AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

The Influence – The Ummayyad Mosque

http://i2.wp.com/www.homsonline.com/images/Damascus/UmmayadMosque3.jpg?w=629

The Ummayad Mosque in Damascus is one of the dearest places to my heart, because not only was it my first taste of the beauty of religious architecture, but also because it opened my eyes to my own identity and the history of the area that my family hails from- Bilad Il Sham.

I remember that as soon as I was back home in Riyadh after my first visit to Damascus, I spent a good deal of time researching the history of the Ummayyad Mosque. At that time, I wasn’t as interested in art as I was in history, and because I didn’t know any other life than the one I had in Saudi Arabia where Levantines are collectively “Shwam” rather than Jordanians, Syrians, etc., my fascination had to do with a want to learn more about the region that people identify me with.

It opened my eyes- the Ummayyad Mosque was the first time I realized how intricately related religions are in our part of the world. To my fascination, I found out the spot where the mosque now stands was a temple for a Semitic God in the Armanaean era and a temple of Jupiter in the Roman era. Then, with the advent of Christianity, it became a Christian Church dedicated to John the Baptist. In 706, the Ummayyad Mosque was built, making the structure a mosaic of cultures, religions, and ideas.

Then, during my freshman year as an art student at Jordan University (picture above), the Fine Arts Faculty took us on a trip to Syria to delve into the art history of the region, and after a long tour with art proffessors of the Ummayyad mosque, my love for it grew even more.

The architecture of the mosque is as diverse as its history. The exterior walls were based on the walls of the temple of Jupiter, and 200 skilled workers were brought in from the Byzantine Empire to decorate the mosque, as evidenced by the partly Byzantine style of the building. Meanwhile, the interior of the mosque is reminiscent of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the walls are covered with fine mosaics portraying paradise, and it is supported by Greco-Roman Cornithian order columns.

And this is where my love for the Ummayyad Mosque stems- a rich history of acceptance where differences are embraced rather than burned, and a symbol for the diversity of the Levant.

http://i2.wp.com/www.yanabi.com/media/IslamicImages/syria_damascus/images/The-Umayyad-mosque-of-Damascus.jpg?w=629

: The Influence
:Mondrian
:Jackson Pollock
:Al-Hambra Vases
:The Kiss

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8 Comments

  1. Nas

    great post roba!

    for more on the history of this great mosque, this is a great site to visit: muslimheritage.com

  2. موضوع جميل مثل العادة

    الله يحمي الشام و أهل الشام :)

  3. Nice post; it encourages me to write…

    Although I’m an Engineer, a geek-of-an-engineer that is, art has changed the way I perceive the world dramatically. That was my “sophomore year conversion story”.

    I also want to write about my trip to Damascus. It’s an amazing feeling to walk in a 4000-years-old road that has never been deserted. Knowing that in the details and shapes of objects around you, some of that 4000-years-old spirit is still here, evolving. Somebody 4000 years ago must have placed a stone somewhere here, carved it in a certain way or possibly colored it, that caused people hundreds of years later to create a building, that inspired somebody to add a balcony, which later became a post office or a circle in the middle of a road… Some action must have caused a chain-of-events that has been carried along with people and stone for 4000 years. You walk around, constantly looking for these age-old manifestations in every move, every color, in habits of people or direction of streets. How do you know them when you see them? What are they? Could that have been one? … you live in constant awe!

    Thanks Roba… you blogspire (inspire people to write blogs :-))

  4. Roba,

    What amazed me about this mosque is the unbelievable similarity i found in Cordoba, Andalucia! it was as if i was walking in sham… well there are some changes of course… the one in Cordoba is a cathedral and a mosque at the same time… and has both the features of a mosque and a church at the same time… which is actually fascinating!

  5. Madas, yes, the Great Mosque in Cordoba was actually styled after the Ummayyad Mosque in Damascus. You know, the Ummayyad’s built both after all :)

  6. Arrabi, I know exactly what you’re refering to. I suppose that’s why I love Damascus so much myself…you just feel time! I get a similar feeling when I visit downtown Nables.
    It’s fascinating.
    Anyway, I’m glad yo be of inspiration :)

  7. Yaz

    Umayyad Mosque is one of 2 religious places I have to go to when I’m in damas, Anania’s church and the Umayyad.

    bas, there’s a beautiful part of the story u missed..
    for a good while after the Umayyads captured Damascus the place of the Mosque was devided into a Mosque and a Church, depending on which side of the city Muslims opened by force and which side Muslims opened by a treaty.

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