grave of the son of Al Faqir Mahdi Hasan Alqudrotillah Al Muqodam who designed and built the mosque, which they hold sacred.
Al Faqir’s son, Ahmad Sutan Agung Maulana Purnama Sejati, died at the age of four.
After that, they are guided through a narrow corridor into the Tasbih room.
Aided only be candlelight, the congregation members pass through the dark passageways reading aloud shalawat nabi (in praise of the Prophet). In pitch darkness, they perform dzikir (the chanting of prayers) and ask for God’s blessing.
“We snuff out the candle during the session so congregation members are left in absolute darkness. This is what the situation in the grave will be like later on, and the situation makes them aware that they will be in such a situation sooner or later,” he said.
In the absence of light, human beings will naturally turn their thoughts to God. The teachings of Al Faqir are merely aimed at disseminating Islam and making people aware of the darkness they will experience when they are dead and buried, he said.
The number 999 is seen all over the mosque, in the mosaic tiles adorning its walls.
Supandi said 99 symbolizes asmaul husna (the names of Allah) and the third nine reflects the number of Walisongo, one of the men who introduced Islam to Indonesia.
Supandi said the 60-year-old Al Faqir was a Bayur resident who built the mosque with donations collected from visiting Muslims.
The money was quickly spent on materials, which explains why the mosque was never finished.
Al Faqir moved to another city and is currently building an Islamic boarding school there. He has long dreamed of establishing a boarding school, an orphanage and a nursing home for aged people who have no one to look after them.